Taking an RV road trip is a favorite pastime for many families, where the journey is just as important as the destination. But if you don't plan it right, it can quickly turn into a disaster with bored children and lackluster pitstops. Apart from keeping kids entertained while on the road, make sure you're driving somewhere that includes scenic views and dynamic rest stops to break up the trip. These ideas for a fun family vacation include some of the best places to take your RV, promising a good time for both kids and parents.
Whether you're road tripping around the American South or driving cross country along the Appalachian Mountains, East Tennesse offers a wide range of activities to appeal to kids and adults. Most activities are centered around the resort towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, which are about 45 minutes east of Knoxville. Either city puts you on the doorstep to Great Smoky Mountains National Park—the most visited national park in the country—where you can keep the little ones entertained with wilderness hikes, playing in the river, kayaking, fishing, water tubing, and more.
Not all kids are equally entranced by nature and the outdoors, but these small Tennessee towns have much more to offer. The area is home to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, the Gatlinburg Sky Lift, and the world-famous theme park by country legend Dolly Parton, Dollywood. It may not get the attention of Orlando or Anaheim, but east-central Tennessee is a singular location with its own Appalachian charm.
Where to Stay
Smoky Bear Campground and RV Park in Gatlinburg and Riveredge RV Park in Pigeon Forge have great reviews, full hook-ups, large spaces, and all other amenities and features you’ll need for your trip. Both of them also have an on-site pool and clubhouse with games for hanging out and relaxing at the campsite in the evening.
Las Vegas may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think about a family-friendly vacation, but "Sin City" has a lot more to offer for travelers of all ages than just casinos, bars, and nightclubs. The entire city is set-up almost like a giant amusement park, and there are endless options of activities to keep kids and teens entertained at all hours of the day and night.
Start off just by walking around the Strip, which is an attraction in itself with its dazzling lights, water shows, and even an erupting volcano. Kids can play with dolphins and get up close to big cats at Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, see the namesake flamingoes and other exotic birds at Flamingo Hotel, or get a firsthand view of sharks from the Mandalay Bay Aquarium.
Las Vegas offers all types of exhilarating ventures for older kids or thrillseekers of all ages. Pilot your own stunt plane, try indoor skydiving, or take a plunge by bungee jumping from one of the Strip's highest buildings.
Where to Stay
You could stay at one of the RV parks outside of the city for a more rustic experience, but Vegas is all about the Strip and you can't get closer than the Circus Circus RV Park. It's part of the Circus Circus hotel, so RV guests can take advantage of all the resort amenities as well, including the Splash Zone and pool, free circus acts, and the on-site casino for parents. RV sites are full hook-ups with electricity, water, and sewage.
Visitors to Anaheim, California, are almost always in town for the city's premier attraction: Disneyland. The original Disney theme park and the adjacent addition of California Adventure are two of the most popular attractions in Southern California, and visiting either one is a magical experience for kids, teens, and adults. Downtown Disney is the pedestrian path between the two parks that's lined with family-friendly shops, restaurants, and live entertainment. At Disney, every tiny detail is meticulously designed to heighten the fantasy, so you can be assured that all parts are worth visiting.
Besides the Disney parks, there are plenty of other things to do around the city of Anaheim, in the surrounding Orange County, or even in nearby Los Angeles. Some of Southern California's best beaches are within a short driving distance from Anaheim, plus other iconic destinations such as Hollywood and Santa Monica Pier. If your family trip is theme park focused, then Universal Studios and Knott's Berry Farm are easy to reach and can round out your vacation with even more rides and shows.
Where to Stay
Hotels around Disneyland are notoriously expensive, so bringing your own accommodations is one of most affordable ways to enjoy the parks. Anaheim RV Park and Anaheim Harbor RV Park are two of the most highly-rated RV grounds in Anaheim with full hook-ups, free Wi-Fi, swimming pools, and game rooms. Most importantly, they're only a mile away from Disneyland and offer frequent shuttle services to the park entrance, so you can easily travel back and forth without too much headache.
The Gulf Coast of Alabama
The Gulf Coast is warmer than the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, offering ideal beach temperatures even in the dead of winter. The coast stretches from Texas all the way to the Florida Keys, and a road trip through this geographically and culturally diverse region would be a dream. The coastline of Alabama is the shortest of the five Gulf states, but it packs a lot of punch into its 60 miles of waterfront and the gorgeous Gulf State Park.
The state park is located in the resort town of Gulf Shores, Alabama, about an hour south of Mobile. The beach makes a great play area for children and adults alike. You can spend your days on the beach building sandcastles, skimboarding, looking for hermit crabs, or splashing around in the warm waters. The city is also home to other attractions such as the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and Waterville USA, a huge waterpark that's a fun place to stay cool in the southern humidity.
Where to Stay
Gulf Shores is a substantial tourist area, so there are plenty of places to park your ride. Gulf State Park is a public park that has coastal access plus a lake with over 400 outfitted RV pads. If you prefer privately-owned RV parks, you can try Sugar Sands RV Resort. It has full hook-ups and other amenities such as an on-site pool, but it's a short drive from the beach as opposed to walking distance like the state park.
Florida is perhaps the ultimate RV road trip destination for families, offering dreamy beaches, unique national parks, and some of the world's best theme parks. Whether you drive on the Gulf Coast of West Florida or the Atlantic Coast of East Florida, it's impossible to miss some of the state's best beaches. If you make it all the way down to the southern tip, a comprehensive Florida road trip must include stops in the Everglades National Park and along the scenic route of the Florida Keys.
Orlando is one of the top destinations in Florida and an obligatory stop for families visiting Disney World or Universal Studios. These two parks are by far the most popular attractions in the city—if not the whole state—and a family could easily spend a whole week just exploring their massive grounds.
Where to Stay
As a popular RV destination, you can find comfortable and affordable park options all over Florida, from Destin near the Alabama border all the way down to Key West. One extra-special option in Orlando is to stay in the park itself at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, so you can experience all of the magic of staying at a Disney resort but from the comfort of your own RV. If you want to see other areas in Central Florida, you can camp at the highly-rated Orlando/Lake Whippoorwill KOA nearby.