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6 Family Road Trips from New Jersey

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Are you fancying the idea of taking a road trip from New Jersey, but are unsure about the best destinations? 

Well, we’ve been polling family members, friends, and friends of friends on what they think are the most scenic drives from N.J. – and the results are out! 

These are the most suggested kid-friendly road trip destinations from N.J.

1. Delaware Bayshore Heritage Byway

Distance: 122 miles – 4hrs

Starting these New Jersey road trip suggestions is the Bayshore Heritage Byway, a route for families who want to have fun without venturing outside of the Garden State.

A historical gem by itself, the Bayshore byway is a scenic route spanning approximately 122 miles of the southwestern shoreline of New Jersey. This series of 2-lane roads start from the lovely seaside resort town of Cape May in Cape May County and traverses through Cumberland to Pennsville in Salem County.

Along the way, this byway is sprinkled with a vast collection of historical gems, cultural landmarks, and an extensive network of wildlife and landscape observation points.

Among the key stops to make during your road trip is the historic Cold Spring Village in Cape May City. This open-air museum displays the architecture, lifestyle, and culture of a rural 19th century South Jersey village.

Other places to stop in Cumberland County include East Point Lighthouse, Fortescue State Marina and Beaches Spur, and Turkey Point Viewing Area. Be sure to pass by the Greenwich Tea Burning Monument and the Cumberland County Prehistoric Museum, where Native American tools, over 1000 fossils, and a large collection of pottery and arrowheads are on display.

Lastly, Pennsville Township will treat you to an endless list of family-friendly attractions, including the Hancock House (a historical family house turned museum), Finn’s Point National Cemetery, and the Fort Mott State Park.

2. New Jersey to Niagara Falls, NY Road Trip

Distance: 450 miles – 7-9 hrs

It’s estimated that Niagara Falls draws 8-30 million visitors annually. From its strategic location between New York and Canada to the attractions that have sprouted around it, it’s easy to see why this is among the trendiest drivable vacations from N.J.

Unofficially listed as the 8th geological wonder of the world,  Niagara Falls is around 450 miles from New Jersey. The journey by road takes 7-9 hours, although this depends upon which part of New Jersey you’re starting from.

It’s possible to make the road trip from New Jersey to Niagara Falls in one day if you don’t have so much time. However, if you’re hoping for a relaxing vacation and have the time for several stops, a trip from New Jersey to Niagara Falls has more than enough family attractions to fit in three days.

There are several possible routes between New Jersey and Niagara Falls, and each has its collection of attraction sites. We recommend taking different ways for the two legs to maximize the number of attractions to and from the falls.

3. New Jersey to Chicago, IL Road Trip

Distance: 815 miles – 12hrs

Our next recommendation for the top road trip ideas from N.J. will interest you if you feel energized for a super long cross-country road trip. New Jersey to Chicago is an 815-mile road trip with a driving time of at least 12 hours. Driving for so many hours requires proper preparations beforehand, especially if you’re traveling with kids and pets. Ideally, you may want to drive in 2-3 days if you want to make this an enjoyable trip.

There are three popular routes that you can use for this road trip starting from New Jersey: I-80 W, I-76 W, and I-70 W, and I-76 W and I-80 W. The I-80 is the most popular and well-traveled route as it generally makes this an easy and enjoyable drive for the whole family. It has numerous exits that offer access to traveler services, including rest stops, gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels. But be sure to have some small cash on you as some parts of interstate highways are toll roads.

The I-80 offers tens of offbeat and interesting fun spots as it winds through New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Some of the top Interstate 80 roadside attractions in Pennsylvania include the 20-foot Freedom Falls and the 2868-foot long Rockland Tunnel just downstream from the Freedom Falls. In Ohio, the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky city is sure to light up the eyes of the entire family. In Indiana, the exits will lead you to even more exciting recreation centers, including the Mascot Hall of Fame (a great place to run off some calories), the Log Chapel, and the Ruthmere Museum.

4. New Jersey to Charlotte, NC Road Trip

Distance: 600 miles – 10hrs

Charlotte in North Carolina is another common suggestion for adventure seekers who can’t figure out where to go on a road trip from New Jersey. The distance from New Jersey to Charlotte is around 600 miles depending on your starting point. A non-stop drive would take about 10 hours, but of course, you’ll want to factor in enough time for pit stops and a few attraction sites along the route.

The blossoming city of Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina. This is an alluring family destination year-round with something for everyone. Whether you’re into auto racing, history, technology, shopping, or you just want a moment of tranquility with nature, the Queen’s City (as it’s also called) has it all.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is one popular destination that should never be missed, even if you’re not into auto racing. This museum honors the excellent skills of NASCAR drivers who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. For NASCAR enthusiasts, this museum takes you behind the race scenes in addition to letting you admire over a dozen retired race cars.

If Billy Graham’s sermons inspire you, a visit to the Billy Graham Library will make this one of the most memorable road trip ideas from New Jersey. Located on 4330 Westmont Drive, Charlotte, this library is just one of the memorabilia exhibits around the 20-acre land home to the religious icon.

Your family will also have a blast swimming, rafting, biking, kayaking, and wall climbing at the U.S. National White Water Center, a whitewater rafting complex just a few minutes from the city.

5. New Jersey to Jacksonville, FL Road Trip

Distance: 900 miles – 13hrs

Jacksonville, the largest city in the Sunshine State, boasts over 80,000 acres of parks. The sheer number of gardens and parks in this city, coupled with its 270 days of sunshine annually, are just some of the reasons why it should be on your family’s bucket list of road trip ideas from New Jersey.

The trip from New Jersey to Jacksonville, Florida, snakes through roughly 900 miles of the east coast down Interstate 95. Although this route doesn’t hug the Atlantic coast until around the Georgia line, it has many exits that allow stopovers in several cities allowing you to steep yourself in their history, culture, and vibrant coastal life.

I-95 has multiple family attraction stops around Philadelphia in case the kids want an early stop to stretch. At the very least, consider the Big Bus and Philadelphia Trolley Works. This is a sight-seeing hop-on, hop-off tour around the sites of Philadelphia. The National Constitution Center is a state-of-the-art museum and a great place to get inspiration and learn more about U.S. history.

Other great cities with must-see sites along the I-95 include Baltimore, Washington,  Durham, Charlotte, and Charleston. As you leave the Carolinas, consider making a stop at Savanna in Georgia and enjoy its rich history, architecture, and southern hospitality. Roughly 350 miles later, you’ll be in Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville has so much to see, from museums to theme parks and sun-kissed beaches.

6. New Jersey to Nashville, TN Road Trip

Distance: 232 miles – 13hrs

A tour to Nashville is another must in these best road trips from N.J. The driving distance from New Jersey to Nashville is well over 858 miles of family-friendly attractions, American Civil War history, and natural wonders via I-81 S and I-40.

Interstate 81 in New Jersey is a relatively scenic route with lots of rest areas and fewer traffic problem spots than Route 95. From New Jersey, I-81 cuts around 232 miles through Pennsylvania, starting from Greencastle to Maugansville before meandering further through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.

If you have several days for the trip, Tennessee itself is one large attraction that appeals to all types of travelers, from music enthusiasts to nature lovers and history buffs.

Nashville easily takes the crown as the best place to visit in Tennessee. Music lovers particularly will appreciate it as the home of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Other popular attractions in Nashville include the Parthenon (the city’s most iconic landmark), Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, and the General Jackson Showboat. The partial travel bans, closed borders, and the ongoing Covid-19 regulations may have interrupted our dreams of traveling worldwide. But as adventure seekers, this only opened our eyes to the fascinating road trip destinations from N.J. Start making an itinerary for your next trip noting potential places to stop along the way, and then get your vehicle ready for the road trip. 

Note: 

While there’s the prospect of resuming travels, particularly domestically, remember we’re not out of the woods regarding the pandemic. Diligently follow Covid-19 safe travel precautions to remain safe and to protect others. If you or your companion has been exposed, we suggest adding these destinations to your bucket list for consideration in the future.