Plan a road trip adventure for Father’s Day, kids optional

Plan a road trip adventure for Father’s Day, kids optional
Clément Bardot via Wikimedia Commons
Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

With obligations surrounding kids, partners and work, sometimes it’s hard to get away — actually, it’s hard pretty much all of the time. But fortunately, the one day a year that it’s dad’s turn to cut loose has come around again, so you can afford to go a bit crazy.

This Father’s Day, why not plan an adventure-fueled fantasy road trip?

Here are a few exciting, strange and fascinating stops and destinations to suit every dad, from artsy to outdoorsy and everything in between.

The natural world and also maybe not so much

Grand Prismatic Spring: Teton County, Wyoming

This natural hot spring located in Yellowstone Park is one of the world’s largest, right behind Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica.

It’s a shimmering rainbow pool that stretches out over the span of a football field. It makes for a fun road-trip stop as long as you don’t dive in — swimming in the hot spring is illegal and can lead to serious steam-related injuries.

Petrified Forest: Arizona

The Petrified Forest in eastern Arizona is home to one of the world’s largest formations of petrified wood, fossilized logs whose tissues are slowly being replaced by stone; trees here date back over 200 million years.

The ancient forest climbs out of the hills of the Painted Desert, which rise and fall in waves of saturated rock.

Petrified logs lie scattered across the sand, glimmering quartz in place of wood at their core. The rocks are beautiful, but visitors should keep in mind they aren’t souvenirs for the taking — the sight in and of itself is enough to warrant a drive west.

Centralia mine fire: Centralia, Pennsylvania

Though many things have changed in the past 50 years, the abandoned coal mine in Centralia, Pennsylvania has remained burning since 1962.

The site of one of the US’s worst coal-fire breakouts, Centralia, is now home only to desiccated buildings and cracked, graffiti plastered roads, and, of course, the fires burning below.

Take route 61, 54 or 42 to pass through the eerie ghost town for a most unusual experience and dinner stories galore afterwards!

Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail: St. Charles County, Missouri

Anyone can sightsee in Las Vegas or gape at the Grand Canyon’s golden valleys; however, climbing a cement mountain of entombed, highly toxic nuclear waste? Now that’s adventure.

The Weldon Spring Site Remedial Action Project Disposal Cell in St. Charles County (aptly dubbed the Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail), was once the site of the largest explosives factory in the US, before being occupied by a uranium refinery plant during the Cold War.

Today people can climb the hilltop as part of this rather ghoulish attraction, and literally stand on the crest of nuclear waste mountain.

Bragging rights are the sole purpose of the trip, because really, how many people can claim to have done the same?

Art, road stops and other oddities

Republic of Molossia: Nevada

Never heard of the ‘micro-nation’ Molossia? You’re not alone. Lying 20 miles east of Carson City, Nevada, this self-proclaimed nation has its own Navy, government and president.

From a railroad to cemeteries, national parks to a bar and grill, it’s clear Molossia has most of the basics covered. You know, apart from actually existing. If you’ve never ventured outside the US, here’s your chance to do it closer to home — consider it the “international” option.

And yes, they will stamp your passport if you ask.

The Rockport Paper House: Rockport, Massachusetts

This house’s walls, furniture and doors are made completely of newspaper (insert Big Bad Wolf joke here). Built in 1922, the house is held together by flour, water and apple peels, which work together to plaster 100,000 newspapers to the building’s frames.

You can actually still read some of the headlines at this off-the-beaten-path destination. Find more details here.

Carhenge: Alliance, Nebraska

Who needs Stonehenge? It’s really not all that hard to replicate, as proven by Carhenge art installation in Alliance, Nebraska.

Mimicking the formation of the actual U.K. Stonehenge with vehicles scavenged from farms and dumps, the sculptural piece consists of gray spray-painted cars piled on top of one another.

Admission is free, and the site is open every day during daylight hours.

Whether you’re a fan of art, a Nebraska native, or someone who’s just always wanted to see Stonehenge, take a trip to Alliance — if you squint, you might even be able to convince yourself it’s the same thing.

Eiffel Tower (no, not that one): Paris, Texas

Yes, there’s another Eiffel Tower located in Paris — Paris, Texas, that is. This watered-down replica of the famous French landmark may be a bit (or a lot) underwhelming in comparison, but it has a sense of humor, what with its big brown cowboy hat and all.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll even manage to fool some people into believing you finally took that Europe trip.

Bubblegum Alley: San Luis Obispo, California

Okay, so this one’s pretty gross. But for the more quirky adventurous spirits, a stop in San Luis Obispo to see an alleyway literally covered top to bottom in old gum might be a must.

The alley is a 65 feet long, and both visitors and locals have attempted to cover every square inch. The purpose of this attraction? Take a guess. Just be sure to bring your own gum.

The Classics

Mount Rushmore: Keystone, South Dakota

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is the beacon of Keystone, South Dakota.

Along with the scenic views and iconic status as a road-trip essential, the site also offers a variety of activities, such as hiking the Blackberry Trail and visiting Gutson Borglum’s sculpting studio.

It’s a place you have to visit at least once in your life, but if you also happen to be allergic to physical activity, this is probably a pass.

Times Square: New York, New York

It seems no matter what day, circumstance, or time of year, Times Square is always lit up and brimming with life (and a lot of noise).

If you’re in New York City, or even passing through, it’s worth a brief intermission to see the square in its full glory, either to shop at one of its dozens of stores, have a particularly amusing session of people watching or snag discount tickets to a Broadway show.

Liberty Bell: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Another one of those classic, you-have-to-see-it-once spots, the Liberty Bell in Philly should be a landmark on everyone’s road-trip bucket list.

Visiting hours are from 9 am – 7 pm daily at Independence National Historical Park, and admission is free. While there, you can check out Independence Hall and take a park tour.

All you have to do is grab tickets the day of your admission, or reserve them before hand for $1, but be warned that they go quickly.

The French Quarter: New Orleans, Louisiana

The French Quarter is an iconic cultural hotspot in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Home to musicians, artists, countless street vendors and enchanting historical sites and attractions, The Quarter is a bustling city within a city, drenched in history (and sometimes booze).

The site is known for its numerous bars and infamous Mardi Gras Parade, which passes through the city in a flurry of color and sequins and takes it’s place on many a bucket list. Be warned though — not all spots are kid friendly, and whatever you do, steer clear of Bourbon Street, especially if you have any young companions with you.