Are We There Yet?
Essence|June 2019
Are We There Yet?

Find adventure with the family this summer with one of these cool road trips we mapped out just for you

Marcia A. Cole

iPad loaded with movies and games? Check. Car stuffed with snacks and music that appeal to adults and kids alike? Double-check. The kids are on vacation, and you want to keep them busy, learning and having fun. Prepare for the ultimate family road trip with our guide to cool routes to take and great places to stop, stay and dine—all on a dime.


With its bright lights and big-city dreams, New York City is the premier destination on the East Coast. During summertime, catch Broadway and off-Broadway shows, spread a blanket for free concerts on the piers, visit museums, watch Shakespeare in the Park and nosh on world-classcuisine in every borough—think flavorful Indian food in Jackson Heights, Queens; tasty Caribbean cooking in Brooklyn; authentic Italian fare in the Bronx. But the rest of the state is no slouch. Filled with millions of acres of protected wilderness, lakes and more than 2,000 miles of hiking and biking trails, the countryside of New York State is where your family can retreat from the hustle and bustle of New York City and nestle into the serenity of nature.

Now, before you think your road trip could turn into a scary scene from Us meets, well, every movie ever made about pitching a tent in the woods, think again. With glamping—a vacationing hybrid that combines the luxuries of a posh hotel (fluffy beds, sheets with high thread counts, charging stations, room service) with the thrill of the outdoors—you can put all those concerns to bed. Just a five-hour drive north of New York City takes you to the Adirondacks, where you can embrace a glamping experience at Lake Placid. Or stay at Lake George, home of more than a dozen private islands that you can rent for a very rustic time. Either way, the Adirondacks, with its more than 8.1 million acres of parkland and mountains, provide plenty of opportunities to explore the meaning of the Empire State’s mantra, I Love New York.

ROUTE TO TAKE: I-87 north.

WHAT TO DO: World Awareness Museum ($5; children under 3 years get in free), parasailing, hot-air balloon rides, tubing, children’s museum, kayaking, sailing, Great Escape Six Flags.

WHERE TO EAT: Mirror Lake Inn’s The View Restaurant at Lake Placid (a 48-hour reservation is required and a dress code of no flip-flops, baseball caps or athletic wear is enforced). Or wear what you want and get some of the best catfish in nearby Schenectady at a little place called YaYa’s House Southern Cuisine (518-382-9292).

WHERE TO STAY: Adirondack Safari on the Schoon River ($169–$300 per night, or find more locations online ( For no-frills campgrounds, try Bass Island ($28–$48 per night, reserveamerica .com/explore/glen-island-lake-george-is/NY).


If glamping in the Northeast isn’t for you and your family, then head south into Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and birth- place of The Roots and Jill Scott. It is also where portions of the movies Creed and Rocky were filmed. You and the kids can spend a few days steeped in African- American firsts: the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the first museum created to preserve Black history, and The Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest newspaper to tell our stories.


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June 2019