17 Action-Packed, Fun-Filled Road Trip Movies for Families

July 29, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

As summer winds down, families everywhere are taking one last vacation before the rigors of the school year take back the reins. And nothing epitomizes the family vacation more than a road trip. Parents, kids, and other assorted passengers piled into the family car; crisscrossing the country in search of excitement, enjoying the togetherness, pausing for the random road side oddity. It’s an adventure like no other.

For the nights you’re not on the road (but still hoping to cram in as much family fun as possible), nothing beats family movie night! Whether you’re snuggled up on the sofa or camped out in the backyard, these films capture all the adventure, fun, and occasional misfortune of the family road trip.

So grab the popcorn — and your map, compass, flashlight or fairy dust — and settle in for a rip-roaring, vicarious vacation.

Did everyone use the bathroom? We’ve got a long trip ahead of us…

17 Family-Friendly Road Trip Movies

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

1968 • G • 145 min
road trippers: Caractacus Potts, Truly Scrumptious, Jemima & Jeremy
destination: Vulgaria
mode of travel: flying, swimming — and sometimes even driving — car

Finding Nemo*

2003 • G • 100 min
road trippers: Marlin & Dory
destination: 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney (to find Nemo, duh)
mode of travel: Crush the sea turtle (via the Eastern Australian Current), blue whale, Nigel the pelican, motivational mantra (“just keep swimming”)

The Goonies*

1985 • PG • 114 min
road trippers: The Goonies (Mikey, Mouth, Data, Chunk, Brandon, Andy, Stef) & Sloth
destination: One-Eyed Willy’s treasure
mode of travel: secret underground pirate tunnels

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids*

1989 • PG • 93 min
road trippers: The kids (Rus, Ron, Amy & Nick)
destination: out of the backyard
mode of travel: shrink ray, dust pan, bee, Antie the ant, Quark the dog

Hook

1991 • PG • 141 min
road trippers: Jack, Maggie, Dad (AKA Peter Pan)
destination: Neverland
mode of travel: pirate ship, pixie dust

The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe*

2005 • PG • 135 min
road trippers: Peter, Susan, Edmund & Lucy
destination: Narnia
mode of travel: magical wardrobe

Lord of the Rings Trilogy*

2001-2003 • PG-13 • 553 min
road trippers: The Fellowship (Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas, Merry, Pippin, and Gandalf), Gollum (though he was more of a stalker)
destination: Bree, Rivendell, Isengard, Mines of Moria, Lothlórien, Parth Galen, Fangorn, Osgiliath, Minas Tirith, Minas Morgul, Mordor, and finally… The Shire (whew!)
mode of travel: on foot, horseback, eagle

The Muppet Movie*

1979 • G • 95 min
road trippers: Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, etc.
destination: Hollywood, away from Doc Hopper
mode of travel: Studebaker, psychedelic bus

The NeverEnding Story*

1984 • PG • 94 min
road trippers: Atreyu, Bastion
destination: The Childlike Empress’ castle, away from The Nothing
mode of travel: Artax, Falkor the Luck Dragon, magical book

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

2014 • PG • 92 min
road trippers: Mr. Peabody & Sherman
destination: ancient history (Versailles, Egypt, Florence, Troy), New York
mode of travel: The WABAC machine

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

1985 • PG • 91 min
road trippers: Pee-Wee Herman
destination: wherever his bike was (not the Alamo)
mode of travel: hitchhiking (car, semi truck), train, motorcycle, bicycle

Penguins of Madagascar

2014 • PG • 92 min
road trippers: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico & Private
destination: Venice, Sahara Desert, Shanghai, New York
mode of travel: ice floe, tricked-out vending machine, steamer ship, spy plane, jet pack

The Princess Bride*

1987 • PG • 98 min
road trippers: Vizzini, Fezzik, Inigo Montoya, Princess Buttercup (against her will), Dread Pirate Roberts/Westley, Prince Humperdink & his posse
destination: To escape with/rescue/marry Buttercup
mode of travel: foot, horseback, Fezzik’s back, Cliffs of Insanity

The Rescuers / The Rescuers Down Under

1977 / 1990 • G • 77 min
road trippers: Bernard and Miss Bianca
destination: Devil’s Bayou / Australia
mode of travel: albatross

Spy Kids

2001 • PG • 88 min
road trippers: Carmen and Juni
destination: Floop’s castle (to rescue their parents)
mode of travel: submarine, jet packs, plane

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

1986 • PG • 118 min
road trippers: Kirk, Spock & USS Enterprise crew; pair of humpback whales
destination: Earth (circa 1986)
mode of travel: Klingon Bird of Prey, slingshot around the sun

The Wizard of Oz*

1939 • G • 103 min
road trippers: Dorothy Gale, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Toto
destination: The Emerald City and ultimately, home
mode of travel: cyclone/flying house, on foot (via yellow brick road), flying monkey, hot air balloon, magical slippers
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What are your family’s favorite road trip movies?

All titles available for streaming or DVD on Netflix, except for those noted with a (*), which are available as DVDs only.

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comments

4 responses to “17 Action-Packed, Fun-Filled Road Trip Movies for Families”

  1. Darren says:

    Great list! Never Ending Story was one of my all-time favourites as a child. Seeing this has just reminded me that I need to organise some entertainment to keep the little ones happy for our upcoming drive across France!

  2. Simon says:

    We had to ban Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a while because it was giving our daughter nightmares. She knew which bit was scaring her (child catcher of course) but she still loved watching it.

  3. Craig says:

    good list. I need this for our upcoming beach trip!

  4. Tim says:

    Great list! As the father of a 6 yo girl and twin 3 yo boys, Frozen is their obvious choice. Mostly the daughter’s choice. The boys rarely have a say in what they watch.

    Mode of travel: reindeer pulled sleigh

    The boys love The Polar Express! They are bananas for trains, so this one is a no-brainer.

    Mode of travel: chhoo-choo!

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