Every summer we attempt a road trip from New York to Florida. Yes, the summer is the hottest time of the year to go to Florida, but with a teacher’s schedule there is sometimes no choice. This year the temperatures in Florida were lower than New York. So our trip begins…..
We start off at Bear Mountain Bridge to Garden State Parkway. We have found this way to be much more pleasant than using I95 from the very beginning. Our trip is mostly on 95 so we want to enjoy the scenery as much as possible. So off we go with our Dunkin Donuts, our GPS and our faithful companion all in tow.
Each year we write down license plates as we see them along the way. Last time we found 46 of the 50 states. This time we used an app called Plate Spot that I used with my car pool all year. It’s a fun app that allows you to “Claim a Plate” and learn all about that state as you check it off. My husband and I love to do Trivia questions in the car while we are driving so Plate Spot was an extra learning bonus for us.
Each year our goal is to make it to South Carolina as our halfway point. This time we decided to leave a day earlier and we left later in the day so we were just flowing in the breeze and seeing how far we could get. We put our 70s Station on our Satellite Radio and off we were. Usually, we can’t wait to get to Delaware because then we are out of New Jersey traffic and a little closer to our destination. We always cheer as we cross the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It is especially enjoyable when you are not on this bridge on a Saturday when all the week renters are approaching. So late Sunday going the opposite way was a plus for us.
This stretch of the trip is usually the same. We hop on and off I95 to 295 or 495 to avoid the intense traffic especially in the Baltimore/Washington DC stretch of the journey. Even though I have made this trip numerous times, we always look for new interesting sites along the way. And of course, cars and trucks and interesting signs make our trip more fun. This trip we definitely avoided the DC traffic jams and actually breezed right through.
No trip is enjoyable without snacks. Our cooler is filled with iced tea, Vitamin Water, water for poochie and some Diet Coke (caffeine is a necessity). We have our bag of goodies (chips, protein bars and snacks and nuts/trail mix). This is usually the only time during the year that we actually eat and stop at a McDonalds. It’s our cheat day and definitely not a recommendation for too many meals. I always enjoy meeting the different people at our stops along the way. As you go further south you can see the difference between Southerners and New Yorkers. Sometimes they are just nicer and simpler.
So after Maryland and Washington DC we are traveling through Virginia (quiet road with not many billboards or places of interest) which is very pleasant for a two lane part of I95. We love car watching and of course, plate collecting, as we chug along through to the Carolinas.
Since we left later in the day on Sunday our goal was to make North Carolina. I did some research on different parts of the state and we chose Rocky Mount, NC. It seemed like a quaint town and had a perfect pet friendly hotel for the night – Candlewood Suites, where you are greeted with dog treats for your pooch upon checking in. I would highly recommend for your trip to North Carolina.
We woke up early the next morning and before getting on the road again decided to take our pup to Best Friends Dog Park in Rocky Mount. She always loves romping around for a few laps and that may exhaust her for the second part of our trip to Florida.
As we start on our journey after the dog park visit, we know we have reached our halfway point when we pass the sign for South of the Border which is a hotel and amusement area nestled at the border of North and South Carolina. Once we are driving in the Carolinas we see Fireworks signs everywhere and more billboards than in the other states. We see destination signs for places that we plan to visit on our future trips, such as Charleston and Myrtle Beach.
This is our fourth time driving down to Florida. Our ritual is to stop on the second day in Savannah, Georgia for lunch. From the first time we stopped there, we fell in love with this magical place. From the cobblestone streets to the quaint boutiques it is a fun little break from the car. We always go to the same place to eat, right along the water, a place called Dockside Seafood. We enjoy Hush Puppies for an appetizer (a Georgia style potato ball) and I usually have the crab cake sandwich. We love this place because it has a mister to keep you cool and it allows pets to eat with you. Check it out on your next visit to Savannah https://www.docksideseafoodsav.com/. The wait staff is friendly and accommodating and we never look for another stopover. Even in the 90 degree heat it is our go to place as we look at the harbor and boats going by.
Once we leave Savannah we are now serious about reaching our destination in Florida. This time, however, we took another detour to the Smallest Church in America https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2427 located in Townsend, Georgia just a short stop after Savannah and less than one mile off the highway. I was so amazed to see this 12 seat church with a beautiful altar and prayer book waiting for each visitor to sign. There is no one to greet you — you just walk in and check out this tiny structure. By the altar is a carved cane with the words of God on it. On the altar are some bibles and a journal where you can write your personal prayers. If you are driving by Townsend please take a moment to visit. You will feel blessed and calm after visiting. A perfect stopover to give you energy for the last leg of our trip.
Once you get through Georgia and see the signs Welcome to Florida remember that unless you are visiting St. Augustine or Jacksonville, you have miles and miles to go. We immediately notice the changeover to palm trees and enjoy the many recognizable cities of Florida that we have either visited, know of, or know people who live there. Now that we are older, we know many people that have moved to Florida or are snowbirds. I love looking at the signs and remembering if we visited or planning a trip there when we are down in Florida again. A few years ago we visited St. Augustine, the oldest town in America, and we loved it. Unfortunately, we could not stay long because it was almost 100 degrees that day and very difficult to walk around. Going there in a cooler month is on my list of Florida things to do. So we travel through and we note all the destination signs like Miami and Orlando. You are not getting closer to these cities — this is just another highway to bring you there.
We continue for about five hours to our place in Florida which is closer to Delray Beach and Boca so at least 5 to 6 hours of driving in Florida. It’s already a long day because of our stops in Georgia and we can see our journey finally coming to a close. Many people laugh when we tell them we are embarking on a road trip to Florida. We find it adventurous and fun. Usually we fly down once or twice a year but we have looked forward to our adventure in the car together. And of course our stop in Savannah where we have also contemplated buying a property in because we love that city so much. It’s our time together that we enjoy talking, listening to music, answering trivia and collecting plates. Oh this time, we found 47 plates — missing Kansas and of course, Hawaii and Alaska. Another fun trip but as always happy to be home in our home getting back to our normal everyday lives. Happy traveling.
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