Road Trip Planned: Springfield, VA to Lakeland, FL.

I’m going to be moving from Springfield, VA to Lakeland, FL in a few months. My stuff is going down with a moving crew. I will be driving down I-95 in my car.

Does anyone have any advice on what I should plan for and what to bring? I will have a few hundred dollars in cash, a debit card, and a full tank of gas for when I start. I’ll be driving a 2017 Toyota Camry LE with no mechanical problems. I’ll start the drive down around 6:00AM, spend the night at a motel in South Carolina, then drive the rest of the way down on the second day. Oh, yes…I’ll post a message in the Pit thread the night before I leave telling the Pentagon, the Beltway, the Fairfax Parkway, the Metrorail, and everything I hate about this area to FOAD. :smiley:

Lastly, a list of roadside attractions would be nice. I’ve already seen South Of The Border; anything else?

A ticket for the daily Autotrain from Lorton, VA, to Sanford, FL? :wink: If you want to see what’s inbetween, more power to you, but trips like yours are almost exactly what the Autotrain exists for.

Yes, I don’t like long-distance driving. Is it that obvious? :slight_smile:

Some suggestions as a native Floridian to get acquainted with your soon-to-be new home state:

If you haven’t been to St. Augustine, it’s worth a visit to the historic part of town.

Just south of St. Augustine, on Exit 278 (Old Dixie Hwy) is Bulow Creek State Park. There is an ancient live oak tree there, right off of Old Dixie Hwy called the “Fairchild Oak”. It is amazing and definitely worth a quick stop off the interstate.

If you’re near Ormond Beach, FL around mealtime (lunch or dinner), go to Houligan’s (the original location on the corner of Granada Blvd and Clyde Morris Blvd) and order a plate of wings “wally style”. Houligan’s wally-style wings are the best wings in the nation, I do not exaggerate. You will not be disappointed.

Since the OP is looking for advice let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

+1 :slight_smile:

We’re near you, and have done the drive and the AutoTrain several times.

The autotrain requires a bit more planning - and you’ll really want to spring for a roomette if you can - but you can pack the car full of anything you might need for your first few days in Florida. You may not sleep super-well but it’s certainly less wear and tear on you than if you did the drive yourself. You do have to allow for a couple hours at each end for them to load / unload your car. Then of course about a 90 minute drive to Lakeland.

I-95 is not fun… though of course the worst of that is usually over by the time you get past Richmond. The first time we did it, we left here about noon and I told the family “we’re driving 6 hours then stopping. Whether that’s Fayetteville… or Lorton… remains to be seen” (for people who don’t know the area, Lorton is basically 2 exits south of Springfield - and happens to be where the autotrain loads).

That day we got lucky - we stopped in Fayetteville. In hindsight I wished we’d pushed it further, as just south of there on 95 the next morning there was some kind of horrendous accident and traffic was completely stopped for an hour or more - which we found out when it was too late to bail.

That same trip we wound up running into numerous lesser jams at various places. Other trips have not been nearly so bad.

We normally stop in Florence when we do the drive - it’s the biggest town that’s “roughly” halfway (closer to our end than our Florida destination). The next biggest town southbound would be Savannah. I have pushed it to Jacksonville southbound a few times which makes for a shorter second day but a really long first day. It basically depends on how we’re travelling: when we were taking the kids, we’d get them from school at noon then drive to Florence; when we went without kids, we got on the road crazy early and went to Jacksonville.

You could take an alternate route - get on 85 south of Richmond, then go through Charlotte etc. - one sight if you go that way is the Gaffney Peachoid (water tower shaped like a peach, in Gaffney SC…). That route would also avoid Jacksonville.

You could even avoid 95 entirely by swinging much further west and taking I-81 to I-77 to Charlotte - prettier scenery, at least, though more challenging driving in some ways. There are fewer large towns going that route, which might be a bug or a feature.

If it’s just two days, it’s really not even much of a roadtrip. Take yourself and a cell phone. Maybe some snacks, might want to have a good music selection or group of podcasts.

As for stops, Petersburg Battlefield could kill some time if you’re into Civil War History. The rest of your first day is pretty blah though. Your second day though is full of lots and lots and lots of awesome sights. The Georgia coast is amazing and you could spend a week in Savannah. It has art, food, history, beaches, just a gorgeous place. One of my favorite towns in the US. St. Simon’s Island is worth a stop. Pretty beach town, early settlement if you like history, normal beach stuff if you don’t. It has a Methodist retreat as well with a museum if you’re religious. Cumberland Island is a pretty place, but a little bit more involved of a trip.

If you’re just looking for a quick get up and move around stop, maybe try Hofwyl-Broadfield plantation north of Brunswick. It’s right off of 95 and doesn’t take too long. It’s not a gorgeous plantation house like you see around Charleston or New Orleans, but it will kill some time, get you moving and the mossy oaks are pretty and you can always tell people that you toured a plantation on the way down which is about as touristy southern as you can get.

Jacksonville itself is a hole, so you can skip through there. The only thing I can think of worth anything is Fort Caroline which is cool if you’re into early settlements, but if you are, then the next place is where you want to stop - St. Augustine. St. Augustine is a couple of things. First, it’s a tourist trap with Ripley’s and the Pirate Museum and plenty of beachy kitsch and you have to know that, but once you’re past that, it’s actually an awesome place to visit. Most of the town is built with Spanish Mission architecture which is beautiful. Lots of reds and whites popping out at you. The Cathedral is just amazing architecturally. Flagler College is an old Hotel that needs to be seen. There’s also tons of history. Castillo de San Marcos is a must see stop. The Shrine of Our Lady is worth a few moments. It’s a great town and deserving of a couple of days. The only other thing that I think is really worthy on that route is Kennedy Space Center.

Anyway, hope this gives you some ideas.

As an aside, when I do roughly that route, I usually just blow past the first day and get as many miles under my belt as I can so there is more time on the southern half of it.