If I remember correctly it's a fairly straight shot, but be very careful. You will go thru some small towns that are notorious for speed traps. Be ready to slow to about 35 in those areas.
I assume you're trying to get from I-95 north of Jacksonville to I-75 south of Tampa? By far the fastest route is I-95 south to Daytona, I-4 west to Tampa, and then I-75 south. You can avoid downtown Jacksonville by taking I-295 which loops around the west side and rejoins I-95 south of town. Similarly, you can avoid downtown Orlando by taking the 417 (toll road) which loops around the east side and rejoins I-4 southwest of town.
If you choose to go the Gainesville route, take I-295 to I-10 west to US 301 south to SR 24 west. As kris48 says, there are two rather notorious speed traps on US 301, Lawtey and Waldo, so pay very close attention to your speed in those areas. Otherwise, it's a pretty straight shot to Gainesville without too many traffic lights. Gainesville itself, however, is a different story. If you follow SR 24, it will take you right through downtown, past the University of Florida campus, and out a very busy Archer Road to I-75. You can, however, avoid most of the traffic and lights in Gainesville. When you hit E. University Ave, SR 24 would have you take a right toward downtown and UF. Instead, continue straight on route 331 (known locally as SE 11th St / Williston Rd) which will take you to I-75 south of town and bypass most of the traffic and lights.
Thanks so much for your response. Given your description of Gainesville and the fact that we can avoid Orlando, maybe we'll go back to the original plan of doing the I-4, but will take the toll road. Thanks again, it is much appreciated.
The other option is to take 301 all the way to just north of Ocala, and cut over to I-75 on SR 326...
I like that option, deej696. Is it fairly straightforward near Ocala before the road meets up with 75? I once took what appeared to be a straight highway in Georgia, and ended up in all sorts of towns where the road turned, and then, of course, we missed one turn and took 2 hours to find our way back!!
Thanks for your help, it is much apreciated.
And it is a better route unless you can be absolutely sure you will avoid going through the Orlando area on I-4 during rush hour. And then too, you can never tell if there will be a foul-up on I-4 which seems to have more than on I-75.Edited: 8:46 pm, March 28, 2010
Terrific. Thanks so much. It is definitely the route that we shall take. Thanks again.
Thanks so much for the directions. I took the route, as described, past Citra and out to 75. I really enjoyed seeing the little towns along the way. Thanks again- we'll definitely do the same route on the way home.
Thanks for posting what you thought of the route. And I suppose you avoided getting any tickets?