When it’s time to take the family on a road trip, or if the urge to trade chilly Maine for Florida’s sunny beaches overtakes you, a jaunt down the East Coast might be just the ticket. Choose a route, figure out where you want to stay along the way and budget time for sightseeing. A road trip from Maine to Florida can take days or weeks.
Choose a Maine to Florida Route
Interstate 95 stretches almost 2,000 miles from Houlton, Maine, at the Canadian border to Miami. Depending on your speed, how long you drive in a day, traffic conditions and the number of stops you make, the trip can take as little as three or four days or as long as two weeks. The route is not as scenic as Route 1, but speed limits are higher and it’s more direct. Expect tolls on 15 sections of the highway, including bridges in New York, Delaware and, depending on the route you choose through the city, Baltimore. In Miami, you can pick up Route 1 to its end in Key West.
U.S. Route 1 is a 2,400-mile scenic route beginning in Fort Kent, Maine, and ending in Key West, Florida. Driving it takes longer than sticking to the interstate, but the road hugs the Atlantic coast in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut before turning inland near New York City. Near Jacksonville, Florida, Route 1 turns back to the coast, skimming along beaches and through cities like Daytona Beach and Miami. The last section of the road crosses the Florida Keys.
If you’re driving Route 1, expect to be funneled onto the interstate in a few areas, and keep an eye on the road signs. I-95 is a restricted-access highway, but on Route 1 you’ll be slowing down through towns and stopping at traffic signals.
Places to Stay Between Maine and Florida
Finding motels and hotels along I-95 isn't a problem. If you have a favorite brand, sign up for their loyalty program and check to see if the chain has an app showing locations that also allows you to make reservations. Apps like Hotel Tonight that aren’t brand-specific let you find last-minute deals. The TripAdvisor app bundles reviews and downloadable city guides with hotel deals and a Near Me Now feature that displays nearby places.
If you’re leery of spending the night in an unrated campground, turn to a group like Good Sam Club. Their services are geared toward RV campers, but many of the campgrounds they rate also have areas for tents. You can almost always be certain that state, local and national park campgrounds will be well-run and safe, but keep in mind that some close in the winter, especially in the north.
Maine to Florida Road Trip Sights
The route from Maine to Florida passes through major cities like Boston, New York, Washington and Savannah – full of worthy sights covered well in guidebooks. Sprinkling off-the-beaten-path attractions into the mix adds a quirky element to the trip.
If you’re a traveler with a love of big things, head a few blocks east of Route 1 in Kittery, Maine, to sit in a 12-foot-tall easy chair, or stop in Boothbay Harbor to see the 25-foot-tall fisherman at the entrance to Brown’s Wharf. If tiny things tickle your fancy, make the side trip to Olar, South Carolina, where a wee police station doesn’t see much business.
Golfing enthusiasts might play a round of golf at Pinehurst in North Carolina, the “Cradle of American Golf,” or pay a visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida.
A long stretch of the route is inland, but at Savannah, Georgia, I-95 moves toward the Atlantic coast. The Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a favorite with kids, is a working hospital for turtles in need of nursing.
Useful Tools for a Long Road Trip
Life360 allows friends and relatives back home to track your progress. Simply create a circle of friends, download the app to your phone and link your friends to the website so they can see where you are.
Waze, a crowd-sourced app, alerts drivers to traffic jams, hazards and accidents. It also directs you to the cheapest gas along the route, as does GasBuddy. The GasBuddy app has a trip cost calculator and a “heat map” showing where prices are highest, allowing you to fill up the tank before hitting a hot spot.
Invest in a dash camera to create a video log of your trip. You can find them for less than $100. Remember to pick up an extra memory card or two so you don’t have to worry about missing anything.