We just got back from our very first family road trip down the east coast! We have never driven over 4 hours as a family so this was a fun and scary idea. However for a family of 5 to fly from Massachusetts to Florida it can easily cost us over $1250, so when we calculated out the cost of gas one way to be less than $250 we knew we needed to try driving.
Our goal was to see different parts of Florida before deciding if we should move south. We left on a Wednesday at 3 am. Our plan was to drive straight from Massachusetts to Washington D.C. so that Anthony could see The White House, then continue as far as possible. We planned to stay at a hotel somewhere between D.C. and South Carolina and then continue Thursday down to my brother’s in South Carolina. However, it seems that the 3 am hour was an amazingly perfect hour to start our venture because we hit no traffic the entire day!
We passed through Worchester in Massachusetts, New York City, and got into Washington traffic free and were standing in front of The White House by 11 am!
We arrived in D.C. on what seemed to be the hottest day of the summer, so once we saw the White House we jumped back in the van and were out of the city by 1 pm.
I would love to take Anthony down again to see all the other landmarks in Washington D.C. because he loves educational sightseeing, but that will be a mommy and son, one on one trip because the twins don’t have the patience for that type of trip yet.
As we left Washington we were shocked at how great we were doing on time, but we still anticipated staying somewhere along the next 8-hour leg of our trip. We assumed asking our kids to handle a 16-hour drive in one day was asking way too much for their sanity as well as ours. However, I guess all those 24 hours of traveling trips to Brazil have trained them for the long distance sitting because they stayed entertained with the portable DVD player, iPad, and the toys they packed the entire afternoon. Before we knew it, it was 8 pm and we were driving into Charleston, South Carolina! We saved money on a hotel room, and got an extra night to visit with my brother AKA “Uncle”!
We enjoyed 2 nights with Uncle and the beautiful city of Charleston, before heading down to Clearwater, Florida. We knew the Charleston to Clearwater trip would only take about 9 hours so we took our time and stopped in Georgia along the way to stock up on Georgia Peaches of course!
We arrived in Clearwater by dinner time where Grammy and Papa had already arrived via air and our vacation was able to start. Clearwater Florida is a beautiful city, I have never seen a beach so nice in my life! My parents recently inherited a home in Clearwater so we stayed at their place for about 10 days. While there we visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Florida Aquarium, The Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Beach, and Best of all took a cruise on Captain Memo’s Pirate Ship.
After our stay in Clearwater, my husband really wanted to see the Boca Raton area so we packed up and headed back on the road for 5 hours. Once in Boca, we stayed at the Marriott Fairfield Inn. The hotel was beautiful, with great staff, and very clean. I was shocked at how nice it was for the price, plus they offer free breakfast every morning.
While in Boca we ate at Picanha Brazil. The food and drinks where delicious, especially the fried bananas!
Once done in Boca Raton we headed a bit north to the Orlando area. We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton, which was located across the street from Universal Studios Orlando. The hotel had a huge pool that the kids enjoyed and the rooms where clean.
However, I priced Universal tickets at the activities desk and was disappointed that the tickets cost more than they do on Universals website and the desk staff was not very friendly. However, the staff at both the lobby’s Starbuck and the gift shop were fantastic!
Before heading to Orlando I had to promise the hubby I wouldn’t turn this into a Disney World vacation because we were just there in January. I agreed that we couldn’t afford another trip to the happiest place on earth. However being a Disney addict and all, it was really hard being so close to the magic but not visiting. In the end, we arrived at an agreement to visit Downtown Disney one night!
After Orlando and a 3-week trip, we began to head back home. We stopped in South Carolina for lunch, spent the night in North Carolina and continued our trip home as quickly as possible.
We came to the conclusion that I love South Carolina and that is my dream place to live, however, the outskirts of Orlando is a close second. The Hubby loves Boca and Orlando but likes the cost of living in South Carolina. So we decided to stay put one more year, let Anthony finish off elementary school and debate the issue until next year.