FLORIDA road trip!

road trip to FLORIDA - this is Miami from the terrace at Fountaine Bleu

During our kids Spring Break from school we decided to take a road trip down to Florida! We checked on flights and this year they just seemed so CRAZY that we decided to forgo the plane and DRIVE. Considering we are pretty good at the road trip thing by now we thought we had it down, but somehow there are always new things that POP up! So here is our trip from Rhode Island to Florida, I hope that this helps you plan YOUR trip better or sparks some ideas on places to go.. and at the VERY least it will help you to spark an idea for your family to take a ROAD TRIP somewhere!

this has to be one of the weirdest things we saw... piggybacked Mack truck cabs

DAY ONE: RI to NY to Richmond, VA
DAY TWO: Richmond, VA to Savannah, GA to Vero Beach, FL (hotel: Costa d'Este)
DAY SIX - DAY EIGHT: Vero Beach, FL to Miami Beach, FL (hotel: Fontainebleau)
DAY NINE: Miami Beach, FL to Somewhere in GA!?
DAY TEN: GA to Washington D.C.
DAY ELEVEN: Washington D.C. to NYC to RI

bridge on the way out of Savannah, GA

So that was the itinerary and what we planned and did NOT plan for... Start on Friday by taking the kids out of school two hours early on the Friday before Spring break so that we could get to NYC and have an early dinner with friends and then drive on a bit through to Virginia, my husband has done this trip a few times before to go to ART Miami so he was clued into the fact that you need to get though Virginia  in NONtraffic hours to get yourself anywhere. So we kind of screwed ALL that up by leaving RI at 3pm which brought us into NYC at rush hour on a FRIDay NOT a good idea... At any rate we were there for dinner with friends at our favorite place for the moment, The Standard Grille and it's conveniently located on the West Side Highway which makes things easier. We ended up having too much fun and left at 10pm... so we were on the road until 2am to make it to Richmond, VA.. at which point we could just pull over and stay in a Holiday Inn (which my son fell in love with and always wanted to stay at a Holiday Inn.. "the best hotels EVER" in his opinion.. yes, we have different opinions of the BEST HOTEL EVER!). The next day we drove to Just outside Savannah GA, we had the idea to spend the morning there and then drive all afternoon into Florida. We didn't have any of our hotels booked for the road portion of the trip, but just pulled over wherever we could, it was slightly risky as it was Spring Break and everyone else was doing the same trip that we were, but whenever we figure out where we were going to stay for the night, I went online and booked a hotel through hotels.com from my phone (we learned this trick the first night from someone else who was arriving late - thanks for the tip, guy!).

the main plaza with cafe's and shops

local rif raf.. (no.. that's my husband!)

local health food store (there is no Whole Foods) + local organic coffee shop
best looking vespa shop I've ever seen!

one of my favorite buildings... the whole town is built on many squares, you always have outdoor green space in this Savannah!

Savannah, GA - I LOVED this place... I seriously think I could live there... it was beautiful on the eyes, and it felt like it had a 'heart' as well. We went on a horse drawn tour so we got the scoop and she told us lots of interesting stories about the history of Savannah, along with some of their famous ghost stories (much of Savannah is built on grave yards so... of COURSE there are a few irritated ghosts around, but most of them are nice!). There is a very well placed Art school called SCAD which brings in a good amount of interesting young people. The food is great with lots of cafe's and intriguing restaurants. We sat in the Square and had lunch and let the kids run around a bit and scoot on their scooters.

On our way down to Vero Beach, Florida I found a terrific website that helped us find interesting places to eat along the I95... This is one of the main problems of taking a road trip, bad food along the way... BUT the "I-95 Gourmet" came to the rescue! I came upon it entirely by accident while trying to find traffic reports. We used it to find all of our meals for the entire road trip! Each restaurant has to be just about a mile or less off the I-95. Our first stop was in Titusville, FL a place called "Dixie Crossroads" (exit 220 in Florida) super cute for kids and nice quality food for everyone. Their specialty was Rock Shrimp but all kinds of seafood was available. They have a fish pond and give out fish food for kids to feed the fish... cute!

beautiful entrance to Costa d'Este in Vero Beach, FL

reception and restaurant

pool area and just beyond is the Ocean! (nearby on the left is a bar and place to eat)

the sleepy town of Vero Beach!

By nightfall we made it to our destination at Costa d'Este in Vero Beach (Sander did say that THIS was really the BEST hotel EVER!) :). As usual, and if you frequent my blog you will know that we usually stay part of our vacation at a place that I choose and then part at a place my husband chooses, I wish we had the same holiday in mind when we go places but we rarely do! Vero Beach was MY choice in the this case, I had heard of this hotel somehow and I don't really remember but a year ago I heard about it, this place is owned by none other than Gloria Estefan... funny right, well she did a fantastic job! We walked in and the place was wafting with incense and I KNEW I was in the right place! The staff was very pleasant and nice, but kept their distance enough to just enjoy the place. Unlike my husband I like to stay in small quiet places, I like our kids to find friends while we are staying at a place and it usually works out that way... and I like things to be tuned down, easy and extremely comfortable! They had a beautiful Spa on location and the food was mostly local if not organic... this place was a REAL treat and I felt like we found a nice comfortable gem. We really never had to leave the place and I LOVE that! Most of the people staying at the place were local or not from far away. I would also like to add that I like small hotels because I feel like our kids can have a bit of autonomy and I don't have to hover all over them. At Costa d'Este they were able to go to the beach or pool as both were easy and very few people. I don't want to go overboard here but the fixtures in each of the rooms was amazing quality... solid wood, not cheap veneers and beautiful bathrooms... it was really extremely comfortable!

winding through the hallways... Where do we check IN!?

complex from the outside! Fontainebleau

After two days we got back into the car and drove down to Miami Beach, I've never been there so it was a REAL experience for me, but it IS beautiful! We stayed at the Fontainebleau - right on the strip with all the other Miami Beach hotels... VERY different from our earlier stay in Vero Beach. This place took a big hotel to NEW heights... this is SUPER BIG... if you forgot something in your room you can say goodbye to your family for about an hour, while you go back up, through the complex and then back down again... It's not better or worse, it's just different! We had a great time here as well but we found it was more interesting to leave our hotel and eat outside, and our place of choice each day... YARDBIRD

Yardbirds! our favorite place in Miami Beach!!

BEST deviled eggs! (those are two sunburned, FULL cheeks with eggs!) and a home made watermelon/lemonade!
This is the REAL specialty at Yardbirds, fried chicken biscuits! - YUM! (they have fantastic Bourbon drinks for adults as well!)
interior... so FANTASTIC!

LOOK for this!!
Because you have to walk off all of the calories you have just consumed.... albeit happily consumed... you did consume them non-the-less! Now you need a WALK, just a few steps away is the beautiful Lincoln Road - we spent hours walking around and looking at people, cafes, shops, etc... and the Architecture.. so nice!

open fountains and parks!

Herzog and de Meuron parking garage

more great architecture!

our favorite book store! Books & Books!
After two - three days in Miami Beach I was done... and it was time to return home. The kids had a blast, we felt some sunshine on our cheeks and we had a great time. We felt as though it was good for the kids to know how long it took to drive across (North and South at least) the United States and I'm not sure that they really understood that part of the trip but I did feel it was nice to travel together as a family, spend an extremely long time in a car together and still get along with each other, and we did it! We had a really great trip, I would suggest it any day to a family! GO on.. and get on the road!

we stopped in North Carolina (at a place suggested by the -95 gourmet) and found a street fair going on so we joined in for a dance and a bite to eat... !! so much FUN!

On our way back we used the I-95 gourmet and it was extremely helpful, we NEVER ate fast food on the entire trip! We spent approx. $200 on gas and about $250 on hotels on the way down... not bad...

On the return trip we decided to stay in Washington D.C., we stayed at the newly renovated Madison Hotel and it was posh and perfect! They have a new restaurant in the hotel and we just cozy-ed down and stayed at the hotel, got up in the morning and went to the National Geographic Museum, took a road tour of the city, said HELLO to the Obama's! :) and then back on the road again... home to Rhode Island!

I-95 Gourmet
Costa d'Este - Vero Beach, Florida
Fontainebleau - Miami, Florida
Yardbird, Miami Beach, FL
The Madison Hotel, Washington, DC