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Planning summer getaway routes

Here's advice I've collected from travelers and personal experience on reaching some of the most popular summer vacation destinations for people in the D.C. region. This is about routes, but of course, that's not the only issue drivers face in planning their getaways. Later today, I'll also have some other tips for travelers.

Please chime in with your own suggestions on reaching these destinations.

Northeast Corridor
Classic Route: I-95 to I-295, across the Delaware Memorial Bridge to
the New Jersey Turnpike to northern New Jersey approaches to New York (about 227 miles).

Alternatives: For the many who hate the tolls and congestion, consider
I-95 to I-695 around Baltimore to I-83 to York and Harrisburg, Pa., then I-81 to I-78 to just before Allentown, Pa., then Route 22 to Route 33 to I-80 across the top of New Jersey.

For those who want to vacation while they travel, consider driving about 120 miles from Washington to take the 80-minute ferry ride from Lewes, Del., to Cape May, N.J. Reservations recommended: 800-643-3779 or

Outer Banks
Classic Route: I-95 south to I-295 south to I-64 east to I-664 to I-64 to
Route 168 south to Route 158 south to Kitty Hawk (about 270 miles).

Alternatives: After Fredericksburg, some I-95 drivers pick up Route 17
south at Exit 126 and take it to I-64 in the Hampton Roads area. Others take the I-295 bypass around Richmond into the Petersburg area, then take Exit 50 to Route 460 east into Hampton Roads. Edward F. Geis of Eure, N.C., recommended taking Route 17 south from interstates 64/664 to Route 32 south through Edenton, then taking routes 32/94 across the Albemarle Sound Bridge to Route 64 east to Route 12 and
Route 158 on the Outer Banks.

Skyline Drive
Classic Route: Travel west about 80 miles from Washington on Interstate 66 to Front Royal, exit to Route 340 south and follow signs to Skyline Drive, which rolls south along the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105 miles to Waynesboro, where it connects with the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Alternative: There are three other entrances and exits to Skyline Drive: at Thornton Gape on Route 211, at Swift Run Gap on Route 33 and at Rockfish Gap on Route 250. To reach the Thornton Gap entrance, go west on I-66 to exit 43A, then take Route 29 south to Warrenton, then Route 211.

Deep Creek Lake
Classic route: Interstate 270 to Interstate 70 west to Interstate 68 west to Route 219 south (about 180 miles).

Alternatives: Between Frederick and Route 219, try portions of routes 144 and Alternate 40, which weave along with the interstates.

Eastern Shore
Classic route: Route 50 east to Ocean City (about 150 miles).

Alternative: There really isn't a good highway alternative to The Ocean Gateway. Around Wye Mills, Route 404 branches east from Route 50 and heads for Rehoboth Beach on the Delaware shore, but it's narrow and crowded. A long the Route 50 corridor, there are some short breaks, including Route 18, a scenic byway just east of the Bay Bridge, and Route 662 at Wye Mills.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 27, 2010; 7:20 AM ET
Categories:  Driving , Getaway , holiday travel  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock  
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Next: Braddock Road traffic shift


One thing I would add on the first routing is that depending on where you're going in New York (e.g., Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn) you might be better-served staying on I-78 from Allentown all the way across New Jersey. Get in the express lanes when the road divides. If you follow I-78 the whole way you'll go through the Holland Tunnel, but if you're going to Brooklyn you can exit I-78 at the first exit after the road becomes the NJ Turnpike extension and then follow the signs to NJ-440 over the Bayonne Bridge, which takes you to I-278 on Staten Island.

Speaking of Staten Island, the unused tollbooths for the eastbound Verrazano are FINALLY being demolished 24 years after they instituted one-way tolling.

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 27, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I just looked at a map and the exit mentioned in my last comment is Exit 14A. Follow the signs for the Bayonne Bridge--the interchange itself is one of those screwy New Jersey interchanges where you have to loop around on some local streets. (Seems like the New Jersey way is simply to start with a standard interchange and then just add as many extra ramps as you need going in every which direction.)

Posted by: 1995hoo | May 27, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for diverting people off an interstate (I-66) onto a main commuting artery (exit 43A which is 29S in Gainesville). It's not like that area is congested enough...Just ask the people who venture out that way for concerts or the tens of thousands of people who drive out there. I drive it home from work everyday and it is HELL.

Posted by: mbm2 | May 27, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I simply cannot handle the stress of driving in this area during peak times anymore. It is mentally affecting me. I am tired of the people on the phone not paying attention to the road, allowing miles of road to free up in front of them and a line of traffic back up behind them. I cannot take the backups, the braking, the crawl... I wish there was a way to catch the train to Ocean City this weekend. I'm fine driving at unorthodox hours to avoid the throngs that head everywhere en masse. I am emotionally spent and it's not going to get any better, is it? Why is there only ONE way out to the Eastern Shore? HOW many bridges connect Manhattan, a 26-mile stretch of land, to the island and the mainland. We need more roads: bridges, tunnels, or else it will get much, MUCH WORSE!!!!!

End of rant.

Posted by: sigmagrrl | May 27, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

sigmagrrl - no train to the beach but there is a bus available. DC2NY now offers a beach bus

Posted by: BEACHBUS | May 28, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

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