Sometimes, when I am driving on a road trip, I am on a mission. Get there and get there as soon as possible. Let’s get this vacation started!
But…keeping kids cooped up in a car for a long time makes them cranky which makes everyone else cranky.
Kiddos (or at least mine) are full of energy – without coffee (What? How?). They don’t look forward to sitting on their butts all day like I do. I have learned to make frequent stops and let the kiddos run and get all their wiggles out. They usually do well sitting in the car for about 3-4 hours, and then they need a break. Here are some ideas that have worked for us and might work well for your family too.
Since Chik-Fil-A restaurants have indoor playgrounds, they are fantastic options for pit stops, especially with smaller children. When I first started traveling with my kids, I would make the kids sit and eat before they could play in the play area. They were so tired of sitting in the car, sitting to eat was the last thing they wanted to do. We would have a cooler of snacks and drinks in the car, so they weren’t very hungry when we stopped anyway.
I have learned to just take them for a potty break, get myself a cup of coffee, and then watch the kids play in the playground. I usually let them play for at least 45 minutes to an hour. If they get hungry, we get something to eat to go (or they eat the snacks we have in the car). Usually, after running the around for a while, the kids hop back in the car for their snacks and a movie. The kiddos almost always fall asleep during or after their movie, and I get another 3-4 hours of driving done.
I have noticed that some Chik-Fil-A Restaurants will take your order outside. They let you park and bring the kiddos in, and they bring your food right to your table for you. You don’t have to wait in line and wrestle kids – SO NICE!
Chik-Fil-A makes it easy to find a restaurant by having locations on their website and APP. They will also text their restaurant locations. You can learn more HERE.
I don’t really like McDonald’s food, but they make a decent cup of coffee and many of them have a nice Play Place. I try to do the same routine with the kids as I do at Chik-Fil-A.
You can find local McDonald’s restaurants with Play Places HERE. (Just type in your City, State & Click indoor and/or outdoor Play Place to find one closest to you.)
Parks & Playgrounds
If the weather is nice, I like to find a park that is not too far from the main road we are using. Parks are perfect for letting the kiddos run around and get some fresh air. They always have more room for running and playing than the restaurant playgrounds. Here are some great websites and APPs that are helpful in finding Parks and Playgrounds while on a road trip.
Interstate Rest Areas
I love rest areas and appreciate them. They have saved our bladders several times. Honestly, they are not always my first choice in stopping with kids, because of the busy parking lots. However, there are a lot of nice Interstate Rest Areas with lots of shaded, grassy areas and covered picnic tables. They can be ideal for stopping with the kiddos, having a picnic, and letting the kids play hide-and-seek or run around. And the restrooms are usually well maintained and clean.
Here is a great website for finding local rest areas:
Interstate Rest Areas
Sometimes it is nice to take our time on a road trip and stop at museums or other interesting places. If we don’t have to be in a certain city or town at a certain time, we make plans to stop at certain places of interest or roadside attractions. It is something we all can enjoy, and a great way to stretch our legs.
Roadtrippers has a great list of Roadside Attractions all across the USA. You can see it HERE.
Roadside America also has a list of roadside attractions, listed by state for the USA, and by providence for Canada. You can see this webpage HERE.
Roadside America also offers Trip Routing HERE. And an APP HERE.
My FAVORITE way to find attractions in a certain area is the Along the way APP.
This APP shows food, parks, coffee, and other places of interest that are on your route, anywhere in the world! It is great for planning ahead and for those unexpected pit stops.
Above: One of our favorite places to stop and run around- Virginia Safari Park
I like to keep a pen and paper with me in the car. If we find a great playground or rest area, I write the exit number and name of the area so that we can stop there again on our way home. It really makes the return trip home a lot smoother.
These are just a few ideas that have helped us on our road trips. What are your favorite ways to let the kiddos run after a long drive?
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