Eat beyond the interstate.
Driving even a few miles into the center of a town will not only introduce your family to a place you've never seen (and one that might have other attractions) but also to weird, delectable regional foods. How about a shredded turkey sandwich at the White Turkey Drive-In in Conneaut, Ohio? Or hoppel poppel (scrambled eggs mixed up with potatoes and fried salami) at Benjy's in Milwaukee? Jane and Michael Stern's "Roadfood" books are the classic references, and their website includes "Roadfood Insider," a fee-based premium service that includes maps, reviews and a mobile-phone version.
When you stop at convenience stores and gas stations, look carefully in the snack aisles: America isn't as homogenous as you think, at least not in its preferences for regional candies, chips and sodas. If you are driving through Minnesota, be sure to try a Pearson's Salted Nut Roll — creamy nougat surrounded by caramel and roasted peanuts. In northern New England, treat yourself to an orange can of Moxie — a strangely musty "tonic," as New Englanders call soda pop, that was one of the first mass-produced soft drinks. Canadian stores stock all kinds of British candy classics, including Maynard's wine gums and Maltesers.
Take nature breaks.
Even if it's just a game of Frisbee in a local park, make sure that at least one of your stops each day gives you time to run around outside. Check out natural attractions, from state and national parks to scenic overlooks. And if you have a little extra time, try geocaching to discover hidden treasures. Go to geocaching.com, enter a ZIP code, and you'll be given the latitude and longitude of nearby caches — containers (often quite small) that are hidden from sight and contain a visitors' log that you sign. The fun is in the hunt, although some also contain trinkets. Your kids can take one, but remember that it's customary to bring new trinkets to leave in caches that are large enough to hold them. There are geocaching apps (both free and for sale) for all models of smartphones.