There’s a reason why road trips are such a popular American pastime. With the right itinerary, you can find so many things this country has to offer and fit the tastes of every member of your brood. The Northeast is chock-full of terrific, family-friendly attractions, with everything from adrenaline-pumping amusement parks to taking in natural beauty on quiet beaches. Click through the gallery to get planning.
All-American Downeast—Bar Harbor & the Acadia National Byway, Me—40 miles
What to See
You could cruise the Acadia National Byway in three hours, but there’s so much to do and see! Bar Harbor is your base with lots of shops, a shore path, and lobster, lobster everywhere, At low tide a sand bar connects downtown Bar Harbor to Bar Island, so grab some buckets and shovels and explore all the sea life. Walk the Bar Island nature trail to the summit for amazing views—just leave time before the tide rolls in! Stop at the Abbe Museum to learn about Native American culture and history, then head to Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater, a combination boat tour and silly educational show that’s fun kids and grownups alike.
Now it's time to get your National Park on! Hit the Acadia Byway loop, and five miles past the Hulls Cove Visitor Center turn off for Sieur De Monts to visit the Nature Center. One mile on is the Champlain Mountain Overlook, then four miles farther is Sand Beach. Stop a half-mile on at Thunder Hole for crashing waves, then one mile on, near Otter Cliff, explore the tidal pools an hour or two before low tide at Otter Point. You can take a wagon ride, hike, bike or ride horseback at Wildwood Stables. Next, stop at Jordan Pond House for a meal or the century-old tradition of tea on the lawn. Another four miles on, turn right off the main road to ascend to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the eastern seaboard north of Brazil. To return to the visitor center, follow the signs.
Good to Know: Acadia can get crowded, so plan ahead and show up early. Avoid lines by getting your Acadia pass online, and check on planned road work to avoid traffic. The National Park Service has things to do for kids, and if your family likes hiking, Gorham Mountain trail offers beautiful ocean views and wild blueberries in July and August.
Where to Eat
Rose Eden Lobster is a go-to spot that which also has “wicked good” blueberry pie. Try Jeannie's Great Maine Breakfast for vegetarian and gluten-free options, or go full carnivore at Mainely Meat Barbecue, which has Udder Heaven ice cream next door. A special treat for the kids (and you?) has got to be Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium.
Where to Stay
The Bar Harbor Motel is family friendly, close to everything and reasonably priced, while the Bayview has water views and townhouse suites. On the south side of the loop, Otter Creek Inn has a market and marshmallow toasting on the backyard bonfire, and for camping in the park, Blackwoods Campground has all you need.
photo: Wikimedia Commons
What’s your favorite family road trip? Share with us in the comments!