With Mother’s Day approaching this Sunday, it’s a perfect time to share highlights from my 2023 mother-daughter road trip from Florida to New Jersey. It’s always a fun-filled adventure when I travel with my daughter A.
Yes, I was sad to be leaving the Sunshine State after my three month snowbird stay but I was glad to have one of my favorite people by my side for the long ride. Our six-day homeward bound drive included stops in St. Augustine, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; and Alexandria, Virginia.
There’s much to share from our travels (with a foodie frenzy too). So let’s hit the road…
First stop historic St. Augustine
We woke early Thursday morning, packed the car and left Bonita Springs heading north. It was clear sailing up route 75 towards St. Augustine. Within five hours our GPS was guiding us through the narrow streets to Casa de Solana Inn. The inn is a quaint bed & breakfast within walking distance to the historic area and the harbor. We had stayed at Solana last year and had a good experience so decided to return. Rooms are reasonably priced and breakfast is complimentary. Parking is included too which is very important when staying downtown.
Wanting to stretch our legs after sitting in a car for so long, we walked around St. George Street where there are many shops and restaurants. It was quite crowded with tourists. From there, we meandered along the cobblestones stopping to admire the old homes and take in the waterfront.
By six we were ready for dinner at Costa Brava. We had eaten there last April and loved our Spanish tapas. This time not so much. The full restaurant was closed leaving only bar service with a much smaller menu. Too tired to go elsewhere, we dined and said we were saddened by the change and hoped to see an improvement in the future.
On the road again. Can’t wait to get to Charleston.
After our morning meal of veggie egg soufflé and fresh biscuits at the Inn, we began our drive to Charleston. As expected there was traffic on route 95. At one point our GPS directed us to route 17 which was equally busy. What should have taken about 4.5 hours turned into 6.
A and I were so fond of Charleston last road trip that we decided to make a two-night stopover again this year.
“Let’s change up the hotel,” said A. “Let’s stay at Hotel Indigo. It’s near King Street where all the action is.” Indigo was an ideal spot for day and evening activities. Our room was small but we were happy with the amenities. The queen-sized post bed was so high I needed wooden steps to get to the top. Each evening before bed I felt like princess and the pea climbing up and then under the covers.
Being a top-notch foodie, I can always count on A to research the best culinary in any destination. Dinner that night was at Bar 167 a sister restaurant to one of our favs Raw 167. A and I couldn’t pass up having one (or for A two) popular bar cocktails. I ordered the Red Gin and Tonic while A preferred the hot and spicy Fire in the Garden.
Our meal that night started with Focaccia and Crudo with Salmon and Dill and a small dish of olives. Plates of Arroz con Negro and Braised Lamb Sandwich followed. I felt the tuna in the Negro would have tasted better if it was more thinly sliced. The lamb was especially tender and was our fav. It was so good, so good, so good.
Exploring Charleston by foot
Our step counters were off the chart after Saturday’s walkathon around downtown Charleston. It was a lovely sunny day.
We stopped at Harken Cafe, a trendy coffee bar, for breakfast. The line was out the door. It’s a cute spot with scrumptious homemade pastries and made-to-order lattes. We sat at an outdoor table to enjoy iced oat milk beverages coupled with sweet potato cocoa bread with cream cheese whip and strawberry purée and a Greek yogurt parfait with granola and sweet potato soufflé. Everything was so good, so good, so good.
Our agenda included touring the pretty downtown campus of College of Charleston; window shopping along King Street; and oohing and awhing over the magnificent historic homes in Charleston Village.
Dinner was at Le Farfelle, one of Charleston’s top Italian restaurants. The room was spacious and our table was in the back. The food – off the charts delish. We shared Octopus Carpaccio and Whipped Ricotta and Baguette for appetizers and ordered two entrees: Grouper with Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Squash Polenta and Cacio e Pepe Pasta.
How good was it? It was so good, so good, so good that while the desserts sounded absolutely amazing, our tummies were full. I definitely recommend staying on the light side for dinner at Le Farfelle and leaving room for a sweet ending.
It took a very long time to get to Alexandria.
Sunday was a major driving day. We knew it would be the longest leg of our road trip. What was expected to be 7 hours turned into 9. It was bumper to bumper on 95 the closer we got to Washington, D.C.
Finally by 7:00 p.m. we arrived at Morrison House. The hotel was in Old Town close to activities. Relegated to a basement room because we arrived late — we were not happy campers. Thankfully there was a cancelation and we were moved to a better room on the 5th floor.
We had chosen Alexandria as our final stop for our road trip because of it’s location on the Potomac River and near D.C. We booked a two night stay so we would have a full day to leisurely enjoy this nationally recognized city. It had been many years since we had visited Old Town and wanted to see the changes as well as the “rich history and beautifully preserved 18th-and 19th-century architecture.”
On Monday, we walked to King Street, the main thorofare with hotels, shops and restaurants. We had breakfast at Foxtrot, a cute bistro and takeout shop. Then we strolled on the Potomac Riverwalk, stopping at the Torpedo Factory Art Center where local artists display their crafts. The parks were lovely with cherry blossom trees scattered throughout. There was a mix of old and new housing — each unique and some with enticing waterfront views.
I can see why Alexandria was voted one of Travel + Leisure’s Best Cities in the U.S. 2022 and a Condé Nast Traveler Top 5 Best Small City in the U.S. 2022. As Visit Alexandria says, “Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle.”
To celebrate A’s birthday week, we had dinner at Ada’s on the River. The b-day menu: Seared Tuna appetizer; Wedge Salad; Giant Crab Cake (it was the largest crab cake I’ve ever eaten); Charred Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese; Coal Roasted Asparagus and Roasted Sweet Potato. It was so good, so good, so good.
For a sweet ending to the evening and to our road trip, we went to Jenni’s ice cream for dessert. Peanut Butter with Chocolate Bits and Berry Bramble were our picks.
If it’s Tuesday, we must be in New Jersey.
By Tuesday afternoon we were back in New Jersey or as I said when I opened my front door, “it’s back to reality babe.” It had been a great ride.
Happy Mother’s Day to all who are moms!