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.

Amusement Park Trifecta—Hershey Park, Pa & Sesame Place to Six Flags Great Adventure, Nj—150 miles

What to See
The family can’t get enough of amusement parks? Visit three whoppers with stops in rural Amish Country and historic Philadelphia in-between. Start at Hershey Park for rides for all ages, a water park, a zoo, and chocolate galoreyou can even design a candy bar! Our insider's guide will get you going, and don't forget to download the official park app to get tickets, maps and plan ahead.

Next take 322 to 117 through woods and farmland, with an optional stop at Mt. Gretna Lake for a dip. GPS is your friend from Pinch Rd. down to 283 and on to The Amish Experience for a look at plain living. Following the scenic Exton Bypass from Route 30 to 202 S, the kid-pleasing American Helicopter Museum is close. Take 202 N to I-76 and into Philadelphia, where you can take a historical tour of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, check out the Please Touch Me Museum for kids under 8, and the famous Franklin Institute for major family science fun.

Back on the road, I-95 N will take you to Sesame Place for amusement and water rides, parades and shows. From there, take I-195 E towards Trenton, with an optional stop in the amazing and restful sculpture garden Grounds for Sculpture, then one half-hour more on the highway gets you to Great Adventure, a monster of a park (the 2nd largest in the world!) with rides, a water park, shows, and an animal safari.

Good to Know: Planning ahead for theme parks is key, and we suggest looking for online coupons, buying passes in advance, and going early on weekdays, if you can, to avoid long lines. Make sure to bring extra clothes for water parks, too.

Where to Eat
In Lancaster County, stop by the Meadow Lane Road Stand for amazing desserts like local specialty shoofly pie. Philly’s holy trinity of sandwiches is the cheesesteak, the roast pork and the hoagie, and you can get them all at John’s Roast Pork. And when in Jersey, you gotta try the tomato pie, which you can do at Papa’s Tomato Pies, the oldest pizza shop in the U.S.

Where to Stay
The White Rose is an affordable family motel in Hershey with a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. In Lancaster County, Amishview Inn & Suites is a great base to explore Pennsylvania Dutch Country. The Courtyard Philadelphia Downtown is a good bet (compare booking sites for best prices).  Between Sesame Place and Great Adventure, the Quality Inn in Morrisville, Pa and the Hampton Inn in Robbinsville, Nj should do you right.

photo: Melanie on Flickr

What’s your favorite family road trip? Share with us in the comments!

—Gretchen Kunz