The drive from New York to Florida is a long one, but you won’t be bored along the way if you plan your trip right. Exciting cities and American history dot the east coast the entire journey. This itinerary is the quick version of the journey, still packed with plenty of adventurous things to do. Should you want to spend a little more time on the drive and really enjoy the ride along the way, we also have for a 5-day trek. Pick up a comfortable rental car in New York City, pack up your things, and hit the interstate! Be prepared for the open road by visiting our checklist of road trip essentials.
Drive Time from New York to Florida: approximately 15 hours
Distance from New York to Florida: approximately 940 miles
Best car for this road trip: Midsize SUV
Spend a lifetime in New York, and you still wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Of course, there are popular tourist spots like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Central Park and more that are great to visit. But what about some places not so familiar to visitors? If you’re a fan of Italian food and culture, opt to go to Arthur Avenue in The Bronx. The street is filled with shops and restaurants all touting incredible pasta, house-made mozzarella, and impeccable Italian sausages.
Visit the Tenement Museum to get insight into the melting pot culture that has made NYC the city it resembles today. The museum tours through multiple apartments from diverse cultures that have influenced The Big Apple throughout the decades.
Day 1: Eventually, you’ll have to leave the city that never sleeps. On the first day of your trip, you'll be traveling 550 miles to Fayetteville, North Carolina, which is slightly more than halfway between NYC and Jacksonville, Florida. Plan to drive roughly eight to nine hours.
Travel tip: Traveling along this route on a weekday may be significantly longer due to traffic conditions in the major cities you'll be passing through. Aim to travel on the weekend if possible.
Before you leave the city, grab some donuts at Underwest Donuts. It’s close to the Lincoln Tunnel, which you’ll use to make your way toward I-95. Grab some coffee and a couple of donuts, maybe the maple waffle and the dark chocolate, to eat on the road.
Hop on I-95 South and drive the 192 miles to Baltimore. You won’t have much time, but go ahead and drive straight to Inner Harbor. Here you can grab lunch and check out a couple of sites like the Star-Spangled Banner House or the National Aquarium. Looking for something a little different? Check out Splash City Golf, a driving range where you can hit biodegradable golf balls at targets floating in the harbor. The core of each golf ball is actually made of fish food!
After a short trek through the harbor, it’s time to get back on the road.
The drive from Baltimore to Fayetteville will take about 5 ½ hours. More than likely, you’ll be rolling into town later in the evening depending on how long you stayed in Baltimore.
If you make it into town early enough, definitely take a visit to the Airborne and Special Operation Museum. It’s not large so, you won’t need a lot of time, but you’ll see a wide range of artifacts and dioramas covering this history of special operations and the airborne troops.
There are several great options for dinner; you really can’t go wrong. However, a stop into The Fried Turkey Sandwich Shop on Paintersmill Drive is sure to satisfy your taste buds. Be sure to get a good night’s rest to rejuvenate for the next day’s travel.
Day 2: Depart from Fayetteville in the morning and get back on I-95 S. You'll be traveling almost 400 miles, with a total driving time of five and a half hours. If you need a break, there are a few spots along the way that are great for a quick pit stop such as the UFO Welcome Center in South Carolina, Forsythe Park in Savannah or lunch at The Crab Shack on Tybee Island in George.
You'll likely arrive in Jacksonville in the mid-afternoon depending on how long you stop for breaks.
If Jacksonville, Florida, isn't your final destination, get back in the car and finish the drive to your journey's ending point. The Sunshine State is full of places to explore, whether you're going to Orlando to visit a theme park or you want to relax on a white sand beach in Ft. Myers or Miami.
Otherwise, take time to explore Jacksonville. It's a marvelous city if you love the outdoors; it has the largest urban park system in the nation. It also has tons of great places to eat and shop.
Spend the day on the white sands found at the local beaches. From Anastasia Park beach in St. Augustine to American Beach on Amelia Island, Jacksonville has plenty of oceanside spots to soak up the sun, catch some waves and enjoy the fresh air.
If you’re visiting over the weekend, you’ll want to check out the Riverside Arts Market, held every Saturday in downtown. Shop through stalls from local vendors selling crafts, art, and plenty of food.
Any golf fan will want to trek about 20 miles southeast of downtown to play a round at TPC Sawgrass, home to The Players Championship on the PGA tour.
There are many more options for fun throughout Jacksonville that there simply isn’t enough room to mention them all. With incredible restaurants, professional sports, great shopping and tons of beach access, you’ll have more trouble figuring out what to do the next time you visit.
When is the best time of year to drive from New York to Florida?
The spring season is a great time to drive from New York to Florida. The temperatures are mild and the chances of experiencing inclement weather are low. Tourism isn’t as high during this time, so you won’t experience as much traffic congestion or crowds.
Where should I stop along the route?
You'll find plenty of fun places to stop between New York and Jacksonville. In Wilmington, Delaware, stop by the Nemours Mansion and Gardens to marvel at the historic home and tour the beautifully landscaped gardens before strolling along the Wilmington Riverwalk. In Washington, D.C., you can visit the National Mall and see sites like the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
In Richmond, Virginia, take a self-guided walking tour of the Hollywood Cemetery, where you'll find countless fascinating Civil War-era gravestones and monuments. Stroll through Maymont, which has everything from a historic mansion and gardens to pastures and wildlife. Don't miss your chance to stop in Savannah, Georgia, where you can walk through the romantic historic district, visit Lafayette Square, and explore Skidaway Island State Park.
What are the top kid-friendly activities along the way?
If you're traveling with kids, you won't want to miss any of the best family-friendly destinations along your route. In New York, you’ll find a dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, an Egyptian-themed playground in Central Park, and the Children's Museum of Manhattan. In Baltimore, kids of all ages will love spotting sharks and marine creatures at the National Aquarium and checking out interactive exhibits at Port Discovery.
In Fayetteville, let the kids run along the Cape Fear River Trail or at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. They can also zip line ZipQuest Waterfall & Treetop Adventure. Once you’re in Jacksonville, take your kids to see the big cats at Catty Shack Ranch or let them stretch their legs at Big Talbot Island State Park.
What are some must-see spots in Baltimore?
You could easily spend an entire week sightseeing in Baltimore. If you only have a few hours, pick your family's favorites from the city's top destinations, such as the Walters Art Museum or the Baltimore Museum of Art. The quirky American Visionary Art Museum is a great pick for families and visitors looking for an attraction designed to surprise and delight.
Just east of the Inner Harbor, Fell's Point is the ideal place to step back in time, stroll along the 18th-century cobblestone streets, and peek into antique stores and coffee shops. Whether you're traveling with kids or you're interested in local history, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum is a great pick west of the Inner Harbor.
Where can I stop for a snack in Baltimore?
For a quick bite to eat, make your way to Cafe Poupon near Lexington Market, where you'll find Paris-inspired treats like almond croissant, a pain au chocolat, or a slice of quiche. If you're in the mood for something savory, head to The Bun Shop in Mt. Vernon, where you'll find great coffee, legendary beef patties, and irresistible empanadas. For dessert, you can't go wrong with Hoehn's Bakery, which makes some of the best doughnuts, peach cake, and hot cross buns in town.
Where can I find seafood in Fayetteville, NC?
Thanks to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Fayetteville is a great place to indulge in seafood. Straight Drop Seafood & Catering is a simple but well-loved restaurant by locals and visitors alike. Their combo platters are sure to fill you up before you’re back on the road. 316 Oyster Bar also has some of the best lobster, crab legs, and seafood pasta in town.
Does Florida use toll roads?
Florida is home to several toll roads, most of which are in Central and South Florida. You'll have to pay a toll to drive on the Florida Turnpike, Interstate 75 between Miami and Naples, and the Bee Line Expressway between Cape Canaveral and Orlando. You might also have to pay a toll when crossing a major bridge.
Most toll costs depend on the road you’re on and how far you're driving. Note that not all toll roads accept cash. Check out the Enterprise Toll Pass for convenient access to toll roads in Florida.
Are there any upscale dining options in Jacksonville, FL?
Jacksonville's dining scene is booming, and this Florida city's many fine dining spots are sure to tempt you. Make a reservation at Marker 32 to enjoy the stunning marina views, the seared scallops, and the broiled oysters with bacon. For a French-inspired meal, head to Restaurant Orsay for fresh oysters, excellent charcuterie, mussels and frites, and hearty cassoulet. Bistro AIX is also a great choice for braised short ribs, pan-roasted salmon, and inventive smoked salmon pizzas.