(Editor’s note: Previously, Rich from ChantRant.com gave Sooner fans some hotel suggestions for those planning to travel to the Oklahoma-Florida State game in September. If that didn’t work out for you, here are some alternatives. Much appreciation, Rich.)
If by now you don’t have a hotel or motel reservation in Tallahassee, chances are slim you’ll find anything to your liking. You could always get creative and check in to the hospital with a case of dehydration. Or find a bed in a Tallahassee homeless shelter. Or grab a slab at a local KOA Kampground.
But if that’s not the way you roll, here’s a Plan B (which involves renting a car).
Fly into Jacksonville, one of Florida’s largest cities, located on the east coast near the Georgia border. There are no non-stop flights (that I can find) from Oklahoma City, so you’ll be changing planes in Dallas, Denver or some other airport. But it’s cheaper and easier than trying to fly to Tallahassee.
In Jacksonville, you should have no trouble finding accommodations, from moderately priced motels to swanky hotel suites — even beach resorts on the Atlantic ocean. Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island and Ponte Vedra offer some of the nicest beaches in Florida, and should be relatively uncrowded in mid-September. So plan for a few days before or after the game and enjoy the surf and sand – a friend from Oklahoma tells me those are hard to find in the Sooner State .
From Jacksonville, it’s 157 miles West to Tallahassee via Interstate 10 (about two and a half hours drive time). With a 7:30 or 8pm kickoff, you’ll have plenty of time to make the drive, find parking and tailgate before the game.
The only drawback: plan for a long day. Expect the game to be over anywhere from 11pm to midnight. Figure at least an hour to battle traffic from the stadium to I-10. Add the drive time back to Jacksonville, and you’ll be hitting the sack in the wee hours.
Reducing your drive time.
Instead of staying in Jacksonville, book a room along I-10. Check the map and you’ll find small towns along the way — like Monticello, Greenville, Madison, Live Oak and Macclenny — all with motels clustered around the freeway exit. Expect the usual roadside brand names: Motel 8, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, etc. But book ahead, and soon. Don’t wait until you’re driving the interstate to Tallahassee.
Notice we put a big question mark beside one town. Lake City, at the crossroads of Interstates 10 and 75, has the most motel rooms between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. However, those rooms are already selling out due not only to FSU-OU, but another big game in the area. Just an hour South of Lake City, SEC rivals Florida and Tennessee will tee it up at 3:30pm. Imagine the traffic in North Florida on Sept. 17 with 175,000-plus college football fans heading to and from the stadiums.
There are other Plan B’s. You could fly to Pensacola (about 190 miles West of Tallahassee), or even Atlanta (250 miles or more each way, depending on the route you take). You might find a room in Thomasville, about 30 minutes north of Tallahassee, just across the border in Georgia. Or at popular resorts like Panama City or Ft. Walton Beach. But my choice, for drive time and choice of accommodations, would be Jacksonville. Especially when you add a little time on the bright white sands of the Atlantic.