Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

It’s been a long time since many of us have hit the road and even longer since we’ve seen loved ones. In fact, a recent survey shows that 43% of travelers are most interested in visiting family in the next 9 months. That’s why Travelocity has teamed up with Thrifty Car Rental and is inviting two families to hit the road with the Road Trip of a Lifetime Contest! Two winners, hand-selected by Travelocity and Thrifty Car Rental, will each be able to invite nine family members to join them on an epic, all-expense-paid road trip across either Texas or the American Southwest, valued at $25,000 each. Read on to discover what both of these trips of a lifetime might look like and visit Travelocity.com/ThriftyRoadTrip to learn more and enter the contest.

Suggested cars, hotels, and activities are subject to availability and are not guaranteed as part of the prize package.

RELATED: This is the ultimate Texas road trip

Southwest National Parks Adventure

What could be more fun than an adventure that begins in sunny Phoenix, ends in thrilling Las Vegas, and loops in ghost towns, slot canyons, critter encounters, and National Parks along the way? For this Wild West trek, we recommend either a Thrifty BMW X1 crossover with 4WD or Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport, but many vehicles will do. Meanwhile, kids from the winning families will be road ready thanks to their very own swag bags filled with goodies that may include a compass, kids camera, water bottle, trail mix, sunscreen, and nature book to help identify desert plants and wildlife.

Get started

Before starting your engines, why not spend a day or two exploring the Valley of the Sun? The Phoenix-Mesa metro area is one of the nation’s largest and boasts a ton of family-friendly attractions. Old Town Scottsdale is among the region’s most pedestrian friendly areas and boasts all kinds of specialty shops, wine bars, and art galleries. Kids will love Sugar Bowl, a soda fountain and ice cream shop that’s been part of the Scottsdale landscape since 1958. Enjoy the great outdoors by exploring beautiful Papago Park, especially top attractions like the Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Garden, and Hole in the Rock. Nearby Goldfield offers eerie ghost town adventures just 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix.

Ready to hit the road?

There’s so much to see and do! Make a splash at Slide Rock State Park which features a natural “water slide” the whole family will love. Next up is the grandest stop of them all—Grand Canyon National Park. Peer over the South Rim to inhale the canyon’s majestic beauty or test your nerves by stepping out onto the glassy Skywalk. VIP experiences for our contest winners may include a private helicopter tour, a ride along the Grand Canyon Railway, and hiking into the Canyon to Havasu Falls. End the day in lively Page. Lake Powell Resort offers an impressive pool.

Page offers a plethora of attractions you won’t want to miss including a VIP slot canyon tour, boating and fishing on Lake Powell, a visit to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and the town’s marquee attraction—famous Horseshoe Bend! Cheap (and chirpy) eats include kid-friendly Bird House, a fried chicken shack converted out of an old drive-in, while more elevated fare can be found at Sunset 89 (reserve in advance).

It’s not over yet

In the belly of two of Utah’s “Mighty Five” National Parks, Kanab, Utah makes for an excellent base camp. Both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are right at your doorstep. Sleep under the stars in style at Under Canvas Zion, a luxury glamping hotel right outside the park. Kanab is also home to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and there’s no better way to encounter cats, dogs, horses, and more than with a VIP shelter tour.

Did someone say Las Vegas? You’ve hit the end of the road so why not live it up. Soar over the city with Fly LINQ Zipline, or soak in the views from High Roller (the world’s largest observation wheel), check out virtual reality thrills, immersive art, arcade games and more at new AREA15, or do the city VIP style with a private nighttime tour of the Neon Museum or a behind-the-scenes animal feeding at Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay Resort. Get a few winks away from the hustle of the Strip at family-friendly hotels like Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa, or in the heart of the action at Hilton Grand Vacations.

 

Lone Star Family Adventure 

Pack your cowboy boots and giddy on up for this Lone Star trek that takes you deep into the heart of Texas. Our suggested Thrifty rental for this family-friendly adventure that includes beaches, barbecue, and wild bats is a Hyundai Santa Fe, though any vehicle our contest winners pick will come with kids swag bags that may include cowboy hats, beach balls, a kids camera, and more.

Where the rubber meets the road

We love Austin and you will too! Amidst the honky-tonks and food trucks are a ton of family offerings like naturally fed swimming pool Barton Springs, sweet tooth emporium Big Top Candy Shop, hands-on children’s museum the Thinkery, and Austin’s famous Bat Bridge where winged creatures fly daily at dusk between April and October. Don’t forget a photo op for the entire crew in front of the city’s famed “I Love You So Much” mural. Sprawling Salt Lick BBQ in nearby Driftwood offers divine ‘cue and giant slab picnic tables while Omni Barton Creek Resort and Spa offers a kid-friendly pool and serene spa time for adults.

The road to San Antonio is a short one—just 90 minutes! There’s so much to do in this celebrated Texas city starting with its famed River Walk. Whether you experience it via its navigable walkways or by boat, you’ll for sure want to head to foodie hangout the Pearl where kids will love running around on its expansive lawn. While in town, also checkout SeaWorld San Antonio, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Doseum, and Lulu’s Bakery for three-pound cinnamon rolls. Are we forgetting something? Of course…remember the Alamo! Cave Without A Name in the middle of Texas Hill Country makes for a cinch day trip.

Are we there yet?

The journey from San Antonio to Houston takes three hours; break up the journey with a couple road trip-worthy stops along the way. Buc-ee’s is a combination restaurant, gas station, and gift shop and boasts multiple Texas locations. Meanwhile, the Garden Co., restaurant and market offers a charming and bucolic respite before your arrival in city slickin’ Houston and includes a kids menu and backyard garden.

Hello, Space City! There’s much to see and do in Houston, but before everyone straps on their fanny packs, why not settle in at the 1,000-room Marriott Marquee Houston.This family-friendly downtown hotel boasts an extraordinary feature: In addition to its rooftop swimming pool, it also has a rooftop lazy river in the shape of Texas! At Space Center Houston, a Smithsonian affiliate museum and the official visitor center of NASA Johnson Space Center, learn about humankind’s journey to the stars and maybe book a VIP lunch with an astronaut or book a private tour. Elsewhere around town, don’t miss Houston’s grassy and expansive Hermann Park featuring the Houston Zoo, Japanese Garden, and Houston Museum of Natural Science. And make sure you take the little ones to Eclectic Menagerie Park where giant sculptures of animals loom large.

Cool downyou deserve it

Let’s get soaking wet! End your journey in sunny Galveston surrounded by Gulf-views as far as the eye can see. Nothing beats dipping tired toes into warm waters, but if you can pull yourself away from Galveston Beach’s 32-miles of coastline (we recommend Stewart Beach), check out numerous family attractions like the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, Moody Gardens (a non-profit theme park devoted to conservation), and Schlitterbahn Water Park for even more aquatic fun. Relax at day’s end at Holiday Inn Club Vacations Galveston Beach Resort and definitely save room for an elegant dinner at legendary Galveston eatery Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant, and save room for a slice of their legendary pecan pie!


Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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