Tips for People Driving from (or through) North Carolina to Disney World
LAST UPDATED: April 2017
This might seem like a very specific topic to cover, but friend of the site Dutch Lombrowskiis driving from New England down to Florida the next couple of weeks and I planned on typing up this information for him anyway. (I have no idea if he actually wants it, but I figured I’d share anyway.)
Coming from Raleigh / Durham, we get on I-95 at Exit 81. Since that’s about 40 minutes from our house we don’t normally need to stop quite yet, but Exit 79 (Benson) does have a top flight, North Carolina BBQ stop—White Swan BBQ—if you’re interested
Here are our other key notes for the drive:
- NC Exit 22 – The only Chick-Fil-A between when we get on I-95 and the end of the state. If we’re getting an “after work” start, then we usually stop here.
Driving through South Carolina always feels like the longest part of the drive. It’s not the prettiest part of highway, there’s not a lot of good places to stop, and it’s only 2 frakin’ lanes!!!. (And, yes, I know South of the Border exists, but, realistically, I’m not stopping there.) Thankfully, gas prices are usually pretty low. We usually find, however, that once you get into the last 30 miles of the state, it’s better to wait to Georgia.
- SC Exit 160A – The only Chick-Fil-A off I-95 in SC (I know, right?). It’s this weird “drive-through only”-type establishment that we usually skip because the whole experience is a pain in the rear.
- SC Exit 157 – This has a Bojangles, but it’s 5 miles off the highway in the wrong direction (when you’re driving South).
- SC Exit 119 – Another “off the highway” Bojangles. This one is 1.3 miles if you take a left off the exit. There’s a Cook Out only .5 miles from the exit, though.
- SC Exit 98 – There’s a Hampton Inn and a Bojangles here. The next place with decent hotels is Savannah, GA (which is 100 miles away.) Make sure you’re not too tired to go that distant.
- SC Exit 57 – Bojangles about a mile, left, off the exit.
- SC Exit 53 – That said, there’s a Holiday Inn Express here in Walterboro that we’ve thought about trying. (It has good reviews, but we’ve also heard horror stories.) We’ve always ended up making it to Savannah, though. (Technically, there’s also a Hampton Inn, but it’s a converted, old motel with all exterior entry rooms.)
Getting across the bridge into Georgia (and it’s 3 lane highway!!) always feels like such a relief. There’s a ton of different exits in Savannah that have hotels, so I won’t go over all of them here. Just know that, if you make it to Savannah, you’re almost always going to be fine finding a place to stay.
- GA Exit 104 – If you made it through South Carolina and want to reward yourself with a Frozen Lemonade, here’s your first Chik-Fil-A.
- GA Exit 38 – This is kind of “stretch” goal if we leave in the evening after work (For example, if we know Carolina is playing Duke in basketball at a 9pm tip-off and we’re going to be up late anyway.) There’s a Hampton Inn here that’s right off the highway.
- GA Exit 3 – Here’s another Chick-Fil-A. (Though we normally wait until we get to Florida to stop.)
Florida! You’ve made it! (Well, almost.) I’m not going to talk about hotel options in Florida, since (if you’re like me) you’ll probably want to just get to Orlando now. If you really can’t go any farther, than St. Augustine has a variety of options.
- FL Exit 363: One of our primary Chick-Fil-A stops. It’s a little off the highway, but your GPS should explain the funky traffic pattern to you. This exit also has a Blaze Pizza if you want to try that before it opens at Disney Springs.
- FL Exit 344: As I said, 363 is our primary Chick-Fil-A stop. At exit 344 we’re getting a little too close to Jacksonville, and we’d rather not risk some kind of traffic occurring when we are really ready for a stop. (Sitting in traffic when you really have to go to the bathroom is the worst.)
- FL Exit 339: Another Chick-Fil-A here, but we never stop.
- FL Exit 268: The Chick-Fil-A opened in Fall 2016, and we’ve actually stopped on the way home from Disney.
- FL Exit 260B: I-4! You’re really almost there! (Probably about an hour, depending on traffic.)
As you can imagine, when we’re that close to Disney World, we don’t usually stop (so, I can’t really make any I-4 recommendations.)
Those are Elyssa’s and my tips for driving from North Carolina to Disney World. If our Chick-Fil-a focused plan doesn’t work for you, check our the I-95 exit guide to try and plan a drive that works for you!