Taking a vacation with kids can be tricky, especially when it comes to traveling. Flying can be stressful and expensive, and if you're anything like me, it's your least favorite method of transportation even without kids.
Sometimes, half the fun and adventure of a vacation is getting there! Road trips can be a great way to bond with your family, so we've rounded up a few awesome places that are less than a 10-hour drive from the greater Philadelphia metro area. As an added bonus, you can travel to a few of these places by train, too!
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Make way for ducklings in Boston’s Public Garden. Photo by Kristen Sullivan
408 miles (approximately 7 hours)
Portland, Maine offers a plethora of fun activities for the whole family. Visit the observatory, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the downtown area, or take a ferry ride.
Assateague Island, MD / Chincoteague Island, VA
152 miles and 188 miles, respectively (approximately 3-4 hours)
Assateague Island is a great place to take a vacation if you and your family love the outdoors. You'll see all kinds of wildlife on this trip, including wild horses! We've grouped this one together with Chincoteague Island because they've both got great beaches and wildlife. Check out the pony swim on Chincoteague Island for a really unique experience.
Myrtle Beach, SC
577 miles (approximately 9 hours)
Visiting the beach is always fun for the kids. Get a nice change of pace from the Jersey Shore, by visiting Myrtle Beach. Visit the Nascar Racing Speedway, take a pirate adventure tour, check out a water park, go on a zip lining adventure, and more.
298 miles (approximately 5 hours)
Williamsburg has it all, from history, to parks like Busch Gardens, and hiking, kayaking, biking, and more. There's something fun for everyone.
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Enjoy history and theme park fun at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Photo by Kristen Sullivan
Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH
479 miles (approximately 7-8 hours)
Deemed the roller coaster capital of the world, Cedar Point is a must-visit for any thrill-seekers. Cedar Point also features water rides and Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island, which opened in 2019.
Pocono Mountains, PA
110 miles (approximately 2 hours)
Philly families might automatically think of skiing when the Poconos are mentioned, but there is so much more! Horseback riding, festivals, picnicking, and hikes are just some of the many options that await visitors.
Outer Banks, NC
384 miles (approximately 7-8 hours)
Those who like the water but want a different scene from the Jersey Shore can take a ride south to North Carolina's Outer Banks. These quieter beaches allow families to truly unplug. Besides the beautiful beaches, visitors might see wild horses. Additional sites include nearby lighthouses and a sea turtle rescue center.
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Embrace summer fun at Virginia Beach. Photo by Jon Abrahams, courtesy of Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
Virginia Beach, VA
276 miles (approximately 5-6 hours)
With a boardwalk, sand, fishing, an aquarium, and a few great museums, Virginia Beach is a great spot to vacation with kids. Looking for other great places to explore nearby? Check out our Virginia road trip round-up for more fun ideas.
304 miles (approximately 5 hours)
On the other side of the state, Pittsburgh is a great city to visit with lots of activities for kids. Kids can use their imaginations at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, tour the USS Requin submarine at the Carnegie Science Center, and see animals at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
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Tour the USS Requin on a visit to Pittsburgh. Photo by Kristen Sullivan
Adirondack Mountains, NY
357 miles (approximately 6 hours)
This is a great vacation year-round. In the Adirondacks you can go swimming in summer, see the leaves in fall, and go skiing in winter. Take a look at our awesome list of things to do in Lake George for more ideas.
139 miles (approximately 2-3 hours)
Our nation's capital offers national monuments, cherry blossoms, free museums, and a phenomenal zoo. This trip can be affordable since many attractions are no charge. Another cost saving tip: Stay outside of DC and take the Metro off peak to avoid parking charges.
Blue Ridge Parkway, VA/NC
400 miles (approximately 6 hours)
Turn off the screens and look out the window while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway is 469 miles long and is known as "America's Favorite Drive." Along the way, travelers can camp, canoe, hike, picnic, bike, and take pictures. Popular spots along the Parkway include Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, Mabry Mill, Linville Falls, and Doughton Park.
Cape Cod, MA
348 miles (approximately 6 hours)
Cape Cod is so much more than just a beach, with so many things to do, the whole family will be entertained. Ride along gorgeous bike paths, go on a whale watching cruise, and visit Woods Hole Science Aquarium (for free!).
Block Island, RI
278 miles (approximately 6 hours)
This little gem off the coast of Rhode Island offers families so much to do. There are lighthouses to explore, animals to watch, and beaches to walk. In addition, getting there is an experience as the island is only accessible by ferry. Cars and passengers can be accommodated.
Harper's Ferry, WV
171 miles (approximately 3 hours)
Known as the Mountain State, West Virginia's Harper's Ferry provides families with both nature and history. Families can hike through trails that range from beginner to difficult, see wildlife, and explore vegetation.
Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor, ME
574 miles (approximately 9 hours)
One of the most visited national parks, Acadia National Park boasts the nickname, Crown Jewel of the Atlantic Coast. There are plenty of things to do in this region such as hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, whale watching, and sailing. Many feel the best time to visit is late August when the weather is warmer.
643 miles (approximately 10 hours)
This midwestern town has one of the best children's museums in the country—The Children's Museum of Indianapolis—and the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Other attractions include Canal Walk, Soliders and Sailors Monument, and Conner Prairie, an interactive historical museum in Fishers.
425 miles (approximately 7 hours)
Amazing activities await families in the mountainside village of Stowe. Of course, this region is best known for its winter sports, but during the summer visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, zip lining, swimming, and golf. If possible, be sure to check out the famous Stowe Balloon Festival.
Originally published 2016. Writer Kristen Sullivan contributed to this 2021 update.