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12 Kid-Thrilling Stops That Erase Road Trip Boredom

By Madeline Holler |

road trips, family vacation

Kids love road trips, especially when they’re not taken too seriously.

During a recent 2,000-mile road trip, my kids and I were flying along Interstate 40 in Arizona when we came to the state’s notorious Painted Desert. It was breathtakingly beautiful and everything anyone has ever said it would be. Yet my kids? They were deep in some kind of backseat little brother torture and tuned out all my exclamations of the awesomeness of nature, etc.

That’s the thing about family vacations, especially with kids of such different ages like I have — 10, 6 and 2. What’s interesting for me is often on the dry side for them. What’s fun for the 6-year-old is “babyish” for my oldest. And the 2-year-old? He just wants to snack.

We could go the Disneyland route, but I like seeing stuff. So instead, I’ve started building in little side trips of weird stuff to keep our family vacations memorable. Three hours at an 1,000-year-old pueblo erased eight hours of being restrained in the back seat.

Here are 12 quick stops that are guaranteed to get your kids’ attention and make long road trips less monotonous. These hardly cover all of the U.S. so be sure to add yours in comments.

Image: Lecates via flickr

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12 Road Trip Stops to Make Family Vacations a Thrill for the Kids

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Even if the Grand Canyon can't get your gadget-obsessed kids to love nature, standing 4,000 feet from the ground on a glass sidewalks is guaranteed to freak them out. They'll never forget it.

Get on-the-road entertainment ideas from the pros: Top 25 Travel Blogs for Families!

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About Madeline Holler


Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “12 Kid-Thrilling Stops That Erase Road Trip Boredom

  1. Little Frogs says:

    Casa Bonita is real? I totally thought they made that up in South Park

  2. Madeline Holler says:

    No! Totally real. Still open. The works. Go. Go!

  3. Brandy Baltier says:

    If you value your gastro-intestinal system and your wallet, avoid Casa Bonita! I get stuck going every time my best friend’s step kids come to town, and I always seem to disastrously be out of Pepto every time I get home! Yes, the kids love it, but since I am from Southern New Mexico, I judge “Mexican” food pretty harshly! LOL! I guess you have to go at least once, if only to see the sign with Cartman on it when you leave! HAHAHA!

  4. Violeta Gill says:

    San Francisco is the best! Pier 39 and Alcatraz is a MUST! The zoo is nice as well!!

  5. Sarah says:

    No one should go to Casa Bonits for the food, granted, but it is a major part of my childhood and the childhoods of very many who grew up in CO. Of course, that’s why Trey and Matt put it in South Park (I guess). They remember it too!

  6. Caroline says:

    This was inspiring! We recently went to Corpus Christi and had a blast (both me, my husband and our sons 4 and 6) on the USS Lexington. Thinking about going west and north on next road trip, so this definitely inspired me.



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