What's your definition of a beautiful road? Do you want to drive through nature, prefer a road with diverse landscapes, or aim to admire big cities without the crazy traffic?
Whether you're seeking adventure, tranquillity, or exploration, there are many road combinations between Canada and Florida. Here are some itineraries from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale.
If you're not starting from Montreal, many choices are available for crossing the U.S. border, depending on your departure location. Several scenic routes in New Hampshire, including the 93 and 302, offer great options when starting from Quebec's Eastern Townships. Elsewhere in Quebec, there are many other options through New York State, Vermont, or Maine for the first chapter of your road trip.
1. The route of American cities: From Montreal to Fort Lauderdale via the 87 and 95
If you want the most straightforward way, drive through major American cities and track the Atlantic coast. Start by taking the Southbound 15 to the Lacolle border, then follow Highway 87 South, followed by Interstate 95 South.
This itinerary dashes along the East Coast, passing through the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. Keep in mind that traffic can be heavy, especially during rush hours (no surprises here). That ride clocks about 2,600 km in 24 hours of driving, including tolls.
Snowbird tip: Experienced travellers often schedule their route through major American cities at night to steer clear of traffic congestion.
Don't miss the chance to visit these vibrant cities along the way!
Explore the cultural and gastronomic variety of New York and visit iconic sites like Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You probably know the deal: there's much to do in the Five Boroughs.
In Philadelphia, delve into American independence history by exploring must-visit sites such as the Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the Rocky Steps, and the historic neighbourhood of the Old City.
In Baltimore, scour the lively Inner Harbor, the National Museum of American History, and Fort McHenry, an emblem of national pride.
Once you are in Washington, D.C., uncover the capital of the United States with its iconic monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial, the National Air and Space Museum, and significant political institutions like the Capitol and the White House. These cities offer a remarkable and enriching experience.
2. The route to avoid big cities (with tolls)
Here's an option if you prefer to avoid major cities while keeping a good travel pace. Start by taking the Southbound 15 to the Lacolle border, then follow Highway 87 South to Albany. Next, take Interstate 287, followed by the 78, 81, and 95.
One of the highlights of this itinerary is the opportunity to sidestep traffic congestion around Washington D.C. By taking the 495, also known as the famous Beltway, you'll avoid traffic jams in the capital while continuing your journey south. Later, you can explore Savannah in Georgia or St. Augustine in northern Florida.
3. The toll-free route avoiding big cities
If you want to avoid tolls while staying away from major cities, here's an alternative. Start with the Southbound 15 to the Lacolle border, then follow Highway 87 towards Albany, NY. From there, take Interstate 90 towards Interstate 88. Interstate 90 is a toll road, but the part leading to Interstate 88 is toll-free.
However, you'll need to stop at the first toll booth to get a ticket, which you'll hand over to the attendant in the booth further down the road at no additional cost. Continue to Harrisburg and decide if you want to continue on Interstate 81 through the Appalachians or branch off to Interstate 15, then 270, 66, and 495 to join Interstate 95 South along the East Coast to Florida.
4. The most scenic route through nature (via the 81)
If you prefer a more nature-oriented experience far from big cities, Route 81 is the real deal. This route starts at the Canadian-American border, from the Thousand Islands in New York State, and goes all the way to Tennessee.
This rustic road takes you inland, away from metropolitan areas, and lets you join the Blue Ridge Parkway, America's Favourite Drive. This scenic route unfolds over 750 km between Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. You'll be fascinated by spectacular landscapes no matter the season, taking you into the core of the Appalachian Mountains.
Feel free to grab your trekking poles and go hiking outdoors. By taking Route 26 to reach Interstate 95, you can make a delightful stop in Asheville, North Carolina, rated among the most beautiful small American cities. You can also visit the Biltmore, the largest privately owned home in the United States.
5. Coastal route A1A (the serene alternative to I-95 in Florida)
Discover the coastal beauty of Florida by taking State Route A1A, also known as A1A, tracing the Atlantic coastline. This route provides an alternative experience to the very busy I-95 highway.
Just before reaching Jacksonville, don't miss the exit for Amelia Island, where the alluring charm and captivating history of Fernandina Beach, located in North Florida, await you.
The beaches in this region are simply stunning, and you can follow this picturesque route along the coastline until you reach the vibrant Daytona Beach. If you still crave breathtaking beaches, A1A resumes at New Smyrna Beach and guides you to Apollo Beach, nestled within the Canaveral National Seashore. After that, backtrack and rejoin the road at Port Canaveral to explore the famous Cocoa Beach.
This alternative route leads you to the gem of the Keys, Key West. Treat yourself to a road trip along A1A, where every mile promises an exceptional coastal experience.
All roads will bring you closer to the Florida sunshine!
The itinerary for your trip to Florida will depend on your preferences, schedule, and priorities as a traveller. Whether you crave the excitement of bustling cities, the serenity of the countryside, or the thrill of uncovering hidden gems, there's an itinerary perfectly suited to your preferences.
The journey itself is an adventure, an opportunity to discover the diversity of American landscapes, from majestic mountains to sunny beaches punctuated by charming small towns along your route. The United States offers many possibilities for travellers, and every kilometre you cross brings you closer to your ultimate sunny destination: Florida.
So, what's your favourite route to get to Florida?
No matter which alternative you choose, whether it's the route of important cities, the route that avoids metropolises, the toll-free way around major cities, or the picturesque Route 81 through nature, remember to get travel insurance before you depart for the U.S. Contact a soNomad agent to find the best Snowbird travel insurance.