A beautiful photo from Destin, FL

How to Beat the Beach Traffic

Do you travel I-65 through Alabama to reach your beach destination on Saturday? If so, make plans now for a long car ride or make alternative plans. Due to spring break, traffic was bumper-to-bumper for over 100 miles from south of Birmingham to Greenville on a recent Saturday. It’s a common problem from spring break through the Labor Day due to most vacation rentals being Saturday-to-Saturday check-in and check-outs. Some people are reporting a usual 5-hour trip to the beach is taking about 8-hours to complete. Possible solutions? 

  • Can you travel on Friday and stay at a hotel close to the beach? This may not be feasible for everyone, but travelers on TripAdvisor have recommended staying at a hotel on Friday night closer to the beach. Here’s one suggestion – the Hampton Inn in Niceville – gets good ratings on TripAdvisor. A check of rates shows Friday night, April 13, available for $149 for two queens. If you stay close by, you can start your Saturday morning by traveling into town as early as possible. You can then go buy your beach rafts, enjoy lunch at a favorite restaurant, and pick up your beach groceries. Another suggestion is to pre-pack a picnic and be beach ready, then, head to Henderson State Park until your vacation rental in Destin, FL is available.
  • Are you traveling over the Mid-Bay Bridge? The bridge will be backed up with travelers paying their tolls throughout the high season. A sunpass will help, once you get near the front of the line. The far left lane is for sunpass holders only so you just cruise through, no stopping. Purchase your sunpass here. 

Destin travelers are also going to encounter some local traffic congestion due to construction on Highway 98.

The Florida Department of Transportation’s U.S. Highway 98 widening project is underway — featuring an array of barricades and traffic cones near Henderson Beach Drive. FDOT spokesman Ian Satter said although the construction might slow traffic, the project will eventually benefit drivers by increasing parts of the highway from four to six lanes.

Rainer said other than encouraging drivers to park their cars and walk, there are no solutions to solve the highway’s congestion — particularly on Saturdays, when most visitors are either checking in or checking out of their accommodations.

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