Most people who take the I-95 road trip are headed to sunny Florida…and the good majority of those are headed to see Mickey Mouse!
Our family has taken the 1000-mile trek from Philadelphia, PA to Florida four times now and it’s become one of our favorite road trips. It won’t wow you like a ride along a scenic coastline or a road trip through a snow-capped mountain range, but it has become the iconic family road trip for those of us on the East coast!
Just because this ride doesn’t have that breath-taking scenery out the car window, doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining! The ride takes you through 8 of our States (PA-DE-MD-VA-NC-SC-GA-FL). Having the kids look at a map and see where the road trip will take them, can be a geography lesson by itself. It’s also a great ride for the licence plate game! We’ve come very close to getting all 50 states’ plates. One year, the kids were still scouring license plates in Disney World’s parking lot (trying to find North Dakota and Vermont!).
Here’s are the highlights of our I-95 road trip(s), by State and what you can expect along the ride (toll amounts listed are from 2013):
Pennsylvania, 58 miles (15 from Philadelphia), no tolls: Pennsylvania if home for us, but if I was coming from the north, I might consider stopping by Penns’ Landing for lunch on the river, or having a cup of coffee and walking around independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
Delaware, 26 miles, $4.00 toll: Under most circumstances, you’ll want to take I-495 and bypass Wilmington and it’s multiple exits and traffic. I-495 travels along the Delaware River for several miles which is a nice view.
Maryland,110 miles, $6.00 toll (northbound only) + $3.00 toll for harbor tunnel: In you’re travelling anytime in southern Maryland between the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 pm, you will encounter significant Baltimore – Washington, DC traffic. This is why our I-95 road trips usually have O-dark-thirty departures (i.e. Mom & Dad have big cups of coffee, kids get in car in the their PJs and sleep until North Carolina!)
Virginia, 178 miles, no tolls: The same traffic advice above goes for the corridor from DC to Richmond. Once below Richmond, the Interstate volume goes down quite a bit. Richmond is a nice city and worth stopping in, if it aligns with a meal time. There are a number of nice restaurants and stops downtown, if you need a a few hour stretch break.
North Carolina, 183 miles, no tolls: Once you get into North Carolina, most of the traffic and congestion is in your rearview mirror. In fact, we often leave in the wee hour of the morning, with the goal of getting into North Carolina for breakfast. This has helped us avoid several hours of traffic that the Baltimore-Washington, DC-Richmond corridor can often incur during normal hours.
South Carolina, 201 miles, no tolls: Several miles before you reach the North Carolina-South Carolina border, you will see dozens and dozens of signs from “Pedro” telling you about the wonders that await you in South of the Border. South of the Border is a cornball tourist trap that is worth stopping in just to experience it. Along with their novelties and gag gifts, you can get a meal, gas, fireworks, post cards, souveneirs, and stretch your legs. Some people pick any one of the multiple lodging options here, as this is a good stopping point, approximately 500 miles north of Orlando. We choose quick stops to keep motoring through!
Georgia, 112 miles, no tolls: The Georgia Welcome Center has many concrete picnic tables with individual pavilions. This is a great picnic / bathroom stop, as you approach the home stretch! Savanah is also another great stop. We ate dinner and enjoyed the street entertainers along the river walk. This was a very nice& family-friendly city.
Florida, 381 miles (~210 miles to Walt Disney World exit), no tolls: The ‘Welcome to Florida‘ sign always gets a carload of cheers and excitement, but Florida is a long state with not many roadside highlights. You can take an excursion into Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Port Canaveral, or Daytona which are all within reach of I-95.
Taking the family for an I-95 road trip will bean adventure that will create some great memories, see some neat sights, and avoid the costs of expensive flights!