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Our third and final section of our Road Trip USA Deep South Tour was driving from Atlanta to Miami visiting many amazing places along the way. You can also read about the drive from New Orleans to Atlanta and the drive from Miami to New Orleans.
We completed this section of the journey over 8 days. This was fairly rushed as the route we took included some fabulous places such as Charleston, Savannah and St Augustine. You could easily drive from Atlanta GA to Miami FL in far less time, especially if you didn’t go via South Carolina.
We had a fabulous time along this route. Charleston is one of our favourite places. We would have loved more time in Columbia and Savannah. St Augustine is a great place to explore for the day and we were happy to get back to the heat and sunshine of Southern Florida. Here are the details of our adventure driving from Atlanta to Miami…
This was a relatively boring, easy drive of only 3.25 hours including a stop at Covington, home to the Vampire Diaries.
I am a bit of a Vampire Diaries fan so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to stop in “Mystic Falls”, just outside Atlanta. Unfortunately, we were there on the wrong day for a Vampire Diaries tour, but we had a little wander. You can read more about it in our Atlanta post.
We had to stop for gas, but we didn’t get much as we knew it would be cheaper in South Carolina which is meant to be the cheapest state for gas. We stopped at the state border with North Carolina to get our sign picture and grab some brochures at the visitors center before heading to Columbia’s zoo. Read more about our time in Columbia.
We stayed in the super cheap Motel 6 Columbia – University of South Carolina. Click here for the latest prices.
Driving time: 0.75 hours to Covington then 2.5 hours onto Columbia
On leaving Columbia, we went a bit out of our way to visit Congaree National Park. This made the journey about half an hour longer and meant that we drove over half of it on rural roads rather than the interstate. It was a beautiful drive before the interstate, especially the parts near the national park. There were so many trees! The towns we drove through were more interesting than the interstate too. There were quite a few big southern style houses. The detour was well and truly worth it.
We were surprised when we stopped at a gas station and they had the cricket on complete with an Aussie commentator! That was not what we were expecting on this trip.
We stayed at the North Charleston Inn.
Driving time: 0.5 hours to Congaree then 2 hours to Charleston
We started this drive with a stop at Magnolia Plantation just outside of Charleston. One of the benefits of doing this is that we drove along some gorgeous roads that were much nicer than the interstate – the photo at the top of this post is from this part of the journey.
Near Magnolia Plantation, J had to stop to buy some boiled peanuts which seem popular in these parts. He bough cajun ones and the spiciness make them kind of nice, but they were somehow gross and disgusting at the same time. I ate a couple of handfuls as they were addictive, but then I felt like vomiting for the next hour. Not my thing!
The first half of the drive to Savannah was nice on a local highway. There were lots of trees and little towns. The second half was on the boring interstate. We were disappointed to find only a tiny state sign for Georgia again on a bridge with nowhere to pull over. Directly on the other side of the bridge was Savannah. We stopped here for awhile.
From Savannah, the drive to Jacksonville was easy. I felt like I was going to die for part of it as I badly needed the toilet. Naturally, for the first time on this road trip, there was a long time between exits. We were then so close to the Florida border that I thought I may as well wait for the information center on the other side – borders always seem to have these. Unfortunately the information center had shut 5 minutes before we got there, but I did find a toilet! I took my Florida sign shot too.
We stopped for dinner just after this and then drove the last half hour to our hotel on the south side of Jacksonville. I had read that Jacksonville is one of the biggest cities by area in the US and in the world. I’m not sure how they measure it, but obviously not the same way they measure our home city. I remember seeing a sign 12 miles out of the center of Jacksonville and we couldn’t even see any of the city yet. There definitely isn’t the massive sprawl that exists in Melbourne, Australia.
Our end point was St Augustine, but we decided to overnight in Jacksonville to break up the journey a little and because Jacksonville accommodation is a bargain. We stayed in a much better hotel that usual for a cheaper price than an okay motel in St Augustine. Jacksonville looked pretty all lit up with lights on the way in. It was a shame that we didn’t see anything there.
Accommodation: We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Baymeadows Jacksonville for $59 including tax for a 2 queen bed room and free wifi. It was very nice, a fantastic bargain.
Driving time: 0.5 hours to plantation, 2 hours to Savannah + 2 hours to Jacksonville
This was a very quick and easy drive. It was just thirty minutes from our hotel on the south side of Jacksonville on the interstate to St Augustine. It would be easy to do this as a day trip from Jacksonville.
We stayed at the Days Inn Historic Downtown which is a good budget option in the historic area. Click here for the latest prices.
Driving time: 0.5 hours
This was a boring drive back down on the big Florida interstates. We had planned for an interesting stop on the way – either St Augustine’s Alligator Farm or Melbourne’s Brevard Zoo, but the rain kept us from both of them. Instead we stopped at some shops. J and the kids ate in the car while I looked for Z’s Christmas presents. I had some success. Otherwise, we managed not to stop at all. We were in a rush to get to West Palm Beach to have some downtime.
We stayed at the Springhill Suites by Marriott West Palm Beach which was just fabulous. Click here for the latest prices.
Driving time: 3.5 hours
We stopped on the way at Boca Raton to visit the children’s museum. Then we had a very easy drive on interstates into Miami. In saying that, it was probably our most frustrating drive. We have not hit traffic outside of Atlanta but on this short trip, we hit three different traffic jams thanks to three different car accidents! We were also quite melancholy since we had reached the end of our fabulous Deep South adventure.
For our final night, we stayed at the airport hotel, Days Inn Miami Airport North. You can see the latest prices here.
Driving time: 0.5 hours to Boca Raton, 50 minutes to Miami
We loved driving from Atlanta GA to Miami FL. It was rushed and we were exhausted, but we could not help but want to fill every second with an amazing experience before our road trip ended. It was hard not to feel sad at times as we knew we were on the home stretch, especially once we hit the Atlantic coast.
Where would you stop when driving from Atlanta to Miami?