Journeys of a Lifetime: 10 Breathtaking US Roads to Drive with the Whole Family
Family road trips By Miriam Groner
Big Sur, CA on State Route 1 (Flickr: Sarah Tzinieris)
You’re a family that’s done it all - you’ve sailed the sunny seas and skied the snowy peaks - and now you’re looking for something different for your next family vacation. A road trip is another wonderful option that both you and the kids are sure to love. It’s also a great option for families on a tighter budget. And with many incredible roads all across the country, we guarantee you won’t want to head home!
Here are our top picks for the family road trip of a lifetime.
State Route 1, California
Hugging the Pacific Coast’s shoreline, State Route 1 is a major north-south artery through The Golden State. Stretching from Mendocino County in the north to Orange County in the South, it offers up some of the most stunning views of the Pacific coastline along the way. When road-tripping with the kids, stop off for a spot of swimming at one of the sparkling blue beaches, or visit the beach towns that dot the shore (Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo are but a few of the popular ones.) At one point, the road also stretches across the Golden Gate Bridge, dishing up breathtaking views of Alcatraz and the beautiful bay area.
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, South Dakota
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway in South Dakota (Flickr: jimmers54)
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway in western South Dakota is simply a driver’s delight. Think tunnels carved out of mountains and hair-pin curves, but also wide-open meadows and picturesque birds-eye views. Along the way, you’ll find lush mountain ranges with sparkling creeks and deep canyon passageways. Constantly changing from a thrill ride to a blissful calm drive, this road is for a family who loves adventure. A slew of roadside, kid-friendly amenities will keep even the most discerning tastes entertained.
Overseas Highway, Florida Keys
The Overseas Highway is a 127.5-mile road that runs between the cities of Miami and Key West all while dishing up the breathtaking views of the tropical environment. Stop along the way and take advantage of the many family-friendly attractions nearby. You can stop for a spot of swimming, fishing or perhaps snorkel out to see the underwater ecosystem at one of the area’s largest coral reefs or to get a closer look at the coral surreal views of the jade-green waters below. Many exotic animals such as the American Crocodile and Key Deer inhabit the tropical islands of the Florida Keys
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
Going-to-the-Sun Road in the Glacier National Park (Flickr: Trevor Bexon)
You may recognize this narrow and winding road from The Shining. It borrowed its name from nearby Going-to-the-Sun Mountain an is the only road that crosses Glacier National Park running across the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. This 50-mile stretch of engineering marvel spans through the park's wild interior, winding through mountainsides and treating visitors to some mesmerizing views of northwest Montana. Nearby kid-friendly attractions include the Waterton Lakes National Park and Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Historic Route 1, Maine
Historic Route 1 is quintessential New England and a tourist attraction in itself. Cruising along the scenic route you’ll get picture-perfect views of the rugged Maine coast. Stop by the Portland Head Light — Maine's oldest lighthouse and the second oldest in America, for some seal spotting and incredible panoramic views. Experience the unique New England, colonial charm, by staying overnight at one of the family-friendly hotels that dot the quaint towns.
Moose Wilson Rd, Wyoming
If you’re a family of animal lovers, this ones for you. Lined with chokecherry and hawthorn bushes, Moose Wilson Rd. snakes through lush hillsides and wetlands. You'll often see beavers working furiously on their dens and exotic birds standing in the shallows. It also gives you easy access to many kid-friendly attractions along the way including Granite Canyon, Phelps Lakes, and a one-of-a-kind moose habitat.
Seaway Trail, New York
For 454 miles Seaway Trail travels along the shores of New York's Great Lakes, the Niagara River, and Saint Lawrence River. Connecting picturesque bays, rolling farmlands and historic sites, you’ll want to slow down and take in the dynamic environment. Several kid-friendly overlooks offer spectacular views of the Great Lakes and will make lasting family memories.
Black River Scenic Byway, Michigan
Black River scenic byway sits in Michigan's Upper Peninsula near the Wisconsin state line. Meandering through the Ottawa National Forest, the 15-mile road offers scenic views of the Porcupine Mountains. In the fall you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing cascade of red, gold and orange. Nearby campgrounds include kid-friendly amenities and easy access to the hiking trails and falls.
Pig Trail Byway, Arkansas
This spectacular, 19 mile drive runs through the forested Boston Mountains (a region of the Ozark Mountains). The route is a rainbow of colors most of the year with gorgeous foliage and wildflowers lining either side of the road. It’s an excellent way to reach the picturesque town of Eureka Springs where there are many amenities for kids.
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia
Cowee Mountain Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Flickr: Mary Anne Baker)
Connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most visited roads in the US. And for good reason. It’s incredible length, at 469 miles, means you’ll be exposed to an ever-changing, spectacular scenery. You can stop for a bite at one of the charming villages along the way or visit the family-friendly attractions such as limestone caverns and mountain springs. Slow down - this region needs to be savored.
Miriam Groner contributed this to MiniTime. Originally from Australia, Miriam now lives in New York City where she writes and blogs on a variety of topics.