Hitting the Road in Style
Quality time is guaranteed when you pile the kids in the car and head out "on the road again" for a road trip with mom. It's a time of shared adventure, excitement and the kind of experience-it-yourself education that stays in your memories forever.
If you are ready to roll but don't know quite where to go, why not pick one of the iconic USA road trips? Here is a short list to get you started.
California Pacific Coast Highway
Think of the California Pacific Coast Highway as the Yellow Brick Road that will lead your family to adventure land. This legendary road runs up most of California's coast, but the trek from Carmel to Morro Bay is the most scenic section. Take the kids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA) to start things off right. Then head down through Carmel to Big Sur and beyond. This is a small, winding road where cliffs drop to the blue Pacific, so drive slowly and wait for good weather. One "don't miss" along the way is a tour of Hearst Castle (750 Hearst Castle Rd., San Simeon, CA), the fabulous mansion of media mogul Randolph Hearst.
The Florida Keys will open the door to a fantastic road trip with mom. Florida's Highway 1 stretches from mainland Florida 126 miles south, over bridges, atolls and islands. It's a stunning ribbon linking some of the most beautiful shorelines in the nation. Kids will love to explore Key Largo as well as Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and quirky Key West, made famous by writer Ernest Hemingway. They can snorkel, fish in creeks and swim in turquoise waters along the way.
Route 66 attracts road-trippers from all over the globe who come to get their "kicks." Starting in Chicago, you can drive all the way to Los Angeles if you've the time and inclination, stopping at the many eccentric landmarks along this legendary route. You'll traverse eight states and pass by or through many state parks as well as several national parks, including the Grand Canyon. Any section of Route 66 will have its own charms. Schedule the trip in spring, summer or autumn since snowy winter conditions jack up the stress level and reduce the fun.
South Dakota Black Hills
Can you name those presidents carved into the South Dakota cliffs? Everyone reads about them in grade school, but fewer actually get to eyeball them in person. Head through the South Dakota Black Hills on your family road trip, and your kids will be among the lucky few. Start in Rapid City, then drive the Badlands Loop Road, giving the children the chance to take photos and explore at scenic vista points. Take the Presidential Trail loop in Mount Rushmore National Monument (13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD) to pass near the iconic sculptures.
It's one of the biggest tourist draws in the United States: the Grand Canyon, a gorge some 277 miles long and 10 miles across. Its layered bands of red rock represent a cross section of millions of years of geological history. And there's no better road trip than around the rim from the oft-visited South Rim to the less visited North Rim. It's 220 gorgeous miles of stunning views, but passable only between mid-May and mid-October.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.