We are in the process of planning our annual family summer trip for this year and thought that instead of flying to our destination , we would make the journey part of the trip. We live in NYC and would like to drive to visit family in Kansas City, then drive back. Google maps says it's about 19 hours each way, so we are thinking of 5 days for the drive there, 5 days in KC, then 5 days back (last week in June and first week in July). We will be renting a minivan to make the ride easier for the kids. Does this seem reasonable?
If so, the next question is routes/activities. "We" are my wife and I, plus our 3 boys (14, 12, and 5). We love beautiful scenery and national parks (I realize we're driving the wrong half of the country), interesting museums, caves, and other unique local features. We are not interested in stopping to see a zoo, children's museum, and science museum just because we're in a city that has them.
Some places I've found that I think we'd enjoy are:
Mammoth Cave (somewhat out of the way, but the only NP in the area)
Air Force Museum (Dayton)
City Museum (St. Louis - a smashing success last summer)
Indianapolis - Indy 500 (is there anything to see?), Children's Museum I've heard is great
Falling Water (PA)
The Wilds (OH)
Lancaster, PA (we were there a few years ago, how does Amish Ohio compare, and how far out of the way is it?)
Abe Lincoln stuff in Springfield (IL)
Cincinnati - we have friends there we'd like to visit, any recommended activities?
Pittsburgh - any good stops?
From Google Maps, it seems that NYC -> Western PA on I-70, and St. Louis -> KC on I-70 are the way to go (unless I-80 across northern PA is worth taking in one direction?), but from Western PA to St. Louis, it seems that we can stay on 70 through Dayton and Indianapolis going, and then come back by 64 and 71 through Louisville (and Mammoth) and Cincinnati. Does this seem to make the most sense?
The only other option I'm considering is to detour in one direction through Chicago, as my kids would love Willis/Sears Tower and bike riding by the lake, plus a museum or two. Is this worth it, or will it take me too far out of my way? If I do go the north route, is there anything in Cleveland to throw in as well?
Sorry for all of the confusion, and thanks in advance for any advice and assistance!