20+ Epic Road Trip Themes + Printable Ideas

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Road tripping! Some of our favorite pastimes are the many different road trips we have taken. My husband and I started our road tripping adventures long before having kids. After the kids came along, we still enjoyed at least one road trip per year. The same holds true for us now… married almost 20 years, 2 kids, and a travel trailer. We try to go on at least one camping road trip each year.

Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming

Choosing a Road Trip Destination

Many times, the biggest decision that we make when planning a new trip is WHERE TO GO. A lot of thought goes into the destination(s) and on more than occasion, we have planned out a THEMED road trip. Road trip themes are plentiful and going on a trip that focuses on one main topic is a LOT of fun! (I honestly find the planning process ALMOST as enjoyable as the actual trip!)

You can put a lot of care and thought into the details of a themed road trip, and you can choose themes to match just about any interest or hobby.

We were just talking at the dinner table last night about our next trip and the kids were helping us narrow down some of our ideas for things to see and do. This post is a product of that conversation! As we talked about different themes for trips and the possibilities for different travel experiences, we started to write down the many suggestions.

Perhaps our list will give you some inspiration?

Fun Road Trip Themes

Plan Road Trips Early

The best tip that I have for planning a successful road trip: plan EARLY. By early, I mean AT LEAST 6 months ahead. For our more epic road trips (like our cross country journey to Yellowstone), we started to plan more than 1 year ahead of the actual trip.

Popular attractions, campgrounds, hotels and other locations fill up quickly. It is best to book the highly sought-after events and locales as soon as possible.

Road Trip Themes

We had a fun time putting together the (rather) extensive list below. There are a lot of different themes and each one can be broken down and personalized based on individual preference. Most would work well as family road trips, couples trips, friends trips or even solo trips.

The themes are listed in no particular order below.

  • Foodie Road Trip
  • Famous Author Road Trip
  • Roadside Attractions Road Trip
  • Coastal Highway Road Trip
  • National Parks Road Trip
  • Music Themed Road Trip
  • Wellness Retreat Road Trip
  • Movie or TV Show Themed Road Trip
  • Train Tours (and take your car!)
  • Wine Country Road Trip
  • Wildlife and Nature Road Trip
  • Photography Road Trip
  • Adventure Activities Road Trip
  • Historical Road Trip
  • Sports Road Trip
  • Flower Power Road Trip
  • Cultural Immersion Trip
  • Eco-Tourism Road Trip
  • Exploring the Arts Road Trip
  • Volunteer and Service Road Trip
  • Space Themed Road Trip
  • Science and Tech Themed Road Trip
  • Genealogy Road Trip

Foodie Road Trip

Plan a road trip that’s ALL ABOUT FOOD! You can choose the specific concentration for your trip, but here are some suggestions:

  • Eat at iconic restaurants featured in your favorite tv shows or movies.
  • Visit factories that make your favorite foods (especially if they offer tours, for example Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream!).
  • Visit orchards during fall pick-your-own season.
  • Check out some popular food trucks! Head to social media and find amazing trucks that have big followings. Put together an itinerary that will take you to several of these trucks. Another option for food trucks is to find a food truck festival!
  • Focus on a geographical location known for certain foods or dishes and see how many different varieties you can try. Examples include: pizza in Chicago, Lobster in Maine, Crab in Maryland or Gumbo in Louisiana.
  • Go on a road trip and focus on trying specific foods the whole time: pizza, chocolate, ice cream, sandwiches, burgers, wings, etc.
Maine Lobster Roll

Famous Author Road Trip

Is there a famous author or a book that really moved you as a kid or adult? Plan a road trip around that author’s life or important milestones.

If the book is set in a particular town (real life town, obviously), visit the town.

One of our most memorable vacations was a Little House on the Prairie road trip where we retraced the real places that author Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and wrote about in her famous children’s book series.

ingalls homestead wagon
Ingalls Homestead (DeSmet, SD)

Roadside Attractions Road Trip

Roadside attractions are silly, kitschy stops that you can check out as you drive from point A to point B. Typically they are places that are fun to see but you won’t spend an entire day there. There are so many cool roadside attractions across the country. A few examples include:

You can find a large list online of the many “World’s Largest” or smallest or heaviest, etc items. These attractions make for great, quick pit stops. Stretch your legs, snap a picture, get back on your way.

Corn Palace (Mitchell, SD)
Louisville Slugger Largest Bat
World’s Largest Baseball Bat (Louisville, KY)

Coastal Highway Road Trip

Love the look of the sea swept coastline? Plan an entire road trip that winds you up or down your coast of choice. Popular coastal drives in the United States include:

  • Pacific Coast Highway (California)
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore (North Carolina)
  • Bold Coast Scenic Byway (Maine)
Acadia National Park (Maine)

National Parks Road Trip

Covering more than 80 million acres, the National Parks system in the United States of American is truly an incredible treasure trove to explore. Plan out that trip to Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion or the Grand Canyon.

Maybe you’ll head to the Northeastern US and explore the wilds of Acadia National Park.

No matter which park(s) you choose, there are incredible vistas and wildlife just waiting for you to take them in. National Parks make great family vacations. Our kids love participating in the Junior Ranger programs which offer the youngest travelers an array of activities and the opportunity to earn a ranger badge or pin upon program completion.

Note: National Parks are at the top of the list for destinations that require some pre-planning and booking. We booked our Yellowstone campground more than a year before our visit and campsites were already in short supply!

We have a lot of National Parks content on the blog. Check those posts out here.

bison in yellowstone
Bison in Yellowstone

Music Themed Road Trips

Whether you love rock ‘n roll or the sounds of smooth jazz, there are some wonderful options for music themed trips in the US!

Head to Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee and hear incredible country tunes at just about every bar, plus visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, and Grand Ole Opry. Top off the trip with a tour of Graceland, home of Elvis Presley.

If jazz is your thing, immerse yourself in its roots down in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Love rock ‘n roll? Make a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.

Graceland Mansion (Memphis, TN)

Wellness Retreat Road Trip

Take a break from everyday stressors and put self-care at priority #1 with a wellness road trip. Visit a great spa, check out a yoga or meditation class. Learn about crystals and add some new items to your collection (or start one if you don’t have one!).

You could also take a cooking class and learn some new ways to prepare good-for-you dishes.

Movie or TV Themed Road Trip

We LOVE seeing places where our favorite movies and shows were filmed. You can find filming locations for most tv and film productions with a little bit of research (ie simple internet search). Sometimes a whole town is used to film various scenes in the show or movie.

Choose a fave flick or two and head to the town where it was filmed.

Just a few suggestions:

  • Stranger Things – various locations in and around Atlanta, GA and its suburbs
  • Dances with Wolves – Black Hills of South Dakota
  • Field of Dreams – Dyersville, GA
  • The Sixth Sense – Philadelphia, PA
  • Home Alone – Chicago, IL and suburbs
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation – various locations across the US

Auto Train Trip

Did you know that Amtrak has an AUTO TRAIN? That’s right! This train starts in Lorton, VA and travels all the way down to Sanford, FL (near Orlando). The coolest part? YOU CAN TAKE YOUR CAR!

Drive your car right onto the Amtrak Auto Train (similar to a ferry that allows cars) and then find your seat or suite in the passenger cars.

Relax while Amtrak does the driving. The Auto Train is a neat option if you’d like to combine rail travel with driving. Experience the train and then drive your car on to the rest of your trip.

Wine Country Road Trip

This road trip is PERFECT for couples or friend groups. Gather up your fellow wine connoisseurs and head out on a road trip to wine country. Your best bet is to visit an area known for its wineries so that you can visit multiple locations during your trip.

Some popular wine trails include:

  • Napa Valley (California)
  • Willamette Valley (Oregon)
  • Niagara on the Lake (Ontario, Canada)
  • Finger Lakes (New York)
  • Bucks County Wine Trail (Pennsylvania)
  • Hill Country Wineries (Texas)

Look for local wine-related events like festivals and conventions to attend!

Wine Tasting

Wildlife Road Trip

For the animal lovers out there, plan a road trip that includes various spots to observe different animals. Zoos, aquariums, nature preserves, animal sanctuaries, and animal rescues are great places to see many different creatures.

The National Parks all offer different and unique wildlife specific to each park.

If you head to Assateague (in MD and VA) you can see the famous wild ponies.

Head to Maine to try to spot a moose.

In Yellowstone, we saw ample bison, elk and other animals. There are lots of bears in Yellowstone as well, but we didn’t see any during our trip!

You can choose a trip route/destination based on which animals or type of animal themed attractions you want to see.

Wild Ponies (Assateague Island, MD)

Photography Road Trip

Time to dust off those cameras! Whether you prefer to snap pics on your phone or you use a “real” camera, be it digital or film, there are some great destinations for aspiring and professional photographers alike.

Visit a destination known for its stunning landscape or unique cultural experiences. Challenge yourself to up your photography game by capturing frame worthy photos.

Camera on tripod

Flower Power Road Trip

Love flowers and plants? Head out on a flower themed road trip! Visit gardens, arboretums and nature preserves as you look for beautiful blooms.

Find a farm that teaches classes in floral arrangements and learn how to build the perfect bouquet.

Visit farmer’s markets known for an abundance of local blooms.

We love these spots:

Flower Bouquets at Pike Place Market (Seattle, WA)

Historical Road Trip

Choose a time period or event in the long past that really interests you and build a road trip around it! There are so many different ideas for things to visit on a historically themed road trip! Choose the historic sites that interest you the most and use that as your starting point.

Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Salem Witch Trials (Salem, MA)
  • Civil War Battlefields (Gettysburg, PA is one of our favorites.)
  • Revolutionary War Battlefields
  • Birth of Our Nation (focus on Philadelphia and Boston)
  • Route 66
  • Pioneer Life and Travel (Oregon trail, Pony Express Museum and more)
  • Native American History
  • Early Settlers (Plimoth, MA, Jamestown, VA, Lost Colony of Roanoke, NC)
Living History Encampment (Gettysburg, PA)

Sports Road Trip

If you have a favorite team and/or sport, head out on a sports themed road trip! There are a lot of fun possibilities for a sports infused trip. You can personalize the trip based on your individual preferences!

  • Buy tickets to a game at a historical stadium like Fenway Park or Wrigley Field.
  • Take a stadium tour. Many sports venues offer a tour that takes fans in and around the complex. Sometimes they even include visits to areas typically off limits to the public, like the locker room and press box.
  • Head to the sports “Hall of Fame” for your favorite sport.
  • Visit the hometown of your favorite athlete.
  • Take part in various favorite sports like golf, skiing, or horseback riding.
Fenway Park (Boston, MA)

Adventure Road Trip

Love a good adrenaline rush? Then you might LOVE an adventure themed road trip! Put together a road trip itinerary that includes a variety of heart-pumping activities.

Some examples include:

  • White water rafting
  • Bungee jumping
  • Parasailing
  • Skydiving
  • Ziplining

Cultural Immersion Road Trip

Immerse yourself in a different local cultures here in the US or abroad. Explore festivals, cuisine, historical attractions and more as you learn about a different culture and their traditions and way of life.

Focus on supporting small businesses like local shops and restaurants instead of bigger chains.

Eco-Tourism Road Trip

For travelers who are passionate about the environment and sustainability, consider an eco-tourism themed trip. You can visit destinations that promote sustainable tourism. Find opportunities to participate in local conservation efforts and learn about eco-friendly practices.

Space Themed Road Trip

Want to embark on a trip that’s “out of this world?” Create a road trip itinerary that makes stops at museums and other attractions related to space travel.

We stopped at Kennedy Space Center in Florida a few years ago and it was one of the most interesting attractions I have visited. (And, I am not super obsessed with space! I still found it incredibly enjoyable!)

Some top Space Themed attractions to consider:

Kennedy Space Center (Orlando, FL)

Exploring the Arts Road Trip

Art lovers can find plenty of great places to visit during an art themed road trip. Head to art museums in different cities, check out exhibits featuring favorite artists. Attend art festivals and consider participating in art workshops or taking an art class!

Genealogy Road Trip

Spend some time researching your family tree. If you don’t have a lot of information from older generations, head to a site like ancestry.com to see what you can find.

Create a road trip itinerary that takes you to places important to your own predecessors. Find places where your relatives lived, worked and attended school. Locate churches, cemeteries and graveyards/gravestones that were significant to your family.

These trips certainly have a lot of sentimental value and nostalgia in them! I highly recommend recording your findings in a journal and taking lots of pictures and video! Your journey can then be passed down for generations to come.

Cemetery in St George’s, Bermuda

Science and Tech Road Trip

Similar to the space themed road trip, but with a much broader scope, consider a science and tech based trip filled with all sorts of STEM activities and attractions.

Visit science museums and labs, head to a conference showing off the latest tech, and more.

Volunteer and Service Road Trip

Want to go on a road trip that serves the greater good? How about a service trip! Find destinations that offer opportunities to volunteer your time and/or services. From community projects to wildlife conservation or assisting with disaster relief efforts, there are many opportunities to help in every corner of the country.

Route 66 Road Trip

Probably one of the most well-known road trip routes in the United States, you can pick up Route 66 in Chicago, IL and take it all the way to the west coast. The historic route ends in Santa Monica, CA.

Route 66 (also referred to as the “Mother Road”) was the main highway to get from eastern US to the west, before the interstate program was constructed. The interstates bypass the small towns that Route 66 meanders through.

You can still find many of the fun and bizarre stops that once thrived when Route 66 was heavily traveled. Some are still open and welcome travelers daily. Others have long-since closed.

This classic American road trip is the perfect way to see the country and a variety of landscapes and fun, memorable spots and photo ops! You’re sure to feel the freedom of the open road as you make your way from stop to stop!

Route 66

Printable Road Trip Ideas Pack

As you continue to consider different themes for your next road trip, use our printable idea sheet!

Get the printable: Road Trip Ideas

You can grab our printable right here. Simply enter your email address in the box and opt-in to receive our free newsletter.  Check your inbox for this printable, which you will receive as a subscriber bonus. NOTE: This file is for PERSONAL USE ONLY. You may NOT sell the digital file or sell the printed work. You may NOT redistribute the digital file or printed work.

We hope that this article gives you some great ideas for enjoyable themes and fun activities and destinations as you start to plan your own road trip. There are so many cool things to see and do, you are sure to have a blast!


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