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Mini-visit in January

boston, ma
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Mini-visit in January

This January our family (me, wife, two teenagers and a 4 y.o.) will be driving from Miami to Boston. We are looking for a place to break the routine and stop over for one night. Ideally, we also would like to walk around for a few hours after we wake up, absorb the scenery, have a cup of coffee, etc. Two places that come to mind are Roanoke and Richmond. Richmond is right off Rt. 95 and seems like it has nice downtown area. The other advantage of Richmond is its proximity to Washington - we might just wake up and go to DC. Roanoke, on the other hand, puts us on I-77 and I-81, elongating the trip by an hour or two and possibly improving the scenery (vs. I-95). What should we do? Is Richmond indeed nice? Is 77-81 detour worth the extra time? Should we bypass both places and stop elsewhere, or simply find a motel by the side of the road and drive to DC in the morning?

Thank you...

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Mini-visit in January

I-95 between Richmond and D.C. can be horrible. If you are doing this on a weekday, don't think that you can just get up and skip down the road and be in D.C. in less than 2 hours. With rush-hour, it could take you 3 to 4.

Is your plan to spend time visiting D.C?

Virginia
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2. Re: Mini-visit in January

That's a long ride with all the young people. We used to do a similar but shorter route and stopped once; sometimes a second time if we spent time somewhere along the way admiring the scenery. So I'm thinking you could need two stops...and a third if you spent time along the way in a location.

But you may be on a time schedule.

Let us know and we'll put our thinking caps on about possible stops for you to look into.

Richmond VA USA
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3. Re: Mini-visit in January

This is an extremely long drive for 2 days. I don't see how you will be able to see anything wherever you stop, because you'll get there well after dark, and probably want to leave before daylight.

I don't at all recommend I-77/I-81. It's a brutal drive because of all the tractor-trailers which scare you on the way down hill and slow you down on the way uphill. The scenery is just not worth it.

If you do stop in Richmond, time leaving in the morning so that you will not get to northern VA before 9 AM or you will be stuck in one of the country's worst traffic.

4. Re: Mini-visit in January

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5. Re: Mini-visit in January

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Arlington, Virginia
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6. Re: Mini-visit in January

Mapquest indicates the drive at 1498 miles and 23 hours and 41 minutes of driving, which has you averaging over 60 miles an hour for that time. Given that you're going to be driving 12 hours each day before you even take into account gas, meal breaks, bathroom breaks, etc., you aren't going to have time to stop and see anything, regardless of what route you take. I strongly urge you to break this trip into three days, rather than two, and stop overnight twice.

Now, that said, I for one think the fear of I-81 is overstated. Yes, there are lots of trucks. Yes, they drive fast. Unless you are a nervous driver, you just work with them. The upside of the I-77 to I-81 route is that, if you take I-81 all the way to Scranton and then start heading east, you aviod all the worst of the northeast cooridor traffic between Richmond and NYC. I'd rather deal with fast moving trucks that miles upon miles of breaklights and traffic lights.

Consider stopping for the first night in either Savannah, GA or Charleston, SC. Then head north through the Carolinas and the Shenandoah Valley. If you want a brief break during the day, detour to Luray Caverns in VA (about 15 miles east from the New Market, VA exit on I-81). Stop for the second night somewhere between Hagerstown, MD and Harrisburg, PA. You can spend the morning at either Gettysburg or driving through the PA dutch country. Breaking it up this way gives you about 9 hours of driving on day 1, 9 hours of driving on day 2, and 7-8 hours of driving on day 3.

Washington DC...
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7. Re: Mini-visit in January

I like Warthog's plan.

I too think the trucks on 81 are not necessarily the lesser of the two evils. Other drivers on 95, especially the impatient tail gaiters and reckless lane-changers can rattle your nerves too.

La Plata, Maryland
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8. Re: Mini-visit in January

The "Washington Post" newspaper had a lengthy article, I think in August 2009, about the tractor trailers on I-81 in the Shenandoah Valley and how motorists find this intimidating. Among other things, It said that I-81 has twice the ratio of trucks in its traffic mix, as compared with other interstates.

Virginia
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9. Re: Mini-visit in January

Also the kids. They need lengthier breaks with lots of walking even if you're not spending the night. And when you spend the night somewhere, swimming can be a good night time exercise for them to unwind from being cooped up. And a morning swim to take the edge off a little.

I do see elsewhere you say not to suggest Savannah, NY and Phillie since you'll be visiting them on the way down.

10. Re: Mini-visit in January

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