Roadtrip from Miami: to GA or NC (or none)?
June 13, 2011 7:24 PM   Subscribe

I moved to US and Florida (Miami) recently and I am leaving this weekend (Friday after work, so 7PM-ish) for a small roadtrip. We are planning to sleep somewhere along the road (probably on a motel), staying saturday night somewhere nice, and returning on sunday. I will be traveling with my wife and we love getting to know different places, small towns, good food and some shopping too. We'd love to have an interesting road to drive, but I guess my options are either I-75 or I-95, right? So here's my question: between somewhere in GA (maybe even getting to Atlanta?) and somewhere in NC (any advice is welcome), and something else, what would you pick? Why?
posted by fcoury to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you want a more scenic route, you might think about using Florida State Road A1A.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:01 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's been a while since I lived in Florida... but Miami to Atlanta is a haul. Like more than 8-10+ hours? You won't have time to drive there, do stuff and drive back.

I'd suggest you scale back your ambition for a weekend road trip. Maybe explore the Keys or the Gulf
Coast? Sanibel Island is really pretty and worth the trip. St. Pete could be a good destination as well if you're looking for shopping/eating activities. And it has the Salvador Dali Museum.
posted by gnutron at 8:03 PM on June 13, 2011

Being as it is the glans on America's wang, it takes a long time to get from Miami to anywhere. Just to Jacksonville or the Georgia line is like six hours.

I'd recommend staying in south / central Florida. Or, if you feel like a longer trip, maybe St. Augustine.

Miami to Atlanta is a haul. Like more than 8-10+ hours?

google suggests about 11.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:10 PM on June 13, 2011

I popped in to suggest you head the other direction and check out the Keys. If you try to go to Atlanta or NC and still want to get back on Sunday, you'll spend the entire time driving and not get to know anything!

I went to the Florida Keys last year and stayed at the Coconut Palm Inn and found it absolutely delightful. If I had your limited schedule, I don't think I'd even bother driving all the way out to Key West (a hike). There's enough stuff to poke around within a couple hours of Key Largo to make it relaxing and enjoyable for you.
posted by pupstocks at 8:36 PM on June 13, 2011

Spend a night in Savannah, GA. I've been visiting that city for the past 3 years driving back and forth between FL and NC, and would highly recommend spending even just a few hours there. The riverfront is beautiful, with an array of fine restaurants and shops. Walking down the cobblestone street, you can watch the big white steamboats, pick up souvenirs, and pop into the candy shop for some mighty fine fresh pralines. For a meal, Huey's is a great, with delicious Southern fare and a big glass front allowing you to people watch and enjoy the view.
posted by sunnychef88 at 8:38 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's a 10.5 to 11 hour drive, one way, from Miami to the middle of South Carolina, which is sort of in the middle of where you're headed. As a native South Carolinian, I wish I could recommend all sorts of places to you, but that's a really long way to drive in one weekend.

Since "or none" is on your list, I'm going to suggest a closer small town tour: not the Old South, but north central Florida (Bartram's travels / "Cracker" country). Head up the turnpike and stay just north of Orlando somewhere Friday night. Have breakfast at the Cotillion Southern Cafe in Wildwood. Maybe drive through Inverness and see the old courthouse (essentially a monument to an Elvis movie) on the way to Homosassa Springs to see the manatees and other animals. Maybe go over to Rainbow Springs for a swim. Head north and maybe stop at the Appleton Museum in Ocala (quaint but nice). Maybe take 301 for a bit and stop at the Orange Shop. Take 441 and visit Micanopy. Around Gainesville, consider walking around Payne's Prairie (also on 441), the Devil's Millhopper, or Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. Maybe go up to the Ichetucknee river to rent an innertube and float down the river. Ravine Gardens in Palatka is nice, though Palatka is less charming. Try to have dinner at The Yearling, a restaurant associated with a famous book/writer. It's a fairly easy drive from Gainesville/Micanopy over to St. Augustine, where there are some nice places to stay. Visit the Castillo de San Marcos and the Flagler Museum and just walk around. And go to the Alligator Farm. Drive down A1A to get home, or head inland to visit anything on the list that you've missed.

If you see anyone selling boiled peanuts by the side of the road on 301 or 441 or wherever, stop and buy them for sure.

This is a tour my wife and I do in some form or another every year or so when we visit family. Considered point by point, some things you have right around you in Miami (e.g. the Fairchild gardens or the Coral Castle) are bigger or stranger, but if your aim is to get to a part of the country that feels different from Miami / Key West, this will do.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:42 PM on June 13, 2011 [9 favorites]

Google maps shows about 8 hours from Miami to the Sea Islands in Georgia, where I've admittedly never been but keep lusting for a visit. They all have awesome, secluded beaches, but the islands vary between big golf getaways or tiny sleepy towns. There are also awesome nature refuges/national seashore areas. Personally, I am a sucker for the romance of having to actually take a ferry to a tiny island.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:31 PM on June 13, 2011

Go to St. Augustine, an interesting historic town, the oldest city in the US. In addition to historic sites, an abundance of hotels/motels and restaurants, there are also beautiful beaches, like Anastasia State Park.

Just head up I 95.
posted by mareli at 11:48 PM on June 13, 2011

I was going to suggest Fernandina Beach, just south of the GA/FL border and a short drive from I95. It's a charming small town near Amelia Island. However, I think Monsieur Caution has much better suggestions and I will keep them in mind for our next trip to Florida.
posted by sevenstars at 4:45 AM on June 14, 2011

Monsieur Caution's idea is GREAT. Its ur-Florida, real florida (w/o the palin connotations thank you).
The last cracker governor
Good Link on Springs in Central FL.

Its such a good idea I might fly down to do it myself. You could probably get St. Augustine in at the same time w/o too much effort.

We moved from N. Florida when I was 10 or so, but I took a bunch of friends down to the Gators-LSU game this year, spent a day on the Ichetucknee. Had a great time. It is totally different from S. Florida.
posted by JPD at 7:12 AM on June 14, 2011

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