Family Vacation Spots for a Road Trip

Seven perfect family-friendly destinations you can visit as soon as summer rears its jolly head! (You can also visit earlier, but it may not be as fun, really.)

Most of us have been social distancing for weeks if not months now and between coronavirus anxiety and the weather getting warmer, a getaway sounds pretty nice right about now. It can be difficult to choose a place for a family trip. You want to consider cost as well as the interests of each of your family members. There are some destinations not suitable for young children and others that will sweep the whole gang off their feet.

Right now, without further ado, here’s the deal.

Pigeon Forge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

This destination is the perfect place to take your kids to experience the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. There are hiking trails, as well as guided horse tours, but the city also holds its own special brand of family activities. You can take a ride to Ripley’s Aquarium where your child can enjoy different species of fish or spend a day at Dollywood. This amusement park is great as all ages can find something interesting to do and the shows will keep anyone entertained.

Black Hills © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Black Hills of South Dakota

There is nothing quite like the Black Hills of South Dakota. While they’re not super high in elevation, the centrally located Black Elk Peak does get up to and impressive 7,242 feet, the highest point east of the Rockies. And there are hiking trails and activities galore. Also, one finds numerous well-known sites including Mount Rushmore, the work-in-progress Crazy Horse memorial, and Deadwood (famous for its gold mining and heavy-handed gambling past, also the resting place of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane). But when it comes to natural beauty, few can match the Needles Highway.

Texas Hill Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Texas Hill Country

Ah, the Texas Hill Country. Imagine hills, soft and scrubby, green valleys, and limestone cliffs. Conjure up ranches and communities of German heritage, wineries, fields of wildflowers, and sparkling rivers lined with cypress and oak. No big cities, no hustle and bustle—just cafes with country cooking, water for fishing and inner tubing, and old places with timeworn comfort. Yes, it’s easy to feel at home in the Texas Hill Country. Prepare to be amazed.

Vogel State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved


What kind of mood is your family in? Want to climb mountains? Georgia has the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. Want to explore barrier islands? Check out Cumberland Island National Seashore. Like swamps? Rivers? Lakes? Gorges? Georgia has them all, along with almost 50 state parks fairly representing the state’s varied terrain. If you want dank forests and rugged mountains, head to North Georgia. If you’re looking for Spanish moss and jungle-like barrier islands, the coast is for you. Meanwhile, the southern end of the state feels downright Jurassic thanks to the meandering swamps and abundance of gators.

Goldfield Ghost Town © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona

This former mining hub at the base of the Superstition Mountains in Apache Junction was founded in 1892. Keep cool on a 25-minute tour of mine shaft as the guide talks about the good ol’ days before the gold played out. The town includes a museum, LuLu’s Bordello, a church, livery stables, a reptile exhibit, and a mystery shack where objects seemingly defy gravity. Panning for gold, a shooting gallery and rides on a zip line, train, or horseback are among the activities, and gunfights are held on Saturdays and Sundays. And a steak house and saloon offers chow and cold drinks.

Historic Jamestowne © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Colonial National Historical Park, Virginia

Colonial National Historical Park contains several iconic historic sites including the Colonial Parkway, Historic Jamestowne, the Jamestown Settlement, and Yorktown Battlefield with Colonial Williamsburg nearby. Hiking and biking are popular outdoor activities within the park as well as kayaking, canoeing, and fishing on the rivers. You can also tour Yorktown Battlefield on a seven-mile Battlefield Tour, marked by red arrow signs, or a nine-mile Encampment Tour, marked by yellow arrow signs.

Incline Railway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ride the rail up to Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga

Lookout Mountain features a nature-based triple threat: Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the Inline Railway. It’s an all-day, all-ages adventure based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Start with a guided cave tour or a 700-foot zipline adventure through Ruby Falls, home of the world’s largest underground waterfall, before strolling through the diverse flora and fauna of the Rock City Gardens. Wrap up your day with a mile-high ride on the Incline Railway, one of the world’s steepest passenger railways. At the top: a bird’s eye from the Lookout Mountain observation deck.

Lookout Mountain © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.

—Sir Francis Bacon