Road trip game ideas with a toddler!

Yes there are so many ways to entertain your kids! Nowadays with technology right at your fingertips…not to mention the accessibility of cellular devices, tablets, and portable gaming consoles.

Sometimes we lose touch with human interaction when we are so involved with the latest social media notification or when bombarded with emails and text notifications.

Our family recently took a road trip from Rhode Island to Miami, Florida with stops in D.C. and Myrtle Beach. Along the way we tried out a few different car games with our 2.5 year old son.

Road trip from RI to Fl

Play Guessing Games in the Car

Michael and I both realized that our son, Kai, enjoys playing guessing games! Below are some guessing game suggestions and ideas for you and your family to try while at home, on road trips, or waiting in line at an amusement park or simply when you have time and are bored with your toddler.

Delaware bridge road trip

I Spy Guessing Game

This is a classic childhood car game that brings back memories! The object of the game is to guess the thing(s) that are a certain color.

  • Example: mommy says, “I spy with my eye something that is the color green.” Toddler replies, “trees?!”
  • We found that focusing on objects that are seen for longer periods of time proved to be better for us, since our toddler’s reaction time isn’t the quickest, especially when driving 60 MPH.
  • This game doesn’t usually last us a long time, unless we also focus on items INSIDE the car. Then we can play for a little while longer. Also try and change it up and ask your child to ask the adult or other siblings what he or she spies!!! We have fun guessing too:)

Guess the Animal

Not sure if this has another name, but that’s what we call it in our family! Objective is to guess the animal.

  • Example: daddy says, “baaaa”, and asks children to guess what animal. Child replies, “sheep!”
  • This game is fun and the child also had a blast getting involved in mimicking animal noises.

Guess the Color

As the name of the game provides a wonderful explanation of objective, which is to guess to the color of what is being described.

    • Example: grandma asks, “what color am I thinking of? Apples, stop sign, cherries, raspberries, roses…” child replies, “red!”
    • We have tried playing this game when our toddler was a bit overtired and let me tell you it was an epic failure! He would not concentrate AT ALL and would constantly laugh ūüėā which would make me laugh even harder! It was hilarious!

Guess the Item

This game can be played several different ways depending on the children’s ages. The way we have played is fairly simple. Example: grandpa says, “I am thinking about something, this something is the color red. You can eat it. It is sweet. It is a fruit. It’s crunchy. You can pick it off a tree in the fall. You can make pie with it.” Child says, “apple!?”

  • The adult can go on and on and provide detailed descriptions of the item he or she is thinking about until the child guesses correctly. We have found that, depending on your child’s comprehension and vocabulary level, it might be best to start with very simple things.
  • When your children grow older you can start doing the role reversal so they can ask you to guess the item they’re thinking of.

Little Passports

Imagination and Reading to the Rescue!

In addition to occupying your children’s time with guessing games, another form of entertainment we have found to be fun and stimulating is your imagination.

Storytelling

If you’re a creative and imaginative person this is right up your alley! The object is to use descriptive words and tell a fun story.

Unfortunately my attempts at telling our son a story has failed on numerous occasions. It just doesn’t “flow” for me. Therefore, I rely heavily on resources that are available to us.

Audiobooks

My default: the library! If you have a library card you most likely have access to borrow e-books and audiobooks.

  • Prior to our road trip or even during the long drive, I log into my online library account and search for some children audiobooks. I am able to download them right then and there through an app called Overdrive or listen to the book right through our browser. My son loves Curious George and Pinkalicious and enjoys listening to the audiobooks. I have also realized they seem to calm him down and put him to sleep (on a good day).

Playing Pretend

Similar to story-telling, but we are the ones in the “story”. My husband does such an amazing job with this game! Typically we do this at night when we are winding down from a busy day, and if we decide not to read a bedtime storybook.

  • Example: daddy says, “are you ready to go on a safari adventure? What animals do you want to see today?” Then he describes going into a Jeep and buckling up and seeing all of the sights with animal sounds and all! Being in a moving vehicle we could pretend we are in space and seeing all of the spaceships and other life forms go by us, as we are riding.

Little Passports

Other Activities and Ideas!

Here are some other suggestions and things we have tried with our toddler on our long road trips.

Toys

Sometimes bringing his favorite toy(s) are extremely helpful! If your child has a stuffed animal he or she can play pretend and feed it snacks and have fun. Kai enjoys playing with his “shark blaster,” which has lights and sounds.

Snacks & Food

Kai loves snacks! Eating and snacking on stuff keeps him occupied and entertained for a long time. I usually try and find some healthy snacks for him to munch on. His favorites include the following:

Tablet

When all else fails, we do resort to playing movies or TV shows on his tablet. This is the one we have, along with the case we got for him:



Our sons enjoying watching certain shows and tends to fall asleep to the movie Moana, which was his favorite for a long time.

Some of the toddler games are very educational, but we have found that we need to sit down with him and show him how to play the games before we sit in the car. The games are a little complex for him to figure out all on his own after downloading them.

I recommend letting your child play games that he or she is already familiar with so they can explore on their own. Otherwise, you will have a toddler constantly asking you how to do this and that in each level or in each game.

Play Packs / Coloring Activity

Our son doesn’t typically have the attention span to sit for long periods of time, but when we are in the car he actually enjoys coloring and playing with some stickers. He has been rather intricate with his coloring nowadays…compared to just a few months ago he would just color a few lines and said he was all done.

We hope these road trip ideas are helpful for you and your family during long drives or when you’re traveling:) Enjoy!

The 50 States: A Road Trip of a Lifetime

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The Final Stretch: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia

So we were back from our cruise and it was a straight shot up the coast to Savannah, GA. We had a 7 hour drive from Miami and we were only staying one night in Georgia. As we got into Georgia we had stopped to fuel up and noticed a gas station that had some magnets. As soon as we crossed the state border, we immediately noticed the drastic change in weather. It was several degrees cooler in GA compared to Florida, so we had to change our clothing to adjust to the quick change when we stopped. We picked up the Georgia magnet that we needed and low and behold there was a Tennessee magnet, Tennessee was the only state where we wee unable to find a magnet while we were there. After getting our magnet we were back on the road and not stopping until Savannah.

We arrived in Savannah around 4pm. We checked into the Mulberry Inn. It was a decent little hotel with clean rooms but a breakfast, which we found out later, that was lacking a bit. We dropped off our luggage into the room and knew that we had a few things to do tonight so we could head to the Carolinas the next day. Next on our list was to to find a cache. Luckily right near the hotel was a cache that ended up being fairly easy to find. We placed our frisbee and were on our way to dinner.

The hotel that we were staying in was on the north side of Savannah. Christina wanted to head into the downtown area to get some dinner. She actually found a Paula Dean restaurant that we thought would be somewhere good to try. We got into the downtown area and there was something big going on. There must have been a festival or something that day. Many of the streets were blocked off, there were police all over the place, and all of the parking lots were already full. After looking for somewhere to park for 45 minutes I decided to call it quits. There was a restaurant right next to the hotel that we were staying at that I had originally wanted to go to so we ended up heading back there. After another half hour drive back towards the hotel we arrived at the Sweet Tea Grille restaurant. The food there was pretty good and I think our favorite was the loaded chip appetizer. After dinner we decided to call it a night as we had to get up early and head north.

We woke up and packed up our luggage and car and headed to breakfast. We like to try and find hotels where they offer free breakfast but this one was just a bit of a disappointment. Everything seemed a little old and like it had been out for a while. We quickly ate a little bit of breakfast and decided to head out of there as our final destination for today was all the way up in Richmond, VA.

We started to head to Virginia and knew we needed to make a few stops along the way. We needed to visit North and South Carolina. North Carolina was pretty easy. We stopped at South of the Border. We were easily able to find a cache right there and or course they had a magnet. Luckily since this is on the border of North and South Carolina they also had a North Carolina magnet so we were able to pick up both of them. We also to decided to grab some lunch while we were there and make our way to North Carolina.

North Carolina was a little more difficult because we needed to find a cache and we didn’t have a specific location to go to. We pulled off the highway¬†and I found a cache that seemed to be pretty close by. It was actually at a dentist office and it was about 2:30pm(two thirty) I thought it was pretty fitting.(Lets see who gets the joke). We searched of the cache for a while and finally just before we were about to leave I prevailed and found it attached to a tree in the woods. Victory! Only one state left.

We continued our drive to Virginia, our last state in the continental U.S. We arrived fairly late in Fredricksburg, VA and decided to get dinner and call it an early night. We headed to an Italian restaurant right next to the hotel, Vita Felice. The food was pretty good and we were really happy with our meals. The restaurant was showing some signs of age but we were able to over look that when our entrees came. We headed back to the hotel after dinner and rested up for our final drive.

We woke up early had breakfast at our hotel and had a couple of errands to run. First and most importantly was to find a Virginia country ham for Christina’s dad. We headed to the Made in Virginia Store that was near by. We knew they carried Edward’s hams and that is exactly what we were looking for. Edward’s are know for their salty country hams and are always raked amongst the top tasting in the country. We found a ham that fit what we were looking for and also grabbed our VA magnet. We only had one more thing to do. We searched nearby for a cache and found one just around the corner. It was a pretty easy find so we placed our frisbee and headed to New York.

After 7 more hours of driving we arrived in New York, completing our trip around the continental U.S.(plus Alaska). All that we have left is Hawaii and boy are we excited to go there.

T-minus 5 days until our wedding. Now we must switch from fun mode back to get things done mode.

Alabama

We made the decision to drive through Alabama the day of Saturday, November 1st, after leaving New Orleans. It was just going to be a quick stop. We were stopping through just to get a magnet, find our cache, and grab some lunch.

When we got into Spanish Fort, Alabama we stopped for some gasoline and headed to a Walgreens to look for a magnet. We found a magnet that said “Spanish Fort, AL” but not one that only said ” Alabama” So we decided to keep searching. In the Walgreens parking lot we noticed there was a cache. It was a quick find. We placed our frisbee and were off.

Christina had a couple of items that she had to return to Kohl’s so we headed one that was nearby in the town center. We were pretty hungry since we hadn’t eaten breakfast so lunch was the next thing on our list. We found a Five Guys Burgers and Fries, our favorite, so we had to stop there for lunch. After eating lunch we resumed our search for a magnet. we checked a couple of shops in the plaza we were in with no luck. One person recommended we go up the highway an exit and there was a “Tiger Pride” store that should have some.

We drove up to the next exit and found the store. To our dismay there were not any magnets there that we could use, unless we wanted one that was about a foot long. There was also another small gift store near by that we checked, and again we came out empty handed. The owner did recommend checking  Barnes and Noble, Bass Pro Shops, and the Welcome Center. Barnes and Noble was just next door so we searched there and again, nadda.

We decided to go check Bass Pro Shop and the Welcome Center. The only problem was they were back at the last exit we just came from. So we headed back to the previous exit and headed to Bass Pro Shops. Im sure you can see where this is about to go. There were no Alabama magnets there. I did need to get some fishing line, which came in handy the next day, so the trip to Bass Pro was not a complete loss.

We rushed over to the Welcome Center. They must have magnets there we thought. We arrived at 3:15 sharp, only to find they closed at 3pm. What kind of Welcome Center closes at 3?

We made the decision that this was becoming very much a pain and headed back to Walgreens, where this all started and to get the original magnet that we found.

NEW RULE: When we find a magnet with a state name on it, we buy it. No searching around.

That was our trip to Alabama. Now, on our way to Panama City Beach.

Colorful Colorado

On Tuesday, October 14th, Michael and I decided on a whim to head to Grand Junction, CO because we got a good deal on a nice hotel for him to rest for a couple of days. The drive over to the city was so lovely, as we passed through the state of Utah. We hit some captivating yellow and sandy terrain when we crossed over the Colorado border. Glimpses of snow-covered peaks in the state lured us in as we drove to the city.

We checked into the hotel, and I ordered food for dinner, and the next day I went to the fitness center and did the cache and purchased the state magnet on my own.

I was debating whether or not to check out the Colorado National Monument, but it was a 23-mile loop drive. The next day, we were going to have a long drive down to the state of New Mexico, so I decided against the long drive and just rest before we headed down there.

After New Mexico, we would have to drive through the state of Colorado to get to Nebraska, so we would have another opportunity to explore more of the state together.

On Friday, October 17th, Castle Rock, CO was the second place we stayed on our way to Nebraska. By the afternoon Michael was feeling a lot better than before. He had the chance to rest and recover from his cold, so we were really happy that we could continue along in our journey and experience it to the fullest. As we were driving along the highway, we noticed a more populated area right before we hit the large city of Denver. Because we wanted to avoid all of the traffic of the city, we selected to stay in Castle Rock. This was a great decision because there are so many shops nearby. We had planned to have a¬†date-night that morning. I took Michael to get a nice juicy burger at Crave, and he took me for froyo at Smart Cow. I have to say that I really appreciated the fact that they had Italian ice-style flavors, which I really enjoyed along with my tart original froyo with fresh fruit, mochi and mango boba:) Then he took me to see¬†The Best of Me, which by the way was such a tear-jerker!!! Sparks really does pull something out of me: I even cry while READING¬†his novels! Ten minutes into the movie, I knew I should have been more prepared with some extra Kleenex. Before watching Guardians of the Galaxy at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, I really can’t remember the last time I watched a movie, but now we are really on a roll with these movies. I rekindles a part of my past, because I used to watch movies at least once a month…crazy how times have changed.

Random realization: By far, the best things in life are: time, health, loved ones, and the means to live life to the fullest! Having the chance to experience bits and pieces of each state and what tiny factors that distinguish one from another really opens up my eyes to the different perspectives Americans have about one another. Throughout our long drives, Michael and I have been able to have the time to really digest all of this travel education we have right in front of us. I have been striving to share all of these small lessons I have learned with him, as we have been able to grow closer over these past few months.  Subtle differences within each state make us realize the sheer diversity coupled with the harmonious unity of the States, appropriately constituting the United States.

Off to the next state: Nebraska!!!

Indiana – “The Crossroads of America”

We left Hoffmaster State Park in Michigan and headed to Indianapolis. It was about a four hour drive. I drove half way then Christina drove the rest. It’s a very flat drive drive through the states in this area. There were no hill, no mountains, but there was a lot of corn and hay. Our only stop in Indiana was going to be Indianapolis so we were hoping that it was going to be good. We were staying one night right in downtown then the next night at the airport. We stayed at La Quinta Hotel that was about 2 blocks from the heart of down town Indianapolis. We ended up picking this location through Hotwire. If you are not familiar with Hotwire it is a website that will tell you the location of a hotel, the star rating, and how much it will cost but it won’t tell you the specific name of the hotel. We have scored some really good deals using this and the hotels have been what we expected.

Indianapolis here we come!
Indianapolis here we come!
Cleaning bugs off windshield
Cleaning bugs off windshield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we got to Indianapolis we checked in at our hotel and wanted to go to the local City Market where there are supposed to be a bunch of food vendors. We got there and it was about 5pm. By that time almost all of the vendors had already closed. The City Market is open until 9pm, but we found out most vendors close by 3pm. We decided to check out the city and look for somewhere for dinner. We stumbled upon Punch Burger and boy were we happy we did. It was definitely one of the best burgers either of us had ever had. I had the Burnt Cheese Burger, a burger with slices of burnt cheese on top, and Christina had the BYOB, she added all sorts of stuff to her burger and it was much too spicy for me to eat.

After dinner we walked around the city a bit more and found our way to the Circle Centre Mall. Christina wanted to find a gift for her friend and look for a couple of other items for herself. She ended up finding what she was looking for and we were off in search of a gift for her friend about 10 minutes before the mall closed. We ended up finding the perfect gift just in the nick of time. The shop workers seemed to just want us to get out of there so they weren’t very helpful when if came to wrapping the gift. In the end we got what we were looking for and decided to call it a night. We headed back to the hotel to call it a night and try to get some sleep for the next day. On the way back we found a geocache location and hid our next frisbee. So if you are in Indianapolis keep and eye out for it.

When we woke up we decided to give the City Market another try. The market is only about 3 blocks from our hotel so we figured it would be worth another shot. When we got there all of the vendors were open and people were hustling and bustling about. We made a walk around the market to see what our options were for lunch. We decided to start with one of the vendors who had baked potatoes. The chicken, bacon, ranch spud stuck out to me so we sent with that and decided to split it since these were the biggest potatoes we had ever seen. After the potato Christina wanted to get some soup and we grabbed a couple of cookies. All of the food that we tried in the market was really good and we would both definitely recommend going there if you ever are in the area.

We walked around the city the rest of the day and went into a few shops and took some pictures of the landmarks in the area. We had to head over to a different hotel that night ,but it was still in Indianapolis so we didn’t have too far to drive. We headed over to the airport hotel where we had dinner, Christina actually used the burner we had to make dinner in the hotel room and it turned out really good. The burner worked out pretty well until later that night Christina tried to use the burner again to heat up a sandwich she got the other day and she ended up setting off the fire alarm in the hotel we were in. We had the hotel staff come to the room to make sure everything was ok. I blamed it on Christina when they came to the room.

Since our hotel was located at the airport we started thinking that we should hop on a plane and go somewhere. We figured we should see if we could get a flight to Puerto Rico. We started to look into that and then Florida. Both of the options ended up being more than we wanted to stay for the amount of time we would have gone for. So instead of hopping on a plane we booked where would be staying the next few days.

Indianapolis ended up being my favorite city so far. It looked like a big city and had the features of one, but it still felt like a small town. There were bike paths and walk-ways on all of the major roads and a lot of historical buildings scattered throughout the city that gave it a nice feeling. Christina also liked the city but I don’t know if it was her favorite location so far. So if you are ever in Indianapolis make sure you go to Punch Burger and the City Market.