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With the summer days already getting shorter, families across the country are packing up their cars and headed outdoors to experience the country via road trip. From the towering redwoods of California to the caverns of Kentucky to the charming streets of Savannah, Georgia, the U.S. offers countless stops that can make an American road trip unforgettable.
Here are 10 family-friendly road trip destinations you can try:
Savannah, Georgia (Southeast)
Savannah, a coastal Georgian city, is known for its antebellum architecture, trees dripping with Spanish moss, historical sites and haunted attractions. The city is known for being pedestrian-friendly, and visitors can explore historic squares, museums, boutiques, restaurants and ghost tours on foot. The Bonaventure Cemetery, known for its southern gothic design elements, possible hauntings and as the setting of the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” is a must-see, along with the Savannah College of Art and the bevy of boutiques and southern restaurants that line the cobblestoned streets.
Monterey Bay, California (West Coast)
A stunning area of Northern California located south of San Francisco and San Jose, visitors can find plenty of natural beauty, beaches and a charming downtown in Monterey Bay. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best in the world, and a scenic 17-mile drive takes visitors past stunning views of the Pacific crashing against the coastline. The drive includes views of ritzy neighborhoods and attractions like Bird Rock Beach, where people can clamber down the rocks to see tidal pools and get a better view of the sea lions, seals and birds perched on the rock formations at sea.
Acadia National Park, Maine (Northeast)
Located on Maine’s coast, the stunning landscapes of Acadia are among the first places in the continental US to see the sun rise. Visitors can hike over 150 miles of trails along Acadia’s dramatic coastline, lakes, mountains, beaches and forests, and see the famous lighthouses and diverse wildlife sprinkled through this national park. A three-hour drive from Portland, Maine, the town of Bar Harbor often serves as a base camp for those looking to explore Acadia. There, visitors can indulge in the region’s famous lobster rolls and stroll through the charming downtown filled with unique shops, restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts.
Redwood National and State Parks, California (West Coast)
Some of the oldest and tallest trees in the planet, the ancient redwoods in northwestern California attract nearly half a million visitors annually for good reason. Visitors can take scenic drives through the redwoods, California coastline, prairies and woodlands. You can also pull off to the side of the road for hikes lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a full day, with hundreds of miles to choose from in the national and state parks.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado (Rockies)
The jagged red rock formations set against the Rockies in the background make for a breathtaking scene only 90 minutes away from Denver. Visitors can walk or bike in between the towering rock formations on relatively easy hiking trails. The park boasts plenty of picnic spots, scenic drives and trails where visitors can see bighorn sheep, mule deer and bears.
Apostle Islands, Wisconsin (Midwest)
The cluster of 22 islands sprinkled in the waters of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin boasts impressive rock formations and historic lighthouses. Visitors can get to the islands via boat or ferry, where they can hike and bike through the forests or take a kayak to explore the caves and slot canyons of the islands. Visitors usually stay in neighboring Bayfield, a charming Wisconsin town filled with period architecture and myriad locally-owned shops and restaurants.
Big Bend National Park, Texas (Southwest)
Big Bend National Park, a vast, isolated national park along the Texas-Mexico border, is home to mountains, deserts, canyons and hundreds of bird species. Visitors can see dramatic canyons, historic sites and wildlife in one of the less-visited national parks in the U.S. Its isolation makes it ideal for stargazing, and visitors can hike through deserts and along rivers in over 150 miles of trails.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon (West Coast)
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, fed by pure rainwater and snow, got its start when a volcano erupted and collapsed around 7,700 years ago. Now the deepest lake in the U.S., Crater Lake’s blue water is encircled by 2,000-foot-tall cliffs, old-growth forests and waterfalls. Visitors can cycle and drive along the rim of the lake or hike down to the water’s edge for a picnic, or even a swim in the cold water.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky (Southeast)
Visitors can explore 10 of the more than 365 miles of cavernous chambers and labyrinths in the longest known cave system in the world. Located equidistant between Nashville and Louisville, Mammoth Cave lies below the grassy hills of south central Kentucky. Above ground, visitors can also hike, bike and kayak scenic rivers and trails.
Assateague Island, Maryland (Mid-Atlantic)
Assateague Island, a national seashore located off the coast of Maryland, is known for its quiet, clean beaches and herds of wild ponies. When not relaxing on the beaches, visitors can hike through dunes, forests and marshes or explore the bay on a kayak. Without any formal lodgings, visitors pitch tents on the beach or stay the night in RVs and cars.
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