The Best Summer Road Trip Destinations for Families 2021

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Summer Family Road Trips!

We all have memories from our childhood of the trips we took with our family; being kids, we remember only the funny and good stuff. Now that we’re parents, we know that while road trips can be intense, especially with younger kids, this time together bonds us and will be part of the fabric of our children’s memories.

A discovery we may have always known as we make our way out of the pandemic is that New York and the cities and states surrounding our hometown are full of beauty, history, and adventure.

Here is to a summer of awe and travel with these must road trips for Summer 2021.


Catskills, NY

A recent trip my family took was to the Catskills. There were a few things that went through my mind when I visited the Catskills. One, we need to do this more—two, what an easy trip it is. And three, Woah, can the Catskills be even more beautiful? And while New York is reopening and there are many things to do, why I loved our road trip to the Catskills was that it was something we could do even as the world was in a crazy state. Of course, it is always nice to visit places and try the food, but nature alone in the Catskills is a sight. First, we took a hike, literally. There are many hiking trails in the Catskills, and my mom’s tip is to check out the Great Northern Catskills’ website to find the trail that works for your family. While nature is supreme in Greene County, I have a list of what we will be visiting this summer. Top on this list is horseback riding, more hiking trails, food tasting at the restaurants, and taking our oldest son on a camping trip or staying at one of the family resorts. Yay for summer upstate!

Travel Tip: For a family-friendly hike, check out Mountain Top Arboretum, a public garden nestled in the Catskill Mountains where kids can explore native plant communities, natural meadows, wetlands, and of course, hike the forest.

fp family road trips Historic Downtown Annapolis 1 by Bob Peterson 2021 06

Annapolis, Maryland

Since the pandemic, one sneaky parenting move I have been doing with the kids is picking fun spots to visit that are also full of history. Annapolis is just the ticket. The car ride is about 3.5 hours (starting from Midtown). Go for a long weekend or make it a family vacation and spend the week, as there’s plenty to do. We love to stay downtown at one of their charming beds, breakfasts, historic inns, or hotels. We park the car and explore on foot since Annapolis is a walkable town. First stop, City Dock. We enjoy watching the boats parade along Ego Alley. If your family loves being on the water, take a 40-minute harbor cruise or a sail on the historic skipjack, the Wilma Lee. For fun with the older kids, you can also rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards. With 533 miles of shoreline, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County offer endless opportunities for on-the-water fun. When it’s time to feed the kids, hop aboard a water taxi for a quick ride to a delish meal along Restaurant Row and visit the Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park; it just reopened with a new state-of-the-art exhibition, Our Changing Waterfront, that the kids adore. Don’t miss the Maryland State House – the oldest in continuous legislative use in the nation; the home of the Declaration of Independence signer William Paca and stop by for a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy! To plan your trip check out visitannapolis.org!

Travel Tip: Be sure to make time to head over to the Banneker-Douglass Museum of African American history and culture, focusing on the history of Maryland.

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Hudson County, NJ

If looking for a day trip or a long weekend getaway with the fam this summer — you’re going to want to check out Hudson County, New Jersey. With education and history (and fun!) being a theme of these road trips, Hudson County (NJ) is on point. For your skater kid, head over to one of the many skate parks (Bayonne, Hoboken, Jersey City, Union City, and West New York) so they can show off their backside moves. There are plenty of gorgeous parks for the little ones — Pier A Hoboken, North Hudson Braddock Park, Hamilton Park Weehawken, to name just a few. My favorite for the entire family is Liberty State Park, situated on the Hudson River. The family (bring the stroller for the wee ones) can walk the two-mile Liberty Walk promenade with views of the One World Trade Center and Battery Park. When it’s time to rest or eat lunch, eat at the Liberty House Restaurant and take in the scene on the waterfront. And bringing that education and history theme into the trip, hop on a ferry via Statue Cruises and visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Liberty Science Center, the immersive, hands-on science museum is l. With so much to do in Hudson County, NJ — check out all the attractions, places to eat delicious food at visithudson.org.

Travel Tip: If, like me, you appreciate a well-planned map, you’ll love these helpful road trip itinerary maps that can be downloaded. I have my eye on the map that educates and traces New Jersey’s Black Heritage in Northern New Jersey and the Warren Heritage and Western Highlands: New Jersey Scenic Byways, but there are plenty more to choose from. Go to visithudson.org/nj-road-tripitinerary to pick your road map.

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Poconos Mountains

(northeast Pennsylvania’s Carbon, Monroe, Pike, and Wayne counties)

If looking for a summer trip in the mountains, a Poconos visit needs to be in your future. This beauty is right out of a fairytale book with non-stop mountain terrain, rivers, waterfalls, and woodlands. While popular in the winter, the summer in Poconos is just as gorgeous and fun. There are 261 miles of bike and hiking trails as well as fishing and boating. Families can also visit the nine state parks and two National Parks. There are many camping options for families to pitch a tent and enjoy the outdoors as well. If kids need a break from nature (yeesh, I know only kids would need a nature break), your youngest kids will love checking out the giraffes at claws n paws or learning about the history of local art at the Antoine Dutot Museum & Gallery. There is so much to do in the Poconos, so definitely check out poconomountains.com to map out your family road trip to the Poconos.

Travel Tip:  Want to make more of a commitment to your summer vacation in the Poconos and visit year-round? I can’t blame you. The Sérénité is a private residence club at Camelback Mountain. The Sérénité has created a hybrid vacation program where your new vacation home includes luxe amenities, a clubhouse, and more. Yes, please!

For the full list of summer road trip destinations, visit NewYorkFamily.com.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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