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  1. Default New York to Orlando

    Hi all,

    We are a Aussie family with 4 kids (7-12) planning a journey from New York to Orlando. Our itinery goes something like this: 4 nights New York, 4 nights Washington DC, 4 nights or 2x2 nights somewhere between Washington and Savannah, 3 nights Savannah and 4 nights in Orlando.

    The New York, Washington, Savannah, and Orlando parts are pretty straight forward but we are unsure where to stop in between Washington and Savannah. I was thinking of either just one stop for 3 nights in Raleigh NC and adding the extra day to one of the other stops or breaking it up into 2 nights in Williamsburg VA and 2 nights in Willmington NC.

    I am interested in what people think because basically Raleigh is coveniently half way and likewise Wilmington and Wlliamsburg are evenly spaced. I don't know much about these cities but I would probably prefer smaller towns/cities after New york and Washington. I am basically looking at a map but I have looked at these 3 towns online and they look great especially Williamsburg because I love history. I also had considered the Blue Ridge Parkway but I reckon this is going a bit too far west and out of the way. Would prefer direct or coastal.

    If anyone can offer suggestions it would be greatly appreciated. I'm also interested in scenic routes (off the interstates) for the section between Washington and Savannah. We did a 21 day trip around California/Arizona/Nevada 2 years ago after getting tips from Road Trip America and had a ball which is why we are coming back.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Netherlands


    I'm aware of the fact Australian beaches can't be beaten but I still try to make an effort to recommand some places along the coast. We love the Outer Banks (OBX) and you can drive in one day from DC to OBX . I'd stay 2 nights and explore.We also love places like Assateague and Chincoteague (and Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel) but they are not on your direct way from DC. For your third day you can drive to Wrightsville Beach near Wilmington. Great place for beachlife also. You could take the byways from OBX via 264, visit historic Bath to Washington NC, New Bern (also a nice place) and us17 all the way to Wilmington.
    From Wilmington head for Charleston to stay for the night and from Charleston to Savannah. No need to take interstates but the drive through Myrtle Beach can take some time with all the traffic lights.
    From Savannah also no need to take I95. Take us17, a much nice drive and less traffic. From us17 we took the sideroad to lovely Amelia Island, took the ferry and followed A1A all the way to St. Augustine another town that should not be missed. To Orlando via A1A to Daytona Beach.
    I realize this route will take longer than 4 days but we thouroughly enjoyed this coastal trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Have to Agree

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The Eastern Shore of Maryland, Historic Triangle of Virginia, and Outer Banks of North Carolina sound like just the combination you're looking for on your drive from Washington to Savannah. What you would do, then, is leave the DC area on US-50 east to Annapolis (another great, quaint city - excellent for walking - with the highlight being a tour of the US Naval Academy) and across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore. Then follow roughly US-50/US-13 south with stops at some of the following: the Chesapeake Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. Assateague Island National Seashore, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. You would then make somewhere in the Norfolk/Newport News/Virginia Beach area your base of operations for two nights and on the day in between do as much as you want of Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and/or Yorktown. There is also Busch Gardens Amusement Park, but such activities can wait for Orlando.

    Just south of Norfolk is the start of the Outer Banks. Also in the northern reaches of the Banks are Kitty Hawk (site of the Wright Brothers' first flight) and Fort Raleigh at Manteo (site of the first permanent English Settlement in America). From there, the Banks are a nearly pristine set of barrier islands poking well out into the Atlantic and home to both a Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge as well as Cape Hatteras Light and some Blackbeard the Pirate haunts. There is a short (free) ferry ride from Hatteras Island over to Ocracoke Island and then at the very southern tip a 2½ hour (but only about $15-20, reservations strongly recommended) ocean going ferry over to Cedar Island (the Mainland). That will be a full day and I'd suggest planning on spending the night somewhere shortly after you make landfall, say Havelock or New Bern.

    You'd then have two relatively easy day drives to get to Orlando with an overnight in Savannah to enjoy its beauty and history, arriving before evening rush hour and leaving after morning rush hour and strolling the many squares in the quiet of nightfall.


  4. #4

    Default VA and NC geography

    Hello spud,

    On behalf of my hometown I'm flattered you'd think of staying in Raleigh enroute from DC to Orlando. You should know, however, that Raleigh is not directly on I-95, but instead is some 40 miles west.

    I'm quite familiar with the route down the Eastern Shore as suggested by AZ Buck. That's a great drive, and on the Norfolk/Virginia Beach side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) you might want to look in to staying at either a downtown Norfolk high-rise hotel overlooking the harbor and shipyards, Nauticus and the WWII battleship USS Wisconsin, or you may be interested in the only waterfront hotel on the Chesapeake Bay, that being the Virginia Beach Resort and Conference Center. There are many hotels on the Virginia Beach oceanfront, but the VB Resort faces the sunset over the Bay and overlooks a myriad of commercial and recreational boating out of Lynnhaven Inlet and commercial and military shipping coming in and out of Norfolk, passing in between the 1st and 2nd Islands of the CBBT.

    The NC Outer Banks between the Norfolk area and the far end of the Cedar Island ferry are very well worth exploring and would seem to be just the thing your kids might enjoy. If they missed the USS Wisconsin tour in Norfolk, they can tour the battleship USS North Carolina in Wilmington.

    If you were to choose an inland rural and scenic route from the DC area southward, may I suggest I-66 west/US 29 South to US 15 south at Culpeper, thence US 15 all the way through central Virginia into NC. You can also access US 15 from the south side of the DC area by taking I-95 to Fredericksburg, VA 3 west to VA 20, and VA 20 to Orange and US 15. You may stay on US 15 all the way through NC, too, and join I-95 in central SC. The Virginia segment of US 15 passes close by Civil War battlefields, homes of US presidents (including Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's well known residence), and many small towns and villages. In NC, US 15 passes through Durham and Chapel Hill, homes to Duke University and UNC, respectively, and towards the SC border lies Pinehurst and Southern Pines.

    With all due respect to Yeehaw, I don't care for US 17 from Wilmington on south through SC. The Myrtle Beach "Grand Strand" is not appealing to me (but I must say with kids the age of yours it could be a "home run"), and there is all too many stoplights and congestion along US 17 for my liking.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  5. Default

    Thanks Yeehaw, AZ and Foy. I have read on many posts about the drive accross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel so this just confirms that this is a must do. Will look at staying in Norfolk as it is closer to Williamsburg and Yorktown etc. Just a couple more questions: If you only had time to visit one of the colonial towns close to Norfolk in spring which would it be? Also, the whole Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Chesapeake area looks quite large and populated. Are there any particular areas/towns here that you would favour to stay for larger families. Am still planning the remaining stop en-route to Savannah. Thanks again for you feedback and is particularly great to hear from locals.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Matters of Personal Choice

    Where to stay and what to see are so much a matter of taste that we tend to shy away from offering specific advice on them. Personally, I would tend to go to Jamestown because of my interest in archaeology and (very) early American history. The site is currently being excavated and studied, and the original fort and town site have just recently been discovered. By contrast, Williamsburg is more of a living history display with costumed characters, live demonstrations of colonial life and a relatively hefty price tag; and Yorktown is a battlefield, critical in the American Revolution, but otherwise of interest mainly to military aficionados of 18th century siege tactics.

    Foy has done a pretty good job of describing your options in the Hampton Roads area, but I would point out one more option and that is to simply drive through the metroplex on the evening of your arrival and find a spot to the southwest of town, maybe in the Suffolk-Windsor-Smithfield area. You can then get to the Historic Triangle, particularly Jamestown, by taking the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry (VA-31) thus avoiding all the urban traffic of Norfolk, Newport News and Hampton. You would also be in relatively good shape for when you depart to the south and the Outer Banks, although unfortunately there are no roads through the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-02-2010 at 01:43 PM. Reason: Typo

  7. #7

    Default Tidewater and its traffic and tunnels


    Take a few minutes to study a road map of Virginia's Tidewater area, the overall term for Norfolk, Va Beach, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News, and some other sprawling cities which together make up a very large urban area. There are 3 major bridge-tunnels: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT), Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT),and the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel (you guessed it--MMBT). The HRBT, the MMBT, and the I-64 bridge over the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River (known locally as the High Rise Bridge) are choke points which are particularly troublesome and are to be avoided in terms of crossing back and forth daily, if possible.

    By all means come on down the Eastern Shore and cross the CBBT. Be aware the southernmost of the 4 artificial islands has a large parking area and a fishing pier, as well as public bathroom facilities, a cafe, and a gift shop. No charge for stopping there and no charge for walking out on the pier. On a normal day, hardly an hour goes by without either large commercial shipping or US Navy shipping passing over the tunnel between the southern island (First Island--they're named from south to north) and the next one north (the Second Island). The ships pass within a few hundred yards of the First Island. Some of the Navy ships are > 1,100' long and many of the commercials are close to that length. Kids in particular seem to like seeing them under way up close like that.

    On the southern shore of the Bay, the CBBT dumps out smack in the middle of Tidewater and traffic can be troublesome. If you contemplate visiting Williamsburg/Jamestown, and doing so from a base of operations for a couple of nights, you'd be wise to stay in that area right from the start, as commuting from, say, Virginia Beach or Norfolk across the HRBT, through Hampton and Newport News is an exercise in daily traffic jams at all hours of the day, particularly from around 0530 to 0930 (the Navy and the shipyards start EARLY) and then again from 3 to 7pm or so. Staying on the Williamsburg/Jamestown side eliminates this problem altogether and adds at least 2 hours of fun time to your day as compared to accessing the Williamsburg area from the "wrong" side of the HRBT.

    It's a great idea to exit Williamsburg via the James River Ferry. If you think you'll get your fill of ferries at Hatteras and Ocracoke along the NC Outer Banks, just cross the James on the MMBT on I-664 and take it to I-64 and VA 168, a new expressway to NC where it becomes NC 168 and then merges with US 158 on down to the northern end of the Outer Banks.


  8. Default kid friendly places en route

    I have driven from NY to Orlando many times with my children (15, 13 and & 7 yoa). I would strongly recommend the combination of Jamestown and Yorktown over Williamsburg. Although Williamsburg is the best known colonial village, I think the combination of Jamestown and Yorktown is the finest American history experience we've ever had, and we have done every battlefield from NY to Orlando. Williamsburg is way off the path down and it is almost too big to be easily experienced on a road trip. My kid are serious history buffs, but it was just too much to digest in a road trip way. I think it needed a full vacation. However, Jamestown and Yorktown are phenomenal, big bang for the buck type places that give you a great flavor of the colonial era. I would also seriously recommend Patriot's Point in Charleston and the city of St. Augustine in Florida. Both are phenomenal kid places! There is even a pirate themed hotel in St. Augustine that is reasonably priced and fun for families. Have fun!

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