Road trips across the United States – Part 2

Leaving North Carolina via Route 81, we headed south toward Interstate 95, which takes you on a less scenic route through the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and then finally into the Sunshine State of  Florida, which was our ultimate destination.

Leaving Cherokee, North Carolina

Leaving scenic Cherokee, North Carolina

We decided to drive approximately ten hours that day, which included stopping for gas and coffee, and making our last stop in Jacksonville, Florida.

We make it a practice to always call ahead to book Courtyard Marriott from state to state for a lot of  our road trips because they are generally grouped within a complex with other hotel/motels, restaurants and usually close to a strip mall.  This particular Marriott in Jacksonville had a Kohl’s Department Store right behind the hotel, which could come in handy if you’ve forgotten to pack a particular item.

TIP:  It’s important to have trust in your hotel/motel chain  when you decide to take road trips.  You want no surprises when you pull in for the night.  You want safe, clean and comfortable accommodations at a location that you can  jump back on the highway early the next morning.

Back in the car:  time to turn on the audio book, which gets you through the long drive.  For us,  approximately an eight-hour drive to the next stop of Hollywood/Hallandale Beach area of Florida where we intend to meet up with friends and take in a day at the races at Gulfstream Park.

A day at the races, Gulfstream park

Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, Florida

The Hallandale/Hollywood Beach area of Florida has enough entertainment to keep a family busy for as long as you want to stay.  There are restaurants, fine dining, on and off the strip of Hallendale Beach Boulevard and around the casino area of the Hard Rock Resort and Casino, located at One Seminole Drive. Our family favorite is Mortorano’s at the Hard Rock.

Appetizer of mixed greens, ricotta cheese and meatball special at Mortoranos

Appetizer of mixed greens, ricotta cheese and meatball special At Mortorano’s, at the Hard Rock, Hollywood, Florida.

After three days of eating our way through one of our favorite parts of Florida, I get my just dessert at Mateo’s on Hallandale Beach Boulevard .  We are now rested up and ready to continue our road trip in order to scratch one more item off our bucket list:  spending New Year’s Eve in Key West, Florida.

Napolean at Mateo's

Getting my just dessert


More to come in Part 3: Duval Street on New Years Eve, visiting Hemingway’s House, taking in the sites of the Keys.  I’ll also tell you about one very special Marriott Hotel.

Read more at “Road Trips Across the United States, Part 1

Photos: Patricia Florio