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What’s the best driving route from New York to Florida?

September 23rd, 2016 - 3:45 PM

Road trip from New York to Florida


If you’re driving from New York to Florida, you’re in for a treat! The east coast of the United States is packed full of history, scenic routes and breath-taking Atlantic Ocean views. Whether you’re planning an east coast road trip or moving from north to south, you’ll want to make the most of your drive. We’ve mapped out the best route for you to take to experience all the sights and activities a drive from New York to Florida has to offer.

Which route should I take?​

We think the best way to drive to Florida from New York is by taking Interstate 95 South, and here’s why:

  • It’s the most direct route to central and southern Florida
  • It passes through nine states and these major historic cities: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Charleston and Savannah
  • It has beautiful ocean views near coastal towns like Jacksonville and Daytona Beach

Driving from New York to Florida

I-95 S is the best route from New York to Florida

Driving from NY to FL

What’s the distance?​

While the distance will depend on your exact location and destination, you can get a pretty good idea of how far you’ll drive by using a major city as a point of reference. Here's time and travel info if you’re coming from New York City:

  • To Daytona Beach, approximately 1,070 miles, or a little over 2 days
  • To Destin, approximately 1,261 miles, or almost 2.5 days
  • To Fort Lauderdale, approximately 1,263, miles or almost 2.5 days
  • To Jacksonville, approximately 937 miles, or almost 2 days
  • To Key West, approximately 1,440 miles, or almost 3 days
  • To Miami, approximately 1,283 miles, or more than 2.5 days
  • To Orlando, approximately 1,078 miles, or a little over 2 days
  • To Panama City Beach, approximately 1,206 miles, or almost 2.5 days
  • To Pensacola, approximately 1,238 miles, or almost 2.5 days
  • To Petersburg, approximately 1,157 miles, or a little over 2 days
  • To Tallahassee, approximately 1,098 miles, or a little over 2 days
  • To Tampa, approximately 1,133 miles, or almost 2.5 days

Note: One day equals 8 hours of driving.

If you want to take time for sightseeing, add a few more days to your trip. Here are some route ideas to help you plan:

Itinerary 1: Going to Disney!

Disney World is the perfect vacation spot for children of all ages. Explore the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom Park for the ultimate Disney experience. Purchase some souvenirs at World of Disney to remember this trip for years to come.  

You’ll probably want to take the fastest route to Florida — your favorite characters are waiting to meet you! Here’s the quickest way to get to Orlando from New York:  

  • Travel from NYC to Rocky Mount, NC
  • Spend the night in Rocky Mount (night 1)
  • Travel to Orlando, FL the next day (this might be a little longer drive than 8 hours)

Total travel time: 2 days, 1 night

Itinerary 2: Visiting The Big Guava (Tampa’s nickname)

Heading toward Tampa? It’s an animal lover’s paradise. Check out the Florida Aquarium, the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center, Big Cat Rescue, and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to see Florida’s marine life and wildlife up close. Here’s the best route to take from New York:

  • Leave from NYC
  • Spend the night in Rocky Mount, NC (night 1)
  • Travel to Jacksonville, FL and stay overnight (night 2)
  • Go through Starke, past Ocala on I-75, or stay on I-95 and go through Orlando, past Lakeland

Total travel time: 3 days, 2 nights

Itinerary 3: American History excursion

If you’re a history buff, take this route on your way to Florida:

  • Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island before leaving NYC
  • Stop by Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia
  • Spend the night in Philadelphia (night 1)
  • See Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore
  • Spend the night just outside of Washington D.C. in Greenbelt, MD (night 2)
  • Spend a couple of days in Washington D.C. and visit sites like the U.S. Capitol, The White House, Arlington National Cemetery, the Library of Congress, Lincoln Memorial, the National Museum of American History, the National Mall, Washington Monument, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial (night 3 and 4)
  • Visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Mount Vernon, VA
  • Stop in Williamsburg to experience the Jamestown Settlement Museum, Yorktown Victory Center and Colonial Williamsburg (night 5)
  • Travel to Fayetteville, NC, and tour the Airborne and Special Operations Museum (night 6)
  • Drive to Savannah, GA and stroll through the historic district to see mansions, monuments and other sites from the Civil War and Revolutionary eras
  • Spend the night in Savannah, then travel to your final destination in Florida (night 7)

Total travel time: 8 days, 7 nights

Alternative driving routes

While we think I-95 is the best route, here are a few other ways to travel from New York to Florida.

Tour the Florida panhandle

If your final destination is Destin, Panama City Beach, Pensacola, Tallahassee or somewhere else within the Florida panhandle, you can take I-81 out of New York. You’ll travel through Harrisburg, PA, Roanoke, VA, Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA. Here are some places to stop if you’re panhandle-bound:

  • Travel to Roanoke, VA
  • Spend the night in Roanoke (night 1)
  • Stop in Newnan, GA and spend the night (night 2)
  • Travel to your destination in the panhandle

Ocean views all the way

You can drive the entire coastline and catch gorgeous ocean views from NYC all the way to Key West via I-95 and Route 1. Towns you’ll pass through or near include: Atlantic City, Virginia Beach, Kitty Hawk, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Miami and Key Largo.

Big city bypass

To avoid big city traffic in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C., swing west and travel through Allentown, Harrisburg, Roanoke and Charlotte. And then meet back up with I-95 northwest of Charleston, SC.  

Historic route

Want to go off the beaten path? Travel through Historic Route 1 to your Floridian destination. It’s the oldest highway serving the entire east coast, stretching from Maine to Florida. The states and cities you’ll pass through are:

  • New York: Port Chester, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Union City
  • New Jersey: Linden, North Brunswick Township, Trenton
  • Pennsylvania: Langhorne Manor, Upper Darby, Oxford
  • Maryland: Baltimore, Laurel, College Park
  • Washington D.C.
  • Virginia: Alexandria, Mt. Vernon, Fredericksburg, Doswell, Richmond, Dinwiddie, South Hill
  • North Carolina: Henderson, Raleigh, Sanford, Rockingham
  • South Carolina: Columbia, Aiken
  • Georgia: Augusta, Swainsboro, Waycross, Folkston
  • Florida: Callahan, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Key Largo, Key West

Map your own route

If none of these alternative routes spark your interest, map your own! Whether you choose to take the most direct route or do a little wandering, Google Maps and Roadtrippers.com are great resources to help you plan. And to help you stay organized while traveling, check out our ultimate guide on how to plan a road trip.  

Other attractions along the way

No matter which route you take, there are plenty of things to do on the way to Florida! Be sure to check out these attractions along I-95:

  • Hadrosauraus Park in Haddonfield, NJ
  • Delaware Memorial Bridge in New Castle, DE
  • Huge Doctor Bag in Newark, DE
  • NASA Goddard Visitor Center in Greenbelt, MD
  • National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA
  • Kings Dominion and Planet Snoopy in Doswell, VA
  • Largest Tire in the World in North Blandboro, NC
  • Mars Bluff Atomic Bomb Crater in Mars Bluff, SC
  • UFO Welcome Center in Bowman, SC
  • Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum in Tybee Island, GA
  • Museum of Science and Space History in Jacksonville, FL
  • Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL
  • Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando, FL

And for I-81 travelers, check out these cool tourist locations:

  • Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA
  • National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA
  • Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, VA
  • Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, VA
  • Dinosaur Land in White Post, VA
  • The Crockett Tavern Museum In Morristown, TN

What’s the best time of year to drive from New York to Florida?

Driving from New York to Florida is a great trip year-round. Just be sure to consider the weather during the season you plan to travel. The east coast experiences hurricanes during the summer and into fall, snow storms during the winter and severe storms throughout the spring. We recommend using the National Weather Service map and the National Hurricane Center activity map as resources when planning your trip.

How much should I budget for gas?

Gas expenses depend on the vehicle you’re driving and how long you’re on the road. You can use the My Trip Calculator from fueleconomy.gov to estimate the cost. If you’re moving from New York to Florida in a rental truck, check out this rental truck fuel calculator

Do I need money for road tolls?

This depends on the route you take. If your route takes you through New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland, be sure to have spare change or some extra cash in the car.  

What are the best places to eat at along the way?

The east coast is packed full of great places to eat, and you can bet that fresh seafood is always available. If the road you’re traveling is near these iconic eats, be sure to stop by:

  • A cheesesteak in Philadelphia
  • Crab cakes in Baltimore
  • Half smokes in Washington D.C. (a sausage that’s half pork and half beef)
  • Southern comfort fare in Savannah
  • Stone crab legs in Miami

Where should we sleep?

After a full day of driving and exploring, you’ll be ready for a good night’s rest. Try to find a hotel on the outskirts of a big city for cheaper rates. And, if possible, plan your stays in advance so you aren’t without a room at the end of the day. If hotels aren’t your style, try a bed and breakfast or sleep under the stars at a local campground.  

Moving from New York to Florida?

If your trip from the Empire State to the Sunshine State involves a move, try U-Pack®! As a “you pack, we drive” service, we’ll help make your long distance move easy and affordable. Here’s how it works:

We’ll deliver a moving trailer or ReloCube® to your home in New York. You pack and load, and we’ll drive it to your new home in Florida. When it arrives, unload, and then we’ll pick up the empty equipment.

Since U-Pack drives, you can travel to Florida in the comfort of your vehicle — not behind the wheel of a rental truck. And our prices compare to truck rental!  

Get a free online moving quote or call a U-Pack representative at 800-413-4799 to see how much your move from New York to Florida will cost.


We’re here to help — just leave a comment below. Happy travels!