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  1. #1

    Default Toronto to Tampa, FL - Christmas break

    Hi All,
    I have been planning and researching for my family's first long drive from Toronto to Tampa. I've searched through some available information on these forums and some recommended reference books. We plan to leave early morning Dec 22 and target to be in Tampa by the 24th.
    I've looked at Mapquest and my first major decision point is to determine if I should take the border crossing at Michigan and take I-75 South most of the way. The alternative is for me to take the Niagara / Buffalo, NY border crossing and take the I-190, I-79, US-19, I-77 route. Depending on the first decision point, we would like to spend a night midway. I would like to get suggestions on where to spend the night. I am referring to which State and specifically any suggested motels along the way. Also, is it good practice to reserve a place to spend the night beforehand, or are there plenty along the way to just pop in?
    While the objective of the drive from Toronto to Tampa will be primarily quickest possible time, we would certainly welcome interesting stop overs that would be of interest to kids below the age of 12.
    On the way back from Tampa to Toronto on the first week of January, we would be open to spending more time driving back and visiting places that would be of interest to the family. We would certainly welcome suggestions here. I have looked at the reference guide books from the links and google searches. But I am sure if there is a single book I can purchase that would suffice for the purposes of this trip. I would welcome suggestions here as well. Also, I've just gotten my handy GPS so I shouldn't be too worried about taking the wrong turn here or there....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Warp Speed to be engaged on the first leg

    Quote Originally Posted by dctravel View Post
    We plan to leave early morning Dec 22 and target to be in Tampa by the 24th.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Roughly speaking -- by the most direct (and fastest) route that would be 1350 miles (2150 Kms) which is certainly doable if the weather gods cooperate. However, if you hit snow storms (which is possible that week) you will be hard-pressed to cover that distance as quickly.

    I would take the Niagara/Buffalo route -- it should be much faster.
    I am referring to which State and specifically any suggested motels along the way. Also, is it good practice to reserve a place to spend the night beforehand, or are there plenty along the way to just pop in?
    Even though it will be Christmas week -- you can usually find several lodging options and, again given the weather issues, you ought to keep that part of the trip flexible.

    Here are some tips for planning family roadtrips.
    But I am sure if there is a single book I can purchase that would suffice for the purposes of this trip.
    If you go back by way of I-75 -- this book is EXCELLENT for finding those little known places along the way. (There is actually a newer edition -- but I haven't written the review yet).

    Mark

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Mark. I will take a look at that route more closely and determine which general area to consider for the overnight stay. I did see some mention of some parts of the route that have toll (US-19 ALT merging into I-77 South). These roads will be all new to me so I am hoping the costs are not be prohibitive, and it will be a simple experience (in Toronto, we have this photo-radar thing on the 407 and you just get the bill in the mail...).

  4. Default

    i am in the process of planning a similar route through Buffalo..If you mapquest the trip, the route looks pretty straight.

    i did the trip three years ago..

    i will try to keep in touch with the forum as i plan, and i remember things.

    There are places along the way which are through the mountains of, i think it is West Virginia..This part of the drive will be slow and may be icy ..thus slowing down your warp speed..

    Also, lodging in this mountainous area is few and far between..
    And, as i remember, i found myself here after reasonable driving times of 8 hours..

    Darn.. i wish i had kept my travel notes.
    So you have an alternate driver?
    This will help..as you will not feel that you are about to keel over trying to drive until you find a place to stay.

    The whole drive is not this way, obviously..
    But i just remember certain parts..which were more challenging than others.
    and i did not have a secondary driver, so i did feel a bit tired at times.

    There is also a 'trick' which seasoned travellers have of the route.
    Around Beckley, as i remember, there is a cut off which you can take, on a secondary route, which saves you an hour of driving time which most trip planners miss.

    Oh dear, now that i have told you all this, i really have to go and try to find all the information ..
    I will need it.. as i will be making the trip a week after you are.

    best wishes,
    alice

    ps..about making reservations, if you have a secondary driver (ideally speaking) ..you can usually find a place to stay..even if you have to drive more hours to find one with room available.

    i think what i did was make a preliminary investigation of places to stay ..in areas after 8 hours of planned driving.. before you leave, phone them and ask about reservations in the dates you are planning.. Infact, you can even phone them now( i think the 800 numbers work in Canada) and get an idea if they are booked at the time you will be passing through..Ask the desk clerks about business at that time of year you will be travelling...
    If they say it really gets busy, perhaps a reservation now would not hurt.
    you can always cancel..giving them 24 hours notice..at a later date if necess.

    this is just my two bits worth, and what i myself plan to do in the next few days.

    alice

    ps.. i am trying to get a feel for how much tolls cost.. They have the same thing on many of the routes as the 407, but you have to apply for what is called an EZ pass.. You would then need to pick up a gizmo which you put in your car which reads when you go through the various tolls.
    Do not think that is feasible for you..BUT
    YOU can go to the different routes on the internet.
    Like, i believe you can type in "route 77" or Interstate 77 and get some information.

    sorry my info is sketchy, as i am doing the same investigating as you are
    alice

  5. #5

    Default

    Hi Alice, Thanks for that bit of info. These are all helpful. The thing about the shortcut has me really curious. I will have my GPS handy so if this route is not picked up by Google Maps or Mapquest, then I am really intrigued. The tip on making advance reservations is good as well. Pls let me know if you get additional information. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default The Shortcut

    that Alice refers to is in West Virginia, and involves using US-19 between I-79 south and I-77 south rather than going all the way into Charleston, WV and using I-64 (the West Virginia Turnpike). Coming south on I-79, you'd take exit 57 onto US-19 south and then just follow that for 70 miles until just north of Beckley, WV where a short jog on Alt-US-19 takes you to I-77 south at exit 48. This shortcut only saves you about 45 miles and maybe about $1 in tolls, but lets you see something of West Virginia besides the freeways. However, it is a two-lane road, and if you are nervous about taking such roads through the mountains in the dark, you can just stay with I-79/I-64/I-77.

    AZBuck

  7. Default

    oh.. i just remembered something else about the route..especially around Beckley and in West Virginia..i believe it is..

    There are road signs EVERYWHERE which say: "speed limits are strictly enforced.."..and i believe they are 55 mph in much of the area..and i do think that they enforce automobile speed strictly.!!

    There is nothing that can be done about it, really..no alternate routes, etc.
    but you do have to keep the pedal off the metal..so to speak..

    it may take you some grit.. then again, the weather may help you keep slow..

    alice

  8. #8

    Default

    Once you hit 75 -- at least in Florida, it doesn't have any tolls on it. However there was recently some construction on it around the I-10 area (around Lake City) a few months ago and if that is still going on, it may slow you down a little bit. Just a heads up that you might want to anticipate for that.
    Good luck :)
    Anna

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Thanks for the local intel!

    Quote Originally Posted by annaB1207 View Post
    Once you hit 75 -- at least in Florida, it doesn't have any tolls on it.
    Anna, thanks for the local intel and welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    Mark

  10. #10

    Default

    No problem. I've spent a few months in the Chattanooga area and from what I recall, there weren't any tolls on 75 between Chatt and Atlanta. Check me on this as it has been a while - but I'm pretty sure whatever tolls must have been minimal.

    Anna

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