Driving from New York to Florida – A Step-by-Step Itinerary

You’ve made it to this post so I guess you’re seriously considering doing this drive.  Good for you!  To help you on your way, I’ve created a step-by-step itinerary for driving the 16+ hours from the New York metro area to the Sunshine State.  With stops you are looking at close to 20-hours door-to-door, depending on your final destination in Florida.  Total distance from New York to Jacksonville is about 940 miles.

I’ve broken the itinerary down into two days of driving with one overnight stay in between.  Day one takes you along the most congested part of Interstate 95 from New York south through Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia ending your drive in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Day two takes you on a long, flat drive through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and finally into Florida.  You can comfortably reach northern and central Florida in the evening of this second day.  For the purposes of this itinerary, all mileages are based on the drive from the New York metro area to Jacksonville, Florida.  For destinations further south, mileage estimates are noted below.


Day 1 – New York to Fayetteville, North Carolina with scheduled stops for lunch & dinner.  Assume a few additional stops for bathroom breaks.

Total mileage – approximately 544


1. Get on the road by around 10 a.m.  This will allow you to get through the Washington, D.C. area ahead of the afternoon rush.

2. If you’re ready for a pit stop, the Delaware Welcome Center is located between miles 3 and 1, about 130-miles into the trip.

3. Get some lunch.  I suggest doing something quick as you’ll stop for a bit longer at dinnertime.  Exits 77 -67 in Maryland have lots of options.

4. Upon entering Maryland, follow signs for 895-South and the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel.

Interesting Fact:  If you start singing the Star Spangled Banner when you enter the tunnel, you will be singing, “And the home…of the…brave!” just as you exit (so long as there’s no traffic).  Works every time!

5. After getting through D.C. stop for some dinner.  Buzz and Ned’s BBQ and Kitchen 64 are both off exit 78 in Richmond.  If you don’t feel like a longer stop, there are all sorts of fast food joints off all of the nearby exits.  Richmond is about 336-miles into the trip.  It’s another 210 miles to Fayetteville, NC from here which is where you’ll stop for the night.

6. Get back on the road.  After about an hour, pop a movie in for the kiddos.  They’ll be finishing up the movie just about the time you’re arriving in Fayetteville.  Exit 49 is where you’ll find several major hotels.  I like the DoubleTree.

Travel Tip – There is absolutely no need to bring all of your vacation luggage into the hotel for the night.  Pack a small overnight bag or two for your family and leave it in an easily accessible place in the trunk.  Pack pajamas, fresh clothes and any toiletries you might need for an overnight stay in a hotel.  Plan on having a separate bag into which you can pack up all of your electronics and any other valuables and bring that into the hotel for the night as well, just to be on the safe side.

Day 2 – Fayetteville, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida (and beyond!)

Total Mileage – about 396

fayettevilletowalterboro copy

1. Eat breakfast.  The larger hotel chains often offer some kind of breakfast buffet–always see if you can get that included in the price of your room.  If there’s an upcharge for breakfast, do the math.  My kids aren’t big breakfast eaters so spending $8.99 for each of them to have half a bagel just isn’t cost effective.  There is a Waffle House and a Cracker Barrel at exit 49 and either of those will get you a decent breakfast at a good price fairly quickly.

2. Hit the road!  Calling Jacksonville your destination means you don’t have as far to go today, but if you’re headed to Orlando or points south, you’ll want to tack on another 150+ miles–Florida is a LONG state.  The last time we did this drive I hit Jacksonville right at rush hour on a Friday afternoon and 95-south was a parking lot for a good 15-20 miles.  Plan accordingly and don’t delay getting started in the morning.

Travel Tip: This morning driving stretch is a good time for some car games.  Everyone is relatively chipper from a good night’s sleep (hopefully) and not yet sick of being in the car.  This is also the stretch of road where it will soon be time to count the Pedro signs (there are reportedly 175 of them).  But don’t get sucked in!  South of the Border is pretty tacky and quite frankly it creeps me out.  I wouldn’t waste time stopping there.  The kids will be sure to ask if you can, though!

3. Good places to pit stop during the first part of the drive today are Florence, South Carolina (exits 164 & 160 – approximately 90 miles south of Fayetteville), Santee, South Carolina (exit 98 – approximately 150 miles south of Fayetteville), and Walterboro, South Carolina (exit 57 – approximately 195 miles south of Fayetteville). All three of these have their fair share of fast food places and gas stations, each one has a Cracker Barrel and all have a few non-chain spots for lunch.  Lunch spots and places of interest include:

4. Once you make it past Walterboro you’re about 200-miles north of Jacksonville.  Along the way in Georgia, Pooler (just north of Savannah at exit 102), Richmond Hill (exit 87), Brunswick (exit 36), and Kingsland (exit 3) are all well-stocked with services.  Just south of Kingsland you’ll cross the Florida State Line.


Travel Tip: This stretch of afternoon driving, especially after lunch when everyone is ready to JUST GET THERE ALREADY, is a good time for a captivating audio-book, a dvd, and a nap.

5.  The Florida State Line – About 2 miles past the state line into Florida is the Florida Welcome Center.  Located right on 95, it is just south of exit 380.  Swing in here for a few minutes use the restrooms and celebrate your accomplishment with some free orange juice.


6.  From the Welcome Center, you are this many miles from the following destinations:

  • Jacksonville – about 20
  • St. Augustine – about 75
  • Daytona Beach – about 115
  • Orlando – about 170
  • Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and points west – about 225 – 275
  • Palm Beach & Boca Raton – about 310 -330
  • Ft. Myers and Sanibel – about 350
  • Ft. Lauderdale – about 350
  • Miami – about 375
  • Key West – about 525

Now the only thing to do is relax, enjoy your vacation…and try not to think about the drive home!

Click here to visit Part 1 of this post – How to Drive from New York to Florida with Kids – and Have Fun Doing It!



  1. I love this post! We have traveled to Florida by car several times over the past 27 years and ventured to the Keys twice. Great tips in your post. A lot of family togetherness, but looking back, I’d probably do it all again! When the boys were young- say 8 months and 4, we would leave home late afternoon, drive all night- and arrive in Orlando or St. Augustine by supper the next day. Fun memories…

    • Sara, I have to say, that is a bold drive with kids that little. The first time we did it the girls were 3, 5 and 7 (almost 4, 6 and 8) and it was totally manageable. And doing the all-nighter is also commendable. We tried that the first time and were met with one major debacle–a flat tire in Virginia at 3 am. Let me tell you, that was an adventure! I’m going to write about that very soon!

  2. Patricia DeCaprio says:

    Nice article…..I could have added a lot more though…..as you know, driving from NY to Miami several times a year for the last 6 years has offered me many opportunities to learn….where to go (and not go), when to go (and not), and where to stop (and not). As well as some pretty interesting adventures!!

    • Hi, Patricia, if possible, can you share some of your experience of where to stop and eat as well. I am considering this drive in april with my family, all help is appreciated!

    • Hi, I am doing this trip for the first time this July with my boyfriend and his 11 year old son. The destination is Orlando but if we dont make it were fine with that. We wanted to just sight see and was wondering what places we should stop so if you can please share. I would appreciate it alot. thanks.

  3. Jordana Hidalgo says:

    Me and my friends are planning a HUGE trip to Disneyworld the summer of 2016. Right now we’re still high school kids but by the summer of 2016 we’ll have all graduated high school. I have never made a trip of this magnitude, not with friends anyway. But I trust these guys and we’re all pretty close. I was wondering if you have any tips for us as we will most definitely be taking this trip and want to plan well ahead as we’re still teenagers and want to make sure that we are covered should any problems arise. Please give me some tips or advice, I know that we can take anything that’s coming.

  4. Wayne Leaver says:

    This was a big help and thank you! I’m moving myself from Norfolk to St. Petersburg in the summer of 2016 in a fully loaded 2014 Hyundai Accent along with my
    6 year old cat. Have to admit I’m not looking forward to the drive but your tips made me more optimistic that me and the cat will live through it. I really appreciate your description of the drive through NC, SC, GA and finally to Jax as “long and flat”. A fully loaded 2015 Hyundai Accent doesn’t do hill very well….Again, thank you!

  5. Perfect timing! I just had a friend say she was considering doing this! I’ll be sure to share it with her.

  6. Michelle says:

    Thank you! I’ve been trying to figure out places to stop and having so much trouble, so this came in handy.

  7. I’ve been researching about the drive to Florida with a 2 1/2 and 5 year old. Your post is detailed. Just researching what things to do to keep them busy.

  8. Jenn Hadden says:

    I’m doing the opposite drive from Jacksonville, FL to Long Island. Any tips about the way back up? The first day I’m headed straight to DC to stay with friends, the next morning I’m heading to Long Island.

    • Hi Jenn!

      Jax to D.C. shouldn’t be too bad. It’s about 10 hours without traffic, though I always tag a couple hours on to whatever Google Maps tells me for stops–it’s hard to overestimate the time it takes to get gas, grab lunch, etc. If you don’t mind stretching the drive out a bit, you could stop in Savannah on the way up. Savannah’s a fairly short drive off 95 and it’s such a pretty city. My daughter and I spent a night and a morning there this summer on our way to Jekyll Island and I’m so glad we did. In South Carolina, the Pee Dee State Farmer’s Market is an interesting stop. I really recommend the Posner’s book Drive I-95. It really tells you everything that you’ll find along the way! Good luck!

      • I did the Jax to NY trip alone 3x times this past year. One must stop is the State Park in Santee SC only 5 mi from exit. It’s a real experience – swamp, houseboats, gators – just spectacular for a Northerner like me! Amd my preference is the longer route thru western Pa, Va, and the Carolinas. Just felt safer and much more scenic

  9. Great article!

    I am from an Island in the Caribbean and not use to very long drives. We are planning a trip from West Palm Beach to New Yoek and back summer 2016, looking forward to an adventure but a little apprehensive. Your experience has helped and I like your simple tips, like packing an overnight bag for the hotel and a bag for electronic gadgets. Thank you!

  10. Thanks so much for the tips! We are planning to drive from NJ to Orlando in May 2016. It’s my husband and I and our two kids (almost 3 and 5 at the time). Some extending family and friends may join us. I thought about making the trip longer by planning day trips along the way with overnight stays in Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach. You’re itinerary looks great tho :)

  11. Thanks for your Tips . I have used for my recent Spring Break 2016 trip from Nj to Orlando Fl . We started around 5 Am from East Brunswick NJ and reached Florence SC around 5 PM . i never been in rush so we maintained posted speed limit . next day we started 4 Am from Florence SC to Cape Canaveral Fl . Around 11 AM We reached Kennedy Space center . stayed in Orlando Fl for Disney /Universal for 6 days . while coming back , stayed at Fayatteville NC . Had a happy trip and thanks to your site .

  12. Stephen Edwards says:

    Wow! This is perfect!!! Thanks so much. I’m driving it tomorrow from Yonkers, New York to start a new life in Delray Beach. Minivan is booked and belongings packed and ready, I just need to print this out now and I am sorted. Again, thanks so much!


  13. Krazykat314 says:

    Any ideas how to do the drive with two senior cats? I know there are let friendly motels but how do I drag two big carriers into someplace to get dinner? I wouldn’t want to leave then in the car if it’s hot.
    I may be moving to Fort Meyers. This is the only thing that is stressing me out, well, other than not having any one to share driving with me.
    I would appreciate any advice.

  14. Annica says:

    Thank you – very informative! Thinking of taking it a bit slower with 2 nights on route to north Florida – we are tourists from Europe and want to make the journey itself as pleasant as possible!

  15. Briana Bethea says:

    This is perfect! I was looking for a road trip from Fayetteville,NC to Legoland in FL. Thank You.

  16. Azhar Ispahani says:

    God Bless you for this. We are on for a trip to US this summer and planning to drive from NJ to Orlando with my 2 and 9 years old daughters, basically for WDW and Universal Studios. Was skeptical about it but your article for this journey just makes me very comfortable, rather optimistic. My elder one has a motion-sickness issue on long drives so the stop-overs along the way is surely going to help. Thank you again for this! Live Long!!!

    PS: I will definitely try to post what actually happened once i am done with this up-down trip.

  17. Michael Morelli says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I followed this exactly on my way from NJ to Orlando and the drive was wonderful. The DoubleTree was so nice as well.

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