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  1. #1

    Default Need advice: Wilmington, Delaware to Bradenton Beach, FL

    Greetings. I need your advice on suitable places to stay on a road trip from Wilmington Delaware to Tampa Florida. We are looking for recommendations on hotels or other places to stay. Any place that allows for some easy "drive-by sightseeing" is a plus. Emphasis in this road trip will be the baby's comfort.
    The trip is planned around May 15th of this year. Family is three adults, a baby and a Golden Retriever. I would like to break the road trip to three segments. One option is as:
    Day 1: Wilmington to Rocky Mount, NC along I95.
    Day 2: Rocky Mount to Savannah along I 95
    Day 3: Savannah to a vacation rental in Bradenton Beach, FL

    Thanks for reading, and for the wonderful advice on my previous road trip.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-25-2016 at 06:02 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default You've Already Made the First Big Step

    Surprisingly, many RoadTrip planners fail to do what you've already done: plan a reasonable set of driving days that will let you travel in comfort, take some time off the road each day to walk the dog and tend to the baby. As for where to find some easy short stops for such purposes, here's one list of possibilities to give you an idea. I pointed you to this list on your last trip, but it's still good. There are other stopping possibilities of course, but those should give you a good idea of what you're looking for.

    The other advantage of limiting yourselves to 'only' 350 or so miles per day is that you can adjust the time of day that you're driving a bit so as to miss time-dependent problems such as rush hours. If your first driving day is a week day. you're going to want to be well on the south side of Washington DC by 3:00 PM at the latest. That means leaving Wilmington by 11:00 AM with a little room for a stop should you need one. If you were t leave Wilmington around 9:00 (just after their morning traffic) you should be able to get past DC before stopping for lunch. That would probably be ideal.

    As for where to stop for the night, the two cities you've already picked, Rocky Mount and Savannah, are almost ideally spaced and offer a number of lodging choices right off I-95, without having to stray into the cities themselves. If you have a favorite chain, chances are they'll have an outlet in both places, so just use the "Search RoadTrip Motels" at the upper right of this page. Around Rocky Mount, motels are clustered at Exit 145, while around Savannah, you'll find them at Exits 5 (SC), as well as 109, 102 and 94(GA). Such clusters mean that there is some competition and you should be able to get a fairly decent deal.

    AZBuck

  3. #3

    Default

    Concur about planning your travel times on I95 between northern Baltimore and Fredericksburg. Departing southbound at 9 am is recommended and grabbing lunch at Fredericksburg or to the south.

    The return trip north is more of a challenge as the DC rush hour starts in earnest by 2:45p and lasts until 7pm. You want to be north of Baltimore by 3pm.

  4. #4

    Default

    Hello tnf,

    When coming through Florida, after passing Jacksonville, head for HWY-301. It is a really great drive with beautiful countryside views. Be mindful of the changes in speed limits in the towns of Stark & also Waldo as those do enforce that speed limit. Getting back on I-95 at Ocala, you have now bi-passed much of the crappy drivers on the roads here in Florida. Just North of Bradenton Beach is the Skyway Toll Bridge is 4.1 miles high and the view is breathtaking (unless someone does not like heights or you are towing a large weight vehicle).

    Have fun!

    Jenny Todd
    Tampa, FL

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Jenny, don't you mean I-75 at Ocala?

    What do you think about using FL-200 north of Jax to get to US-301? Also - using FL-326 north of Ocala to get to I-75, to avoid downtown Ocala?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Really?

    Hi Jenny, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny Todd View Post
    ... is the Skyway Toll Bridge is 4.1 miles high and the view , ...
    Shoud that read 4.1 miles long? I think 4.1 miles high would not give you any view.... you'd be up in the clouds.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 01-28-2016 at 10:04 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Correction to Post

    Thank you (glc & Lifemagician) for making the corrections to my post.

    You are correct, it is I-75 outside of Ocala, FL and FL-326 that will easily get you from US-301 to I-75 South.

    Traveling from Savannah, GA on I-95 take Exit 373 / FL-200 West (just after you get into Florida).
    That will run you right into US-301 South in the small town of Callahan, FL.
    US-301 South then takes you through Starke (great options for places to eat being about 2-hr 50 min South of Savannah, GA)
    Continuing on US-301 South, using FL-326 in Ocala will nicely get you to I-75 South and on your way to your destination.

    Second correction, and that was my fault for posting using my super small cell phone.
    The Skyway Bridge that connects St. Petersburg, FL and Bradenton, FL is 190 feet above the waterline and 4.1 miles long,
    making that bridge the 5th-largest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

    JT
    :-)

  8. #8

    Default Always learn something new on this forum

    Thank you AZBuck and landmariner for your advice. Honestly I had not paid as much attention to timing the DC portion of the route so I appreciate your highlighting the pitfalls. I will adjust my start accordingly to avoid rush hour. I'll start looking for some motels today and look for sightseeing opportunities around those stops. The Savannah NWR sounds pretty interesting. I'll also review your list and see if an alternate driving route on the trip back to DE offers some must-see sightseeing opportunities for my family.

    Jenny (& others), thanks much for the advice on the 301 by-route. That sounds fantastic and I appreciate the tips. I will be towing a small luggage trailer so should be fine on the bridge. Would love to see the view you are recommending.

    Thanks again for reading and your advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Surprisingly, many RoadTrip planners fail to do what you've already done: plan a reasonable set of driving days that will let you travel in comfort, take some time off the road each day to walk the dog and tend to the baby. As for where to find some easy short stops for such purposes, here's one list of possibilities to give you an idea. I pointed you to this list on your last trip, but it's still good. There are other stopping possibilities of course, but those should give you a good idea of what you're looking for.

    The other advantage of limiting yourselves to 'only' 350 or so miles per day is that you can adjust the time of day that you're driving a bit so as to miss time-dependent problems such as rush hours. If your first driving day is a week day. you're going to want to be well on the south side of Washington DC by 3:00 PM at the latest. That means leaving Wilmington by 11:00 AM with a little room for a stop should you need one. If you were t leave Wilmington around 9:00 (just after their morning traffic) you should be able to get past DC before stopping for lunch. That would probably be ideal.

    As for where to stop for the night, the two cities you've already picked, Rocky Mount and Savannah, are almost ideally spaced and offer a number of lodging choices right off I-95, without having to stray into the cities themselves. If you have a favorite chain, chances are they'll have an outlet in both places, so just use the "Search RoadTrip Motels" at the upper right of this page. Around Rocky Mount, motels are clustered at Exit 145, while around Savannah, you'll find them at Exits 5 (SC), as well as 109, 102 and 94(GA). Such clusters mean that there is some competition and you should be able to get a fairly decent deal.

    AZBuck

  9. #9

    Default

    Hi all. We are done with our Delaware to South Florida road trip, all 3500 miles of it. We followed the Forums advice and tried to avoid DC-Baltimore traffic. On the trip to FL I drove down Route 113 to the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel. My mom had never seen this bridge so it was a treat for her. I should have avoided DE 113 as it has a lot of annoying lights and road construction. Once in Norfolk I drove VA 58 West to I95 (this is an excellent road), then stayed one night at a very reasonable and nice AirBnB place in Kenly, NC. We next drove 95S to Savannah and detoured to visit the city. Absolutely gorgeous historic area. Next day we drove 95S and then I4 to Tampa detouring to drive around the Disney parks (we glimpsed the Epcot dome, that was about it). I did drive the Sunshine Skyway so thanks for the suggestion Jenny.
    Baby and our 15 year old Golden Retriever were good for most of the drive. Stops for diaper changes were usually at McDs as they are clean and convenient.
    After a week stay in Bradenton Beach we stayed two nights in Homestead. On the drive to Homestead we visited Bowmans Beach on Sanibel Island, did an Everglades NP boat tour with the dog and baby (what a treat), and visited Big Cypress Preserve to see Gators. We drove from Homestead to Key West and visited the Key Deer Refuge on the way.
    The drive back to Delaware was on the back heels of Tropical Storm Bonnie...Key West back to Homestead, then to Jacksonville for one night (Quality Inn), Savannah and onto Walterboro (Econo Lodge) for a night, detoured to Charleston to stay behind the slow moving Bonnie TS and then to Kenly, NC for one night (airBnb).
    To avoid DC traffic I detoured off I95 to US301 and crossed the Chesapeake via the Bay Bridge...US301 was pretty busy around the eastern suburbs of DC during rush hour...traffic is pervasive for miles around that city.
    Thanks again for all the advice.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    Thanks for dropping by with an update, sounds like you had a lot of fun !

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