Q&A: To Miami: the road less travelled

The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered


Q. We have a family holiday booked for Florida. Rather than fly direct to Florida we were thinking of flying to New York and then driving down with a few stops on the way. Do you think this is a good idea and, if so, which places en route would you recommend? Are there any "not to be missed" attractions?

Q. We have a family holiday booked for Florida. Rather than fly direct to Florida we were thinking of flying to New York and then driving down with a few stops on the way. Do you think this is a good idea and, if so, which places en route would you recommend? Are there any "not to be missed" attractions?

Steve Martindale

Ellesmere Port

A. Road trips are definitely the way to see the United States, so yes, do it! The I-95 takes you right down the Atlantic seaboard from New York to Miami, though zig-zagging will be more fun than staying on the Interstate. There are sidetrips all the way, and even the driving will be entertaining as you pass dozens of pop-culture billboards. You don't say what your family's budget, timescale or interests are, but these would be my suggestions.

About two hours' driving south of New York City you come to Philadelphia. This "walkable" city, home to sites such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, is well worth visiting if you're a history buff. Also worth a detour nearby is Pennsylvania Dutch country, further west in Lancaster County, home of the Amish communities.

Moving south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the symbolic divide between north and south, and into Maryland, stop to try out the tasty crabcakes at Chesapeake Bay, or else head straight on for Washington DC.

Washington is certainly a "must"; go to the Capitol building on Capitol Hill where Senators and Representatives meet under the famous dome and visit the White House, which has been home to every US President since 1800. For an alternative view of American political history, take a "Scandal Tour" past Gary Hart's house, the Watergate complex and the places associated with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Then, spend an afternoon in the cobblestone streets, shops and cafés of the city's lively Georgetown area.

South across the Potomac River, in Virgina, is the Arlington National Cemetery. As well as the graves of around 175,000 US soldiers, this contains the eternal flame that burns at the grave of John F Kennedy.

Further into Virginia, a drive through the Smoky Mountains will take you through some of the most stunning scenery in America. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 500 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, from the Shenandoah Valley through to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park of North Carolina. Originally Cherokee country, the Smokies are so called because of their beautiful blue, grey hues and, if you're lucky, you may even see bears from the car (visit www.ncnatural.com/Parkway/ for more information).

For a multicultural hotspot with old-style Southern food, you could detour to Atlanta. Here, the ultimate in US kitsch, the World of Coca-Cola, is an attraction your children would enjoy; more profoundly, the Martin Luther King Memorial attracts a large number of visitors.

Continuing on, in South Carolina Charleston is an aristocratic harbour town where you can take various themed walking tours around its old lanes. If you're a fan of military history, the memorials to the Civil War dead throughout the south are also well worth seeing.

As a last stop on your way to the warmer climes of Florida, Savannah, in Georgia, has more than a thousand historically important buildings, including five forts and some of the best Georgian architecture in the New World. You don't say where you're staying in Florida, but make sure you take in the Everglades and the Art Deco of Miami Beach. And, if you're still in need of ideas, you could try clicking into www.roadsideamerica.com for details on other roadside attractions.

Accommodation should not be too much of a problem: it's usually easy to find good motels en route. Car rental, though, can be a minefield. Most car rental companies require you to have a major credit card, a valid driver's licence and insist that you are at least 25 years old. You also need to make sure you that the insurance meets your needs. The best plan is to book a package that includes all the necessary components of cover, from Collision Damage Waiver to Uninsured Motorist Protection. Decline the pressure that may be applied when you pick up the car to take unnecessary extras or upgrade to a more expensive model.

For an idea of costs, if you were to do the trip as quickly as possible, a mid-range car for three days with Hertz (0870 599 6699; www.hertz.co.uk), picking up at New York's JFK airport and dropping off at Miami airport would cost around £540, including Loss Damage Waiver, tax and liability insurance. Avis (0870 606 0100; www.avis.co.uk) quotes around £700 for the same deal. It is well worth shopping around.

Q. We are a reasonably well-travelled couple, now adapting to family holidays with our two children, aged four and two. Each year we grapple with the challenge of finding reliable winter sun and sandy beaches at a non-package destination within four or five hours flight of a UK airport. In the past we've been happy going to El Cortillo, a tiny village on Fuerteventura, on an ideal 10am flight from Bristol. However, we now feel a change is due. Any ideas?

Charles Tongue

Bristol

A. Destinations that spring to mind are Cyprus, which is credited with having the most reliable sun in the Mediterranean, and the Tunisian island of Djerba. However, my suggestion would be the relaxed, 18th-century fishing port of Essaouira in Morocco. The flight time from London(sorry no direct flights from Bristol) to nearby Casablanca is around three hours and, once in Essaouira, there are sandy beaches, few package tourists, and winter temperatures above 20C.

Essaouira certainly has local colour. Stroll along the ramparts and fortifications protecting the town from the sea and then wander down into the souks where you can bargain for excellent carvings made from the local thuya wood. Savour freshly caught sardines grilled on the town's quay whilst watching boat builders at work or, in the evening, sample spicy Moroccan cuisine in one of the seafront restaurants and look out for the rare Eleonora's Falcon skimming the surface of the sea.

The town's more sheltered southern beach will probably suit your family better than the windy Plage de Safi to the north. The water is shallow and clean but, even in the south, the wind and swell are strong enough to attract windsurfers, and the water won't be warm, so you may prefer to have access to a pool for sunbathing and swimming. And, if you want to roam further afield, excursions are easily made to the fascinating medieval cities of Marrakesh and Fes.

The cheapest scheduled flights from the UK are currently with Royal Air Maroc (020-7439 4361) from London Heathrow via Casablanca to Essaouira (£407 per adult, £282 per child). An alternative would be to fly to Casablanca via Paris on Air France (0845 0845111; www.airfrance.co.uk) but you would then have to make your way by bus to Essaouira.

If you are happy to arrange accommodation before you go, try CLM Morocco (020-7235 2110) or The Best of Morocco (01380 828533; www.morocco-travel.com) for tailor-made packages. For an idea of price, a week at one of Essaouira's three main hotels, the Villa Maroc, the Riad Al Madina or the Palazzo Desdemona, would cost from around £500 per adult, including flights. Tour operators such as Cadogan Travel (www.cadoganholidays.com; 02380 828300) offer ready-made packages to Essaouira. For further information contact the Moroccan Tourist Board (020-7373 4411; www.tourism-in-morocco.com).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London