Summer Road Trip Ideas for Teens

When teens hit the magical age of 16 and finally get their license to drive, they will want to use it.

Pair the newfound freedom with several months of no school in the summer, and it can be tempting to load a car up with some close friends and hit the road. Depending on where you live in the States, there are a few different options for kids who want to explore without going too far.

On the East Coast, there are a number of stops for road trip-bound teens. Amusement fiends can find a number of high-quality theme parks on the coast. In Virginia, Busch Gardens is perfect for a day stop. New Jersey has Six Flags Great Adventure and, of course, Florida is home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando.

For non-theme park-themed stops, Philadelphia is home to the Mutter Museum, America’s self-proclaimed finest museum of medical history. Teens who find this macabre history interesting will also probably want to stop to see the Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts.

Panda at the Zoo in Washington, D.C. © Howard Nevitt, Jr. |

Panda at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. © Howard Nevitt, Jr. |

Finally, what kids don’t love a zoo? The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is free to enter, but the zoo asks for parking as a donation to keep funding the work they are doing.

On the West Coast, driving the California coast itself is hugely rewarding. Take the coast north into Seattle, and teens will enjoy exploring the Museum of Pop Culture. In addition to hosting exhibits all about music, science fiction, fantasy, horror and more, the museum has an excellent gift shop filled with merchandise from exhibits, making for an awesome souvenir.

Moving south, it is really cool to see the cities of California. Stopping in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego offer great food and views while allowing kids to see a little more of the world. If traveling to Southern California, make a stop at the San Diego Zoo, widely recognized as one of the best in the country.

Lots of folks will probably say the Midwest and other states in the middle of the country are called “flyover states” for a reason, but this is just not totally true. Teens can visit the Hall of Heroes Super Hero Museum in Elkhart, Indiana, which features a large collection of superhero memorabilia. Comedy fans can visit the burgeoning comedy scene in Chicago and see Second City perform.

Every teenager can find something they like on a road trip; the only question is how far they want to travel.