PHOTO: A close up of Colorado asphalt and the road ahead. (Photo via Flickr/Max and Dee Bernt)
Road trips are as much a part of the American culture as apple pie, football and, for better or worse, McDonald's.
More than that, road tripping is a great way to vacation, bond with family, and see spectacular sights. It’s also a good way for kids to do something worthwhile during a long summer break other than watching TV reruns and playing video games.
Weeklong road trips are best. They’re long enough to cover a lot of ground and see a good number of sights and locales. Yet, they’re short enough so that you’re not ready to kill one another before the end of it.
California to Florida Along the 10
A coast-to-coast vacation is ideal if your family is full of beach lovers who are open to see desert and marsh lands.
Start your family road trip in Los Angeles and head east on Interstate 10. This takes you on a weeklong journey through the American frontier and the South. You will witness large expenses of desert and plains, past towering peaks and unique landscapes, as well as appealingly mysterious bayous. Stops include Tucson, San Antonio, Houston, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. Take some time to venture off the 10 to visit Tombstone, Arizona, and Marfa, Texas. At the terminus, skip Jacksonville and make a beeline for charming St. Augustine.
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Route 66 from Illinois to California
While now officially defunct, many of roads and sections that together made up Route 66, which ran from Chicago, Illinois, to the famous Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, still exist.
Seeing as it was not only one of the original highways in the United States but also a symbol of a changing America, it endures today as an appealing journey to undertake for both Americans and foreign travelers. Steinbeck’s “The Mother Road” boasts some of America’s awe-inspiring sights including the Grand Canyon, as well as small towns, odd landmarks, and historic sites. It is, therefore, never a boring drive.
Cool stops include: The Cozy Dog Drive-in in Springville, Ill., the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Tex., Arizona’s Meteor Crater, and Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, Calif.
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New York to Florida
If you live on the East Coast and crave proper stretches of beach, ample sunshine, and divinely warm waters, it makes sense to head down to Florida to satisfy your R&R needs. But instead of flying off into that glorious Floridian sunset, hit the road. Interstate 95 conveniently takes East Coasters from Boston all the way to Jacksonville, which then can serve as the setting off point for that dream Floridian fun in the sun.
The stops on this trip, however, are just as worthy of carving out time for. Feast on addictive Cajun blue crabs in Baltimore, see the epic monuments and landmarks of D.C., explore the Chesapeake Bay, and photograph the charming architecture in Savannah. Maybe, if there’s time, even venture off the road for a sampling of Charleston’s glorious sunset and she-crab soup.
Morro Bay, California, to Vancouver, Canada
The magnificent beauty of the at times charming, at times wild Pacific Coast is irreducible, and it’s one of the most inspiring things you’ll ever witness in your life. This meandering coastal journey on the legendary Pacific Coast Highway must start in Morro Bay, California, and head north past incredible land-meets-sea panoramas and idyllic small towns.
In Northern California, it then meets with the 101, which continues along the equally stunning coasts of Oregon and Washington and snakes over the Olympic National Park before ending in Olympia. From there, you can continue less than four hours north to the bustling metropolitan of Vancouver. Important stops on this journey are Big Sur, San Francisco, Oregon’s Rockaway Beach, and Seattle.
Southern Utah to Yellowstone National Park
If, on the other hand, your family prefers to immerse in nature and go on epic adventures in the Great Outdoors, then a voyage through majestic landscapes and herculean land formations might just be the ticket.
The place to start is none other than Southern Utah, known for its larger-than-life cliffs and impressive monoliths. Explore Zion on the first day, and Bryce Canyon and Arches the next before driving up to Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. This wilderness full of miraculous sights is so vast you won’t be able to absorb all of its wonders in a week, but three days should be enough to see some of its most important highlights.
Bring your camping gear or rent an RV; believe us, you’re going to want to sleep under the stars.