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Family road trips you should take before your kids grow up

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Family road trips offer so many opportunities to bond, discover and take time to appreciate our surroundings and the slow pace of life. You can choose to spend the whole trip in an RV, rent a car for a short-haul or decide to dive into the whole Route 66 experience.

Pack your kids’ favorite snacks, download your favorite travel app to find places for kids along the way, the Gowhee App, and hit the road. Here is inspirations for family road trips you should take before your kids grow up! 

Little boy looking at the USS albacore submarine in Portsmouth NH
Pit Stop at the USS Albacore Submarine in Portsmouth NH. Source: Gowhee App

Family Road Trips You Should Take Before Your Kids Grow Up

From Atlanta to Knoxville TN

Why this road trip?

Starting in the fun city of Atlanta, this city is rich with cultural places to visit with kids, such as places to honor Martin Luther King Jr life.

You can also visit fun and interactive museums like the Coca-Cola museum downtown. Their kids will learn the history of the brand while taste testing different Coke flavors. 

There are lots of great stops for outdoor lovers along this route. The great smoky mountain national park offers many kid-friendly hikes and natural attractions. Which makes this family road trip an excellent choice for a budget-friendly vacation.

For instance, local parents recommend taking a kid-friendly tour of the Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend, TN. Make sure to bring a jacket as it can get chilly in those caves. 

Cades Cove in Tennessee is another beautiful Smoky Mountain favorite where you can drive the loop and see wildlife like black bears and elk!

Helen, Georgia

This german inspire town has a lot to offer and makes for a perfect 2-3 day stop.

Let the kids stretch their legs and take them to play mini-golf at Bavarian Mountain Miniature Golf. The views of Helen are spectacular! There is great service with snacks available, and also an arcade inside. 

Get a bite to eat at The Troll Tavern for some great American and German-style food. The kids’ menu is full of amazing options. The atmosphere and service are great as well.

Take a break from the heat and head over the river for an afternoon of fun river-tubing. The cool river tubing company has all you need. Don’t forget to get out of the tube and enjoy some splashing while you are at it!

Family enjoying some river tubing in Georgia
River Tubing fun near Helen, GA. Source: Gowhee App

Pigeon Forge + Gatlinburg, TN

Skybridge Gatlinburg will wow the kids. The floor of the bridge is glass, which can be a bit scary for those of us afraid of heights! But the kids will love it! 

The Rocky Top Mountain coaster would also be a thrilling stop. This is a good length mountain coaster that will provide lots of fun as well as beautiful views of the mountains. 

Don’t forget to visit the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, TN. Of course, the adults will be intrigued, but the kids will learn a lot too with the hands-on experiences they can participate in. There is even a family-friendly audio guide. 

>>> Discover more places for kids in Tennessee

Local Parents Recommendation, “must-stop”:

  • Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo in Dahlonega, GA, where you can meet a baby Zedonk {(half zebra half donkey)
  • Parrot Mountain and Garden where kids can feed and interact with more than 70 parrots.

Cool spot to sleep along the way: 

The Morganton Point Campground is a great place to rest during your RV road trip. It is nestled within the beautiful northeast Georgia mountains. There is pristine water with beach access, a designated swimming area, picnic tables, and plenty of scenic views surrounding the campground. Showers and drinking water are provided as well.

>>> Read about the best camping gear for kids here

For the foodie families: 

Grab another sweet treat after lunch or dinner when heading out of town at Sublime Doughnuts. They have so many fun flavors it will be hard to choose! 

Family Road Trip photo Checklist:

  • Laurel Falls in Sevierville, TN is a perfect family photo spot. The waterfall reward at the end of the hike to get there will be worth it!
  • On the observation deck of the Sunsphere in Knoxville TN.
  • In front of the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge TN.

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Denver to Las Vegas


Why this family road trip?

This family road trip is the opportunity to check some iconic United States landscapes off your bucket list. The rock formation all around and desert kid-friendly hikes are sure to create memories of a lifetime. Make sure to keep hydrated and catch some amazing family photos. 

End it all with a fabulous time in the amazing city of Las Vegas and enjoy all the lights and action thereafter your many days soaking up nature at its finest.

>>> Find places for kids in Las Vegas

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Leadville and its surrounding, CO

Leadville is an underrated town in the heart of Colorado. Near ski mountains, you will find yourself slowing the pace down and enjoying simple pleasures with the kids like a run to the local library. 

This little town is the perfect spot to take day trips to many of the great kid-friendly hikes and outdoor adventures the area provides.

There is a little something for every budget. Choose to spend a luxury afternoon in the villages of Vail, with fun winter and summer activities. Or go on the hunt for history and back in the great outdoors with the Sally Barber Mine Hike.

End your day at the Treeline Restaurant in town with incredible food that is local and fresh! They have a super cozy front patio and the views from the rooftop are out of this world!

Arch landmark in Moab Utah Family road trips blog cover
Arch landmark in Moab Utah

Moab National Park


Home of the most interesting hikes and learning experiences for families. If Moab was not on your bucket list, it should be, according to many parents in the Gowhee App community.

The kids will love exploring the Sand Dune Arch Trail, where they can play, roll, and slide in all of the sand. The short little hike is perfect for kids. Just be sure to hydrate because it can be really hot depending on the time of year.

There are lots to see and explore at the Cave Spring Trail. You can take the kids on fun hikes and check out the abandoned cowboy camp. Climb the wooden ladders for some amazing views of Canyonlands National Park.

Grand Canyon 

You simply cannot miss the opportunity to see the Grand Canyon! The sights need no introduction but you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of amenities to keep you and the kids hydrated and well-fed from inside the park. 

Don’t forget to bring binoculars so the kids can view even more of the massive Canyon. Also, wear comfortable shoes because the beautiful hikes will be so worth it.

Local Parents Recommendation, “must-stop”:

  • M&M World in Las Vegas. This will be a treat for kids, with custom m&ms making.
  • Glennwood Hot Spring Pool in Glenwood Springs CO. Spend an afternoon splashing and going down their epic slides!

Cool spot to sleep along the way: 

Wonderland RV park is a great stop for family road trips. Here, kids can feed horses and play basketball and lawn games. If traveling with an RV, the campsite has full hookups, laundry facilities, free WiFi, and is pet-friendly and wheelchair accessible.

>>> Read: Best Nature Accommodations to unplug with kids.

For the foodie families: 

Blueberry Hill Family Restaurant in Las Vegas is a great stop for breakfast with the kids. They make truly authentic made-from-scratch buttermilk pancakes and everything they serve is made fresh and in-house. They have a great kids menu and they serve more than just breakfast! Open until 10 pm for dinner, too!

Family photo Checklist: 

  • At Temple of the Sun in Capitol Reef National Park, you and your family will look like you’ve been on a visit to Mars with the funky rocks all around! It’s otherworldly and gorgeous for a photo. 
  • The Hoover Dam in Nevada, this man-made wonder makes for a spectacular backdrop.
  • High Roller Ferris Wheel in Las Vegas
Family picture in the high roller ferris wheel in Las vegas
Family photo in the high roller ferris wheel in Las Vegas. Source: Gowhee App

Los Angeles to San Francisco

Why this road trip?

California is known to be a family road trip favorite and especially great for RV and van life. 

It is no surprise since there are tons of hiking opportunities and plenty of RV camping sites to relax in. The kids will enjoy time in nature, learn about trees, soak up some sun and build sandcastles on some of the most beautiful California beaches. 

Sequoia & Yosemite National Parks

Visit one of the nation’s oldest national parks, The Sequoia National park, and see the famous giant redwood trees. There are many different kid-friendly hikes you can go on. You can even tour the park on horseback if you wish!

Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls. But you can also find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and many more beautiful sights to see. 

Beach small towns and Monterey

When driving on route 1 you will pass some breathtaking ocean views, sunset, and beautiful beaches. Don’t forget to spend time strolling around small towns along the way and spend days at the beach to play in the sand and relax. One recommended stop is Avila Beach about halfway through the trip.

Monterey is a great place to stop and enjoy some amazing seafood. Kids can experience once of lifetime things like whale watching, taking a glass-bottom boat tour, or meeting the giant pacific octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Monterey is also filled with unique places for kids like themed playgrounds.
One especially recommended by local parents on Gowhee App is the Dennis The Menace playground. With a suspended bridge, maze climbing walls, and more, kids may not want to leave!

>>> Find great kid-friendly beaches and playgrounds in California here

Local Parents Recommendation, “must-stop”:

  • Bravo Farms in Traver, CA is a great stop right off the highway. They serve food here that is amazing with great service. There is a giant treehouse for the kids to explore. The outside patio is like a kid’s wonderland with a whole western town crafted with little slides hidden in the buildings.
  • Paddle Board Newport Beach near L.A, is one of the best places to bring your kids to experience kayaking or paddleboarding. Since the experience is on the bayside, there are no waves so it’s a ton of fun for kids.
 
Little girl playing mini-golf in San Benito playground
Mini-golf fun at the San Benito campground. Source: Gowhee App

Cool spot to sleep along the way: 

The Thousand Trails San Benito campground is an amazing stop for families. About 1.25 hours from Monterey, it offers a pool, hot tub, a clubhouse for kids, and mini-golf. It is a great option if you are traveling with an RV, but they also provide cabins (including wheel-chair accessible options) for rent.

For the foodie families: 

Quesadilla Gorilla in Visalia, CA is a great place to stop with the kids for a delicious meal. Here you can get gourmet quesadillas with fresh, homemade salsas full of quality ingredients and amazing family recipes. The menu is simple, fresh, delicious, and affordable. 

Family photo Checklist: 

  • Take an amazing family photo at Lower Yosemite Fall Vista Point at the base of the waterfall. Walk the paved trail until you reach the waterfall.
  • Take a picture in the flower fields or with a whimsical Santa’s workshop.
  • Here is a great spot to fit the whole family in the picture with the golden gate bridge in the background. Find the stairs of the Marshall’s beach ( Park at the Langdon court parking and walk towards the battery) and snap a shot at sunset.

Boston to Bar Harbor Maine

Why this road trip?

New England is known for its beautiful state parks and cultural beginnings in the United States. You will find many opportunities to learn from museums that come equipped with lots of kids’ activities and exhibits. 

Foodie families will also love the plethora of seafood-inspired restaurants with delicious lobster rolls and tons of small historical towns, that make up the landscape of New England. 

Don’t forget to take time to go on the hunt for lighthouses while visiting Maine!

Portsmouth, NH

A little port town with a mix of old England vibe and Tikki fun. We recommend spending at least a day there (although you may just stay for more). Stroll the cobblestones streets, sample all the fish tacos your heart desire, and feel like you started your family vacation the right way.

Don’t miss Fort McClary to see a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean, boats, and trails right next to the really cool fort. There is tons of educational material inside. Just be prepared that strollers will not be possible to use as the climb inside the fort has tight, narrow stairs. However, you can stroll outside and enjoy the beautiful views.

Find fun places for kids on the road

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Portland, Maine

At the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, your kids can get their wiggles out in the indoor and outdoor play areas. There is also an aquarium, water play area, workshops, dress-up theater, and more. 

You could spend hours here! The kids will be hungry after all of that learning and play. So, head over to Local 188, right in downtown Portland, for some simple, elegant, and tasty food. Kids are welcome and the staff is great.

Local Parents Recommendation, “must-stop”:

  • Do your kids love trains? Then they will love the Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME!  It is a perfect place for kids to discover their history, press buttons, and pretends to ride in some of the oldest vehicles in the country. You can even ride in a trolley for a 30-minute ride in an old trolley through the woods. 
  • Visit a real submarine!  The USS Albacore museum lets you explore, touch, learn about, and experience what life on board was like for these shipmates.

Cool spot to sleep along the way: 

The Wolfe of the neck center offers an incredible camping experience. Yurts are available, and during the day you can dive right into a real farm life experience. They have live music, a cafe, a store, and great trails to enjoy with little ones. Laundry is also available on site and the property is LGBTQ+ friendly.

For the foodie families:

While in Portsmouth ME, you need to treat yourself and the kids to Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream. Although this is technically a “to go” place, this shop offers “kid-size” ice cream which allows you to eat and stroll around this typical New England town.

>>> Discover tons of kid-friendly restaurants, breweries, and sweet shops in New England here.

Family photo Checklist: 

  • Night picture with Boston’s high rises landscape from the Fan Pier Park.
  • Mt Battie Tower and viewpoint: Go on top of the tower and catch a family photo with 360 degrees views of nearby towns and parks.
  • Phot in the Desert of Maine. Because it will start the best conversations.
 
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