The start of summer means many families are getting ready to take vacations. Most American families travel by car. We’ll give you three different road trip ideas you can take with your family, from the DC area, this summer. Before you jump in the car, here are a few tips to get your road trip ready!

  • Download movies and TV shows on tablets before your trip in case Wi-Fi is not available to you in the car.
  • Make hotel reservations ahead of time so you have a set goal as to where you’re stopping and to guarantee you have a place to rest.
  • Mentally and physically prepare yourself for traffic.
  • Allow for splurges
  • Bring lots of snacks for the car.
  • Bring baby wipes and toilet paper for public bathrooms.
  • Pack lots of Patience!

Now, it's time to hit the road but where should you go?

Family Travel Writer & Blogger, Guimor Ochoa shares her adventure on her blog CosmoMommy.com.

Here are three destinations she suggests to explore that are just a few hours from the DC-Maryland-Virginia area.

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is "Kidsburgh" and it’s not just a catchy PR slogan!

I think the most striking thing to me about the city was a.) how green it was, and b.) how many bridges there are.

Homewood Suites by Hilton in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. The hotel is modern, accommodating, friendly and ample. An extra bonus… it has laundry rooms where you could wash and dry your clothes.

Skyline
The Fountain at Point State Park has returned to the Pittsburgh skyline. The Three Sister Bridges, along with PNC Park, shines in the background.
Lori Geyer/VisitPittsburgh

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Thanks to Netflix, my kids are big Mr. Rogers fans, a Pittsburgh native. You can find Mr. Rogers’ encased mementos like a pair of his sneakers, a sweater and his puppets scattered throughout the museum. Their favorite room, by far, was the Garage where you can drive the SmartforTwo car. My fave room was the Nursery where everyone can chill a bit and play with a gigantic Lite-Brite (shout out to 1983!).

The Just Ducky Tour takes visitors on a narrated land and water tour of Pittsburgh. The tour starts in historic Station Square then takes you to the city’s business and cultural districts before splashing down into one of the three rivers.!

Founded in 1898, Kennywood Amusement Park was designated a national historic landmark in 1987. While it’s technologically modern, with fun, cutting-edge rides, I love how the park has maintained its vintage feel.

Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. The exhibits showcase the animals’ natural environments in the wild. Giraffes, zebras, and elephants roam together, providing a more realistic and enjoyable experience for both the animals and the visitors. I think our favorite part was having the aquarium right there within the grounds though. After walking the entire zoo outdoors, the mellow, air-conditioned aquarium is a welcome relief. It feels like you’re diving into the sea and it’s definitely needed after the physically and visually rigorous zoo.

CHildren enjoying the seals at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Visit Pittsburgh

Ohiopyle State Park- One hour from Pittsburgh. Take a family-friendly river trip on the Middle Yough, which offers nine miles of gentle rapids perfect for a leisurely float. These low key rapids make are ideal for novice kayakers, families with young children and those looking for a relaxing way to cool off. Challenge yourself on some of the best kayaking and whitewater rafting in Pennsylvania.

St. Simons Island, GA

St. Simons Island is located on the southeast Georgia coast between Savannah and Jacksonville, FL. The largest of state’s notable Golden Isles, tourists are attracted to St. Simons Island for its beaches, cute shops, tasty restaurants, history and a few of the best things to do in Georgia with kids.

  • Check out Cannon’s Point Preserve, a large tract of land in the northeastern part of the island, that has been converted to a nature preserve. You can go hiking or check out historical ruins and untouched maritime forest.
Cannons Point Reserve
Guiomar Ochoa
  • Take a Lighthouse Trolley tour. This is a great way to physically see St. Simons Island and also learn about its history. You’re also doing all this on a hip vintage trolley so your kids will enjoy that.
  • Explore the island’s ample cultural attractions including the Fort Frederica National Monument where Georgia's fate was decided in 1742 when Spanish and British forces clashed on St. Simons Island. Fort Frederica's troops defeated the Spanish, ensuring Georgia's future as a British colony. Today, the archeological remnants of Frederica are protected by the National Park Service.
  • Christ Church has become a popular place of worship for U.S. presidents including Calvin Coolidge, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. In fact, former President and Mrs. Barbara Bush honeymooned in St. Simons Island and still go back as often as they can.
  • King and Prince Resort. Breathtaking ocean views from rooms. Beautiful pools and the immaculate beach! I loved this place and very family friendly.
  • The Beach Club at St. Simons. The Beach Club has one, two and three bedroom condos, which makes it the perfect spot for families who need a little space or larger family groups to get together and enjoy the beach while on St Simons Island.

Lake Anna, VA

80 miles from DC, Lake Anna is the second largest lake in the state of Virginia. The majority of Lake Anna is in Louisa & Spotsylvania counties with a small portion lying in Orange County, VA.

The lake area is continuously growing and more modern conveniences are arriving by the day. Lake Anna is the perfect spot for fishing, lake boating, and much more. The Lake Anna State Park is one of the most amazing features in this area with sandy beaches, swimming areas, walking & hiking trails, and much more!

The Lake Anna State Park has a beach on one of Virginia's most popular lakes, a fishing pond accessible to children and the disabled, a bathhouse-concessions complex and a boat launch. Camping, picnicking, six camping cabins and 10 two-bedroom cabins, seven with views of the lake, also are available. With more than 15 miles of trails, the park offers many hiking, biking, and horseback riding options.

Driving there, you’ll pass a Moo Thru where you can buy milk and ice cream from local dairy farmers. You can also find one at the lake. Munch on some yummy food at Tim's at Lake Anna

Moo Thru Lake Anna, VA
Guiomar Ochoa

Wherever you decide to take your family this summer, remember to have fun, capture the memories and pack your patience!

Safe travels!

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