Country Road, Take Me Home

Looking for ideas for family-friendly vacations or staycations? We offer options for taking to the road or engaging in some armchair travel.

Virtual Road Trips

The Hidden World of National Parks

Summer days can have you daydreaming about travel—but where to go? The question can seem more fraught than usual during the pandemic, and many are opting to take to the roads instead of the skies.

If a road trip is right up your alley, there are lots of options to make planning your adventure stress free (at least until the kids start yelling from the backseat and you hit traffic). If you'd prefer to stay close to home, virtual adventures abound, allowing you to explore from the comfort of your couch (where  the traffic will hopefully be more manageable, at least).


RoadtripperRoad Trips. What did we do before the Internet, smart phones, and GPS? (We read paper maps and argued about how poorly reading paper maps.) Thankfully, this one-stop website has all your roaptripping needs. Simply select your destination, add the stops you'd like to make along the way, and connect with friends so they can see where you're headed. If you're not sure where to start (or stop, as the case may be), the illustrated map can guide you—for example, the future birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, Iowa, is clearly marked, and you can click through some images to check it out before you go.

Gasbuddy. Apple. Android. Unless you plug in your vehicle (in which case, Plant Earth thanks you), you'll need to gas up along your journey. Gasbuddy is a helpful app that points out the cheapest fueling options nearby, and how long it will take you to get there. There's even a fuel calculator that will let you know how much gas will cost you on the trip, so you'll know how much you can blow on trinkets at that road side attraction just up ahead.

Roadside America. Apple. If your vacation isn't going to be complete until you sit astride a giant jackalope or visit the unclaimed baggage center in Alabama, then this app is for you. (It's also a website, but users report the app is friendlier to use—though only available via Apple right now, for $2.99.) Pick by theme or location—or just hit "random" and see where the road takes you.


Armchair TravelThe Hidden World of National Parks. This interactive site from Google allows you to virtually visit some of the most amazing national parks in United States, from lava tubes in Hawaii to sunsets in Utah's Bryce Canyon. The views are stunning, even via screen, and maybe you'll get ideas for your next in-person adventure.

San Diego Zoo Live Cams. You know how you visit the zoo, and you squint into the enclosure under the hot sun, trying to spy a glimpse of a panda, or a hyena, or a wolf? Well, these live cams from the San Diego Zoo take all the guess work out of zoo visits. You can peer at the animals any time of day or night—lots of animals are often most active in the morning, when they are served breakfast. If there's nobody out when you click, well, you can check again later. It's the ultimate low-stress way to sightsee.

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