Make this summer one your kids will never forget. In the heat of the school-free season, arts and crafts and pool parties are great ways to keep the kids occupied, but sometimes you want to do something extra special. Why not take a couple of days off, and hit the open road? A summer road trip, even a brief one, will give you a refreshing change of pace; plus, you’ll create memories that you and your family will cherish for years to come.
Turn on some tunes, kick up your feet, and enjoy the passing scenery with these road trip ideas that both you and the kids will love.
Cross the Overseas Highway to the Florida Keys
Taking a road trip across the Overseas Highway on your way down to the Florida Keys is an incredible experience. There are 113 miles of roads and bridges that extend from the Florida mainland all the way to the southernmost key: Key West. The stretch makes for a magical travel experience, especially if it’s the first time your kids have ever seen the ocean—they’ll see plenty of it on the drive! Make a playlist of beach-related songs, and tunes about undersea life, to get your kids excited for the trip. Once you reach your destination, you’ll find sand, water, and sunshine to greet you in the Florida Keys.
Drive the Black Hills Loop
The Black Hills Loop is an iconic road trip that allows you to spend two to three glorious days in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Start in Rapid City, where you can visit 42 presidential statues. Then head along the Badlands Loop Road, stopping at its scenic outlooks to soak in the breathtaking views. In Custer State Park, your kids can spot free-roaming bison, prairie dogs, and mountain goats. Don’t forget to stop by the impressive Mt. Rushmore; see how many presidents you each can name, and try making up a song to help you remember them. You can also hit up Wall Drug – one of the most well-known tourist traps – for a souvenir on the way.
Road Trip Through Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone sees a hefty 4 million people visit every year. Spanning 3,468 square miles, there’s plenty to see within the park, and miles upon miles of roads to travel along. Start by visiting Old Faithful, the reliably popular geyser that erupts every 90 minutes. Then meander through the rest of the park to discover a plethora of lookouts, pools, geysers, and more to explore. Play the song “Old Faithful” by the Banana Slug String Band during the car ride – your kids will get a kick out of the band’s goofy analysis of all the geology in Yellowstone. If you’re staying long enough to settle down for the night, enjoy a camping excursion at one of the park’s 12 campgrounds.
Visit the Redwood National and State Parks
Drive to the northern tip of California, and you’ll find the Redwood National and State Parks, famous for their massive trees that could make even an elephant feel like a small critter. Redwoods can grow hundreds of feet into the sky—the tallest one stands in California at 379 feet tall. If you’re just passing through, enjoy one of the park’s scenic drives; open the car windows, and peer up at the giants of the forest. On the drive, you all can sing along to the iconic song “This Land Is Your Land,” which makes mention of the redwood forest – and now you can say you’ve been to that forest. If you have the time, camp out and enjoy a night among the stars, surrounded by the tallest trees in the world. This park caters to backpackers, horseback riders, bikers, and kayakers if your kids are old enough to enjoy those adventures.
Take the Lake Superior Circle Tour
If you’re thinking about a road trip in the Great Lakes region, check out the Lake Superior Circle Tour. It’s a 1,200-mile trip; while it will likely take you five days or more, you’ll see unforgettable views of lighthouses, coastal landscape, and the Great Lakes themselves. Start by visiting the Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, MN. Farther down the road, you’ll find fantastic waterfalls at the 130-foot Kakabeka Falls in Ontario. And, don’t miss the Ouimet Canyon, between Thunder Bay and Rossport. When you get to Lake Superior Provincial Park in Ontario, you can view Ojibwa pictographs of animals and mystical creatures at AgawaRock. Make stops for great local food, camping, and amazing sights along the way – you won’t want to forget your camera on this trip!
Have Fun on the Road
What are you waiting for? Pack up the car, make a playlist of travel songs, and hit the pavement for a road trip full of fun. Road trips provide a chance to expand your children’s horizons, and open their minds to new regions of our wonderful country; not to mention a great opportunity for some quality family bonding time. As beautiful as the sights out the window are, the time spent in the car can be just as valuable. Play car games, sing along to a fun playlist (or make up your own songs), or invent imaginative stories together. You can even incorporate small lessons into the trip, quizzing your kids about the new wildlife, landscapes, and foods they experience along the way. Your kids will cherish their summer vacations forever; there truly is no substitute for experiencing the beauty of the world in person. Which trip will you take your kids on this summer?