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.
The Garden & Ocean State—Lambertville to Cape May, NJ —145 miles
What to See
Ready to go to TripAdvisor’s number 1 and 2 U.S. Summer Destinations? Start in Lambertville, Nj on the Delaware River to check out cute shops, galleries, and restaurants, and walk the bridge over the water to New Hope, Pa if you want to ride the vintage New Hope & Ivyland Railroad.
Take Route 29 as it winds along the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park to Titusville and Washington Crossing State Park—the site of THAT famous painting. Check out the visitor’s center and trails, then go to I-95 N, which turns into I-295 S (we don’t make the rules). Take exit 63 to Grounds for Sculpture, a breathtaking 42-acre sculpture garden with performances and tours (buy discounted timed tickets online!). Return to 295 S for about nine miles, then get on 206 S for a leisurely drive through small towns and farmland.
In summer, consider stopping at farm stands and U-pick-it stops for delicious berries, tomatoes and corn, the White Dotte Dairy Bar (since 1952) and a gas station/grill with a giant gorilla statue and a paintball field next door. Enter the Pine Barrens, home of the “Jersey Devil,” and find plenty of hiking, camping and water fun in Wharton State Forest.
Take Middle Road in Hammonton to Batsto Village, a site dating to 1766 complete with a mansion, sawmill, and blacksmith. Proceed east to the Garden State Parkway S, then Exit 30 to Ocean City. Take the Ocean Drive by spotting the signs that say “Follow the Gull.” This 26-mile coastal road has panoramic views at drawbridges, inlets, and beaches. Wildwood and Wildwood Crest (that #1 destination) have wide, gentle beaches, an amusement park/boardwalk and fun “Doo Wop” architecture. Finally, drive down to Cape May, famous for gorgeous Victorian houses, fine beaches, a lighthouse, and local attractions like nature preserves and a zoo.
Good to Know: Be prepared for traffic in summer, or go in the offseason for savings. Many areas of the state are known for mosquitos, so bring repellent. Kids love the bright sights and sounds of the Wildwoods, but Cape May is quieter.
Where to Eat
Farm stands and diners, of course, but don’t forget the Nj specialty tomato pie—stop at Papa’s Tomato Pies, the oldest pizza joint in the country to try it. Save on seafood at Boathouse in Wildwood with early bird “sunset specials” and catch great water views (save room for Douglass Fudge and salt water taffy).
Where to Stay
If you like camping, Atsion in Wharton State Forest has lots to offer. In Wildwood, the Starlux has an amped-up retro feel (two rooms are in vintage Airstream trailers,) while the Caribbean Motel is the (renovated) real deal, opened in 1957. In Cape May, there are dozens of nice hotels and B&Bs or camp at Seashore Campsites & RV Resort.
photo: Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority
What’s your favorite family road trip? Share with us in the comments!