We’re heading out soon for a new road trip destination. Can’t wait. In addition to road trip games, journals, and audiobooks – I imagine sitting in the car and reading about road trip experiences. So, to close out Family Road Trip Month, I wanted to do something special. I asked bloggers to share their road trip stories with us.
Below you will find introductions to eight road trips taken around the United States. I’m letting each blogger introduce their trip before sending you off to read their post. Don’t forget to come back and check the next adventure.
Real Life Route 66 ‘Cars’ Movie Locations and Inspiration!
Route 66 – Chicago to LA
by Kylie from Between England and Iowa
A great family-friendly road trip within the US is Route 66, covering 2448 miles between Chicago and Los Angeles! The route passes though 8 US states: Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Route 66 was the inspiration for the Disney Pixar movie ‘Cars’. While travelling the route, you’ll come across various landmarks and real-life people that inspired characters and places in the movie! For example: Tow Tater in Galena, Kansas inspired the rusty tow truck Mater, the Cozy Cone Motel was based on the Wigwam Motels found in both Holbrook AZ and San Bernardino CA (you can actually sleep in a concrete wigwam!) and the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX provides the background of the town of Radiator Springs!
It’s fun to watch the movie before and after the road trip to see how many things you can recognise!
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Twisty, Turny Molokai
Kamehameha V Highway
by Sam from Worldwide Wilbur
Molokai Island has the tallest sea cliffs in the world, miles of golden sand beaches, yet is untouched by mass tourism. It’s a vision of what Hawaii looked like sixty years ago.
An adventurous family can drive a 70-mile roundtrip journey on the scenic and historic Kamehameha V Highway from the airport to the east end of the island in about 6-8 hours. “Highway” is a relative term in Hawaii, as this is a very twisty and narrow road in places!
Your first stop will be the only town on the island, Kaunakakai, where you can get lunch and a sense of daily life. On leaving town, look to your right and you’ll see the Kaloko’eli Fishpond, a semi-circle of stones laid in the shallow water by the ancient Hawaiians to catch fish. Watch out for Nene, the rare Hawaiian goose, as they nest along this road. Continuing on, you’ll pass two historic churches built by Saint Damien of Molokai in the 1870s.
Enjoy views of blue Pacific waves and nearby Maui on your right, and green mountains stretching to nearly 5,000 feet on your left. Around mile marker 15 you’ll see Mana’e Goods and Grindz, a classic “local kine” fast-food joint, and your last chance for snacks. At mile marker 20, you’ll reach lovely Murphy Beach, a safe spot to let the kids jump in and swim or snorkel.
After a final 5 miles of narrow, one-lane driving, you’ll reach breathtaking Halawa Valley. Halawa could easily be a scene from Jurassic Park, with two tall waterfalls visible deep into the valley. This is the end of the road. Have a swim, take some photos, and then return the same way. Read more about the best things to do on Molokai here.
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Beautiful, Easy Double National Parks Road Trip
Salt Lake City and Zion National Park
by Marta from Learning Escapes
One of the most beautiful and easy road trips we have taken in the US with the kids, is the one between Salt Lake City and Zion National Park, in Utah.
We took this trip in the summer and we organized it as a 3 day / 4 nights family vacation, with one night in Salt Lake City, one in Bryce Canyon and two in Zion National Park.
Salt Lake City was our starting point and a very interesting stop. The city’s main landmark is the Temple, the main religious building of the Church of the Latter-day Saints and visitors are welcome to visit its grounds. Here you have a good visitor center with plenty of information and nice manicured gardens that are pleasant for kids.
The real highlight of our trip, however, was the stunning scenery that expected us in Bryce and Zion, two of the most famous National Parks in the United States.
You need about one day to visit Bryce and at least two to see Zion but we were able to get a good sense of them even with just one day in each.
In both parks, you have nature that is unique to this part of the world but also great opportunities for families to discover and learn.
The parks are equipped with excellent visitors centers and, for kids, they have a program for ‘junior rangers’ that helps them engage and learn about the parks in a fun, hands-on manner: a fantastic family activity!
Iconic Southwest U.S. Road Trip
Phoenix to Grand Canyon National Park
by Tatiana from Family Road Trip Guru
Arizona natural wonders road trip from Phoenix to Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most iconic U.S. road trips.
Start your trip from Phoenix botanic garden. If you are not a resident of the U.S. Southwest you will be amazed by the variety of cacti and succulents and other interesting plants that only grow in this area.
From Phoenix continue on to Sedona, which is about 2 hours drive. Sedona is famous for its amazing rock formations in Red Rock State Park and energy vortexes. Other cool places not to miss around Sedona are a Slide Rock State Park (this area becomes a natural water park in summer) and Montezuma Castle an ancient human dwelling built inside a cliff.
Your road trip then further continues North. A stop at Bearizona Wildlife Park is a must en route Grand Canyon National Park. In Bearizona you could see most iconic wild west animals like bison and wolves walking freely while you drive around in your car (with your windows closed!). Bears also reside in the Park but they are fenced off for your safety.
Your final destination is the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. There are so many hikes, vista points, and museums here that you would need at least a couple of days to enjoy its splendor.
Straight shots and leisurely treks on the West Coast
Highway 101 and I-5, Seattle to Disneyland, California
by Sandy from Sleeps 5
A family road trip from Seattle to the Disneyland, California, is about 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers). For most families, that means at least two overnight stops along the way. (It’s not advisable, but if the kids don’t mind all day in the car, the drive can be done in two days!) There are two main routes to choose from.
The speedier route is via I-5, often referred to as a “straight shot” when the aim is just to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible.
The other route is down the coast, on Highway 101, which has stretches with curving roads and lower maximum speeds. There are interesting stops to experience such as the Redwood Forests and Pacific Ocean seaside towns, and places for kids to run around and have fun.
The coastal trek takes at least a half day longer, so two overnights are necessary. Getting to Crescent City, in northern California, makes a long first day of driving, but frees up time the next two days to enjoy the scenery and explore. Try Monterey for the second night, then head over to I-5 and the last miles to the Magic Kingdom! Check out Seattle to LA in the Family Mobile from Sleeps5.com, with lists of hotels for families of 5, 6, 7, or more.
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Oregon Coast in Depth
Highway 101 – Oregon
by Hilarye from Dotting the Map
The Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful road trips in the United States. Oregon is very unique in the fact that all of the coast is public land, so when you drive along the 101 it is completely unobstructed.
After road tripping continuously for the last 18 months, people often ask us what our favorite part of the country is and hands down we always reply the coast of Oregon. You will love all the hidden gems and natural attractions you will find along the way. Last Spring we started in Florence, Oregon and made our way slowly up the coast to Astoria, Oregon which is the last coastal town before crossing the Columbia River into Washington.
The coast and the views change dramatically from impressive sand dunes, jagged cliffs, soft sand beaches, to rolling forests. There are plenty of stunning hikes, lighthouses, and wildlife to see along the way.
If possible you will want to take your time on your Oregon Coast road trip but if you are short on time you can grab a flight to Portland, rent a car and hit some of the northern coastal towns for an extended weekend.
Check out our blog post: 25 Things To Do and See On The Oregon Coast
Gorgeous Eastern Sierras Road Trip
Route 395 from Joshua Tree National Park to Lake Tahoe
by Brittany Wittig from The Rolling Pack
My favorite road trip in the United States takes you from beautiful Death Valley National Park, along the Eastern Sierras, past the otherworldly Mono Lake, and finally up to the breathtaking shores of Lake Tahoe.
This road trip is best made with a tent (or a camper), because you will be going past some incredible natural sites, and some of the best campgrounds in the USA!
Begin with a few days in Death Valley National Park, the largest national park in the US, where there’s tons of open space and kids can run and play on the gently sloping granite mounds that line the campgrounds. If you’re road tripping in the spring you may get lucky and catch a desert wildflower bloom!
From Death Valley, make your way north on 395 to the adorable mountain town of Bishop where you must stop at the famous Eric Schatz Bakery for a loaf of Sheepherder bread and a mouthwatering pastry dessert.
Hit Bishop early enough that you still have time to drive north to the Alabama Hills. Here you’ll find gorgeous campgrounds with epic mountain views where you’ll get a campsite, picnic table, and fire pit for just $5 per night.
Next, you’ll continue north to the otherworldly Mono Lake. Stop here for a picnic by the lake, or you can even rent kayaks or canoes to explore the alien landscape of this heavily mineralized lake!
Finally, continue north to the pristine shores of Lake Tahoe with its beautiful turquoise water. Tahoe is an awesome place to try standup paddle boarding or enjoy a beach day on the shore.
If you’re pressed for time the whole trip could be done in 3-4 days, but I recommend taking a week so you can spend a couple of nights at each stop!
I’ve attached an original photo that shows a campground just north of Bishop.
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Documentary-inspired Road Trip to Yellowstone National Park
Portland, OR to Yellowstone National Park
by Cath from Passports and Adventures
After seeing a documentary about Yellowstone National Park, we took a leap of faith and booked an awesome US road trip. We were starting in London, flying to Portland, Oregon and then making our way direct to Yellowstone to spend a few days there before slowly making our way back. As it happened, our trip actually started in Portugal.
After arriving into Portland, we drove to Yellowstone with one stop in a town called Richland, WA overnight. From Richland we drove direct to Island Falls, Idaho where we were staying for our visit to Yellowstone. It was a long 800 miles over two days, but easily done with our three-year-old in tow, making sure we took plenty of stops for food, snacks, toilet breaks and to stretch our legs.
Driving back, we stopped at Missoula in Montana where we had a lovely few days enjoying family-friendly attractions before driving back to Portland via Richland again. We spent four nights near Yellowstone, three nights in Missoula, one night in Richland and then enjoyed four nights in Portland. Our Portland to Yellowstone road trip (and back again) is one of our all-time epic adventures together as a family and ignited our love of road trips.
Thank you so much to all of the contributors to this post. Love the insight (and photos) from your travels!