Best Route from DC area to Indianapolis?
October 5, 2012 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Road trip with my wife next week. I'm looking for practical experience with routes from Fredericksburg VA to Indianapolis IN.

We are leaving Thursday AM, so North on I-95 to I-270N to I-70 E is not a good idea at rush hour. My usual route is to take a back route from Fredericksburg over to I-66 and then go West to I-81, then North to I-70 and take the PA Turnpike East. However, I have never gone that route without hitting a major backup somehwere on the PA Turnpike, so I'd like to avoid the PA Turnpike if possible.

Google Maps offers up an intriguing option where I take US 50 from Winchester VA all the way across WV almost to Columbus OH, before picking up I70W for the rest of the trip. Does anybody have experience with that route? It looks like it might be a little mountainous and curvy in places, which might slow us down too much. Google claims this is only 20 minutes slower than the best case Interstate route. However, I've had issues with Google Maps time estimates when you stray from the Interstates.

Picking up I-68 West to I-79 to I-70 is another option.

Has anybody done DC area to Indy via car recently?
posted by COD to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have driven the US-50 through West Virginia route MANY times, and I very highly recommend it. The drive is *lovely*, we've never hit traffic, and it makes the journey to Columbus/Indy a really pleasant one. Yes, it's a little hilly/windy, but you avoid all the tolls, the traffic, and if you're anything like me, it's more fun to be moving than sitting in traffic. Also, wonderful little hole-in-the-wall restaurants on the route.

We road-trip from Northern VA to GenCon Indy most years and used to drive to Origins too, so I know the route well. Give it a shot, I know you'll love it.
posted by Concolora at 1:00 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is the perfect time of year to drive the back roads through WV. The trees are gorgeous right now!

Even if you don't do US 50, definitely choose I-68 over I-70. 68 takes you through some beautiful scenery and is just as fast.

And if you do take US 50, stop at Provence for a delicious lunch.
posted by MsMolly at 1:13 PM on October 5, 2012

That's how I drove from Columbus, OH to DC, and then Columbus to Indianapolis. The road through WV is not going to slow you down any more than being stuck in rush hour traffic would - it's still interstate, just pretty. And much more satisfying than driving through Virginia.

There's some construction on 70 going west from Columbus to Indianapolis, but the only time I've ever gotten seriously stuck was during a tornado.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:34 PM on October 5, 2012

Picking up I-68 West to I-79 to I-70 is another option.

This is the correct answer.

I don't believe google maps takes into account traffic light wait times. Driving cross-country on the US-routes is exhausting. Don't do it unless you are ready for some serious "taking the scenic route" slow going. Take US-17 to I-81 (to 68 to 79 to 70) first and see how long that feels.
posted by gjc at 5:45 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I go DC to Indianapolis and points west a couple times a year, and I always take the I-68 to I-79 to I-70 option. Once I get to I-68, I've only encountered problems during snowstorms. Things seem to move pretty well through Columbus, even during rush hour. I think Google maps also does not take into account the fact that if you are so inclined, you can comfortably exceed the interstate speed limit by 10-12 mph most of the time, while on non-interstate routes you often can't (because it's too curvy, because you're stuck behind someone doing the speed limit and you can't pass, etc.) If time is your main concern, that's definitely the option to take.
posted by drlith at 7:47 PM on October 5, 2012

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