As road trips get more and more popular, here are five memorable stops to make with your family in your EV.
The tried-and-true family road trip is experiencing something of a renaissance. Survey after survey in recent years has found that road trips topped the list of getaways among eager travelers, including more than a few families. That also means families traveling with an electric vehicle or EV.
And the good news is the infrastructure needed to make EV family road trips an effortless endeavor has been proliferating. While the lion's share of that infrastructure is located on the east and west coasts, the country's interior is becoming ever more navigable by EV as well, thanks to the growing number of charging stations nationwide. In fact, the website USA Facts reports there are more than 56,000 EV charging stations across the country that provide some 148,000 charging ports.
Interactive trip planning sites like ChargeHub, meanwhile, provide details on the locations of these charging options from coast to coast.
The bottom line? EV family road trips are a growing trend, and there's not much to hold you back from charging up your battery, packing your family into the car, and hitting the open road—other than, of course, knowing what some of the best EV itineraries might be for your brood.
More good news? There's a long list of appealing options that offer entertainment appropriate for travelers of all ages and interests. From New York to Virginia, South Carolina, California, and (nearly) everywhere in between, EV road trips are beckoning. Here are five trips worth taking with your family.
Washington D.C. to Shenandoah National Park, Virginia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
In 2022, Idaho-based family travel writer Christina Grance (creator of Live a Wilder Life) was plotting her family's next road trip amid the height of the gas price fluctuations. Daunted by the thought of shelling out hundreds of dollars to cover fuel costs, Grance opted for borrowing an electric vehicle from a family member. It's a move she estimates saved her family at least $500.
Perhaps more importantly, taking an EV turned out to have added benefits when traveling with young ones in tow. "We were traveling with a 4-year-old," says Grance. "And when you have kids sitting in the car for a long time, it can be hard. Using an electric vehicle gave us a good reason to stop for an hour every so often, in order to recharge the car, get something to eat, and walk around."
The family's EV itinerary included driving south from Washington D.C. to Virginia's Shenandoah National Park and then on to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. All along the way, the family found an abundance of charging stations, including free chargers inside Shenandoah National Park. The park also provided a variety of child-friendly nature explorations.
"There's a lot of hikes that are really fun for kids, some with waterfalls where in the summer you can swim at the base of the falls," says Grance. "You can also pick wild berries, which is another fun activity."
In Myrtle Beach, a destination whose fun-filled reputation precedes it, the Grances were equally entertained. Think endless beach, all manner of mini-golf, and plenty of other kid-approved activities. And here, too, Grance says EV chargers weren't hard to find.
In the end, Grance says, the family's EV road trip was a success and something they'd readily do again. "Set your expectations and know it's going to take you a bit longer (than with a gas-powered vehicle). You'll have to plan to stop as needed," says Grance. "But for parents who are really good at this kind of thing, you can plan the stops near playgrounds or green spaces."
Pacific Coast Highway, California
California is leading the way when it comes to EV ownership (home to about 39% of all EVs nationwide as of mid-2022) and, thus, unsurprisingly, is a place where you'll find an abundance of charging spots. That means families can travel practically anywhere in the varied and picturesque state without worry.
The Pacific Coast Highway, particularly from Big Sur down through Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, offers some of the state's most iconic coastal views and popular family-friendly activities. (The EV charging stations along this route are so numerous, and the tourist attractions so highly-rated that InsureMyTrip named the PCH the best road trip you can take in the U.S. with an EV.)
Where to go with kids? The options are literally endless. But don't miss Santa Cruz's legendary beach boardwalk amusement park. In Big Sur, spend some time exploring the many picturesque beaches, including Pfeiffer Beach (where you'll find the legendary and much-photographed Keyhole Rock). Monterey is also home to one of the best and most unforgettable aquariums in the country, and in Santa Barbara, the family-friendly options range from visiting the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to exploring MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.
Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee
The second most highly ranked option in the InsureMyTrip ranking is the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile stretch of road running through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. A whopping 83% of the chargers along this route are free, which is no small point for budget-conscious families. In addition, about 58% of the chargers are level 3 (meaning the fastest chargers).
The historic route, which claims to showcase 10,000 years of North American history, is a significant highway of the Old Southwest and offers an abundance of sightseeing for families.
Attractions along the route, which was also declared a National Scenic Byway, range from hikes to one fascinating historic site after another. Don't miss visiting The Sunken Trace (milepost 41.5 near Port Gibson, Mississippi), one of the most photographed stops along the parkway. Visitors here will find "The Trace," which is a sunken pathway that's said to have been traveled by thousands of people walking the route over many centuries. At milepost 122, families can explore Cypress Swamp, a self-guided trail where spotting an alligator or two is not entirely out of the question.
Route 66, Illinois and Arizona
Route 66 is a well-known part of Americana, and it's also an up-and-comer in the EV road trip category. Destination management organizations all along the legendary highway have been busy announcing EV-friendly itineraries.
Illinois Tourism, for instance, recently released its first EV road trip called Zero Emissions on Route 66. The 302-mile journey runs from Chicago to Springfield and Collinsville and can be done in one to three days.
"We chose to focus on Route 66 because it's an iconic road trip that showcases all that Illinois has to offer," says Jan Kemmerling, former acting deputy director for the Illinois Office of Tourism. "The itinerary includes a variety of family-friendly attractions and restaurants along Route 66. And there are 13 different EV charging stations conveniently located near famous attractions along the way."
Some stops to consider include Chicago's famed Wrigley Field (which is the second oldest major league stadium) and the Navy Pier entertainment complex. In Lincoln, families can take in the world's largest covered wagon, which is handmade with three tons of oak and steel and includes a 12-foot Abraham Lincoln statue in the wagon seat. You might even continue the Lincoln-themed attractions in Springfield, starting with the popular president's burial place.
Not to be outdone, Arizona also offers its own family-friendly Route 66 EV road trips. And to aid with the trip planning, Discover Flagstaff recently created a dedicated webpage featuring an interactive map of EV charging stations throughout the state.
"Route 66 is such a fun family experience because there's so many little towns and such a variety of places to stop and explore," says Clara Cordova, a middle school teacher from Phoenix, who recently traveled along Route 66 with her family in an EV. "All the kitschy scenery along the way is so much fun."
New York City to Niagara Falls, New York
New York State is another one of the top choices on the InsureMyTrip ranking. The site recommends a route running from New York City all the way up to Niagara Falls at the Canadian border. Along the way, you may want to spend some time exploring the picturesque Sullivan Catskills region, which also features an abundance of charging stations and family activities.
"Charging stations are strategically located throughout the county, so families can enjoy the abundance of activities in the Sullivan Catskills and not have to worry about charging up—because a station is always close by," says Roberta Byron Lockwood, president and CEO of the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association.
Villa Roma Resort, in the Catskills community of Callicoon, for instance, features EV charging stations and year-round fun. "It has a lot to offer families during every season—from ice skating, tubing, paintball, bowling, and a spacious indoor pool to zip-lining, tennis, golf, basketball, volleyball, go-karts, outdoor pools, rock-climbing walls, hiking trails, and fishing in the summer," says Byron Lockwood.
In Roscoe, New York, stop by the local favorite and family-friendly Roscoe Diner, where there are charging stations available as well.
The Kartrite, in Monticello, is another popular resort and attraction to consider adding to a family road trip. The property is a perennial favorite thanks to its massive indoor waterpark—and that's not all. "It's an all-suite hotel with eight bars and eateries, six miles of hiking trails, a daily activities schedule, full arcade, ropes course, and more," says Byron Lockwood.
Related:21 Fun Games to Play in the Car
Let the EV Road Trip Planning Begin
These family-friendly road trip options are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The InsureMyTrip ranking includes 13 options to peruse, with routes representing nearly every corner of the country. You can also plan your own route using ChargeHub.
As road trips get more popular, families can also expect EV road trip planning to get easier and easier. And in lockstep, destinations are doing their best to showcase the pairing of attractions and EV charging opportunities.
"As EV use becomes more widespread and the number of charging stations continues to grow, proximity to charging locations will become an even more important factor for travelers when deciding which destinations to visit," says Kemmerling.