We play a lot of board games, ok, not as many as we did "pre-kids" but still more than the average family (I think). If you are familiar with "Mr. Chewy's Blog" this isn't a total surprise. Most of our games are not ones you'll find on the shelves at your local "Big Box Mart" either, although some of them do make the occasional appearance. One of our favorites, that is also an easy one to share with friends is "Ticket to Ride".
The concept is pretty simple - collecting various colored cards to complete various train routes for points. The strategy however, can get a bit more complicated. Board Game Geek (yes, that is a real, and very appropriately titled website) has more detailed information here.. Cities on the various maps are based on railroad hubs. You have to keep in mind - this is not published by Rand McNally and locations of various cities are not exactly precise- but in the general ballpark.
Why do I think this is such a great family game? Besides being pretty easy to pick up, there is the bit of history and geography component. While latitudes and longitudes may not be totally to scale - the chewy kid (and the rest of us) are getting refreshers on general locations of cities including Seattle, Denver, Boston, New Orleans, and more. It also teaches delayed gratification. There is more reward for completing longer routes - reinforcing saving your resources for the bigger payoff. There are also expansions and additional maps/gameplay rules available. While I kind of like the "Ticket to Ride Europe" option/rules, it is the original that comes out to play the most.
Like a lot of games of this type - it is not one you'll find on sale for $5.88 - and is definitely an investment. It's currently on sale at Amazon where you can also check out a video from the publisher. But publisher list is $50.00. Which, believe it or not, does not totally freak out this frugal mama. We could easily drop that amount on a family evening at the movies - or a nice dinner out. For a game the whole family enjoys playing - and we actually interact while playing... it's an investment I'm willing to make, and the amount of plays Ticket to Ride has seen at our table - it's been worth it.