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South USA tips welcome

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by laser8, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. laser8

    laser8 Mu-43 Veteran

    403
    Jan 29, 2013
    Mare nostrum, Istria
    Hi,I'm planning a two week trip from Miami to Houston, with my wife and daughter. I was planning to rent a car and drive few hours every day. Except for those two cities, I was planning to stop maybe somewhere in the everglades, Orlando to see Mickey and co., maybe Daytona, and out of Florida in Mobile and New Orleans. Any tip on what should be added to the list, or avoided? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    The Florida Keys are nice, if you don't mind going out of the way a bit.

    Barry
     
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  3. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    621
    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    Things are pretty far apart along the route between Miami and Houston after you get out of South Florida.

    The Florida Keys are nice, but totally out of your way. It's about 4 hours from Miami to Key West, though you could do a short trip to the upper keys (Key Largo, Islamorada, ...) in 2 hours or so.

    There are two major routes from Miami to Houston. One is to take Alligator Alley (I75) from the Ft. Lauderdale area west to Naples and then up to I10 around Lake City. The other is to take the Florida Turnpike from the Ft Lauderdale area through Orlando and on until it merges with I75. You can take the Alligator Alley route and then cut back to Orlando on from Tampa.

    There's a lot to see in the Naples, Ft Myers, Tampa, St. Pete area and of course the Mouse reigns in Orlando. There's not much to see between Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando on the Turnpike route. You could take US1/I95 up the east coast to Daytona or Cape Canaveral and then cut west to Orlando. Which every mixed route you take the frequent "things to see" pretty much ends north of Orlando. From there to the I75/I10 junction there isn't much. I10 west to Houston is a long drive which only widely spaced points of interest. Without diverting off the road to get to the Gulf Coast, there is nothing in particular until you get to Mobile. After that, it's on to Baton Rouge, if you take the I12 "shortcut" or New Orleans if you stay on I10. After Baton Rouge there is little until you get to Houston.

    If you are into bridges, consider doing the Miami - Alligator Alley - Tampa - Mobile - route and then, when you get to Lousiana, initially take the I12 branch toward Baton Rouge but turn off to take the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to New Orleans and then I10 to Baton Rouge an on to Houston. You cross 5 of the 10 longest bridges in the US that way. Add a trip through the FL Keys past Marathon and over the Seven Mile Bridge and back and you'll make it 6 of the 10. Whatever route you take, DON'T LEAVE Baton Rouge without a reasonably full tank of gas (there's almost no gas between BR and Lafayette) nor should you take Alligator Alley out of Ft. Lauderdale without being prepared to make it to Naples without stopping for gas (there's only one fuel stop on the route).

    I usually drive from Key West to Houston taking the Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando route along the Turnpike. The drive takes around 24-26 hours of drive time, which I do in 2 or 2-1/2 days without any site seeing stops.
     
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  4. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    New Orleans is worth a stop and so is Baton Rouge. Dwig is right about the fuel, however. Gas up whenever you can. Texas has a lot of empty space.
     
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  5. laser8

    laser8 Mu-43 Veteran

    403
    Jan 29, 2013
    Mare nostrum, Istria
    Thanks! Now that I'm starting to explore a bit, maybe I'll drop the Orlando-Mobile leg for a detour to Nashville and Memphis and then down to New Orleans... Work in progress...
     
  6. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    A detour to Tennessee is a huge chunk of driving. You are talking 9-10 hours of straight driving, one way.

    If it was me I would stick to the Gulf. The Florida Gulf coast is very nice - Bradenton, Clearwater, Port St. Joe, then you have Mobile, Biloxi, Gulfport, NO. I would think that there would be a great deal of scenery to see and snap.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
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  7. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    You mentioned Daytona. I honestly do not feel that is worth a special trip out of your way. It's famous because of Nascar and former spring break party town. But it's not really a sightseeing town, IMO.

    I agree with those that said sticking to the gulf will leave you with plenty of adventure and hit many of the best sites. New Orleans French Quarter is a must, IMO.

    If your location is correct and you are from Europe, you may be a bit surprised with how large the U.S.A. is. Be sure to time the drives using google maps. Something that looks pretty close on the map could be 8 hour drive! Driving from Miami to Nashville is about the same as driving from Madrid to Paris.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
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  8. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    If you go to TN consider following the Natchez Trace down to New Orleans and visiting some of the Civil War sites and historic & antebellum houses.
     
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  9. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Oh yeah, and there are the Smokey Mountains in TN. Avoid staying in Gatlinburg, towns like Townsend are quiet.
     
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  10. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    23014110354_c2262fdc2e_b.

    The Smokies, just a few minutes from Townsend.
     
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  11. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
  12. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    I'd have to agree with others. I've spent a good amount of time in the Daytona area and I wouldn't say it's a destination for photography. Certainly there are opportunities, but maybe not anything worth driving out of your way for. Miami beach on the other hand has nice architecture and beach front filled with beautiful people..though I haven't been there in ages. Are you flying between cities? IF so most of these recommendations are crazy. Miami is a long drive to another state.
     
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  13. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Okefenokee Swamp is sort of on the way to TN.

    Barry
     
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  14. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    And there's lots to see in Atlanta.
     
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  15. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    There is indeed. My family lives in Buckhead, a section of Atlanta, so I visit often.

    Thinking about this trip, if I were to plan it this would be my route: Miami, after a day or so, to the Keys and the Everglades. Mickey if that is a must. Atlanta for a couple of days. Back roads, not 75, to Townsend for a couple of nights in the Smokies. 40 to Nashville for a night. 40 to Memphis, but stay safe, for a night. Natchez trace for a couple of nights down to New Orleans and Baton Rouge. I would skip Houston.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
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  16. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Oh, and Cape Canaveral if there is a rocket launch when you will be in Florida.
     
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  17. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Does NASA still do launches?
     
  18. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    The military does; but it is mainly private ventures now.
     
  19. chipshot713

    chipshot713 Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 24, 2012
    Pearland, Texas
    Kelly
    @laser8@laser8 regardless of some of the comments in this thread there are plenty of sights to see and places to visit in the Houston area that I'm sure you will find interesting. As a side note it was 80 degrees F in Houston today. No snow , no ice and no overcoats. Enjoy your visit to the South whichever route you choose to take . :2thumbs:
     
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  20. laser8

    laser8 Mu-43 Veteran

    403
    Jan 29, 2013
    Mare nostrum, Istria
    Thanks all! I looked a bit at the distances, and although doable, I think I'll skip the northern route and stick to the Gulf - less driving less stress. I think Mickey will have to be done, maybe I'll be able to trade it for NASA but my daughter being six years old, not sure. Speaking of Texas, I've been there once when I was working in the oil shipping industry and look forward to spending a few "normal" days there, I liked the people.

    One question: is it a big difference in driving on the highways compared to the normal roads? Don't know about the US but here over the pond, they all look the same and you can't see much from them, or stop when you see something interesting. Asking since I'll be doing the shorter route, and do not need to be extra fast.