Great Road Trips for The End of Summer
Itching to get away but can’t quite budget the flight to Disney or the Caribbean? Here are some of our favorite options that are just a car ride away.
Niagara Falls, NY
It’s a bit of a hike (about six hours north), but there’s nothing like seeing Niagara Falls. If you decide to walk across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada, you’ll need birth certificates for the kids and passports for adults. Don’t miss a ride on the Maid of the Mist and a walk through the Cave of the Winds. Make a detour to Rochester (yes, Rochester) on the ride home to visit the Strong National Museum of Play for a retro fix of arcade games and pinball from yesteryear. There’s also a real life Sesame Street, and a Hall of Fame gallery dedicated to the best toys of all time.
Politics aside, D.C. is a great place to visit, especially on a tight budget. The Smithsonian museums are free, which means the incredible art, massive natural history museum and the cool air and space exhibits won’t cost a penny. The National Zoo, which has the closest pandas to NJ, is also free (though you do have to pay for parking). Plan to go on a walking tour of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and others that commemorate our nation’s history. After a day of touring, reward the kids with a stop at Red Velvet Cupcakery for a signature cupcake or try the chicken and waffles at Founding Farmers.
Valley Forge, PA
This historical park is home to one of the most memorable Revolutionary War battles. Tour the buildings, learn the history and relax with picnics or bike rides on 30 miles of trails. If you want more nature, visit the John James Audubon Center, or go canoeing or kayaking on the Schuylkill River with Port Providence Paddle, a rental spot right on the river and canal. Brave kids will want to try iFly (aka indoor skydiving) at the nearby enormous King of Prussia mall.
Situated in the famed Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium has one of the biggest collections of sea creatures you’ll ever see (the dolphin show is a can’t miss!). It’s also surrounded by natural beauty which makes for some spectacular views and photo ops. Baseball fans will want to check out Camden Yards (there’s an affordable tour offered most days), and the birthplace of Babe Ruth himself. The Maryland Zoo in Druid Hill Park is just a few miles outside the city. Don’t forget to indulge in the amazing seafood and crab dishes that Charm City is known for.
Virginia Beach, VA
Head about seven hours south to Virginia Beach and you’ll enjoy some top-tier outdoor time. On top of typical boardwalk fun, amusement rides and arcade games, you can also try hang gliding at Virginia Hang Gliding, great for kids as young as age four. The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is packed with hands-on exhibits, a nature path and even zip lining. It’s also worth a short drive to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg for more thrill rides and rollercoaster fun with your crew.
The Berkshires, MA
This section of western Massachusetts is a must if you’re looking for a scenic outdoor getaway. Visit Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, where the kids can meet piglets, lambs, calves and chicks. Be sure to stop by the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge to see what’s in bloom before hiking a local trail. Look for more than 135 species of wildflowers at Hebert Arboretum in Pittsfield. And plan to hit up the local museums and a farm-to-table restaurant, like the Red Lion Inn.
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