Road Trip Tampa to NYC - 5 days in June (difficulty: no major cities)
May 13, 2024 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Please give me your suggestions of places to stop and spend anywhere between 2-6 hours, places to spend the night. We're looking for awesome nature, hiking with a view, picturesque areas. Cute unique towns are good too. No beaches unless there's unique nature stuff to explore. Happy to venture away from I95 and explore more inland than along the coast even if the drive takes longer. So if you have favorite places anywhere along the way, please suggest them.

We've been to Tampa, Savannah, Charleston, Durham/Raleigh, DC, Philly, and NYC so we're not looking for things to do in those cities. No Disney/Orlando, please, but kid-friendly stuff is welcome (doesn't have to be centered around kids though).
posted by dabadoo to Travel & Transportation around West Whiteland Township, PA (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you askewed I-95 for I-77 & I-81 you'd pass through the Green Bank Observatory. The Cass Scenic Railroad is nearby as well. The overall route is only ~3 hours longer than I-95 and might open a world of different choices if you "seen everything" on 95.
posted by mmascolino at 12:03 PM on May 13

Check this out:

Road Trip USA - Atlantic Coast Route

That is from a site that ties into a book that was my dang Bible when I drove cross-country in 2000. It focuses on 11 different two-lane highways that go from border to border or coast to coast, telling you what to see on the way, where you can stay, places that are worth a detour, and "this is all strip malls for the next 40 miles so don't worry". The page I link you to there does have the occasional pitch to buy their book tie-in, but the site there has an abbreviated version of the content (the menu on the left will take you through the route).

It starts in New Jersey and heads south, so you will need to read "backwards", but for planning purposes that should suit fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]

I think you have two best options:

* I-95 to I-74 to I-81 through Greensboro and then up 29 through Danville

* I-95 to Virginia Beach and Delaware taking the ferry to Cape May

On the southern part of I-95 you can trip to Jacksonville/Fernandina Beach, Savannah, Charleston and other coastal destinations.
posted by credulous at 12:54 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Second the 77/81 detour, you can get onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, near the NC/VA border and make your way up to Roanoke, and back over to 95, or go all the way to Shenandoah, and then east.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 1:01 PM on May 13

Yeah, I would recommend heading west and doing the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's slooow but it's beautiful. I would do it earlier than above - cut west in Georgia and get on near Greenville, SC. Then you could stay in or near Asheville, stay on it until Roanoke or Charlottesville where you'd hop on 81 or head into the Shenandoah Valley where there are lots of things to see, including Luray Caverns - a whole lot of caves through there. You can wiggle your way up from there to Frederick, Maryland, which is beautiful. Then further north there is a way to get between Maryland and New York via the Delaware Water Gap which is way more interesting than the interstate, but I don't remember how we did it. Staying off 95 should be a priority though. And 29 is not all that interesting either.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:12 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

I have not done this drive, but with that much time and perhaps with kids used to the flatness of Florida, I would want to hit, at least, one of the Appalachian national parks like New River Gorge, Shenandoah, or Great Smoky Mountains. A history-minded kid would probably really enjoy Antietam, Harper’s Ferry or Gettysburg, a science-loving child Thomas Edison National Historic Park, and a train fanatic Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA.

Given that Thomas Edison NHP is $15 per adult over 16, Antietam is $20 per car, Shenandoah is $30 per car, and Harpers Ferry is $20 per car, I would consider getting an America the Beautiful Annual Pass; the details are here on the USGS store website where the passes can be bought online, but you can also buy passes on entry at the sites and parks which charge for entry, too. The normal annual pass covers everyone in your car and costs $80, but if you have a fourth-grader, there’s a free version of the pass available. National parks are also free on Juneteenth!
posted by mdonley at 3:01 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

There's Gun Powder Falls State Park in Maryland which is not too far from Whitemarsh Shopping Center (an exit off I-95) and the nearby lodging like Hilton Garden Inn. Just a suggestion for you to research vis your interests/needs.
posted by forthright at 5:42 PM on May 13

If anyone in your group/family likes horses, I highly recommend stopping in Chincoteague/Assateague to see the wild ponies.
posted by Scout405 at 7:50 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

I was going to say fuck it, just take 75 out of Tampa to Knoxville and get on 81 there. Surprisingly only 4hr longer than 95. You'd get onto the Appalachian part of that route in Chattanooga, but it looks like the road continues being 75 to Knoxville and then 40 and then 81. Pick up 78 in Pennsyltucky.

You would either want to stop in Atlanta to see stuff OR choose your departure time wisely to... I was going to say "avoid" but "minimize" is probably the right word for Atlanta traffic.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:10 AM on May 14

If I was approaching NYC from route 81, I would switch to route 78 near Allentown, PA. Going further on 81 adds a bunch of miles.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:20 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Check out Blue Ridge, GA and Hot Springs, NC. Beautiful little mountain towns, lots of great nature adventures.
posted by gnutron at 6:16 AM on May 14

If I was approaching NYC from route 81, I would switch to route 78 near Allentown, PA.

The Lehigh Valley (Allentown through Easton, heading East) is only 2.5 hours from NYC but it is a lovely place to stay for a night or a few hours. Bethlehem has turned the old Bethlehem Steel grounds into an arts campus, with the steel stacks still in place for you to walk through, and Easton has a small but very walkable downtown with lots of restaurants (as well as the Crayola experience for kids).
posted by thecaddy at 12:46 PM on May 14

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