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  1. Default Driving from Boston to Orlando with a 6-year old, advise for scenic routes needed

    We are going to Orlando in mid-May (need to be in Orlando by Sat, May 18th) from Boston, driving with my wife and 6-year old son. We have a fairly flexible schedule the week before and after and are looking for advice on scenic routes along the ways. I absolutely do not mind taking a detour of few hundred miles to avoid the nightmares of I-95 and associated traffic and get a nice scenic drive instead. Since we're driving with a small(ish) child, I'm in need of advice for few good stops at about 400-600 mile intervals, and a good place to stay overnight.

    I would like to know if shore route is an option (maybe taking few ferries alongside the Carolinas or stopping at some ocean-side park or a beach), or instead should take it inland (like I-90 to I-81 to I-77 or I-26 to I-95), and where would be a good place to stop for few hours. Parks would work, historical landmarks, anything that is worth seeing and not too terribly boring for a 6-year old.

    I came across few posts (namely by AZBuck) but it's a bit dated (2009), so I'm not sure if the suggestions given still hold true. If anyone has done this trip or similar, I would love to hear from you.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Things Don't Change that Quickly

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I'm not sure which of my 2009 posts you're referring to, but it's probably this one in which case I can tell you that I'd no doubt give you the same advice today. The fact is that roads and major attractions simply don't come into being or close up very frequently. A few specific notes that I would add given your own circumstances, however. Since you're starting from Boston, I wouldn't try to get to the coast much before the Outer Banks, using I-84 to Scranton and I-81, then I-66 and US-17. More generally, if you're traveling with a 6 year old, I'd try to keep your daily mileage total in the low 400 range with at least one interesting stop around mid-day to break up the journey for him (and for you). Now that means you'd need four days for the drive down. Do you have that available? Will you be making the drive home as well? If so, then it would make some sense to keep one leg inland and the other along the coast (as much as possible). Still, "good place[s] to stay overnight" and "good place[s] to stop for few hours...that [are] worth seeing and not too terribly boring for a 6-year old.' would depend largely on what your youngster finds interesting. So with a little bit more information from you our advice can be a lot more focused on things that might work better for you in particular.


  3. Default

    Hi AZBuck, thank you for your reply. This is indeed the post I meant to reference in my original posting, glad to see the same still holds true.
    Regarding my plan, I was thinking leaving sometime early on a week-day, around 5-6am and make two 400-500 mile trips with one stop in between for lunch and an overnight stay, followed by much of the same the next day. I can play around with these stretches, but we've travelled North to Maine and Vermont quite a lot with my son in the winter times for skiing, so extended car time isn't an issue.
    He's into anything that a 6-year old would be into, nature parks, beaches, ferries, mountains, historical sites with cannons, the works. Overall, we haven't been South of the 95 much at all, so the actual process will be a good entertainment for all of us.
    We plan on driving back also, but most likely from Sarasota, as we have a friend whom we'd like to visit there. We will gladly take your advice on a coast trip back, or vice-versa for the in-land mountain one. Anything goes, we are really flexible.
    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not two days.

    Two 400 - 500 mile days will not get you to Orlando. This is a 1300 mile trip by the most direct route - I-95. A two day trip would put you at 650 miles per day, more than we would normally recommend on a multi day trip, and certainly more than professional drivers are permitted to do by law.

    You cannot compare it with a trip north. The traffic north of Boston is nothing like heading South.... at the best of times. If you want to detour inland, or onto the coastal route you will need to allow at least three days each way. For me, it would be much more enjoyable for the young man if you could devote even more time so he can really enjoy the places you plan to stop, without being rushed along.

    Having driven that stretch a few times over several different routes, I can assure you, having to do it in two days is no joy at all. You certainly would not have time to wait for and take the ferries along the coast.


  5. Default

    Hi Lifey,
    Thank you for replying. Three days each way is also very doable, and just like you said, I'd rather not rush it and spoil the process. Now does anyone have a good recommendations for best routes, both going South and North? I have some ideas from AZBuck's post but the coastal side of the trip and what to see is a complete mystery to me.
    Any input on the above would be much appreciated!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Along the coast.

    Some years ago I took the most eastern roads all the way from Atlantic City to Key West. Check it out on some good paper maps, such as those from AAA. All features / attractions along the way are marked on them. Coastal parks, dunes, the CBBT, I think it was three ferry rides, and beaches of all descriptions the whole way down. At Kitty Hawk there is the Wright Bros flight museum (I think is what it is called). St Augustine has many historic sites. It was a multi day trip. Certainly not just three days, but it was a most interesting trip all the way.

    With your young man, don't forget about the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    This past summer, we took a 9000 mile trip, and part of it took us from Orlando up to Maine. This part of the trip is described in this thread.

    The routes we used:
    Orlando over to the Kennedy Space Center via the Beeline Expressway.

    I-95 from the KSC area up to South Carolina.

    US-17 up to Chesapeake, VA. Part of this was "coastal" but we didn't see the ocean...for that you needed a state route or the business route through Myrtle Beach.

    In Virginia, we took a few belt loops around Norfolk/Virginia Beach and caught US-13. This allowed us to use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The toll on that was $12 but we were fascinated by it. US-13 takes you up through the eastern part of Virginia and into Maryland. We stopped at Chincoteague/Assateague and caught a good view of a couple of wild horses -- thrilling!

    In Maryland, we took US-113 into Delaware. We then crossed the bridge from PA into NJ on I-295, and we actually were headed to my brother's house in NJ.

    From his house, we took I-287 up to I-87 in NY, then caught I-84 through CT into MA. We skirted Boston on I-290 and I-495, though another trip to the east coast will get us INTO Boston, I'm sure.

    Our comments were that I-95 would have had to have one traffic jam after another to be worse than most areas of US-17 and US-13. I should preface that by saying that my husband loves interstates when we need to "make time" driving, and does not care much for stop-sign-stop-light laden roads. However, when you want to see small town America, those US and state highways are much better. They just take longer to drive.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Making It Easy on Yourselves

    Three ~450 mile days should work quite well in getting you down to Orlando by an inland route. Trying to do the same via a 'coastal' route in the summer might prove a bit more problematical. So let's look at the easiest route that meets your criterion for being scenic and also offers the chance for some enjoyable stops. That would be I-84 to Scranton, I-81 to Wytheville VA, I-77 to Columbia SC, I-26 to I-95 in Georgia, then I-95 and I-4 the rest of the way. Overnight stops would be roughly Winchester VA and Charlotte NC. On Day 1, you could take a break just after entering Pennsylvania at exit 53 of I-84 to enjoy the upper reaches of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area at Milford, then return to I-84 at exit 46 via US-6 west. On Day 2 you can pick a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway to explore for a bit before returning to I-81. And on Day 3, a side trip to either Cumberland Island or Okefenokee Swamp would be in order.

    Unfortunately, the coastal route is a bit less straightforward and takes a fair bit longer to navigate because there are no good Interstates along the coast - I-95 is 'it' - and coastal beach roads tend to get clogged with traffic in the summer season. So the objective would be more to try to stay on some relatively high speed roads and only occasionally dip one's toes onto the coast. Certainly, you should try to get some beach time while you are in the Orlando area, and Cumberland Island in Georgia (as previously noted) is a good option on the way back even if you visit it on the way down. But then I'd probably stay with I-95 through the Carolinas as US-17 can get quite congested through Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Wilmington, and the Outer Banks funnel pretty much all traffic onto a single two-lane road, NC-12. However, the Delmarva Peninsula offers a great opportunity to see some coast that's a bit off the beaten path. You'd just leave I-95 at Emporia VA and take US-58 and US-13 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, then use US-13 and US-113 (keeping to the ocean side of the peninsula) and plan on stops at Chincoteague and/or Assateague Islands. Then use US-9 to cut to the coast at Lewes DE and grab the ferry over to Cape May NJ. The Garden State Parkway then, though toll, offers a good road that parallels the Jersey shore all the way up into the New York City are. Just take I-287 around the Jersey suburbs to the west and north of the city and either use I-87 north from Suffern to reconnect with I-84 or cross the Tappan Zee Bridge and use I-684 to make the connection.


  9. Default

    Thank you all so very much for the advise, it's much appreciated! I really like the idea of an in-land trip down and a "coastal" route back up, and it does seem to tick all the boxes.
    One last thing I wanted to ask, being a complete newbie at this direction of travel: any places I should avoid visiting or stopping at, and on the same note, anything I should make an effort to see along the way? Also, if anyone has a favorite place to eat in any of the areas we're driving through, I'd love to hear it.
    You guys have been amazing, thank you all again so much!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The perception.

    Quote Originally Posted by dlimanov View Post
    ... any places I should avoid visiting or stopping at ...
    All across the continent there are places we perceive to be safer than others. However, everyone of these places is someone's home, and I am sure these folk would tell you that it is all quite safe. The best advice is that, if you do not feel comfortable somewhere, if your instinct tells you something is not quite right.... move on. Use the same security measures you use in your own home and neighbourhood, and you will find, you will be as safe as anyone can make you. As a septuagenarian grandmother and solo roadtripper, this has always stood me in good stead.

    Have a safe trip.


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