Drive to Disney: Travel Tips To and From Orlando

Drive to Disney: Travel Tips To and From Orlando

By Giles Kennedy

Family and Travel Columnist


This introductory piece is not only to give you tips on travel as a whole; it is help on your most epic adventure as a family.

Walt Disney World.

Just those three words can scare the most intrepid family traveler. It can be done. It can be extremely enjoyable.

1st things 1st, take your time and soak in the journey.

Stage and prepare your trip to leave early enough to appreciate the trip down and back home.

I am all for not having kids on tech 24/7.

Plan that accordingly as well…..if younger children, have coloring books and reading books handy. If older kids, on top of a drawing pad or travel board game; have graphic novels or books your kids would enjoy.

The best route (believe it or not Google Maps was right for once) I-270 to US 33 South. Take US 33 to Ravenswood, W.VA to I-77 South.

You will encounter the wonderful West Virginia Turnpike. A hidden surprise awaits you in Beckley. Get to that in a few.

Continue on I-77 South through W.VA, VA, N.C. until Columbia, S.C.

Take I-26 East to I-95 South. Take I-95 through SC and GA to I-4 outside of Daytona, FL.

I-4 goes straight to the WDW Resorts area south of Orlando.

As of August 2019, be prepared. Heavy reconstruction of I-4 through Downtown Orlando will cause heavy delays.

Okay, since we covered the prep work and way to get there. Let’s talk about some hidden gems on the way to and from Mouse Land.

West Virginia

Right off the West Virginia Turnpike north of Beckley, W.VA is the Tamarack Visitors Center and Artisan Gallery.

There is a standard travel plaza below the hill it sets on. Starbucks, various other fast food and Exxon Gas is available.

The Tamarack is a well resting treat. On top of music, art, souvenirs and artisans; it features recipes, comfort food and snacks that has been served at the world famous Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.

This again is accessible northbound or southbound off I-77.


North of the North Carolina/Virginia Border in nearby Hillsdale; the Southwest Virginia Farmers Market also serves as the Blue Ridge Plateau Visitors Center.

On top of fresh fruits, veggies and country hams from the region; there are hand crafted goods by the good folks of Carroll County, VA.

Again right off I-77 off US 58; it is a welcome break from the NASCAR like pace on I-77 through the region.

Various places in North and South Carolina to break up the trip as well. Metro Charlotte and Columbia, S.C. is two of my personal favorites.


Everyone thinks of Savannah. No one thinks of the town south of there, Richmond Hill.

This was not only Henry Ford’s Southern Getaway but as part of the Low Country near the Atlantic Ocean; many places are great choices.

A great surprise to our family was Melody’s Coastal Cafe.

This was located off US 17, near GA State Route 144 (access to I-95)

Seasonal fare plus fresh seafood makes up this quirky but family friendly bar and grill. If the Richmond Hill local law enforcement stops there for lunch, why not?

Finally, prior to getting to Jacksonville, Daytona and Orlando…both the Florida and Georgia Welcome Centers near the FL/GA border offer great stopping points.

Again, if you plan right and pace yourself; the Drive to Disney can be a great ride.

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