Say yes to the Jolly Green Giant.
Historic buildings and scenic vistas are terrific, and we rely on Moon travel guides to point us to these attractions. But don't skip quirky roadside oddities, like the shell-shaped gas station in Winston-Salem, N.C., or the Hat Museum in Portland, Ore., or the Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth, Minn. Roadside America has an great app packed with goofy stops and the local lore that goes with them. "Weird U.S." and its companion volumes might lead you down some interesting paths as well.
Some kids don't get the concept that a lot of the things we use every day are made here and not in China. Factory tours of companies that manufacture anything from candy to cars are often free; some even include museums dedicated to the history of the company or industry. At the Anheuser-Busch factory in St. Louis, you can see the Clydesdales' stables; at Harley-Davidson you can check out the assembly line. Our favorite resource is the book "Watch It Made in the U.S.A." by Karen Axelrod and Bruce Brumberg.
A word of advice: Some "factory" tours are nothing more than a boring spin around a warehouse, so call ahead to ask whether you'll truly be allowed to peek behind the scenes. (We're talking about you, Jelly Belly Center in Pleasant Prairie, Wis.!)
In fact, call first every time you plan to get off the interstate. Reading about Liberace's birthplace in a guidebook, driving 20 miles off course, and finding out it's closed is a surefire way to torpedo family harmony. Restaurants, museums and other attractions change their hours and even go out of business, so it's always best to confirm.