Road sign for Interstate highway 95 in Virginia, on a road trip from New York to Florida.

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The Best Stops On New York To Florida Road Trip

The drive from New York City to Miami, Florida, is 1,286 miles and takes nearly 20 hours if you never stop. But it would be a big mistake not to check out some of the most interesting, fun, and funky sights along the way. New York to Florida is an epic American road trip, so why not enjoy it?

You probably won’t stop at all these sights along the way, but be sure to plan your journey around some of them. The best route follows I-95 closely; while not the most scenic route, it is the most direct. None of these stops are more than an hour out of your way, but they will make for a much more exciting journey. And the sights range from educational to pure fun, and even a few head-scratchers. The drive also has excellent stops for the family road trip. A New York to Florida road trip can be filled with historical landmarks, hidden gems, and must-see attractions. 

The Best Stops On A Road Trip From NYC To Miami!

As you set off on your journey from New York to Florida, here are some of the best places to stop along the route. Pick one, or do them all, it’s an epic road trip that can be an adventure on it’s own.

New York City, NY

Before leaving The City, check out the sights all tourists must experience, visit the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building, and stroll around Central Park. For a more off-beat attraction, check out the City Reliquary Museum. Tucked away in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, this small museum celebrates the quirky and eclectic history of New York City. 

View of NYC skyline as you cross a bridge.
Photo courtesy of Colton Duke from Unsplash

Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park

Our first stop on this epic New York to Florida road trip is not long into the drive, but a short trip off the highway to check out the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park is worth it. In Menlo Park, near Edison, New Jersey, is the world’s largest lightbulb! Standing at a towering 14 feet tall and weighing 8 tons, this giant bulb is hard to miss. Take a moment to visit the museum, housed in the historic Edison Memorial Tower, a striking art deco monument dedicated to the inventor’s legacy. The exhibits are filled with fascinating artifacts and interactive displays showcasing his inventions and experiments.

Philadelphia, PA

Pennsylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia, is a great stop and offers many interesting sights to check out. For historic stops, visit Independence National Historical Park, home to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, or visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The museum is known for its impressive collection of art from ancient to modern times, but you might want to run up the famous “Rocky Steps,” recreating Rocky Balboa’s triumphant run while you are there.

It’s been a busy first day, and you have built up an appetite. Before you leave town, you might want a bite to eat and no visit to Philly would be complete without a cheesesteak. Picking the best is hard to do, so we won’t even try, but if you see a Home Depot, look for a Rocco’s Italian Sausage location in the parking lot; they say it’s pretty good. You could also head to the South Philly neighborhood and check out John’s Roast Pork.

Longwood Garden, Kennet Square, PA

Making your way from Philadelphia, I suggest you take a slight detour to Longwood Gardens, a renowned horticultural paradise nestled in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Start your visit by strolling through the beautifully manicured gardens. Each section of the garden offers its unique charm, from the formal Italian Water Garden with its ornate fountains to the peaceful tranquility of the Japanese Garden. Longwood is one of the best places to stop for a calming break from the road. For more information on a visit to the Brandywine Valley, check out my post, Visit Amazing Philadelphia Gardens, Longwood, and Winterthur.

Longwood fountain garden with hedges, fountains and paths
Fountain Garden At Longwood

Baltimore, Maryland

One of the most unique sites to see in Baltimore, known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and eclectic neighborhoods, is the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). Unlike traditional art museums, AVAM celebrates the work of self-taught artists, often referred to as “outsider” or “visionary” artists. Here, you’ll find a fascinating collection of unconventional and often whimsical artworks created by individuals with extraordinary vision and creativity. It is worth a stop. 

Other options in the city include the National Aquarium, Fort McHenry National Monument, and Fell’s Point. You can also stroll around the Inner Harbor for a break from your drive.

Annapolis, Maryland

Not too far from Interstate 95 on our New York to Florida road trip is Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. It is a city rich in history and maritime charm, and one of the best sights to see is the United States Naval Academy. Founded in 1845, the Naval Academy is a prestigious institution that trains United States Navy and Marine Corps officers. Even if you’re not touring the academy, you can still visit the grounds and see some notable landmarks: The Naval Academy Chapel, The Naval Academy Museum, John Paul Jones Crypt, and The Yard.

Washinton, D.C.

You could spend a week in the nation’s capital and still not see everything. If you stop, you can visit the White House and the Capitol and stroll along the National Mall to see the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. 

But suppose you want to go a bit off the beaten path. In that case, one of the best things to do is visit the International Spy Museum, located in the heart of D.C. This museum is dedicated to the world of espionage and intelligence gathering. Here, you can explore exhibits on the history of spying, learn about famous spies and covert operations, and even try your hand at interactive spy challenges. You can experience what it’s like to be a spy. Try your skills out on a number of activities, such as cracking codes, evading surveillance, and navigating through laser mazes. Marvel at a collection of spy gadgets used throughout history, from concealed cameras and listening devices to hidden weapons and disguise kits. Hear real-life stories of espionage and intrigue from former spies and intelligence officers, providing a fascinating glimpse into the shadowy world of espionage.

Drove view of the historic main street in Fredricksburg, VA.
Photo courtesy of Nils Huenerfuerst from Unsplash

Fredricksburg, VA

Is it worth stopping in Fredricksburg? The answer is absolutely. Fredericksburg, Virginia, has a rich history and several attractions that cater to tourists. Check out Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, where history buffs will enjoy exploring this park, which preserves and interprets four major Civil War battlefields: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House. Visitors can take guided tours, hike the trails, and visit historic landmarks like the Sunken Road and the Chancellorsville Inn. Or stop in the Fredericksburg Historic District, lined with well-preserved 18th and 19th-century buildings, including historic homes, churches, and shops. And finally, visit Kenmore Plantation and Gardens. This historic home was built in the 1770s and was the residence of George Washington’s sister, Betty Washington Lewis, and her husband, Colonel Fielding Lewis. Visitors can tour the beautifully restored mansion and stroll through the gardens.

U.S. Army Women’s Museum, Fort Lee, VA

Visiting the U.S. Army Women’s Museum offers a unique and enlightening experience. Begin your visit by learning about women’s history in the U.S. Army, from the Revolutionary War to the present day. Gain insight into the challenges and triumphs of women who have served their country. Delve into the changing roles of women in the military over time. Learn about their expanding responsibilities, leadership roles, and contributions to various Army branches and operations. Hear the stories of courageous and pioneering women who have broken barriers and achieved remarkable feats in the military. From Medal of Honor recipients to trailblazing generals, their stories inspire and educate. After you visit the museum, take some time to explore Fort Gregg-Adams itself. Walk around the historic military base, visit other notable landmarks, and soak in the atmosphere of this important Army installation.

North Carolina’s Funky Stops

We have some genuinely unique stops as we travel south through North Carolina. The first is the Vollis Simpson’s Whirligig Park, a unique and worthwhile stop as you travel along I-95 in North Carolina. The park’s main attraction is the collection of towering whirligig sculptures created by Vollis Simpson, a local folk artist. These whimsical and colorful kinetic sculptures are made from salvaged materials and depict various subjects, from animals to abstract shapes. Many of the whirligigs are interactive, with moving parts that spin, twirl, and make noise in response to the wind. Visitors can marvel at the intricate craftsmanship and creativity of these unique works of art. The park is especially magical at night when the whirligigs are illuminated with colorful lights, creating a mesmerizing display against the dark sky.

Check out the Ava Gardner Museum in Smithfield, NC. This museum celebrates the life and career of Hollywood actress Ava Gardner, born in North Carolina. Explore exhibits showcasing her personal belongings, movie memorabilia, and more. Who was Ava Gardner?  She was a renowned American actress who rose to fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Gardner starred in numerous successful films, including “Show Boat” (1951), “Mogambo” (1953), and “The Barefoot Contessa” (1954), establishing herself as a leading actress known for her beauty, talent, and charisma. Gardner’s personal life was also the subject of much public interest. She was married three times, most famously to actor Frank Sinatra from 1951 to 1957. Her relationships with other high-profile figures, including Howard Hughes and Artie Shaw, garnered media attention.

Paraclete XP Indoor Skydiving is our final stop in North Carolina; it’s an exhilarating and unique stop along your journey on I-95. Paraclete XP offers the opportunity to experience the thrill of skydiving in a safe and controlled indoor environment. You’ll don a flight suit, helmet, and goggles before entering the vertical wind tunnel with an experienced instructor. Indoor skydiving is suitable for people of all ages and skill levels, from beginners to experienced skydivers. Whether you’re looking for a thrilling adventure or a fun activity for the whole family, Paraclete XP has something for everyone. Even if you’re not flying, Paraclete XP has a designated viewing area where you can watch the action and cheer on your friends and family members as they take flight. Paraclete XP is conveniently located just a short drive off I-95 in Raeford, North Carolina, making it an ideal stop for travelers looking for a unique and memorable experience along their journey.

South Carolina’s Iconic South of the Border

There is no way you can drive I-95 and not see signs for South of the Border! As a kid, as we drove this highway, I wanted nothing more than to go to South of the Border; it was a beacon to me on our drive to Myrtle Beach each year (but we usually got off the highway before we reached it). South of the Border, located just south of the North Carolina-South Carolina border along I-95, is known for its colorful and kitschy atmosphere. Whether it’s tacky or fun depends on your perspective, but it’s worth a stop if you’re looking for a unique roadside attraction experience. 

It is filled with bright neon signs, oversized statues, and themed buildings, giving it a retro, 1950s-style charm. It’s a fun and whimsical place to explore, especially for those who appreciate quirky roadside attractions. The complex offers a variety of attractions and activities, including shops selling souvenirs, fireworks, kitschy merchandise, restaurants, a motel, a campground, and even a miniature golf course. One of the most iconic features of South of the Border is Pedro’s Sombrero Tower, a 200-foot observation tower that offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. It’s a fun photo opportunity and a chance to stretch your legs after a long drive.

Congaree National Park, SC

While not directly off I-95, Congaree National Park is worth the short detour. It’s known for its old-growth hardwood forest, scenic hiking trails, and diverse wildlife, including otters, deer, and birds. Congaree National Park features several hiking trails that wind through the forest, offering opportunities to explore the diverse ecosystems and observe the park’s abundant wildlife. The Boardwalk Loop Trail is popular, providing an easy and accessible way to experience the swampy terrain and towering trees. The park is crisscrossed by waterways, including the Congaree River and Cedar Creek, which offer opportunities for canoeing and kayaking.

If you want some information on the best practices for visiting national parks, check out my post National Park Etiquette — Do’s And Don’t While Visiting.

Horse drawn carriage on the streets of Savannah
Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

Spending an overnight in Savannah offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, beautiful architecture, and vibrant culture. It’s also just beyond the halfway point in your journey, so it’s perfect for an overnight stay.

Stroll through Savannah’s Historic District, known for its cobblestone streets, moss-draped oak trees, and well-preserved 18th and 19th-century buildings. Explore the shops, galleries, and restaurants along River Street, Savannah’s historic waterfront area. Wander through the city’s famous squares, each with its unique charm and history. Some must-see squares include Chippewa Square, Madison Square, and Monterey Square.

Savannah is known for its Southern cuisine and vibrant food scene. Be sure to sample local favorites, such as a classic seafood boil featuring shrimp, crab, sausage, and corn on the cob. Indulge in Southern classics like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and collard greens at one of Savannah’s restaurants. Don’t forget to try Savannah’s famous pralines, homemade ice cream, and other sweet treats. Consider booking a food tour, for more on tours check out Food Tours Are The Best Way To Explore A New City.

One of the most interesting tourist attractions near Savannah is the Wormsloe Historic Site. The highlight of Wormsloe is its stunning entrance, the Avenue of Oaks. This scenic drive features a mile-long tunnel of live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, creating a picturesque and enchanting atmosphere. Within the historic site, you’ll find the remains of Wormsloe Plantation, one of Georgia’s oldest and most significant estates. The tabby ruins, made from oyster shells, lime, sand, and water, offer a glimpse into the area’s colonial past.

Georgia Islands

As you continue south, check out some beautiful islands along the Georgia coast. Just a short drive from Savannah, Tybee Island offers gorgeous beaches, historic sites like the Tybee Island Light Station, and outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, and dolphin watching.

Further south along the coast, Jekyll Island is known for its beautiful beaches, historic district, and outdoor recreational activities. Don’t miss the Jekyll Island Club Historic District, where you can tour historic mansions and learn about the island’s Gilded Age history.

 Adjacent to Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island is another charming coastal destination with picturesque beaches, lighthouses, and historic sites. Explore the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum, visit the ruins of the 17th-century Fort Frederica, or relax on the beach.

St. Augustine, FL

The next stop on our New York to Florida road trip that is worth a stop is St. Augustine, Florida. For me, this was the home of my favorite aunt and one I had visited many times over the years. It is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and charming atmosphere. Explore St. Augustine’s Historic District, the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the United States. Castillo de San Marcos is a historic fortress built by the Spanish in the 17th century that offers guided tours, cannon firings, and stunning views of the waterfront.

Wander along the pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. Don’t miss the Colonial Quarter, where you can learn about the city’s colonial history through living history demonstrations and exhibits. Housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, the Lightner Museum showcases an eclectic collection of art, antiques, and artifacts, including 19th-century decorative arts, stained glass, and sculptures.

You have reached your first Florida beach, so relax and unwind at St. Augustine Beach, where you can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and other beach activities.

One of the most unique attractions in St. Augustine is the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. The museum features interactive exhibits that bring the world of pirates to life, including displays of authentic pirate artifacts, weapons, and treasure. One of the museum’s highlights is the display of genuine pirate treasure, including gold coins, silver bars, and other loot recovered from shipwrecks. The museum offers hands-on activities for visitors of all ages, including opportunities to hoist a pirate flag, try on pirate costumes, and learn about navigation and map-making.

Merritt Island, FL

The Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast offers a fascinating and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Get close to the iconic Space Shuttle Atlantis, displayed in a multi-story exhibit at the visitor complex. Learn about the history of the Space Shuttle program and marvel at the spacecraft that flew 33 missions in space. Explore the Rocket Garden, where you can see historic rockets and capsules from NASA’s early space missions, including Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. A visit to Kennedy Space Center is a great time for kids and grown-ups alike. 

Strap into a simulated space shuttle cockpit and experience the thrill of a shuttle launch with this realistic motion simulator ride. Watch awe-inspiring films on the giant IMAX screen, including documentaries about space exploration and missions to Mars. 

Lifeguard stand along Miami Beach
Photo courtesy of Sebastien Vantroyen from Unsplash

Miami, FL

You have reached your final destination on our New York to Florida road trip, the Sunshine State. Here are a few highlights to check out on your stay. Enjoy the famous white sand beaches and vibrant atmosphere of South Beach. Stroll along Ocean Drive, known for its Art Deco architecture, colorful lifeguard stands, and trendy restaurants and bars. Explore the Art Deco Historic District, home to the world’s most extensive collection of Art Deco architecture. Take a guided walking tour or wander the streets to admire the pastel-colored buildings and intricate designs.

Experience the vibrant culture of Miami’s Cuban community in Little Havana. Explore Calle Ocho (8th Street), sample Cuban coffee and pastries, and watch locals playing dominoes at Maximo Gomez Park.

Take a day trip to Everglades National Park to explore one of the world’s most unique ecosystems. Take an airboat tour, hike nature trails, and spot wildlife like alligators, birds, and turtles.

Or, if you haven’t spent enough time in your car, travel to Key West. There are tons of unique sights and experiences in the Keys.

An Epic Road Trip

The epic journey from New York City to Miami is complete, spanning over 1,200 miles and filled with fascinating sights and experiences. From the historic streets of Philadelphia to the tropical beaches of Miami, this road trip along Interstate 95 has been a whirlwind of discovery, offering a glimpse into the East Coast’s diverse landscapes, cultures, and attractions. What could be a boring highway ride can actually be a fun adventure. 

Each stop along this East Coast road trip has brought its unique flavor to the journey, from the towering skyscrapers of New York City to the tranquil beaches of St. Augustine. Explore the rich history of colonial America in Philadelphia, marvel at the wonders of space exploration at the Kennedy Space Center, and don’t forget the quirky and off-beat attractions, like the world’s largest lightbulb at the Thomas Edison Center or the whimsical whirligig sculptures at Vollis Simpson’s Whirligig Park. Until the next adventure, happy travels!

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

The links above contain product affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. But your support of Fork & Wander is greatly appreciated!

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