Drive Boston - Orlando

Old Nov 6th, 2005, 10:02 AM
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Drive Boston - Orlando

Hello,

We will be driving to Orlando, leaving Boston on Dec 21 arriving in Orlando the afternoon of Dec 23.

Ideal would be to do 500 miles, 500 miles, then 300 miles. I know nothing about that part of the US, could someone suggest places to stop overnight? and places to stop sightseeing? Would we be following I95 South all the way??
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 10:29 AM
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While its possible to take 95 south all the way, many folks prefer to take alternate, more scenic routes around NYC; some of these alternatives involve starting out on the Mass Pike (I-90) rather than 95 for the first part of the trip, which also avoids going through Providence and the truck-filled parts of 95 in CT as you approach NY.

500 miles will put you in VA a little bit south of Washington DC.

Since you will be driving on the Wed, Thurs and Friday just before the big holiday weekend, do be mindful of planning around rush hour traffic; you had a good idea, planning a shorter leg for Friday.
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 10:43 AM
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Thanks for the response!

Any place in particular to stop in VA?

Also, what would be a good place to stop after VA roughly 500 miles after?
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 01:27 PM
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We make the drive Boston-Savannah several times/year (kid in college there). That trip is about 1000 miles - most of it on I95. We do it in 2 500-mile days.

Some thoughts. First, research the northern half of the trip. We prefer to go over Tappan Zee Bridge - this is generally not the routing any mapping program gives you. You will find others who disagree. This involves Mass Pike to I84 then 287/684 over bridge to Garden State Parkway then NJ Turnpike. Get a map and look at the route - repost if my routing makes no sense.

It is difficult to miss rush hour in Boston, Hartford, New York, Washington - unless you drive in the middle of the night you are bound to hit one of them. Pick your poison. As a morning person I try to leave around 7 AM, miss Boston rush hour, hit Hartford at tail end of rush hour, miss rush hour in NYC/northern NJ area but then have to deal with Washington, DC at 4-5 PM.

Get a toll transponder - EZ Pass, Fast Lane, etc. The frequency of tolls thru NJ will make you insane.

Forget about sightseeing. The northern 500 miles always takes us longer than we plan or want - there is always some sort of accident, road construction along northeast corridor. We like to get south of Washington, DC before we stop the first night - usually around Fredericksburg, VA or Richmond. This takes about 10 hours with inevitable delays. The second 500 miles takes us 7-8 hours, even though the mileage is the same. We book a chain hotel (there is a Comfort Inn in Fredericksburg that we have stayed at) based on price and ease on/off I95. It is only a place to sleep.

Don't even think about going down I95 thru Connecticut.

When you get south of Richmond, VA until you hit Florida, the prevailing speed is 75-80 mph. Rest areas are fewer - so plan accordingly. By the time you hit North Carolina you will see signs for South of the Border - the tackiest place in the world. Sells everything from fireworks to bad tacos to t-shirts. Wish I knew the history, but worth a drive thru so you can laugh about it later.

Plan for weather contingencies. If you must be in Orlando on 12/23, keep an eye on weather reports and leave a day early if necessary. Major roads will likely be passable except for really major snow - except around Washington, DC where a half inch of snow sends the government and all residents into major disaster mode.

Although a slight detour, the second 500 miles will put you near Savannah. Since you only have 300 miles the final day, you might stay there a do a fast little touring on the 3rd day. I have heard holiday lights are really nice, but have not seen them. Hampton Inn Historic District is our choice in Savannah.
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 04:19 PM
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Wow that is a really good posting!!!

You mentionned a fast pass? does that work for tolls in every state?

The trip actually starts in NB, Canada...we will do about 600 miles to boston, stay overnight....then I think I will look up staying in Fredericksburg, VA or Richmond as you mentionned....and then would you recommend us staying in Savanah? or would you recommend staying somewhere else close by?

Why do you say not to take I95 throught connecticut?
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 04:23 PM
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Are both these towns very safe and not a lot of traffic? Fredericksburg, VA or Richmond?

Also, what about Savanah? Sorry, I am from Canada and don't know much about those towns...
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 04:34 PM
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Do not take I-95, period.

I-90/84/81/77/26/95. Much easier drive, better scenery. That avoid NYC, Washington, DC, etc...

First day will bring you to around Martinsburg, WV (505 mi from Boston) or Winchester, VA, 25 miles down the road.

Martinsburg to Columbia, SC is 477 mi; and Columbia to Orlando to 429.

About 100 miles more than I-95, but easier drive.

[A big concern is weather. It's not uncommon to get a snowstorm in the US E. Coast around Christmas time. You will need to adjust your itinerary accordingly.]
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 05:12 PM
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Thanks for the response and for the weather warning..but coming from Canada, don't worry we are used to snowstorms..hehe...

Martinsburg, WV (505 mi from Boston) or Winchester, VA, 25 anyone of these towns have less traffic/safer? or are nicer/something to visit?

Also, as for Columbia, would there be another alternative a little further down as on the last day would only like to do 300 miles at the max...
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 06:00 PM
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rkkwan offers an alternate route - arguement could be made for either and I probably prefer I95 since it is one I am more familiar with.

Also, in winter I95 is a flatter more coastal route - less likely to have snow than in hills.

As far as safety of Richmond or Fredericksburg - I have not seen actual city in either place in years - we just pick a highway hotel, eat, sleep and drive again the next day. No particular safety issues.

Savannah statistically has a fairly high crime rate - auto theft, and even murder. But it is a very popular tourist destination and the Historic District is well lit and safe - there are some other areas you would not be likely to venture into that are not that way.

Why avoid I95 in Connecticut? Because there is a toll seemingly every 5 miles, lots of big scarey trucks driving onto your rear bumper, almost guaranteed heavy traffic because you pass thru almost continuous small cities (New Haven, Bridgeport, etc.) Lots of speed traps and it is incredibly ugly. (No offense meant to Connecticut residents - I am originally from NJ and could say the same thing about I95 in NJ)

Toll transponders - Fast Lane is the Massachusetts incarnation of such. Better than that is EZPass.com - if you select the NY state option you can get the actual transponder for free instead of either buying it or paying a fee for the device as in other states. They mail it to you - you have to give them bank info so they can automatically debit your account as needed. If you resident of Canada, I have no idea if there are currency issues or if they will even mail one to you in Canada.

One other thought - if you pick the I95 route and you are a coffee drinker, good luck. Absolutely the worst coffee in the world is found just off the highway anywhere from Richmond, VA to Savannah. I am sure there is decent coffee if you know where to look, but I have never found it.
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 06:26 PM
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alpinemccain - Like others have said, you really don't have time to do any sightseeing with the time you have. 500-600 miles on the east coast is close to 10-hours of driving per day.

Martinsburg, WV is a pretty little town. Also with lots of outlet stores. But there are motels all along I-81. Martinsburg, Winchester; or Woodstock, Newmarket, etc... if you want to go a little further.

But coming out of Boston and driving through CT on I-84, you won't be going very fast. The day you can actually drive more is your 2nd day. South of Columbia, you can make it down to I-95. Places like Walterboro, SC will have plenty of motels, or make it to Savannah.

Again, forget about sightseeing.
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 07:33 PM
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Thanks for the information it helps a lot! So from boston, I have to decide between I90/I84/I81 or I95 and the both go to Winchester? From Winchester, I can again either go I95 or continue on I81?

I95 seems pretty straightforward, however the other option seems more appealling since we would avoir more traffic?

Could someone map me more specific for the I90/84, etc...like, out of boston go I90W/E, etc towards CityA, from there go towards I81 South towards cityB...then you arrive in Winchester...from Winchester go... it would be greatly appreciated!!! I plan on stoping on a highway hotel near winchester and near savanah or whatever is convenient in the best route in terms of time to get there...
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 08:03 PM
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You seem to want to make a very easy and simple trip complicated, the most dangerous part of the trip is I-95 or any other interstate highway you take. Just drive 500 miles, stop, do the same thing the next day. Get a map and you will be able to see the approx location of each stop. The next day you should be in the Orlando area. Just don't forget to take a right on I-4 when you get to Daytona if you take I-95. If you don't mind paying for a toll road when you get to the Sanford area off I-4 take the Greenway, Fl-Sr 417 around the east side, follow the signs to the city or Disney. All depends on your final destination in the Orlando area..
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 08:21 PM
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alpinemccain -

The whole I-95 route will not go through Winchester. It's I-90 (Masspike) out of Boston to Exit 9. Then I-84 to Hartford, I-91 to New Haven, I-95 through New York City (crossing George Washington Bridge to New Jersey). Then follow sign for New Jersey Turnpike (NJTP), NJTP all the way to Delware Memorial Bridge, which you will merge onto I-95 in Delaware. I-95 all the way through Baltimore, around Washington, DC down to Richmond, VA. Take I-295 to bypass Richmond downtown, and rejoin I-95 afterwards. It's then I-95 all the way down to Daytona Beach and then I-4 to Orlando.

There are slight alternatives in this route. For example, after Hartford, you can then take the Merritt Parkway instead of I-91/95 towards New York City. There are a few ways to go around NYC like using I-287 (Tappan Zee Bridge) instead of I-95, and then once you're in NJ, either stay on I-287 or take Palisade Parkway or Garden State Parkway. Tehre are no one "best way" - sometimes it depends on luck, and it also depends on the time.

Same thing around DC. Some will suggest taking I-97 from Baltimore and then US301 that goes around the SE side of DC, instead of staying on I-95.

But whichever way you take, it's not as simple as "follow I-95". In fact, I-95 disappear after you go into New Jersey.

---

Now, MY way is this. Same I-90/Masspike out of Boston. I-84 to Hartford. But from Hartford, you stay on I-84 West all the way to Scranton, PA. From there it's I-81 all the way to Exit 81 in Virginia, just before Wyetheville. I-77 south from there to its end in Columbia, SC, which you pickup I-26 for about 50 miles to join I-95. Same way I-95 to Daytona and then I-4.

---

Now, which one seems simpler to you?

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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 08:32 PM
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Listen to rkkwan. Last month we
drove from Woodstock, VA to Providence, RI and had to go from I-84 over to I-95 in CT. I-95 was terrible with the traffic through Connecticut.

Later on in the trip we left RI using I-95 to I-495(MA) to I-90 west to I-84 west to I-81 south.

Boston to Woodstock is 534 miles, 8:30
hours. To Winchester would be about about 30 miles less. There are hotels in Winchester, Stephens City, Woodstock, and other towns to the south.

When we go to FL, we use I-81, I-77, I-26 and I-95. We usually stay over in SC just above the GA state line, about 9 hours from here.

You can get miles, routes, time AND hotels at freetrip.com. To get the routing suggested, you would have to enter it in segments, Boston-Scranton, PA, Scranton-Wytheville,VA, Wytheville-Orlando, FL otherwise you will get a messed up routing.

Enjoy yourtrip through the Shenandoah Valley.

Traffic through Martinsburg and Winchester is minor as these are more like large towns rather than cities.
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Old Nov 6th, 2005, 08:39 PM
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oops, sorry, mileage Boston to Woodstock should be 561, 9:00 hrs.
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 03:48 AM
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wow, thanks everyone....I know have a general idea and will pull out the map...like you said I think I will avoid I95 until my last 800 miles...(after first stop in VA).

time to get out the map and draw the line!
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 03:55 AM
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If you DO take I-95, here is a website that gives information about the road, construction, alternative routes, traffic conditions (with cameras in various locations), rest areas, lodging/restaurants/campgrounds etc.
http://www.usastar.com/i95/homepage.htm
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 04:38 AM
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To try to summarize the possible routes - you either go on a more eastern route (I95) or a slightly more western route (a la rkkwan). Best advice you got was that there is no "right way" - depends on luck, weather, traffic, accidents - and all of us who have driven north-south more than once have our own favorite routes.

Again - to summarize above, avoid I95 at least until you get to NY/NJ area - western route avoids it almost entirely. My route takes you on I95 after central NJ.

If you get a map and sit down with this thread, it will really make a lot more sense - you will understand why Winchester is only on the western route, not the eastern one, for example.

The "right route" on 12/21/05 can only be determined after the fact. Which ever way you go have a safe trip, do not plan on sightseeing, hope for good weather and enjoy Orlando.

Are you driving back north as well - you could always take one route northbound and a different route southbound - then we will all eagerly await your analysis and preferences.
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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Also keep in mind that the "western" route is more hilly. You cut through the Poconos in PA, up and down through PA, and along the Shenandoah Valley in VA and then dropped down to NC. If there's a snowstorm all across the eastern US, this western route is a lot more dangerous than if you stick with the coastal one.
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 08:33 AM
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Gail is right on.
Mass Pike (I80) to Sturbridge. I84 thru Hartford to NY border I684 to 287 and Tappen Zee Bridge. Garden State Parkway to NJ Turnpike to end (Delaware Memorial Bridge). Then on 95 to Wash.
The EZPass transponder will save you 15-30 mins easy, so get it if you can. All the tolls from MA, NY, NJ, Delaware Bridge use it. The big log jams will be Sturbridge Tolls. (Coming back Hudson river tolls also--no toll going south).
I too would recommend getting beyond Wash DC (Fredericksburg). Then the next day go as far as you like and pick any hotel/motel off I95.
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