The legendary road trip from New York to Miami

A road trip is a great way to explore new countries, states, cities and other places you otherwise never would get the opportunity to explore. A dream route is the one along the east coast of the United States. It takes you from the city that never sleeps to Miami and the endless beaches in Florida.

There are a lot of places to discover along the way on the New York to Miami road trip. The itinerary includes the starting point New York, Washington D.C., Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Orlando and finally Miami.

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A. The city that never sleeps, New York

New York is a city everyone could find reasons to visit. The high and mighty skyscrapers, green parks, top class art and much more draw crowds year after year. The possibilities are endless in the city that never sleeps.

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world. From there you have a panoramic view over the Manhattan skyline and it’s a good place to take in the monuments that many of the skyscrapers are. So put on your favorite walking shoes and walk the bridge.

Cross Brooklyn Bridge and start the road trip
Brooklyn Bridge with view over Manhattan.

On Manhattan it’s hard not be be humble when high skyscrapers tower over you. There are skyscrapers from different periods of time. Empire State Building and the Chrysler building are older buildings compared to the much newer One World Trade Center. A good idea is to observe New York City from the bird eye perspective by going up to the top of one of the skyscrapers.

Central Park is an oasis in the middle of the very busy giant of a city. There you find peace even the busiest of days.

Central Park making New York City green
Central Park, the green oasis in New York City.

To say that the art scene in New York is hard to match is not to exaggerate. You have the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and much more.

And if you like food we suggest that you try at least a few of the many great restaurants in the city. Here you find food culture from all over the world and the chefs are always ready to unlock new culinary possibilities. Every time you visit there is something new to try!

After a great time in New York City it’s time to pick up the car and drive the first stretch of the road trip.

B. Say hello to the president in Washington D.C.

  • Driving time: 4.5 h
  • Distance: 227 miles (365 km)

Washington D.C. is the second destination of the New York to Miami itinerary.

The capital of the US is characterized by wide avenues, green parks and impressive white buildings. And of course the most famous of them all is the White House.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is one of the most famous addresses in the world. It’s the place of the primary workplace and official residence of the President of the United States. The White House is a very historic and beautiful building but there is much more, even though maybe not as apparent, to explore nearby.

The National Mall is a landscaped park in the central part of Washington D.C. It’s full of monuments celebrating heroes from the past. The area stretch from Lincoln Memorial in the west to the United States Capitol in the east. In between you find the Washington Monument. And a little bit to the north the White House is located.

The White House captured from the National Mall
The White House beautifully captured from the National Mall.

So there is much to explore and the things to see are positioned compactly, meaning that walking is the best way to explore the area. The park is very elegant and pedestrian friendly. Walk the park and see monuments while doing so. Sightseeing can’t be much more pleasant than here.

The Mall feels like not only the heart of downtown Washington D.C., but also like the heart of America. It’s home to many of the country’s most impressive monuments and memorials. And most of the things to do are free, so it’s even a good place for keeping within your budget.

Read more: An evening walk in Washington, D.C >>

The Washington Monument and the river
The Washington Monument pointing towards the sky.

When you leave the Mall and cross the Potomac River you enter the state of Virginia. There on the other side of the river you find Arlington National Cemetary. It’s the final resting place for more than 400,000 fallen war heroes. In the cemetary you also find the Tomb of the Fallen Soldier and the gravesite of John F. Kennedy.

Another interesting part of the city is Georgetown. It’s the city’s oldest neighborhood. Here you find charming streets with scenic views and fantastic dining.

It’s hard to leave Washington D.C., but afterall a road trip is about contrasts. Next stop is Wilmington in North Carolina.

C. Off the beaten track as you discover Wilmington, North Carolina

  • Driving time: 5.5 h
  • Distance: 364 miles (585 km)

In a way Wilmington is the most interesting stop of the New York to Miami road trip. Of course it doesn’t have the most buzzing nightlife, the best shopping opportunities or the most impressive monuments. But that it isn’t a big tourist destination makes it in a way just more interesting. It’s a bit more unusual, which also brings another kind of excitement. You know that feeling to explore something new.

In truth Wilmington has a lot to offer and should get more attention than it does. However, we are happy to keep this destination somewhat exclusive.

The historic district contains beautiful buildings, from mansions to museums. It spans over more than 200 blocks throughout the heart of Wilmington. The extraordinary houses and tree lined streets are very enjoyable. There is a transparent Southern charm about the city.

In the historic district you find different types of establishments blended into the unique atmosphere. You find apart from residential areas also shops, bars and restaurants.

The best place for a first timer to have dinner could be down at the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk goes along the Cape Fear River. Here you find plenty of dining options and watering holes.

Next stop of the road trip from New York to Miami takes you even deeper into the American South. Now we go from North to South Carolina.

D. Road trip stop in historic Charleston, South Carolina

  • Driving time: 3.5 h
  • Distance: 176 miles (283 km)

When you arrive in Charles Town in South Carolina you are more than halfway to Miami from the starting point of this road trip. And oh, sorry about the name confusion. Of course it should be Charleston and not Charles Town.

But the truth is that back in the days its name was Charles Town. When it was founded in 1670 the name was decided to honor the English king at the time, Charles II.

But today it’s Charleston. And the picturesque city with its beautiful location on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, makes visitors feel like they have come to exactly the right place.

Colorful buildings in Charleston.
Colorful buildings in picturesque Charleston.

Charleston is known for its gracious, well-preserved homes that help tell the story of the city. And it’s year after year mentioned as one of America’s favourite cities.

An exploration of the historic landmarks through the city is very rewarding. These landmarks include the beautiful buldings and streets in the historic district, the huge and more than 400 years old Angel Oak Tree and Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired

The Angel Oak Tree in Charleston
The more than 400 year old Angel Oak Tree in Charleston.

The plantations of South Carolina offer a surreal glimpse of the storied past. Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place, Drayton Hall Plantation and Boone Hall Plantation are located in the Charleston area. Here you can walk the grounds and learn about the history of the plantations which also is an important chapter of the American history.

From one southern city to another. Next up on the itinerary is Savannah.

E. More history and southern charm in Savannah, Georgia

  • Driving time: 2 h
  • Distance: 107 miles (172 km)

Here comes another historic place for you to explore.

Savannah in Georgia was established back in the year 1733 and is located on Savannah River, upriver from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s often named as one of the most picturesque cities in America.

It’s with all right that Savannah has won its reputation as a very beautiful city. The downtown area really is something special. Still, times have not always been so great in Savannah.

The location made the city very important strategically during the American Revolution and the Civil War. During the Civil War the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman entered the city after having burned Atlanta and many other towns down on his march to the Atlantic Ocean.

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Luckily for Savannah and to everybody really, Sherman was too impressed by the city to burn it down. Instead of burning the city of Savannah down Sherman offered it as a Christmas gift to President Abraham Lincoln. That we appreciate very much today.

Todays’ visitors come from near and far to enjoy the beauty of the Savannah Historic District. The architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries is very well accompanied by greenery. The roads and avenues are more often than not lined by characteristic trees.

Probably more than any other tree type the live oak is closely associated with Savannah. The trees planted out in the streets and squares provide necessary shade in the summer and beauty all year round. And of course there are often a lot of Spanish moss growing upon them.

Tree lined street in Savannah so charming that it makes you come back for another trip
The tree lined streets in Savannah are amazing.

Take your time and check out the landmarks that you find on almost every corner. Delve into the museums and monuments or just be amazed by the beauty of the city while you enjoy a refreshing drink.

If but only if you want to leave downtown Savannah while you’re in town you should take the car and drive out to Tybee Island. There you find a great sandy beach.

Read more: Visit Savannah, Georgia’s first city >>

After an amazing time in a very historical part of the US it’s time to continue the road trip further south. Now it’s time to see what the Sunshine State has to offer.

F. Sun and theme parks in Orlando, Florida

  • Driving time: 4.5 h
  • Distance: 281 miles (452 km)

When you arrive to Orlando what you have experienced in Charleston and Savannah meet a real contrast. Orlando is not about history, but more about modern amusement.

Orlando faced a fundamental change in the 1960s when Walt Disney revealed his plans to create a Walt Disney World in Orlando. The location of the city in central Florida was perfect for a huge theme park.

Walt Disney World in Orlando
Disney World in Orlando.

The weather is good for outdoor activities more or less all year round. And the inland location makes it less exposed to hurricanes than coastal regions.

After the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971 more theme parks have arrived. Disney World, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Sea World among others could keep you busy for weeks if not months.

As the city has expanded shopping and dining venues have done the same. You have great shopping and dining opportunities while visiting “O-town”.

What you won’t get in Orlando is beach time. That you will get on your last destination of this road trip, Miami!

Finding a hotel in Orlando

Orlando is known for its great selection of hotels and Lake Buena Vista. International Drive and Kissimmee are all great choices for accommodation.

Select your dates and search for your hotel on the map below, or press search to get all the hotels in Orlando listed.

Booking.com

G. Finish off the road trip with the buzzing Miami

  • Driving time: 3.5 h
  • Distance: 239 miles (384 km)

So you have reached the last stop of the trip. But don’t despair. Miami and its surroundings offers you truly unique places to visit.

This metropolitan area is one of the largest in the US. The warm climate and the buzzing nightlife attract millions of visitors each year.

Top of the list to many visitors is to see Ocean Drive and South Beach.

Road trip to Ocean Drive in Miami
Ocean Drive is a great place for car lovers.

Ocean Drive is probably the most iconic street in Miami. The Art Deco architecture, fancy cars and lined palm trees are closely associated with the city. Here something is always going on.

Next to the iconic street you find South Beach, a great place to get away from the buzz that surrounds Ocean Drive.

Miami Beach, a beautiful place to finish a road trip
Miami Beach, a beautiful place to spend time at the end of the road.

You should also take the opportunity to visit Little Havana. In this neighborhood which is home to many Cuban exiles you can get a taste of Cuba.

And you don’t have to be into art to appreciate a visit to Wynwood. The area contains more street art than you can imagine.

Miami is also a good place for some complementary shopping. Enjoy the exclusive stores or visit one of the many outlets to make some bargains.

From Miami the Everglades is easily accessible. So to mix up city life you can go there and explore some of what nature has to offer. The wetland ecosystem that the Everglades is makes you understand Florida better.

The environment out there in the Everglades is unique. And of course it’s very exciting to see real life alligators in the wild. Isn’t that also a pretty cool end to a legendary road trip?

Continue the road trip all the way down south to Key West

But if you want to extend the road trip we suggest that you continue south and make it all the way down to Key West. Check out the itinerary for the Florida road trip from Orlando to Key West.

Continue reading: The Florida road trip from Orlando to Key West >>

The legendary road trip from Miami to New York FAQ

You find the answers to some frequently asked questions about the New York to Miami road trip below.

How long time do you need to make the New York to Miami road trip?

It’s recommended to have two weeks to fully enjoy the trip. With an estimated driving time of 23.5 h you will drive almost 2 hours a day if you have two weeks to make it. That gives you the time you need to explore the things along the way as you drive and the places where you stop for the night.

Should you make the road trip New York to Miami or Miami to New York?

It doesn’t matter if you decide to drive New York to Miami or if you make the road trip Miami to New York. So you can use this itinerary no matter which direction you go. However, be smart and check prices for borth options. Also, if you start in early summer it could be smart to go from Florida to New York to avoid the sometimes extreme summer heat down in the state of Florida.

How was the estimated driving time calculated?

The estimated driving time was calculated with Google Maps by taking the shortest amount of time from point A to point B and rounding upwards to the next half hour. Stops are not included in the driving time.

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