The Amazing Race: Family Edition begins with 10 families of four setting off from the Brooklyn Bridge. They are instructed to drive to Mountain Sports in Soho, where they pick up supplies for their journey. The families quickly get lost and begin arguing while making their way, but all eventually reach the supply store. They receive another clue instructing them to drive to a hot dog stand 90 blocks away and ask for a "frank." At the stand, the families receive their clues from two former racers, but only a couple teams at most appear to recognize Season 1's Kevin O'Connor and Drew Feinberg. Their new clue instructs them to head to Pennsylvania and cross the Delaware like George Washington, retrieve a 13-starred flag and then participate in a flag-folding ceremony. The families then head to Philadelphia's Fairmount Park where they set up tents and camp for the night after receiving one of three departure times from an Eagle Scout. In the morning, the teams travel to the Brubaker Family Farm and participate in a Detour --- Build It (build a miniature working watermill) or Buggy It (transport an Amish buggy 1½ miles.) Most of the families arriving earlier choose to Buggy, while the trailing families to choose to Build. The families then make their way to the Pit Stop --- the Rohrer Family Farm on Blue Rock Road --- and one the ten families is eliminated from The Amazing Race.
The nine remaining families set out from the Rohrer Family Farm in Lancaster, PA and receive a clue instructing them to get to York, PA's Shoe House Road and find the Giant Shoe. After finding this shoe, the families receive a new clue telling them to drive 110 miles to Washington D.C. and find the Reflecting Pool at the U.S. Capitol. Confusion ensues, as there are two Reflecting Pools in Washington D.C. and some families end up at the wrong one. Once at the Reflecting Pool, the next clue has the families retrieve a briefcase from an unseen contact in a limousine and then travel to the Tidal Basin. Once at the Tidal Basin, one member of each family participates in a Roadblock that requires them to search among more than fifty people carrying briefcases for one of ten that is a spy who will give them their next clue. They give them the code phrase "The sky is blue" and if the person is the spy, they respond with "The sea is green." The families then travel to Welbourne Manor in Middleburgh, Virginia and participate in a Roadblock that requires them to take part in a civil war reconstruction. They are then able to check into a nearby meadow being used as the Pit Stop.
The families travel from their Pit Stop at the Welbourne Manor, once owned by a general in the Confederate Army, to Charleston, South Carolina, flying more than 500 miles. Once there, the teams drive to a location known as the Battery and find a gazebo, where they receive a Detour clue. This Detour requires them to choose between Forrest Gump and Muddy Waters. The first task requiring them to dehead shrimp, while the second involves riding through a muddy 4x4 course. Some teams that choose the 4x4s are able to finish fast, but others get stuck and one eventually switches Detours. The teams then take charter buses leaving two hours apart to Huntsville, Alabama, where two members of each family partake in a Roadblock requiring them to endure 3.2 Gs on a centrifuge. During the long bus ride to Huntsville, the Weaver Family suffers a breakdown, but manages to find a way of coping. After completing the Roadblock, the teams then log into a product-placed internet service provider and receive a video e-mail from Phil telling them to race on foot to their next Pit Stop, the space shuttle Pathfinder.
The teams set off from their Pit Stop in Huntsville and receive a clue telling them to drive one hundred miles to Anniston, Alabama and locate the world's largest office chair. The next clue sends them to the Alabama Motorsports Hall of Fame and once there, they receive another directing them to the Talladega Super-Speedway where they'll have to complete a lap around the track. Once they get there, they find that they're not racing cars but instead traveling in a multi-person vehicle known as a party bike. After completing this task, they travel 260 miles to Hattiesburg, Mississippi and find the Southern Colonel trailer home dealership and spend the night in one of the trailer homes. The next morning, they depart at one of three departure times pulled the night before --- 7:20 A.M., 7:40 A.M. or 8:00 A.M. and travel 84 miles to Richland, Mississippi, find a BP station and meet a man named Les. They then make their way to the Pelican State, Louisiana, and participate in a Detour --- Work or Play, which requires them to either use a two-man saw to cut four 12-inch slices off a log, or travel to a riverboat casino and win three hands of 21 as a family. The teams are then finally directed to the Pit Stop, the Preservation Hall in New Orleans, where one team is eliminated after making a critical mistake.
The teams set off from their Pit Stop in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana and receive a clue telling them to fly more than 2,000 miles to Panama City, Panama in Central America and find the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. All teams are exciting about finally traveling outside of the United States. When the Institute opens, the teams travel across water to begin their search for a man named Ricardo Diaz and one has a close-call when the operator of their boat tries to head off and pick up someone else. Once the teams find Diaz, they receive a clue directing them to either a Fast Forward or a Detour. One team succesfully completes the Fast Forward, while another is burned and has to return to the Detour --- Rhythm or Coos. Later, the teams take part in a Roadblock in which one member must get a hit or home run against a champion Little League pitcher. The performance on this Roadblock leads to a close race to the finish.
The teams travel 600 miles from their Pit Stop at the Miraflores Locks in Panama to San Jose, Costa Rica on three charter buses leaving in half-hour increments. Once in San Jose, the teams wait for the Volcano State Park to open and then receive a clue telling them that something's brewing at the Doka Estate Coffee Plantation, 17 miles away. What's brewing turns out to be a Roadblock in which one family member must sift through 800 pounds of coffee beans for a single red one --- but one team has to wait after they are Yielded by another. After completing the task, the teams travel 90 miles to the town of Jaco and find a man named Javier at a surf shop called Roca Loca. Their new clue directs them to do a Detour with a choice of either Relic (travel to Rainmaker Adventure Rainforest, cross rickety bridges and search for four Mayan relics) or Ripe (gather fifteen bushels of bananas and then use pulleys to get them to a distribution center.) One team gets stuck in the mud and has to scramble to avoid elimination.
In the first leg of the episode, the teams make their way from Capos, Costa Rica to Arizona. A Detour requires them to choose between Brush or Barrel, in which they must either paint cart wheels or load sugarcane and then transport it six miles. Later, one member of each team does a Roadblock that requries them to do fifty laps around a track in a supercart. The teams then travel 32 miles to the Pit Stop, Fort McDowell Adventures. One team arrives last, but is not eliminated.
The teams continue in the second leg and receive a clue directing them to the Fighter Combat International at Arizona's Gateway Airport. A Roadblock requires one member of each team to fly a stunt team. The teams make a stop at the Grand Canyon before traveling to Geln Canyon Park and choosing between two Detour options --- Bearing or Bailing. All but one team chooses Bailing, in which they bail water out of a boat, while the other chooses Bearing, requiring them to find cards navigating via compass coordinates. The teams race for the Pit Stop at Lake Powell, Antelope Point and one is eliminated.
The families take off from their Pit Stop at Lake Powell, Arizona and receive a clue instructing them to drive to John Ford's Point at a Navajo park in Monument Valley, Utah. There is then a two-person Roadblock in which two members of each family must ride a helicopter to the top of Elephant Butte. They then travel to Gemini Bridges Mohad, Utah, 180 miles away. A Detour requires a choice between Drop Down or Ride Down in which they must either rappel down a cliff or take a six-mile bike ride. All families except the Weavers choose Drop Down. Later, the families participate in a second Roadblock in which one member must do a ski jump. The Pit Stop is at the Salt Like City Library, but the last team to arrive is not eliminated.
The teams take off from their Pit Stop in the Salt Lake City Library and receive a clue telling them to drive to Park City High School where they will find another clue. This clue instructs them to wait until 6 A.M. at which point they will leave in shuttles departing every ten minutes and then help a crew to inflate a hot-air balloon, which they will then ride. In mid-air, the Godlewskis and Weavers have a sort of collision. No real damage is done, but later the Weavers' balloon has a less-than-controlled landing. The teams next participate in a Detour at Heber Valley Railway --- Spike It or Steam It. Most of them choose Spike It, which requires them to accurately construct a section of railway track using old-time tools. The Weavers opt for Steam It in which they fill a tender with 400 pounds of coal. Next the teams travel to Bear Lake Rendezvous Beach, spend the night and then depart fifteen minutes apart. After traveling 137 miles to Dunham, they arrive at Dunham Ranch in Wyoming and participate in a two-person Roadblock that requires them to round-up cattle. Afterwards, they wait for Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park to erupt, before finally traveling to a ranch at the address 15200 where Phil tells them that they are still racing and they have not arrived at the Pit Stop.
The teams continue from the last episode after being told they have not reached a Pit Stop and travel 49 miles to Dubois, Wyoming's Turtle Ranch. There, they face a Detour involving either Pioneer Spirit or Native Tradition. The Linz and Bransen Families opt for Pioneer Spirit in which they have to attach four wheels to a covered wagon and then drive a team of horses a quarter of a mile. Native Tradition involves building a tepee and the Weavers and Godlewskis chose this task. Next, the families travel 221 miles to Cody, Wyoming and find the Hotel Irma. They dress in period clothes and take a picture with "Buffalo Bill." Then they travel 73 miles to Red Lodge Mountain Golf Course in Montana and do a two-person Roadblock involving finding golf balls matching the color of a flag. The teams check in at the Pit Stop at Green Meadow Ranch, but one is eliminated, leaving the final three teams.
The teams set off from their Pit Stop in eastern Montana and receive a clue telling them to fly to Montreal, Canada and then find the basement of the C.D.P. Capital Building in Montreal's underground city. Next they take part in a Detour --- Slide It (travel 22 miles and participate in the sport of curling) or Roll It (travel 23 miles and then roll four logs along a one-hundred foot course.) The Weavers and Linzes both opt for Slide It while the Bransens opt for Roll It and taxi/plane confusion causes great delays. Next they all travel 26 miles to the American Pavilion, built by Buckminster Fuller, where they climb a steep staircase and find a clue directing them to a door called Porte D. They make their way to the Olympic Park and pull departure times --- Linz - 5:50 A.M., Bransen - 5:45 A.M. and Weaver - 5:55 A.M., but the Weavers nearly quit.
After departing, the teams are flown by charters to a mystery desination --- Toronto, Canada and then travel to La Tour C.N. (the C.N. Tower) where they use binoculars to spot their next clue. A Detour, Ship or Shop requires them to either sail across Toronto Harbor and retrieve a nautical flag, or search among over one-hundred people for one whose foot fits a particular pair of shoes. The Linz and Weaver families opt for Ship while the Bransens choose Shop. The teams cross Niagara Falls to their final destination city and a jigsaw puzzle of Central and North America determines which family crosses the finish line first.