"Themed" Road Trip Ideas!

Ideas to make your local (and far off!) adventures more interesting

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Themes are the Best!

I love wearing my “Little Mermaid” necklace, with my “Little Mermaid” socks, and my starfish earrings. Because it’s a “themed” outfit.

I’m a dork.

BUT, having a theme makes even the most boring things more entertaining! And when there’s not a lot going on in the world of travel (#corona), themed road trips are the way to go (in my opinion)!

The Idea

The idea started when the New England Escape Rooms got together and made a bunch of online escape rooms during quarantine. If you got the key to all of them, you might even win 2 free tickets to EVERY participating escape room.

  • You can still try out these online escape games!

We don’t live in New England, but we (Jason) still had fun doing all the online games. We decided if we DID win (we didn’t) we would have to go on an escape room road trip around New England! How fun!

Even if you don’t have free tickets to 20 different escape rooms, you can still up your vacation game by planning a themed road trip! Especially during these uncertain travel times, where you can find many fun things to do close to home.

The Themes

Escape Rooms

I love this picture because everyone is looking at me like I’m a weirdo… which I am!

If I’m planning a trip somewhere just because of the ONE thing I want to do there, it’s sometimes hard to know what else to fill our extra time with. Over my years of trip planning, I’ve come up with a couple local things I like to try: doughnuts and escape rooms.

The escape room fascination is really a new thing—thanks to my cousin, who owns Upside Down Escape Games near Boston. After trying out all of his escape rooms, we left feeling very eager to try more.

We (Jason & I) have never not escaped (we have had a lot of clues though)! So I’m hoping we can keep up our streak!

If you’re looking for something nearby to do, look up your city’s or neighboring cities’ escape rooms. Head out on a road trip to test your skills at all the many insanely different rooms there are to try!

  • If you’re not sure what an escape room is… check out this article!


These particular doughnuts came from Peace, Love and Little Donuts, in Buffalo, NY.

Which of course brings me to doughnuts, the other local thing I always want to try. I am constantly in search of THE BEST doughnuts in the U.S.

Pick a few near(ish)by bakeries and compare their doughnuts. Which ones are the best?

And be sure to let me know if you find any that are truly inspired, so I can add them to my list!

  • Click here to check out my list so far of the best donuts in the U.S.


One FANTASTIC museum to visit! Read all about The National Comedy Center here.

We are actually heading out an a museum themed road trip… accidentally!

I was trying to find something to do (to replace our cancelled trip to England!), so I started looking locally at places I always wanted to visit (namely-the Corning Museum of Glass).

When the other main thing I wanted to do near there was still shut down, I remembered there was another museum I had always wanted to go to: The Strong Museum of Play. From there it was a no-brainer to throw in another museum I’d been eyeing up (The Carrousel Museum), which happened to perfectly line up in a circle from where we started! And ta dah! A museum themed road trip!

It’s not hard to find several unique museums to visit within an hour or two of each other. Our longest drive on our trip will be a whopping 2 hrs. Each of them could be done as a single day trip from home (no hotel rooms!), or strung together to make a mini road trip.

Farmer’s Markets

In the summer/fall this is a good option. You can find different farmer’s markets everywhere, from the little one-road town to the big city (where there are probably a few!).

Hit the road (if the season’s right) and see how much variety you can find. Will it be homemade pie? Amish doughnuts (doughnuts!!)? House plants? Jam? Jewelry? Woodwork?

There can be a lot of variety to the different farmer’s markets you visit. Visit one near the Corning Museum of Glass, and you might even find a GLASS farmer’s market!

State Parks

My favorite view of Letchworth State Park—Inspiration Point!

Some state parks are rather mediocre, but some (like Letchworth!) really are fantastic. I know of some beautiful state parks within driving distance (like Watkin’s Glen!), so I’m sure you can find some gems near you, too!

Any time of year is great for viewing state parks, but I personally think fall is ideal because of the incredible leaves and fewer crowds. Just be sure to dress for the weather.

A Storybook Themed Road Trip

Me fangirling “Gilmore Girls” in New Milford, CT.

There are no set “guidelines” to this one.

It could be somewhere where a movie or show was filmed (Richmond, BC), or based on (Mount Airy, NC).

It could be a place a famous author lived (Key West, FL), or a museum dedicated to said author, series, show etc. (Putnam, CT).

Or it could just be the International Storytelling Festival in Tennessee!

I constantly have places I want to visit because I’m a fan of the show or book (exhibit A—Gilmore Girls!).

Think of your favorite authors/stories/shows, and find the places that inspired them.

Then plan a road trip.


This one is of course reserved for warmer weather. But if you live in a place where the only local drive in theater has been closed for years, it is long overdue for you to hit the road and find another!

And then another!

And why not make a whole vacation out of it? Find some drive-in movie theaters, watch the movie, stay for the night, and then head to another one the next day.

  • If you need some ideas for what to do with all your time between movies—well just check out any of the other theme ideas! Doughnuts, escape rooms, mini golf, etc.

Mini Golf

Part of the world’s longest mini golf hole in Cortland, NY.

We of course can’t all be professional golfers. But we can all (mostly) manage a mini golf course!

Now some mini golf courses have us groaning by how dull and average they are. But SOME… some mini golf courses really are above par!

Find the most interesting ones near you, and see how many games of mini golf you can manage before you never want to see a club again. OR before you feel good enough to take on the pros!

  • Some ideas of unique mini golf courses include themed courses (gotta love those themes!) or one with the longest mini golf hole in the world (in Cortland, NY!).

Roller Coasters!

One of the epic roller coasters at Hershey Park, Hershey, PA.

It’s always a shame when Lorelai and Rory (“Gilmore Girls” again!) don’t get to go on their roller coaster road trip because Rory just had to land a job (stupid adulting!).

But YOU can (obviously this is also a summer idea)! Find the BEST roller coasters around (Millenium Force anyone?) and ride them till you’re green in the face (literally!).

Then you can truly say which one is really the best.

That’s all for now!

But I’m sure I will come up with more as time goes on (or maybe YOU will, and let me know!).

You could really make a themed road trip out of anything. Like Zoos. Oh! There you go. There’s another one.

Planning a road trip?

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