As we barrel through the last remaining weeks of school, we also hear the call of summer around the corner.  And summer means a vacation. We do have a budget beach trip on the books. But lately we’ve been hearing a lot about amazing road trips other families have taken. Trips through mountains, around lakes, and along coastlines. Summer road trips where technology is limited and family time is abundant. With gas prices still low enough to feel “cheap” this summer may just be the best time to hit the open road.

Sounds pretty great, right? We think so too, which is why we’ve researched and found these 3 summer road trips to try…if not this year, then definitely next year! 

Outer Banks: NC 12

The Outer Banks are a series of barrier islands along North Carolina’s Coast (approximately 200 miles of them!) and following highway  NC 12, families can see a great deal of them.  This narrow, two lane highway is notoriously winding and scenic. Along the way, families can stop at beach towns for everything from hang gliding lessons at historic Kitty Hawk to watching the wild horses of Corolla. This road trip has everything to satisfy all family members: enough history, recreation and relaxation to make everyone happy.

Pacific Coast Highway

Another option is on the other side of the country, the Pacific Coast Highway which stretches along the coastline of California. Many road warriors aim to take this trip from San Francisco to San Diego (or vice versa) and hit up all the incredible stops along the way.  Part of the appeal for this trip is the changing landscape of this amazing coastline. Northern California includes ragged cliffs, sea lions and majestically tall trees. Big Sur is one of the most famous scenic areas of the US, for good reason. Finally, you can end in San Diego with approximately 70 miles of beach to relax and enjoy. For budget purposes, we recommend reading this before heading out.

Great Lakes Circle Tour

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Our third possible pick is the Great Lakes Circle Tour. While not one specific highway, the Circle Tour is actually a series of routes that are designed to see all 5 Great Lakes and the Lawrence River. To tackle the entire thing would take several days ( it is 6,500 miles of shoreline), so it may be best to break it down and do one or two loops instead. Points of interest include the suspension bridges,  historic lighthouses and waterfalls – yes, Niagara Falls is there.  This road trip could be budgeted easily too as there are many opportunities for camping. On the flip side, if your family would feel more comfortable with less camping and more major city action, then VRBO could help cut costs too.

What do you think? Does being on the wide, open road as a family sound appealing or is that too much enclosed space for one family? What other summer road trips should we consider? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! 

And don’t forget to use coupons for flights, car rentals and hotels to keep this adventure within a budget!

Hi, I'm Ayse! I am a mom of three wonderful children and originally began working as a librarian. Now, I love to write! I am an avid coupon finder, deal expert, and lover of anything that can save money without compromising on quality.