We’ve mapped the ultimate Buffalo to Florida road trip that includes pit stops in Pittsburgh, Charlotte, and Savannah on your way to the sunny beaches of the Sunshine State!
Passing through eight states over 1,000 miles of driving means you might encounter some unexpected bumps in the road (beyond the big "bumps" that are mountains, of course). So before you head out, make sure you have the right
state and still growing, Buffalo has been named America’s Best Designed City. Notable architecture spots include the modern Frank Lloyd Wright estate, the neoclassical Albright-Knox art gallery, and the Guaranty Building, an early skyscraper from 1896.
: Drive north for about 30 minutes to catch the best view of Niagara Falls. You’ll go through Grand Island and then ride the Niagara Scenic Parkway. Cross 1st street to park on Goat Island, where you can see the falls close-up from the Cave of the Winds or Terrapin Point.
($): If you’re departing in the morning (or any time, really), Buffalo is jam-packed with quality coffee shops. Wonder Coffeehouse boasts a wondrous collection of liege waffle combinations, from sweet s’mores to savory Monte Cristos.
: The drive south from New York to Florida is filled with hundreds of acres of protected lands. Drive for 90 minutes to hit your first major one, Allegheny National Forest, which straddles New York and Pennsylvania.
You won’t want to miss the Kinzua Sky Walk to observe the lush forest from 225 feet in the air. Views are especially amazing in autumn!
($): Pittsburgh’s food culture is influenced by the large population of Eastern European immigrants who arrived at the turn of the 20th century. If you haven’t yet tried pierogi, this is your sign. Try these scrumptious potato dumplings stuffed with sauerkraut, cheese, or even blueberries.
For a classic Philly cheesesteak sandwich: Want to opt for some classic American fare? Order from
: Ready to dig deep? The Reed Gold Mine is the site of the first gold found in the United States. Until the California gold rush, North Carolina was the country’s most active mining state. Walk through the tunnels casually or try to strike it rich in a gold panning competition.
: In speaking of money, Charlotte is America’s largest banking hub after NYC. But the Mint Museum has nothing to do with coins––it’s an impressive collection of modern art that prominently features local artists.
: Dunhill Hotel, formerly called Mayhill Manor, was originally half hotel, half apartment complex. Management has worked hard to add modern amenities while preserving its historic charm. Cost per night: from $139
: For a royal stay in the center of Queen City, look no further than the Grand Bohemian Charlotte. Luxurious marble lines the lobby, while the ballrooms are practically exploding with personality. Cost per night: from $259
: Two and a half hours from Charlotte might sound like a long detour, but the Pisgah National Forest is worth the extra time. If you’re looking for more waterfalls, you might need to allow an extra day (or two) because there are tons here! Here are just a few of the better-known ones:
Looking Glass Falls
Moore Cove Falls
Cedar Rock Creek Falls
Itching to camp? Spend a night here under the stars!
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: To see what might have prompted the Union general to spare Savannah, simply take a walk through Forsyth Park and marvel at the city’s natural beauty. Take a selfie in front of Forsyth’s iconic fountain, elegantly framed by gently sloping oaks, or people-watch, keeping an eye out for the regular dog-walkers.
: Walk along the cobblestone waterfront to find the River Street Inn, where the walls are filled with artwork. The hotel is designated a National Historic Place and offers fine dining options. Cost per night: from $172
: Check out Lucky Savannah Vacation Rentals to live more like a local. From studio apartments in the design district to multi-bedroom beach homes, Lucky Savannah’s collection of properties is sure to include something that fits your group’s needs.
For more—stop at the Georgia coastline
The drive from Savannah into Florida is filled with undeveloped coastlands. This means that you can’t always drive right along the water, but there are a few beachside spots you can’t miss.
Tybee Island: Only 20 minutes from Savannah lies Tybee Island, otherwise known as "Savannah’s Beach." Rent a kayak to explore the coastline at your own pace or sign up for a dolphin tour to say hello to some squeaky marine friends!
Jekyll Island: Next up is Jekyll Island, which is wrapped in eight miles of beach. Although most of it is perfect for barefoot walks, you’ll need to watch out for the sharp objects that give Sharktooth Beach its name. Darker teeth have already been fossilized, while white teeth were recently lost.
Boneyard Beach: Finally, cross the Florida border and round out your treasure hunt by visiting Boneyard Beach on Big Talbot Island. It may help to know that the beach harbors massive white-bleached trees rather than human remains!
: For those of you who were captivated (or rather, disturbed) by the Tiger King series, visit The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary to see big cats rescued from exotic animal keepers, along with coatimundis, foxes, and horses. Rated the #1 attraction in Jacksonville, Catty Shack actively promotes public education and efforts to conserve the endangered Florida panther.
St. John’s Town Center: Shoppers, get your bags ready! St. John’s Town Center allows you to peruse almost 200 shops over 1.2 million square feet of space. If shopping doesn’t thrill you, iFly skydiving center is right down the street.
($$): If you’d like a juicy salad or a spread of appetizers, check out European Street Cafe. Their German food is so popular that they’ve expanded to four locations throughout Jacksonville. The Riverside location is a short stroll from a family park along the water.
: You can drive straight to St. Augustine after stopping in Jacksonville— but if you want to stay the night, immerse yourself in Jacksonville’s downtown scene at the Omni Hotel Jacksonville, a modern hotel with river or skyline views. The hotel is a six-minute walk from Jacksonville Landing Shopping Center. Cost per night: from $64
: Stay to the north of the town and take the Bridge of Lions onto Anastasia Island. Here, there’s an Alligator Farm Park and a centuries-old historical site, the Spanish Coquina Quarries, from which material was drawn to build nearby Castillo de San Marcos.
($$): Ready for fresh-catch fish stuffed and served in a pineapple? Try Beachcomber St. Augustine. This casual, family-friendly restaurant is open for all three meals and offers outdoor picnic-style seating.
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