Taking a family road trip is an appealing type of vacation for families with kids of all age groups. Not only are you in charge of the itinerary, departure, and arrival times, you can also pack more. You don’t have to worry about TSA or overweight luggage. And you’re saving a ton of money if you’re a family of four or more. In fact, “road trips reign supreme for family getaways,” said AAA, the American Association of America.
If you’re wondering where to take the best road trips in America, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our pick for 2020 road trips:
1. Skalkaho Highway scenic byway
Want to drive through the least traveled gravel mountain roads of Montana? The Skalkaho Highway scenic byway is open from Memorial weekend to the first week of November, but you must check with the Montana official tourism website for updated weather-related information before planning your road trip.
Skalkaho Highway or MT-38 is a 64-mile road connecting Hamilton to the historic mining town of Philipsburg. Fly into Missoula International Airport (about 52 miles from Hamilton) and follow the footsteps of Lewis and Clark along US Highway 12 from Missoula, MT to Lewiston, ID. Spend a few days exploring the over 10 natural hot springs near Missoula and, of course, the scenic byway drive of MT-38.
This drive will include hairpin curves through the Sapphire Mountains, Skalkaho Pass and Skalkaho Falls, magnificent views of the area, and plenty of opportunities to spot black bears, mules, moose, mountain goats, and more. If you want to see elk, you have to get there in the fall. The best time to see dark-eyed juncos or Hairy woodpeckers is in summer. Take the trip in a day or stay a night or two at one of the camping sites in Black Bear Campground or Crystal Creek Campground.
2. Historic National Road
The Historic National Road is an all-American road that takes you from Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, a total of 824.2 miles, tracing 200 years of American history. You can drive for 2.5 days or as long as you want through historic towns, homes, monuments, and inns.
For a shorter version, we suggest driving along America’s oldest roads in Maryland, from Baltimore to Hagerstown. This 74-mile drive will take you from Baltimore Inner Harbor, a visit to the B&O Museum and to Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum. Continue driving to Ellicott City, Frederick, Boonsboro, Funkstown, and lastly, Hagerstown.
3. America’s first wine trail at New York Finger Lakes
Drive along Cayuga Lake, and you have options to visit Taughannock Falls, historic homes, wineries, and breweries. We suggest getting a designated driver to drive you along this route if you are planning on visiting the wineries and breweries.
Cayuga is one of the 11 glacier-gouged lakes in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Start your trip at Seneca Falls, and make your way south towards Ithaca. Visit Lucas Vineyards, Americana Vineyards, Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars, and Boundary Breaks Winery in the Interlaken and Lodi areas of Cayuga Lake. It’s about 25 miles from Seneca Falls to Interlaken.
After the wineries, head over to Taughannock Falls National Park. There are multiple hiking trails at the park. Or go to the park to see the magnificent Taughannock Falls.
You may want to stay a night in Ithaca or drive to Ithaca and proceed 28 miles north towards Aurora for a night stay at this historic town. Stay at Wallcourt Hall, a 16-room boutique hotel built in 1909 as a dormitory for Miss Goldsmith’s School for Girls.
4. Lassen Volcanic National Park
Drive from Redding to Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. See fumaroles (steam and volcanic-gas vents), mud pots, pools, and steaming ground. Lassen is about an hour’s drive from Redding and is open year-round.
5. Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway
If you’re in the Massachusetts and Connecticut area, go on a road trip to Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway. The Mohawk Trail was opened in 1914 and was the first scenic route in America. Begin in Greenfield and end in Williamstown.
Take MA-2, stop at Mass Audubon’s High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary, a wildlife sanctuary located in Shelburne, and Bridge of Flowers Shelburne Falls. Bridge of Flowers was a trolley bridge built in 1908. It’s filled with trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers. You can walk across this 400-foot bridge and enjoy the views of the river and nearby town. At Williamstown, check out Williams College Museum of Art. The museum has over 15,000 works of art.
6. Bayshore Heritage Scenic Byway
It doesn’t matter where you start or end in this 122-mile drive, Cape May Point or Mannington township; you’re sure to enjoy this scenic route. This road trip winds through the Delaware Bay shoreline, crosses rivers and passes rolling farmland and historic villages in New Jersey. You’ll drive through a series of roads – CR 629, Route 47, Route 49, and Cr 540.
Take a look at Visit New Jersey’s map and do consider stopping at East Point Lighthouse, Greenwich Tea Burning Monument, and Cape May National Wildlife Refuge.
7. High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway
If discovering the Wild West, the true American frontier is on your bucket list, look no further, go on a road trip to the High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway in Oregon. Start the journey from Burns, traveling through Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to the historic town of Frenchglen (about 60 miles) and continue south on OR-205, a road running parallel to Catlow Rim (part of the Steens Mountain Wilderness) and end your road trip at Fields.
The road trip from Burns to Fields takes around seven hours. Check out Travel Oregon’s High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway article for more ideas on where to stop and what to see.
8. Bicentennial Highway
The 133-mile Bicentennial Highway Scenic Byway, Highway 95 in Utah, was completed in 1976. Starting from Hanksville to Blanding, this road trip offers views of the Henry Mountains, canyon country, Lake Powell, Natural Bridges National Monument.
You can combine museum visits, hiking, and camping on this road trip. Campgrounds are available at Glen Canyon, Natural Bridges, and Hog Springs. For more commercial campgrounds, you can opt for Hanksville and Blanding.
9. M-22 Scenic Drive
Drive from Arcadia to Frankfort on Michigan’s scenic highway M-22, and you’ll discover 21 points of interests, 11 quaint communities, and cover a distance of 150 miles. It takes around 12 hours to drive through if you’re not taking detours.
Download the brochure from Visit Manistee County, Michigan, and plan out your road trip on one of the most scenic road trips in America.
10. Cotton Junction Trail
For all things West Tennessee, go on the Cotton Junction Trail road trip. Tennessee has 16 Discover Trails and Byways. However, the Cotton Junction Trail will lead you through 98 stops where you can discover Tennessee’s rich music heritage, cotton fields, cultural history museums, and more.
The Cotton Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis are highly recommended stops for this road trip. The trail starts and ends in Memphis. Check out the map on Visit Tennessee’s website.
Before you hit the road, read 10 Ways to Make Your Road Trip Hassle Free.