Bring the Family on These 5 Multigenerational Road TripsBy Jenny Shank
The carefree, go-at-your-own-speed adventure of a road trip is a perennial favorite for families. Including multiple generations in the getaway offers opportunities to spark connections, build memories and even give parents a break while grandparents and grandchildren bond.
Here are five destinations where you can embark on the family road trip of your dreams.
As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
Alaska: Fairbanks to Anchorage and Seward
Alaska is the perfect place for multigenerational travel, with activities that cater to retirees, active adults and curious kids. Begin your trip in Fairbanks, where you can visit the University of Alaska Museum of the North to learn about Alaskan culture and ecology and take a picture with Otto, an almost 9-foot-tall mounted grizzly.
Drive a couple of hours south to reach Denali National Park, stunning in any season. With good luck the clouds will part to reveal Denali’s soaring peaks, but you’re guaranteed to see wildlife, from grizzlies crunching berries in the braided river valleys to foxes leaping to catch prey.
Continue on your drive four hours south to Anchorage, where the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center allows you to approach all the animals you’ve glimpsed from a distance. Feed willow branches to a herd of towering moose from the safety of an elevated platform, listen to the wolf pack howl and learn about the center’s rehabilitation efforts.
Continue south to Exit Glacier and embark on a family-friendly hike to visit the active glacier, witness the ice-scoured hillside and observe the markers that indicate the glacier’s retreat.
A 40-minute drive along forested roads will bring you to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, where you can touch sea stars, watch seals and sea lions cavort, and walk among tufted puffins.
France: Day Trips from Paris to Normandy and Brittany
Start your family adventure Paris with a visit to the Jardin du Luxembourg, beloved by all ages for its gorgeous flower beds, basins for sailing toy boats, huge play area for kids, puppet theater, and café selling tasty crepes, sandwiches and salads.
With Paris as a base, several regional wonders are within day-trip distance. The Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy is an enchanting medieval village perched atop a tidal island. Wend your way up the cobblestone streets to the Romanesque-Gothic abbey.
The charming Saint-Malo offers an immersion in the traditions of Brittany in just a four-hour drive from Paris. Stroll along the ramparts — nearly a thousand years old in some areas — for coastal views and history lessons, including the town’s colorful history as a pirate outpost. Fly kites along the beach and then sample Brittany’s signature crepes and shellfish.
China: Chengdu, Sichuan
Travelers of all ages can agree on one thing: Pandas are adorable. Plan a road trip around a visit to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, about an hours drive from Chengdu’s city center. You can learn about panda conservation and breeding efforts, watch dozens of young pandas play amid trees and toys, and even hold a baby panda — which feels like cuddling an overgrown puppy — long enough to snap a photo.
Back in Chengdu, have a contest to see which generation can best endure the spice of Sichuan’s classic hot pot and stroll through the gardens and temples of Culture Park.
Drive a few hours south of Chengdu to visit the Leshan Giant Buddha, a 233-foot-tall Tang Dynasty statue carved out of the mountainside, the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. Mengdingshan Tea Plantation, where visitors can see how tea is grown and learn about tea traditions, is accessible via an easy drive to the southwest of Chengdu.
Costa Rica: San Jose to Guanacaste
Whether your ideal family vacation includes searching for sloths in the jungle or acting like a sloth on a beach lounge, Costa Rica will fulfill your dreams.
Fly into San Jose and visit the bustling Mercado Central for Costa Rican coffee and souvenirs and the Museo Nacional to see a butterfly garden and history and culture exhibits (plus free admission for kids).
Next, hit the road for some jungle adventure at Arenal Volcano National Park, about a three-hour drive north. Embark on an easy loop hike to see lava flows, capuchin monkeys, sloths and ceiba trees.
Continue west to the coast and settle in at The Westin Reserva Conchal, an All-Inclusive Golf Resort & Spa for swimming pools, beach access, golfing and spa amenities. Then take a leatherback turtle conservation tour at Las Baulas National Park, where sea turtles have hatched for thousands of years.
Namibia: Windhoek to Walvis Bay
Namibia’s comfortable dry season falls during many people’s summer vacation — July and August — setting the stage for an epic African road trip for your family.
Fly into the capital city of Windhoek where you can rent a car (which comes with an orientation to Namibia’s driving rules) and drive to nearby Daan Viljoen Nature Reserve. Tool around the park to view wildebeest, springbok, zebras and more.
On your way to the coast, travel through Namib-Naukluft National Park for stunning red desert dune views and glimpses of wildlife, including wildcats, baboons and jackals.
Once you reach the Atlantic coast, settle in at Walvis Bay to see flocks of flamingos and dolphins frolicking in the lagoon. If anyone in your group prefers indoor adventures, head to bright, modern Dunes Mall for shopping.