A boy and a girl with their tablet during a family road trip with kids

Road Trip with Kids (11 Trips & 11 Tips By a Mom)

👉 Jump to: Places to Road Trip with Kids | Tips | Essentials to Pack | FAQ

I’m a mom of four and an expert traveler here to help you plan your next road trip with kids! 

Our family has been taking road trips since my kids were just a few months old. We’ve driven from California to New York, and to lots of places in between! This guide highlights some of the best family vacations, as well as family travel tips. These insights are sure to make your trip more affordable, less stressful, and a whole lot more enjoyable.  

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

11 Best Places to Road Trip with Kids

The Utah Big Five

Hit all 5 of Utah’s national parks in one epic road trip.

The author's kids during their hike in Zion National Park
Zion National Park is one of the five parks you’ll see on this road trip

📍 Google Maps | Utah National Parks Guide | 👉 Browse Moab Hotels on Booking

This scenic southwestern road trip begins at Arches National Park. Canyonlands National Park is nearby, as is the town of Moab. There is so much fun stuff to do in Moab — the whole family can go rafting, horseback riding, and more! 

Then, head to Capitol Reef and the otherworldly landscape of Bryce Canyon. Finish up with the cliffs and canyons of Zion National Park, one of the best places to go in Utah

💰 Save Big: Make sure to purchase an America the Beautiful Pass! It will pay for itself before the end of this trip. 

Southern California

See the stars, hit up Disneyland, and play at the beach.

The author's husband and daughter at the Griffith Park Observatory
The Griffith Park Observatory has co-starred in many movies and is educational as well

📍 Google Maps | California Road Trip Guide | 👉 Browse Los Angeles Hotels on Booking

You can make a southern California road trip last as long as you’d like — there’s always something you can add to your itinerary! Head down the coast from Hollywood to Orange County and south to San Diego. 

Then, head inland and back north to hit up Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park. Check out our ultimate travel guide to Los Angeles for even more fun! 

👉 Pro Tip: This makes for an awesome spring break road trip! Temps in the Palm Desert can be scorching in summer but are perfect during the other three seasons.

Independence Pass

See Colorado’s breathtaking beauty on a jaw-clenching mountain road.

The Independence Mountain covered with snow in Colorado
You’ll get amazing views, grottos, and even one of Colorado’s ghost towns on this family road trip

📍 Google Maps | Guide To Independence Pass | 👉 Browse Aspen Hotels on Booking

A long car ride through the mountains is one of many awesome things to do in Colorado! The drive over Independence Pass starts near Leadville. It climbs to 12,095 feet at its summit, and you may see bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and other wild animals along the way. 

Independence Ghost Town is an interesting stop, and so is The Grottos Trail. Maroon Bells in Aspen is also highly worth visiting, found at the end of your drive. 

👉 Heads Up: Independence Pass is usually open from the Thursday before Memorial Day until early November due to mountain weather. Check the CO Dept of Transportation website when planning your trip to be sure it’s accessible. 

Upstate New York

Wind your way through the historic sites and waterfalls of New York.

The author's husband with their kids and the Niagara Falls on their background
Niagara Falls is a fun family road trip stop!

📍 Google Maps | New York Road Trip Guide | 👉 Browse Finger Lakes Hotels on Booking

Most people think of New York City when they think of New York, but there’s so much more to explore! Drive through the green hills of the Hudson Valley and see towns including Woodstock. 

Take a dip in Lake George. Go wine tasting in the Finger Lakes region and marvel at Niagara Falls! Also, you’ll end your trip near NYC so you can spend a few days there, too.

Nova Scotia

Enjoy a coastal getaway with lighthouses and lobster 🦞.

Colorful houses at the Lunenburg in Nova Scotia
Lunenburg is a charming town with bright, wooden houses

📍 Google Maps | Nova Scotia Road Trip Guide | 👉 Browse Nova Scotia Hotels on Booking

This eastern Canada road trip is fascinating for the entire family. You’ll find lighthouses, boat tours, places to take a swim, and lots of fresh produce from local farms. And, of course, local seafood as well! 


Visit the historic Pike Place Market and sail to a nearby island.

The Space Needle and the Mt. Rainier from afar in Seattle
The Space Needle and Mt. Rainier are two Seattle landmarks that help you get your bearings

📍 Google Maps | Seattle Itinerary | 👉 Browse Seattle Hotels on Booking

There are lots of things to do in Seattle to keep kids entertained! Visit Pike Place Market, the top of the Space Needle, and the city’s best museums and parks. Take a fun ferry ride to Bainbridge Island and consider one of several other Seattle day trips

Lake Tahoe

Lake fun for kids and casinos for grown-ups!

Overlooking view of the blue water in Lake Tahoe
Spend a day swimming or boating on the lake, or hiking to its stunning views!

📍 Google Maps | Things to Do in Lake Tahoe | 👉 Browse Lake Tahoe Hotels on Booking

Lake Tahoe is so vast and there are activities for a variety of interests! There are tons of campgrounds and some of the best hikes in California. Head to Tallac Historic Site if you want to learn about history. Go boating with sailing tours, or rent your own through one of several nearby companies. 

Casinos are also right on the California-Nevada state line. Parents can head there for a night on the town — if they’re lucky enough to have a sitter or older kids!  

📚 Related Reading: 41 Things to Do in California with Kids in 2023 (By a Local)

Washington, D.C. 

Jump from a textbook to real life on a trip to the capital city.

The Washington, D.C. Capitol Building under the clear blue sky
Make government class come to life with a trip to the Capitol Building

📍 Google Maps | Things to Do In Washington D.C. | 👉 Browse Washington DC Hotels on Booking

Washington, D.C. makes for an awesome road trip destination for kids who have studied history or government in school. There’s nothing like seeing the places you read about in real life! 

Take kids to the Capitol Building, the White House, and the Lincoln Memorial. Other sites around town, including the best museums in Washington D.C., are also worth visiting. 

Disney World

Channel your inner Clark Griswold and head to the country’s largest amusement park.

View of people wandering in Disney World, unaware of all of these useful Disney World tips
You’ll want to spend several days exploring this vast park!

📍 Google Maps | Disney World Tips | 👉 Browse Disney World Hotels on Booking

Road trips to Disney World have an added bonus because once you get to this Florida destination, you don’t have to get in the car again until you leave! You can get to all parts of the resort via Disney’s buses, monorails, boats, and by walking.  

📚 Related Reading: Travel Lemming writer Katie Neufeld worked at Disney World for 12 years. Be sure to read her Disney World Itinerary while planning your trip! 


Hands-on history is the key draw to this East Coast destination.

People and swan boats at the Boston Public Garden
Swan boats are a fun family activity in the Boston Public Garden (photo: CO Leong / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Boston Hotels on Booking

Boston is another great city for kids who are learning about the Revolutionary War-era in school. Visit the Old North Church which celebrates its 300th anniversary this year. Go for a swan boat ride or take a day trip to nearby Salem and learn about the witch trials. 

Natchez Trace Parkway

This southern road trip follows an original Native American trail.

View of a signage at the entrance of Natchez Trace Parkway
There are lots of spots to stop and explore along the Natchez Trace Parkway

📍 Google Maps | Places to Visit in Tennessee | 👉 Browse Natchez Hotels on Booking

The Natchez Trace Parkway starts near Nashville, Tennessee. It winds south through the state and down into Alabama and Mississippi. There are lots of places to stop for views and hikes. Be sure to check out the Double Arch Bridge and hike to Fall Hollow Waterfall. 

🥾 Don’t Miss: Check out my guide to hiking with kids to prep you for this and other family road trips! 

11 Tips for Family Road Trips

#1: Keep Essentials Handy

Essentials can quickly get buried under pillows, blankets, and toys in a backseat! Keep items like your wallet, diaper bag, and a change of clothes where you can reach them easily.

Most importantly, kids love to kick off their shoes in the car! Keep those shoes where you can grab them fast for a bathroom break. 

#2: Pack Snacks and Meals

 A banana on a colorful bag in a park
Pack some healthy snacks for road trips… and a few special treats, too!

Bringing your own food on a road trip has several advantages. You can eat whenever you want and aren’t constrained by where you find a restaurant. It tends to be cheaper, which is great if you’re going for a budget family vacation. You can also pack healthier food than the junk food you may be faced with along the way.

We like to pack mostly healthy snacks and meals, but either bring or stop for a special treat in the afternoon. Just remember how messy melted chocolate gets in a car if you do pack candy, cookies, or another treat for kids. 

#3: Pack Colored Pencils Instead of Crayons

Melted crayons are even harder than melted chocolate to clean out of a car! Pack colored pencils and a small sharpener if you want to bring coloring or drawing books, as these make much less of a mess. 

#4: Have an Overnight Bag

Have one bag with everyone’s things in it if you’re stopping overnight on the way to your destination. It’s much easier to grab one bag for the night than to have to unpack the whole car when you get to your motel! 

#5: Pace the Electronics

A little boy on a car enjoying with his tablet
Try not to jump right on tablets as soon as you start a long trip!

We let up on screen time while everyone’s in the car. But that doesn’t mean everyone has to hop on tablets as soon as the drive starts! We try to spend a while without electronics and pull them out once people start getting bored into the trip. 

#6: Leave Early

There are differing opinions on this one. I know some people who like to drive at night when the kids are asleep. There are two challenges with that, however. 

First, you have to wake up the kids when you arrive wherever you’re sleeping to transfer them to their beds. Second, kids get lots of sleep in the car, wake up when you arrive, and may want to get up and play at that point. Parents, however, are exhausted!

It’s much easier to leave early in the morning, in my opinion. The driver can go to bed early the night before. You can put tired kids in the car in their pjs with a blanket and let them go back to sleep. It’s surprising how much ground you can cover before most people are waking up for the day!

#7: Have Some New Toys

A family having fun during a road trip
New toys can help create a successful road trip!

You don’t need to buy lots of expensive things, but one or two toys paced out over the course of your road trip can break up the monotony! Grab a new coloring book, a portable game, Mad Libs, or other small items. You can even have a special road trip bag full of snacks and small toys and pull one out every few hours when people start to get bored. 

#8: Stick to a Schedule

We try to have snacks and meals at the same times on a road trip as we do at home. We also put away electronics and play quiet music in the early afternoon while the kids settle in for naps or quiet time. Keep to your routine as much as you can, especially for younger kids who like familiarity. 

#9: Run Them Around When Possible

A little boy having fun on a slides
One of the best travel tips I can give you is to let kids run off steam whenever you can!

Try to find a playground and allow a little extra time for the kids to run around when you stop for rest stops or meals. Try a fast food place with an indoor play area if the weather is bad. 

You may have to add in more time for rest stops than you used to take before kids. But you’ll have a much more pleasant drive! You may also save yourself time in the long run by not having to stop while someone has a major meltdown.

#10: Be Ready For Car Sickness

Our record for a car sick kid is 20 minutes into a road trip. Her siblings then sang their original composition, “I Threw Up In Thornton,” for an hour afterward.

Winding roads aren’t the only reason kids get car sick. New foods, general excitement over something new, and lots of other factors can contribute to an upset tummy. Keep some bags for car sickness close at hand (but don’t mention that to kids — the power of suggestion is real!). Also, have wipes, hand sanitizer, and a change of clothes easily accessible. 

#11: Leave Time For Family Weirdness

My favorite part of families is that they’re all uniquely very weird. You’re weird. I’m weird. Our kids are weird. It’s delightful. And there’s nothing like long car rides together to bring out the uniqueness of your family. 

While you want to have road trip games and entertainment, leave time for the conversations that are only going to happen in your family. The strange questions kids ask. The stories you tell only when you’re not stressed about work or thinking about other stuff. The games siblings make up (although my kids invented a game they called “Slapface” which I do not recommend.) 

You’ll make memories at your destination, but you’ll make them in the car along the way as well. 

Essentials to Pack for a Road Trip with Kids

My family packing list covers everything you’ll need for a vacation with the kids! Be sure to check it out and bookmark it for family road trips. 

However, a family road trip also requires some special items specifically for the long car ride. Here’s a road trip packing list, including some items which you might not think to bring.

Roadside Emergency Kit

Our Pick
76- Piece Emergency Car Kit with Jumper Cables

Be prepared for car trouble with an emergency warning triangle, a flashlight, and other roadside necessities.

This is one of those items most of us are happy to buy but hope we never need! This roadside emergency kit comes with an air compressor to fill a flat tire and hopefully, get you to a mechanic. AAA has several kits of varying sizes, but I like this one for the emergency triangle so drivers can see you on dark or lonely roads.  

Backseat Organizer

Our Pick
Maliton Kids Back Seat Organizers and Storage

Keep your car clean and all the kids’ toys stored where they can reach them.

It doesn’t take long for the backseat of a car to descend into complete chaos! This backseat organizer helps corral all the stuff kids will use on a long car ride. Not only will the car be less messy, but kids will be able to easily find the things they want to use. 

The Maliton Kids Back Seat Organizers come with two storage units, one to use on each of the front seats. Twelve pockets hold drinks, snacks, notebooks and pencils, and more. There’s even a special spot to display a tablet, so kids can watch a movie.

Power Inverter

Our Pick
BESTEK 150W Power Inverter

Make sure everyone can charge a variety of devices while you’re on the road.

We’ve had to charge everyone from kids’ devices to adults’ phones and computers while on a family road trip! This BESTEK 150W Power Inverter has USB charging ports. It also has a power inverter that lets you charge devices that have a traditional 3-prong plug. 

Kids’ Camera

Our Pick
VTech Kidizoom Duo Selfie Camera

Cameras aren’t just for the destination — kids can have fun in the car with them, too!

Kids’ cameras can entertain them well before you get to your vacation spot. They’ll have fun taking pictures in the car as well. Let them click away to their heart’s content, or write up a scavenger hunt of things they need to take a picture of while on the road. 

The VTech Kidizoom Duo Selfie Camera is a durable kids’ camera that has lenses on both sides, so kids can take selfies as well. It also comes with 5 games to play. 

Kids’ Headphones

Our Pick
iClever BTH12 Kids Bluetooth Headphones
Family togetherness is great, but sometimes, everyone wants to watch their own thing! These headphones protect kids’ hearing (and your sanity).

These headphones are great for the times when everyone is watching or listening to something different! The batteries last 55 hours and recharge quickly. These headphones also have volume controls to protect your kids’ ears. 

FAQs About Road Trips with Kids

A boy focus on his tablet while on a car
Road tripping with kids means you’ll want plenty of entertainment for them

What can kids do on a long road trip?

Things kids can do on a long road trip include listening to kid-friendly podcasts or playing on tablets or phones. They can play card games with siblings, color, or watch a movie on an electronic device. 

They can also play old-fashioned road trip games that have been around for generations, such as “I Spy” or the license plate game.

How often should you stop on a road trip with kids?

How often you stop on a road trip with kids will depend on their ages and temperament. Plan to stop every 2-3 hours if you’re traveling with young children during the day. Plan to visit the bathroom, have a drink and possibly a snack, and allow kids to run around for a bit before getting back in the car. 

Plan to stop every 4-6 hours if you’re nursing a baby or driving with young children at night. Fortunately, as they age, kids can sit for longer periods of time before needing a stop. 


Hopefully, this post has given you lots of tips for your next road trip with kids. I wish you and your family many happy years of road tripping together!

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