Florida is a top car destination for 4th of July. Here’s when (and when not) to drive

AAA projects Independence Day travelers will set new records both nationwide and in Florida.

More than 70.9 million people around the U.S. are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home, with nearly 4.5 million of those travelers hailing from Florida.

“The summer travel season is off to a hot start and we expect to set new travel records on the road and in the sky during the week of Independence Day,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group, in a statement. “There will be 3.5 million more travelers than last year.  That means even more people at airports and popular attractions like beaches, lakes, and theme parks.”

What day is July 4th, 2024? Is it a federal holiday?

The July 4 holiday is on a Thursday this year. It is one of the 11 federal holidays in the U.S.

See all federal holidays:

  • New Year’s Day - Jan. 1

  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday - 3rd Monday in January

  • Washington’s Birthday - 3rd Monday in February

  • Memorial Day - last Monday in May

  • Juneteenth National Independence Day - June 19

  • Independence Day - July 4

  • Labor Day - 1st Monday in September

  • Indigenous People's Day - 2nd Monday in October

  • Veterans’ Day - Nov. 11

  • Thanksgiving Day - 4th Thursday in November

  • Christmas Day - Dec. 25

Which mode of travel is more popular for Fourth of July travelers?

Cars in traffic.
Cars in traffic.

AAA projects a record-breaking 60.6 million people will travel by car over Independence Day week, seeing 2.8 million travelers more compared to last year. According to AAA partner and rental car company Hertz, cities like Dallas, Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco are showing the highest rental car demand.

Meanwhile in Florida, road travel will set a record for the second year in a row with more than 3.9 million Floridians expected to take a road trip. AAA shared that's 183,000 more than last year.

“Road travelers should prepare for congestion in the afternoon and evening hours, particularly near larger metro areas, theme parks and popular attractions,” Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA, said. “With so many people on the road it’s important to be patient, minimize distractions while driving, and move over for people on the roadside.

What will gas prices look like around July 4th for Florida drivers?

AAA reported gas prices recently sank to multi-month lows, but rebounded in the past couple of days.

On Wednesday, June 19, Florida drivers paid an average price of $3.32 per gallon on gasoline. That's more than what holiday travelers paid last Independence Day, when the state average was $3.26 per gallon.

The auto club said it expected prices to remain volatile through the rest of summer travel season.

Is July 4th week busy for airports? AAA says yes

An estimated 5.74 million people will fly to their Independence Day destination, a 7% increase from 2023 and a 12% increase from 2019. With the possibility of congested airports, AAA recommended arriving two hours early for flights and bringing carry-on luggage instead of checked-in bags.

Airfare is 2% cheaper this Independence Day week compared to last year, with the average price for a domestic roundtrip ticket is $800.

As for other modes of transportation, AAA predicts nearly five million people are expected to travel by buses, cruises, and train.

When are the best and worst times to travel on Fourth of July Holiday?

For those planning a road trip for Independence Day weekend, transportation data and insights provider INRIX offers the best times to get on the road.

They recommended drivers hit the road in the morning, adding that travelers returning on Monday, July 8th should avoid rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon.

“Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on Wednesday, July 3rd, as they leave town, and Sunday, July 7th, as they return,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said. “Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal. Travelers should monitor 511 services, local news stations, and traffic apps for up-to-the-minute road conditions.”

What are the busiest travel days around Fourth of July?

Monday, July 1

  • Minimal travel expected

Tuesday, July 2

  • Best times: After 7 p.m.

  • Worst Times: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, July 3

  • Best times: Before Noon

  • Worst Times: 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 4

  • Best times: Before Noon

  • Worst Times: 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Friday, July 5

  • Best times: Before 10 a.m.

  • Worst Times: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Saturday, July 6

  • Best times: Before 10 a.m.

  • Worst Times: 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 7

  • Best times: Before 11 a.m.

  • Worst Times: 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Monday, July 8

  • Best times: After 7 p.m.

  • Worst Times: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Floridians beware: Other states are heading to these three Florida cities to vacation

1. Orlando, Florida. Orlando consistently ranks high on domestic destinations and is hopeful for a travel rebound for 2021. The city comes in as the top pick for American travelers researching vacations for next year. With many open-air adventures and a warm climate, the city is a family-friendly favorite. Disney World, SeaWorld, Legoland and Universal Studios are all open.

Whether Florida residents plan on traveling or relaxing at home all weekend, they might want to be aware of the thousands of others joining them.

Many travelers are headed to the coast for their upcoming Fourth of July trips, with Florida topping the list for most popular destinations. According to AAA, three Florida cities had up the top 10 domestic destinations:

  1. Seattle

  2. Orlando

  3. Anchorage

  4. Honolulu

  5. Miami

  6. New York

  7. Fort Lauderdale

  8. Las Vegas

  9. Denver

  10. Anaheim/Los Angeles

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: July 4th travel road trips: See AAA best, worst drive times in Florida