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These are the best scenic family road trips for families, from a parent and travel expert who's been to all 50 states.

Taryn White   

These are the best scenic family road trips for families, from a parent and travel expert who's been to all 50 states.
  • I'm a travel expert, and I've been to all 50 states.
  • I love taking road trips with my family. We get to see a lot of different things on one trip.

Road trips are the ultimate symbol of freedom, discovery, and the boundless beauty of the US. On many such trips with my family, it has not been just the destinations but also the journey that holds the magic; the open road itself becomes a vehicle for family memories and shared experiences.

Over my life, I've traversed all 50 states, both with my family while growing up and now with my husband and kids, and I've reveled in the splendor of countless scenic highways and breathtaking byways. As a travel expert, I believe these three incredible routes are the best if you're looking to go on an amazing road trip experience with your own family.

Cruise up (or down) California's Pacific Coast Highway

Family travelers looking for a truly magical journey need to look no further than the Pacific Coast Highway or California State Route 1. At about 650 miles, it's the longest route in California and the second longest in the US. Beginning in the charming seaside town of Dana Point, just outside Los Angeles, and winding up to San Francisco (or vice versa), this spectacular drive offers an endless array of jaw-dropping coastal vistas, sun-soaked beaches, and must-see stops.

As you travel north to Santa Barbara, stop at the Santa Barbara Zoo and take in unobstructed sunset vistas at Ellwood Mesa. Continue to San Luis Obispo, where you can choose from 65 hiking trails, explore the children's museum, or stroll through the infamous Bubblegum Alley. And don't miss out on other notable destinations like Big Sur, the charming seaside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and its crescent-shaped beaches and storybook-like architecture, or Monterey, home to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Once you reach San Francisco, take an exciting ride on the city's famous cable cars. Then visit the California Academy of Sciences, an all-in-one planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum in Golden Gate Park. And no matter how often you visit San Francisco, you must visit the Golden Gate Bridge, on foot or at vantage points like Battery Spencer or Fort Point.

Travel the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway, affectionately known as "America's Favorite Drive," meanders nearly 500 miles through Virginia and North Carolina. Connecting Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this scenic route boasts 272 magnificent overlooks and more than 100 hiking trails, including the famed Crabtree Falls.

Roanoke, the largest city along the Parkway, offers families a multitude of outdoorsy activities, like mountain biking at Explore Park and hiking to the famous Roanoke Star in Mill Mountain Park. A bit farther south, near Meadows of Dan, VA, my family had a wonderful time at Primland Resort. We stayed in one of its 22 spacious lodge suites; they also offer unique treehouses and villas, an observatory for stargazing, guided nature walks, thrilling ATV rides, and a fun-filled game room.

Near the end of the Parkway lies the mountain town of Asheville, which is close to several family-friendly hiking trails, including Graveyard Fields. There, my family enjoyed panoramic viewpoints, toured the iconic Biltmore Estate, and visited the River Arts District, Asheville Museum of Science, and North Carolina Arboretum.

The centrally located Grand Bohemian Asheville, located next to the Biltmore Estate, is ideal for exploring the city's bustling downtown area, which is known for its arts, crafts, and delicious local cuisine. The region also has several excellent glamping options, including the cabins at Asheville Glamping.

Take a road trip through Arizona

From majestic mountains to captivating canyons, Arizona's glorious scenery cannot be fully realized by visiting just one destination. You must explore it through the open road. Start your journey in the Phoenix area, which has an abundance of kid-friendly attractions, like Legoland Discovery Center, Butterfly Wonderland, and the i.d.e.a. Museum.

As you venture just two hours north, stop in Sedona to explore the vibrant art scene and mesmerizing red rock formations. Admire the area's stunning beauty on a thrilling Pink Jeep Tour, and retire to campgrounds like Chavez Crossing RV Park and Rancho Sedona RV Park. Another economical accommodation option is the two-bedroom suites at Los Abrigados Resort and Spa. Families looking to splurge should stay at the Enchantment Resort in Boynton Canyon for relaxation and endless family-friendly activities, including hiking, stargazing, and cultural activities at Camp Coyote.

Spend several days exploring the west, north, and south rims of the Grand Canyon, marveling at panoramic vistas at the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West, and kid-friendly hiking trails, like the 1.8-mile South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point. For a rush of adrenaline, set out on a whitewater rafting excursion with companies like Advantage Grand Canyon.

To make the most of your time, pitch a tent at one of six campgrounds within Grand Canyon National Park, reserve an RV spot at Trailer Village, or stay at one of the nearby hotels like El Tovar Hotel, Under Canvas Grand Canyon, and the historic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, where you can take a fabulous train ride to the canyon's South Rim.

Last but certainly not least is a trip to Page, where short hikes lead to the marvelous Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Families can also take a boat cruise on Lake Powell and visit the Glen Canyon Dam.