DC to Miami Road Trip

Old Feb 6, 18, 6:44 am
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DC to Miami Road Trip

I am hoping to pick up one of the Florida "drive-down" specials this fall and craft a road trip from Washington DC to Miami.

I fly into DCA on 11/13 and pland to spend a couple of days seeing the city, then driving off on the morning of 11/16. I then fly out of MIA on the evening of 11/28.

I am a 40yo male travelling solo, so I plan to skip Orlando and all the "family" stuff. I'm more interested in natural scenery - I did a 3-week, 2500-mile Western national parks road trip in the fall of '16 and absolutely loved it. I also enjoy coastal drives and quite like pleasant, smaller cities.

Preliminary research suggests I should take I-66 out of DC, then roughly the route of I-81 south (340 through the Shenandoah?), then past Charlotte to Savannah (worth swinging west through Asheville and the Cherokee?), then down either of the Florida coasts (leaning towards the Gulf Coast).

I would like to have a day or two at the end of the trip to chill out and maybe head down to one of the quieter Keys, so I would like to arrive in Miami on the 25th or 26th, giving me 9-10 days to do the trip.

Firstly, how realistic a timeframe is this? I envisage 3 or 4 stops of 2-3 nights each along the way, with around 4 progress-making driving days to do the 1200-1300 miles or so.

I am an experienced long distance driver and don't mind hammering out 600 miles in a day if I have to, but would prefer to keep it to about 300 so that I am actually seeing stuff, not through a car window at 70mph.

Am I looking at the right kind of route for my interests? Can anyone suggest anything I'm missing?
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Old Feb 6, 18, 4:32 pm
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In my opinion the most beautiful scenery between Washington and southern Florida is along Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smokies Mountains National Park. The Outer Banks of North Carolina would probably be my second choice. Yes, there are lots of other beautiful beaches in the Southeast, but the drives to get to those beaches (other than the Outer Banks) aren't particularly scenic.
Since you're going to fly out of Miami, I second your choice to explore the Keys. I would also recommend the Everglades.

Of course, given your time frame, you definitely don't have enough time to see all I would recommend. Given that you'll be traveling in November after the fall foliage has dropped in the mountains, you probably should consider one of these alternatives;
1- Take the Skyline Drive through the Shenandoahs and the Blue Ridge Parkway down to southern Virginia for 2 or 3 days. Then take I-77 south to I-26 east to I-95 south. Then explore some beaches in Georgia and Florida.
or
2- Take I-81 south to I-26 east to the Asheville area. Then explore Asheville, the southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Smokies for 3-4 days. Then take I-75 south through Georgia and then down the west coast of Florida to the Everglades and the Keys.
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Old Feb 6, 18, 7:27 pm
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Thanks for that. I realise my timeframe is too short to see everything. Both of those routes sound very good. I'll do some more research tomorrow.
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Old Mar 28, 18, 2:46 pm
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The mountains and national parks are definitely talking to me more than the beaches.

I am looking at the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Smokies, before heading down for a night or two in Savannah, then more or less bombing straight through from Savannah to Miami and exploring the Keys for a day or two.

Given my timeframe - 12 nights between driving off from DC and flying out of MIA, I am looking at 2-3 night in each major area of interest.

I am hoping to pick up one of the annual Florida "drive down" specials. Is this realistic for my dates?

Is there anything else I should be considering?

Thanks for the advice.
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Old Mar 28, 18, 3:05 pm
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"I am hoping to pick up one of the annual Florida "drive down" specials. Is this realistic for my dates?"

Given that you'll be making the trip in November, I should think so.

Keep in mind that some of the car-rental companies let you combine dollars-off coupons with the low, Florida drive-in rates, so don't overlook that possible money-saver.
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Old Mar 28, 18, 4:34 pm
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Wonderful! These tend to start being offered around August, right?
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Old Mar 28, 18, 5:06 pm
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Certainly the drive from Savannah to Miami is doable in a day. You can even make it to the Keys in that day.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier is that late November is wintertime in the higher elevations.So, it definitely possible that some parts of the Smokies will not be accessible then. Elevations in the Smokies range from 876 ft to 6643 ft., so weather there definitely varies a lot. There is also the possibility of closures on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Closures actually are more likely around Asheville because the BRP near Asheville reaches its highest elevations. None of this should dissuade you from doing this trip, but it worthwhile to keep all of this in mind as you make your plans.
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Old Mar 29, 18, 10:25 am
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Ok, the trip is starting to take shape now. I have booked 5 nights in Miami, to explore the Everglades and the Keys, as well as 2 nights in Savannah (both refundable should my plans change).

This gives me 5 nights on the road between DC and Savannah. I am thinking 2 nights in Roanoke, 2 in Asheville and 1 in Charlotte.

Is there any reason this should not work?
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Old Mar 29, 18, 6:38 pm
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Originally Posted by The_Bouncer View Post
Wonderful! These tend to start being offered around August, right?
Don't know about August, but certainly by September, I expect.

Keep an eye on the FT "Rental Car Discussion" forum, where someone usually posts pretty soon after one of the companies releases the drive-in rates.
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Old Mar 31, 18, 9:26 pm
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If you want to drive along the Florida coast, the east coast is right on the ocean most of the way on A1A. West coast is not as a direct shot.
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Old Apr 1, 18, 8:35 am
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Originally Posted by pbiflyer View Post
If you want to drive along the Florida coast, the east coast is right on the ocean most of the way on A1A. West coast is not as a direct shot.
Thanks. I had heard the Gulf Coast was more interesting, but given my short timeframe, I think it makes more sense to bomb straight down the East Coast.
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Old Apr 1, 18, 8:08 pm
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Originally Posted by The_Bouncer View Post
Thanks. I had heard the Gulf Coast was more interesting, but given my short timeframe, I think it makes more sense to bomb straight down the East Coast.
Yes, there are some cool places along the west coast, but not easily accessible. Cedar Key, Sanibel, etc.

If you do have time, I would take the drive through Amelia Island, on your way down. Some great nature and scenic views.
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Old Oct 10, 18, 2:02 pm
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This trip is really starting to take shape now.

I have 2 nights booked in Roanoke, then 3 nights to sort out between there and a 2-night stay in Savannah.

I am thinking Asheville for at least 2 of those nights, but where for the third night?

Options are:

1. Take a third night in Asheville

2. Take a third night in Savannah

3. Spend a night somewhere in between, either Charlotte or Charleston.

If I spend the extra night in either Asheville or Savannah, how easy would it be to call into Charleston for a couple of hours on the way between these points?

Should I just spend the middle night in Charleston?
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Old Oct 10, 18, 3:36 pm
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I'd be tempted to be flex on my Savannah night and target a night in Charleston. If it turns out you really like it and want to extend... there you are. If you see what you think you want to see, head on to Savannah, since it is a pretty short jaunt.
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Old Oct 12, 18, 1:04 am
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Hurricanes Florence and Michael may put a wrench in your plans as they have had some destructive results along your itinerary. I hope you have some refundable options.
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