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Old 10-20-2019, 09:20 AM   #1
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South Central PA to the Florida Keys Route

So we are taking our new to us DP with Toad to the Keys in a few weeks. We are leaving from the Harrisburg area. We are planning 3 days to get down. We have done this route the past several years and just DESPISE the route that takes us down 15 to I270 around DC. Way too much traffic. I don't really want to traverse the hills of I81 in Virginia either. What other options might I have to get away from the traffic? Also, what are some recommended "rest areas" or pull overs for us to get some sleep on the two nights on the road? We really don't want to stay in campgrounds those 2 nights. Thank you in advance.
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Old 10-20-2019, 10:36 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Desiday View Post
So we are taking our new to us DP with Toad to the Keys in a few weeks. We are leaving from the Harrisburg area. We are planning 3 days to get down. We have done this route the past several years and just DESPISE the route that takes us down 15 to I270 around DC. Way too much traffic. I don't really want to traverse the hills of I81 in Virginia either. What other options might I have to get away from the traffic? Also, what are some recommended "rest areas" or pull overs for us to get some sleep on the two nights on the road? We really don't want to stay in campgrounds those 2 nights. Thank you in advance.


The hills on I81 are really inconsequential. Itís a really good route. There is a good Flying J at Winchester, Va for overnight. Also a great Walmart overnight at Staunton. Va. Turn south on I77 & take a short detour to Mt Airy, NC to the Mayberry Campground. Great stop for a couple of days to explore. The little town has embraced their Mayberry alter ego & a pork chop sandwich at the Snappy Lunch will take you back to the 1950s.

Head down I77 to I26 to I95 and all points south.

Safe travels.
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Old 10-21-2019, 08:14 AM   #3
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I don't have any issues with 81 either.... hills are not extreme
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Old 10-21-2019, 08:24 AM   #4
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I-81 is a pretty flat route...as long as you start out in Harrisburg. Only big grade is north of Harrisburg around Tower City.
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Old 10-21-2019, 10:31 AM   #5
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The hills on I81 are really inconsequential. Itís a really good route. There is a good Flying J at Winchester, Va for overnight. Also a great Walmart overnight at Staunton. Va. Turn south on I77 & take a short detour to Mt Airy, NC to the Mayberry Campground. Great stop for a couple of days to explore. The little town has embraced their Mayberry alter ego & a pork chop sandwich at the Snappy Lunch will take you back to the 1950s.

Head down I77 to I26 to I95 and all points south.

Safe travels.


Great advise, I use that route. Only other option if someone wants to stay along the coast is to turn at Winchester and cut over to Fredericksburg VA and pick up 95 thereby missing DC. I would only do that if storms or bad weather was hitting the western part of VA.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:40 AM   #6
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Take a look at US220 out of Roanoke off I-81. Itís a good 4 lane divided road all the way down to US 52 to pick up I-85 south. Itís not expressway but the route I use. From there you can go through Charlotte to I-77 & I-26 to 95 south. Or you could stay on US 220 & US 52 to 95 at Florence SC. I live about 40 miles east of Charlotte and use a backroad route from home to join 95 at Santee SC as I like to stay off interstates when possible but many times thereís not much choice.
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Old 10-21-2019, 01:12 PM   #7
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With a home in Big Pine Key and a house in western NJ, I do this route a few times a year and I have tried every permutation. My preferred route is as follows (which goes right past Harrisburg):

- I78 to I81
- just into VA, take VA-50 to Paris, VA
- at traffic light, make right onto VA-17
- follow 17 onto and off of I-66 all the way to Opal, VA
- in Opal, follow signs to bear right and go on overpass to stay on 17
- follow 17 to I-95 in Fredericksburg
- stay on 95 to Ft. Pierce, FL
- follow signs for FL Turnpike
- take Turnpike to the end and hop on Rt. 1 through FL City
- take 18 mile stretch (PLEASE move to right in passing sections) to Key Largo

Convenient (not necessarily cheap) fuel stops at Flying J's:
- I81 at first exit in VA
- I95 Ruther Glen, VA
- I95 Latta, SC
- I95 Brunswick, Ga
- I95 Ft. Pierce, FL
- FL Turnpike Snapper Creek (last TP fuel stop)
Fuel stops in Keys are not necessarily convenient for a large RV

Drive safe!
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Old 10-26-2019, 08:32 PM   #8
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81 to Winchester to 66 to 17 brings you out on 95 at Fredericksburg, route is fine we had a DP Use the bypass around Warrenton. We use this route to avoid DC at hi traffic time. 10 miles longer than DC and has some lights. You can use 81 to 77 to 26 to 95. But 81 has a lot of truck traffic and higher elevations thru VA which can freeze in the winter,
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Old 10-30-2019, 06:33 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by RVThere View Post
With a home in Big Pine Key and a house in western NJ, I do this route a few times a year and I have tried every permutation. My preferred route is as follows (which goes right past Harrisburg):

- I78 to I81
- just into VA, take VA-50 to Paris, VA
- at traffic light, make right onto VA-17
- follow 17 onto and off of I-66 all the way to Opal, VA
- in Opal, follow signs to bear right and go on overpass to stay on 17
- follow 17 to I-95 in Fredericksburg
- stay on 95 to Ft. Pierce, FL
- follow signs for FL Turnpike
- take Turnpike to the end and hop on Rt. 1 through FL City
- take 18 mile stretch (PLEASE move to right in passing sections) to Key Largo

Convenient (not necessarily cheap) fuel stops at Flying J's:
- I81 at first exit in VA
- I95 Ruther Glen, VA
- I95 Latta, SC
- I95 Brunswick, Ga
- I95 Ft. Pierce, FL
- FL Turnpike Snapper Creek (last TP fuel stop)
Fuel stops in Keys are not necessarily convenient for a large RV

Drive safe!
Just want to emphasize the FL leg part about taking FL Turnpike at Ft Pierce. WELL WORTH IT! You would like regret being on I95 south of Ft Pierce.
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:34 AM   #10
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Thank you everyone for your input. I for sure am going to use 81. How much longer driving time do you think it is taking 81-77-26 rather than 81-66-17?
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:47 AM   #11
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i live just south of you and we take 15 to 17 in va to 95 to fla.you miss dc completely.
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:56 AM   #12
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Thank you everyone for your input. I for sure am going to use 81. How much longer driving time do you think it is taking 81-77-26 rather than 81-66-17?
It's an option but you'll be back in the hills of western Virginia taking I77. Fancy Gap can be a problem if weather conditions are unfavorable.
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