This week-long Cleveland to Florida road trip will take you from the shores of Lake Erie to the center of American Democracy before finishing with a grand tour of some of the finest East Coast tourist destinations on the map.
A Cleveland to Florida drive is a long one. Driving directly would take more than 15 hours and would span 1,000 miles. But that straight shot isn’t a lot of fun. This Cleveland to Florida road trip, brought to you by the insurance broker and comparison shopping app
, will take longer but provides far more entertainment along the way.
Please note that you should have your car professionally inspected before departing on this epic road trip. You’ll want fresh oil and fluids and tires and brakes inspected. For even more protection, consider protecting yourself from flat tires, dead batteries, fuel emergencies, and more with Jerry’s excellent (and super cheap) roadside assistance!
This Cleveland to Florida road trip is designed for one driver with no more than six hours on the road per day.
There are three great routes from Ohio to Florida, but we chose the route best suited to traveling with kids. If you’d rather drive longer and get to Florida sooner, or if you’ve been to these cities and want an alternative route, we’re including two less-detailed alternative routes.
: A nice downtown hotel with recently renovated rooms, the Hotel Indigo is within driving distance of Cleveland’s major attractions. Progressive Field is within walking distance if you’re catching a game. Cost per night: from $103
($): We don’t usually share restaurants that don’t have websites, but Addy’s is hands-down the best place for breakfast in the downtown Cleveland area. Who doesn’t love a cheap and tasty diner breakfast?
($): This quaint deli is a long walk from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it’s worth it. Get yourself a corned beef and pastrami duplex sandwich to teleport your tastebuds to New York City—without spending Katz Deli prices.
($$): A popular Ohio chain with locations all around Cleveland, the Winking Lizard Galleria offers an impressively well-rounded lunch and dinner menu for the whole family—with lots for vegetarians to enjoy, too. We love the mini burger basket—you can eat it all in one sitting or bring some back to the hotel for a late-night snack.
: There are a few places in America every serious music lover must visit. New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville—and Cleveland’s world-renowned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tickets are free for Cleveland residents and children 5 and under, $20 for kids ages 6 to 12, and $30 if you’re 13+.
: The famous house where A Christmas Story was filmed was later converted into a museum celebrating this cherished holiday film. Come and for a brief exploration of the set, or even book an overnight stay! Before you ask, booking it for Christmas costs nearly $4,000. If that’s out of your price range, just visiting the museum costs $11 per child ages 3 to 12, $14 per senior, and $15 for everyone else.
: With exhibits featuring famous works of art and content dating back thousands of years, the Cleveland Museum of Art should be on the bucket list of every art aficionado. Be sure to pose with Rodin’s “The Thinker” (a cast supervised by Rodin himself), and tour the lush gardens. Best of all, this museum doesn’t charge an entry fee!
: A fun place to take the kids for a preview of what’s to come on the rest of the trip. Each ride costs one ticket, or $2.75, or you can buy 10 tickets for $25 or 25 tickets for $39.50. Mini-golf is separate and costs $5.50 per person.
Let’s get this show on the road! The next stop is Pittsburgh, a city known for its deep roots in the steel industry and the 466 bridges that came out of that knowledge. Pittsburgh is a fun city to visit with friendly people and great food.
As much as we love Pittsburgh, you could skip this city if you want to shave off a day of travel time. The drive from Cleveland to Washington DC will take just under six and a half hours.
To reach Pittsburgh, take Interstate 76 East (the Ohio Turnpike) and continue into Pennsylvania, where it will become the PA Turnpike. Eventually, you’ll take exit 28 to Interstate 79 South, and follow that until you merge onto Interstate 279 South, which takes you into Pittsburgh.
Pro Tip: Traffic in Pittsburgh can get a little bonkers. Be on the lookout for drivers pulling the infamous “Pittsburgh left”—cars that come off exits on the right and then quickly dart over multiple lanes of highway to a nearby exit on the left.
: Showcasing Pittsburgh’s love affair with the early 1900s, the Priory Hotel fills its vintage space with contemporary amenities and fresh decor to create one of the nicest hotels in the area. Cost per night: From $162
(from $165): A high-end luxury hotel, situated inside a pair of beautiful gilded age mansions. The Mansions have frequent musical entertainment, a robust library, and an incredible location close to downtown.
(from $184): Arguably the nicest place to stay in Pittsburgh, the Parador Inn is a locally owned B&B with turn-of-the-century stylings steeped in Caribbean flair. We hope you like dogs because you’ll meet an adorable, friendly pair of them if you’re staying at the Parador Inn!
($$): To visit Pittsburgh and not have a sandwich at one of the city’s numerous Primanti Brothers restaurants would be like not driving over one of the city’s hundreds of bridges. You have to try one while you’re here!
($): A great breakfast spot with locations all around the city, Pamela’s serves up huge crepe-style hotcakes that will leave you utterly stuffed. But be warned: Pamela’s is famous for drawing long lines in the morning at all of their restaurants, and they’re cash-only.
: In the late 1800s, Pittsburgh was home to 17 funicular railways that pulled passengers up and down the mountains surrounding the city. Two of these inclined railways—the Monongahela and the Duquesne—are still fully functional and operational today, hauling tourists and daily commuters. Fares are $2.50 one-way and $3.50 round trip for adults. For kids, fares are $1.25 one-way and $2.50 round trip. Seniors and kids under 6 ride free.
: The Carnegie Museum of Art features works from Rembrandt, Monet, Rodin, and countless other famed artists, in just about every medium you can think of. General admission for adults is $19.95 per ticket while kids ages 3 to 11 get in for $11.95.
: Kennywood features the legendary Jack Rabbit roller coaster and is home to dozens of other thrilling rides with varying intensity levels. Ticket prices vary but are generally around $29.99 to $34.99 per adult and $19.99 per child.
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Washington DC is the nation’s capital city, and it’s very easy to spend a whole week here touring museums and parks.
When leaving Pittsburgh, take Interstate 376 East and watch for signs to Baltimore. Then take exit 85 to merge onto Interstate 76 East. You’ll stay on I-76 East for about 105 miles before taking exit 161 (again, watch for signs to Baltimore) for Interstate 70 East. Near Frederick,
: The Hotel Washington is a famous landmark, having hosted a variety of politicians, dignitaries, celebrities, and more since it first opened in 1917. It’s close to the White House and the National Mall. Cost per night: From $190
: The Hay Adams is unquestionably the finest in DC. This luxurious five-star hotel has spectacular views, including some of the White House, and the nicest rooms you’ll find on the entirety of this Cleveland to Florida road trip. Cost per night: From $383
($): With multiple locations in DC and Philadelphia, District Taco is a quickly-expanding taco joint with excellent tacos. This is one of those chains we can see spreading nationally—and after eating here, you’ll see why.
($$): A chic, upscale restaurant with a well-rounded menu and occasional live music. Their sushi is excellent, and they make a mean steakhouse burger, too. They also have plenty of vegetarian-friendly options too!
Find a Food Truck ($ to $$): DC is absolutely crazy about food trucks. They’re everywhere. You’ll almost always find them on 7th street near the Air and Space Museum and on 14th street near the Washington Monument. Some food trucks are cash-only and some are not.
: If you only have time to do one thing in Washington DC during your Cleveland to Florida road trip, visit the National Mall. From the Lincoln Memorial on the west end to the US Capitol building on the east end, the National Mall is absolutely jam-packed with treasures, including several Smithsonian museums with free admission.
: Whether you’re exploring monuments and memorials or simply looking for that one spot where a scene from your favorite political TV show or spy movie was filmed, the Tidal Basin is another must-see location. If you’re visiting in springtime, the cherry blossom trees are a beautiful sight to behold.
: Come see the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, as well as a 1297 copy of the Magna Carta and so much more. Admission is free, but you’ll need to reserve tickets in advance—which has a $1 reservation fee.
: At one point, you could book tours of the White House. While you can technically still get a tour, it’s wildly difficult and loaded with security protocols. Still, you can see the White House from afar, and it’s definitely worth going slightly out of your way.
: One of the coolest (and in a way, scariest) museums in the world, the International Spy Museum houses incredible historical artifacts and interactive exhibits related to the world of spycraft. Tickets cost $16.95 per kid (ages 7 to 12) and $24.95 per adult (13+).
Pro Tip: For obvious reasons, Washington DC has a lot of security precautions and you won’t get to visit some of its sites, like the White House or Capitol Hill. Guided tours are available, but difficult to get. They mostly need to be set up months in advance, too.
Washington DC to Virginia Beach
209 miles, 3 hours 25 minutes
Next stop: the ocean! Virginia Beach is quite possibly the most underrated of the big vacation spots on the East Coast. It’s lively, but not overcrowded like so many other beaches. There are lots of great places to eat and fun activities to try, and the beaches are clean and well-kept.
As much as we love Virginia Beach, this is another city you might consider skipping if you’re crunched for time. Keep in mind, the drive from Washington DC to Myrtle Beach will take you 7 hours and 20 minutes in normal traffic.
To get to Virginia Beach, leave Washington DC on Interstate 95 South. If you’re skipping Virginia beach, stay on this highway. Otherwise, as you approach Richmond, take exit 84A for Interstate 295 South, and then take exit 28 A for Interstate 64 East. You’ll stay on this for over 80 miles into Virginia Beach.
All of the hotels we’re recommending are on or near the beach, so you can continue by taking exit 284A for Interstate 264 East, also known as the Virginia Beach Expressway, and follow that all the way to the end.
: An affordable hotel where every single room features beautiful views of the ocean. The rooms are also a bit dated, but like the Four Sails Resort, each room is clean, comfortable, and nicely equipped. Cost per night: From $100
: Nicer, more modern rooms, though you’re not guaranteed ocean views here. Their indoor pool is nice, but the gigantic outdoor pool is really where it’s at with a tiki bar and a gentle waterfall you can swim under. They also have a nice little diner onsite. Cost per night: From $101
: Like the Oceanfront Inn, the Coastal Hotel and Suites has ocean views from every room—with balconies, too. The rooms are nicer and more modern, as well. They also have an indoor heated pool and a hot tub, plus a spacious breakfast area. Cost per night: From $125
: You get the predictable quality of the Hampton Inn chain of hotels, with quick and easy access to the beach. The Hampton Inn has a nice indoor pool and updated rooms, with nice balconies overlooking the Atlantic. Cost per night: From $126
Pro Tip: Fighter jets zoom overhead in Virginia Beach constantly. If you’re staying by the beach, keep an eye out when you hear them zipping by. The kids will love it!
($$): Waterman’s has a robust, kid-friendly menu with plenty of options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. But if you like seafood, order the Ultimate Just Seafood dinner. It’s difficult—maybe evenimpossible—to name a better $40 seafood entry in North America. Yes, really!
($$$): Situated at the north end of the boardwalk near 40th, Eat is a trendy dinner spot with a delicious charcuterie and one of our favorite burgers anywhere, the Hasselhoff. This is a half-pound of wagyu beef topped with gooey Gloucestershire cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickle, with a big slathering of truffle mayonnaise on its brioche bun. That. All of that.
: A time-honored tradition for visitors to Virginia Beach, everyone has to get their photo with the almost-intimidating statue of Neptune in Neptune Park. Stop by this ancient sea god as you explore the boardwalk.
: A fun waterpark just a short drive from the beach, with free parking and free sunscreen. Tickets for kids ages 3 to 9 cost $26.99 each, while tickets for adults cost $36.99 each.
Virginia Beach to Myrtle Beach
357 miles, 5 hours 50 minutes
Myrtle Beach is a major vacation hotspot, and on any given day it’s usually more crowded than Virginia Beach. But you just spent six hours getting here or you drove straight from DC for well over seven hours. Either way, you might not be in the mood for beach fun.
Myrtle Beach is a fun town, and it’s easy to spend several days here. With a lively boardwalk, action-packed amusement parks, and tons of mini-golf spots, this tourist-centric town is overloaded with fun.
You’ll be leaving Virginia Beach on Interstate 264 West, then taking US-58 West back to I-95 South. From there, head south on I-95. Take exit 135 then follow US-378 East to the town of Conway, where you’ll hop on US-501 South for Myrtle Beach.
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An important note here: Hotels in Myrtle Beach get very expensive in the summertime. If you’re visiting outside of the typical tourist season, you’ll easily find beachfront hotels for under $100. In the summer, those same rooms go for over $300 to $400 per night!
: Walking around this intentionally vintage motel feels like you’re visiting the set of The Wonder Years, during some episode where the family goes on vacation—and we mean that in the best way possible. This is a very fun, comfy, hip motel! Cost per night: From $180
: Arguably the most modern of the affordable beachfront hotels in Myrtle Beach, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a nicer stay during peak tourism season from under $300. The Beverley Beach House has 25 ocean view rooms, a nice (but small) pool, and a great location. Cost per night: From $237
($$): While the restaurant’s claim to have “the best steaks in the universe” is more than a little outlandish, you certainly won’t complain while devouring their delicious 24-ounce “big daddy” NY Strip. Their hearty pasta buffet is the stuff of legends!
: Billed as an “amusement park for the mind,” Wonderworks welds excitement and learning together in a captivating space with laser tag, “6D” rides, and interactive exhibits. Tickets cost $23.99 per child ages 5 to 12 and $29.99 for everyone 13 to 59.
: The sixth-largest Ferris wheel in North America, this 187-foot ride is hard to miss, and it gives you an amazing view of the ocean and the town itself. Tickets cost $12 per child and $16 per adult.
Pro Tip: If you’ve never had authentic boardwalk fries, this is the perfect town in which to try them.
Myrtle Beach to Savannah
227 miles, 3 hours 45 minutes
Savannah holds the title of America’s most haunted city, and a few minutes after exiting your car, you’ll fully understand why. Creepy vibes will tingle your arm hairs nearly everywhere you go here. If that’s not enough to freak you out, there are plenty of ghost hunting activities that will raise the heart rate of even the most dismissive of skeptics.
You’ll leave Myrtle Beach by taking US-501 North back to Conway and then getting on US-378 West. You’ll then get back on Interstate 95 South, eventually taking exit 5 to merge onto US-17 South, which will take you into downtown Savannah.
: Here’s another haunted establishment. Guests staying at this swanky hotel report doorknobs jiggling, whispers and laughter in their bedrooms while they’re sleeping, and water faucets turning on by themselves. Cost per night: From $149
: The Hamilton-Turner Inn is easily the most elegant hotel in Savannah. It’s one of America’s most haunted hotels, too, with ghosts banging on hotel doors and smoking cigars in the halls, only to disappear into the smoke. Many believe Walt Disney used the Hamilton-Turner Inn as inspiration for “The Haunted Mansion.” Cost per night: From $289
($$): A popular Savannah establishment known for its incredible ice cream and great lunch menu. Leopold’s has been serving up delectable frozen treats since 1919, and you really shouldn’t leave Savannah without trying it. Their banana split deserves awards.
($$): The best southern food you’ll find on this Cleveland to Florida road trip, period! Fried chicken and cornbread dressing are legendary at this Savannah eatery. Anticipate waiting for a table—Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room gets busy fast.
: Savannah’s ghost tours are among the very best in the nation, and Ghost City Tours hosts bone-chilling daytime and nighttime excursions that will leave you sleepless. Each tour has prices that fluctuate by date, but you should expect to spend around $10 to $20 per child and $20 to $40 per adult.
: Looking for something more immersive than a traditional ghost tour? The Savannah Underground uses actors and props to scare the bejeezus out of you. This experience will be too scary for most kids. Tickets cost $30 per person for a show or $60 per person for a show and a trolley ride.
: Explore Savannah on a fun trolley tour visiting over 100 sites around the city. Tickets start at around $40 per person and allow you to hop on and off the trolley all day long.
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Orlando is one of America’s great tourism epicenters, with countless theme parks and other attractions.
Get back on Interstate 95 South when leaving Savannah. This highway would take you all the way to Miami, but take exit 260 C-B-A to merge onto Interstate 4 West, which will take you straight into Orlando.
If you’re heading for Miami, you could skip Orlando entirely. The drive from Savannah to Miami would take 7.5 hours driving down Interstate 95 South.
: One of the finest hotels on this list, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando is a great hotel for families, but an even better one for adults, with a world-class golf course, a great spa, and constant shuttles to Disney attractions. Cost per night: From $361
($): This McDonald’s holds the distinction of being the biggest McDonald’s restaurant on Earth, featuring a massive arcade, a playground, and a hugely expanded menu including everything from pizza to chef-prepared entrees.
($$): This regional chain has restaurants all over Florida, and the ones in Orlando might just be their best. Their Jamaican jerk chicken is top-notch, and they have plenty on the menu for vegetarians, too.
: One of the newest theme parks in Orlando, LEGOLAND is a great all-ages park with thrilling rides and tasty food. Tickets here start at $84.99 per person. Access to their water park or their Peppa Pig theme park costs an extra $25 per person.
: Here’s an Orlando theme park you maybe haven’t heard of. Fun Spot has roller coasters, carnival rides, and go-kart racing that teenagers and adults will adore (and there are lots of activities for smaller kids to love, too!). Tickets start at $48.95 per person.
Pro Tip: Want to visit the beach one more time before you leave Florida, but don’t want to go all the way to Miami? Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach are a relatively short drive from Orlando, and both are incredible places to visit.
Orlando to Miami
235 miles, 3 hours 30 minutes
We’ve reached our last stop on this fun Cleveland to Florida road trip: Miami.
Miami has one of the most famous and recognizable beaches in the world. There is also incredible food, the biggest club scene this side of Vegas, and lots of family fun to be had, too.
Reaching Miami is pretty straightforward. From Orlando, just take the Florida Turnpike south to Fort Pierce/ Port St. Lucie, get back on Interstate 95 South, and follow that straight into Miami!
: A four-star hotel with rooms under $100 (if you book in advance)? Believe it! Blue Moon is a great South Beach area hotel, within walking distance of the sand and offering the nicest rooms on this list. It can be hard to get a reservation, but if you’re booking your stay several months ahead of time, this hidden gem is the place to be in Miami. Cost per night: From $89
: This trendy Marriott in downtown Miami is just minutes from the city’s major attractions and museums. The rooms are colorful and lively, and many of the rooms feature spectacular views of the city. Cost per night: From $160
($$): Quite possibly the most famous restaurant in Miami, Versailles is arguably the best Cuban restaurant in the world (yes, even counting restaurants in Cuba). Try the chicken Versailles! As a heads up, their menu is a little light for vegetarians though.
($$): You won’t find a lot of great pizza places in Miami. Miami pizza isn’t bad, it just isn’t going to knock your socks off. But CRUST is definitely an exception to that rule. Their 12” pizzas are more filling than you’d guess and very, very tasty.
($$): Their tongue-in-cheek name is playful, but their incredible “Viet-Cajun”—Vietnamese dishes with a Cajun twist—menu is all business. Phuc Yea has incredible sushi and crispy pork masitas will inspire a second visit for sure. They don’t accept cash, but that’s okay. Their food is so good you’ll find yourself standing up and shouting … well, let’s just move on.
: The beating heart and soul of Miami isn’t the beach and it isn’t the club scene—it’s Little Havana. This vast neighborhood is bursting at the seams with culture. You’ll find fantastic food, energizing music, fascinating shops, and more. Definitely take some time to walk around this neighborhood for a while.
: It’s one of the world’s most famous and popular beaches. Miami Beach is almost a city unto itself, with one of America’s busiest and nicest boardwalks. South Beach tends to get crowded, but if you’re willing to walk a bit you’ll usually find areas less jam-packed with tourists.
This Cleveland to Florida road trip takes you through some of the best-known vacation spots on the East Coast, but some other routes could meet your needs—especially if you’re looking for the quickest way from Cleveland to Florida.
The quick way from Cleveland to Orlando
The fastest route from Cleveland to Orlando involves 15.5 hours of driving, which you can do in just two or three days.
The two-day option involves driving from Cleveland to Charlotte, North Carolina. This will take about eight hours, not counting stops for gas or food.
The three-day option is a bit easier. You’ll stop overnight in Charleston, West Virginia on night one and then Columbia, South Carolina on night two, arriving in Orlando on night three. You could add Charlotte if you wanted shorter drives.
Pro tip: Planning your own road trip? It’s always a good idea to scope out a few restaurants online before you depart.
The fun landlocked route
A great five-city alternative route that doesn’t go to the coast will have you instead visit:
This is a great route for history buffs and music lovers, with scenic and mountain forest drives along Interstates 71, 65, 24, and 75.
Exploring America’s east coast on a Cleveland to Florida road trip is immensely fun, especially when the kids get to bop from one amazing vacation hotspot to the next. But huge, lengthy road trips like this put a lot of stress on your car—and that stress can lead to an ugly roadside emergency that might just ruin your whole trip.
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