Driving from IN to Fort Walton Beach, FL

Jan 26th, 2009, 07:02 AM
  #1  
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Driving from IN to Fort Walton Beach, FL

Hello,

We are driving from Indianapolis area to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida in April. We will be driving through Alabama, and I am guessing we will stop there overnight. 3 adults, and two children (3 years old and 1 year old). I'm guessing Birmingham will probably be the furthest we will go. Is this a good place to stop overnight? Where should we stay overnight and what should we do with the kids to burn-off steam? I was looking at The Sheraton or The Redmont Hotel. Maybe going to the Birmingham Zoo?

I would sincerely appreciate any feedback or suggestions!!!!

Jessica
jessicam40 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 08:51 AM
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I assume you will be coming down I-65 and with kids you will be stopping pretty frequently. Getting as far as Birmingham will probably be a bit of a stretch, and if you make it that far I'll bet the kids will be ready to collapse for the night. There certainly won't be time for the zoo unless you leave Indiana at midnight. Personally, I wouldn't plan on any "burning-off" activities. And the next day you'll probably want a leisurely breakfast and an easy drive to Florida.

If you want to stop a bit short of Birmingham, Decatur is convenient and is located right on a big stretch of the Tennessee river. Plenty of motels and hotels along the way. Also a short drive east of Decatur is Huntsville, where the space museum will give the kids a good workout if you arrive early enough to enjoy it. Good luck.
Wayne is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 09:02 AM
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I don't know how far it is from Indianapolis to bham but I assume you have done your research there. Given that, the Bham zoo would be a great place to burn off steam for your kids. Either hotel you mentioned is a fine place to stay. Sheraton is easier location to find from I65, and Redmont is going through some renovations, although I do not think renovations are visible to guests at this time. If you want to stay closer to the zoo, there is a Hampton Inn on 280 in Mountain Brook that is convenient and probably a more reasonable rate than Sheraton. But this is off the beaten path from I-65 (although only by a couple of miles).

If you stop earlier, as previous poster mentioned, you might try Huntsville, though with kids the ages of yours, I would choose a different attraction. The Space Center doesn't have a lot to offer for kids that young. Stop off at either the Botanical Garden (located off I-565) where there is a fabulous childrens garden that your children will enjoy. Or you could even just stay at Bridge Street at the Westin and let them enjoy the Carosel and the outdoor mall there. There are usually street performer-style enterainters out in the evenings as well, and they also have peddle boat rides. This is all located off I-565 also, both the Gardens and Bridge street are literally a few miles of I-65, not far at all from your drive.

If you come all the way into Huntsville you could stay downtown at the Embassy Suites and go to Early Works which is a hands on museum geared to children, and they have two great spaces just for the younger set. This is about 20 miles down I-565, so located a few extra miles off your route.

Farther north still is Nashville with a whole other set of things to do and places to stay! But hopefully you'll get as far as Alabama and these ideas will get you started.





sanibella is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 10:50 AM
  #5  
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wow! Thanks for this great information!!! We were hoping to start our drive at 5 am. I didn't know if Birmingham was too hopeful... Probably? I will definitely check-out Huntsville.
jessicam40 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 11:15 AM
  #6  
 
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Hi! It's roughly 480 miles to Birmingham! Should take around 7-8 hours depending on how often you need to stop with the children! It's a very quick and easy drive!

Are you planning on taking hwy 331 from Montgomery?
tambennett is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 11:18 AM
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I say quick and easy because I used to drive from St Paul, MN to Montgomery during the summers, just the kids and I! I drove all the way to Bowling Green, KY then drove the rest the next day! 17 hours total!
tambennett is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 03:51 PM
  #8  
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We've never driven further than 4 hours with the kids, so I'm not able to really guess how well we will do. I initially thought we could leave around 3 am and just drive as far as possible before stopping. I just don't know if that will be too exhausting?

Would I need to make hotel reservations in Huntsville? Birmingham? during the first week in April? Or could we wing-it?
jessicam40 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 09:18 AM
  #9  
 
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I doubt you will need reservations. You might run the risk of running into a wedding party in Bham, but you could always call ahead as you are coming in close to Huntsville and see if there is a room available, and if there is, keep on going, if not, just go on and stop off in Huntsville. I'd be SHOCKED if you couldn't find a room by winging it in Huntsville, either at the Westin, the Embassy Suites, or at least the Marriott by the Space Center (in order of preference). There is also the Sheraton at the airport, although nothing to do for kids there. All of these are right off I-565 and easy to find as you drive in.

I have driven longer distances than 4 hours with my children (who were about the ages of yours) before. If they will sleep, it will eat up larger portions of time obviously. If not, taking along a laptop computer was helpful to play a DVD (we don't have a DVD player). We bought a plug converter for the cigarette plug for about $50. I also brought along lots of travel stuff, as I am sure you ahve thought of doing as well.

sanibella is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 10:35 AM
  #10  
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thanks so much for your information. I appreciate all suggestions! While I am no novice to flying, I am quite the amateur when it comes to long road trips!
jessicam40 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 12:12 PM
  #11  
 
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At the highway rest stops you can pick up one of the free travellers hotel "coupon" books. It lists motels along the various stretches of the higway that offer nitely discounts. You can call them as you travel to hold a room for you. Most of the rates are at a discount from the rack rates.
I do this trip at least once a year from Chicago on my way to Anna Maria Island near Tampa and like to stop off in the Birmingham area.
joethekay is offline  
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