America's Top Roadside Attractions
Courtesy of Wigwam Motel
Take a detour to these fun and inspirational stops for the entire family.
The kids are cranky. They shout, “Are we there yet?” every
two miles. Your family road trip to Orlando—and that endless ribbon of I-95—feels
like it will never end. That is, until you detour over to U.S. 1, where there’s
a roadside attraction to lighten moods, lift spirits, and inspire dreams:
“Lunch with an Astronaut” at the Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Cape
Canaveral National Seashore.
“Every parent’s hope is that a family trip will inspire kids
for the rest of their lives. You want to give them as many opportunities and as
much exposure as you can,” says astronaut Chris Hadfield, who will command the
International Space Station in 2012 and is the father of three grown children.
The road trip is an annual ritual that recalls the early
days of our national highway system: parents load the trunk with luggage, pack
a cooler with snacks, strap kids into the backseat, and, with a full tank of
gas, hit the road. From the Joad family, to the Merry Pranksters, to the
Griswalds, the collective road trip is ingrained in our national travel
While not every road trip can raise the ambitions of a young
astronaut, the stops and detours will be as memorable—and as fun—as the
destination itself. Travel + Leisure sought out the coolest places to
get out of the car, stretch your legs, and arouse the passions of little ones
dozing in the backseat.
Children can dig in the dirt for dinosaurs that have been
dead for the last 150 million years, when you take the family through Wyoming’s
Big Sky country. Teenagers can hop on an Olympic bobsled to experience the
force of gravity and the thrill of competition, right off I-80 in Park City,
UT. And your entire crew can climb aboard a captured German U-boat beside Lake
Michigan when you head south on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive.
“Kids today stand a very good chance of fulfilling the
dreams of President Kennedy—who challenged us to explore—and I hope they will,”
says Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo astronaut who was the second man to set foot on
A childhood journey can be a world-changer if it creates a
future explorer, explains Aldrin. Or, in the words of John F. Kennedy, “This
country was conquered by those who moved forward.”