Traffic reports for the New York area can be found every 10 minutes at 880 AM and 1010 AM.
Below you'll find three sets of directions: The Shortest Way
, The Quickest Way
and The Fun Way
The shortest and most direct way is I-95 all the way. The downside is that this route takes you across the George Washington Bridge and the Bronx, both of which can get incredibly jammed. I-95 in Connecticut close to New York can also have extremely heavy traffic, depending on the time of day. Further north in Connecticut I-95 can be seriously congested with holiday traffic especially in New Haven, so plan for such traffic delays at busy times.
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- Get onto the New Jersey Turnpike northbound by the most convenient route for you. The Turnpike in the northern half of New Jersey is I-95. Stay on the Turnpike until the end and follow directions to the George Washington bridge
- Listen to the radio to see whether there is a preference for the Eastern or Western spurs of the turnpike (it splits into two near Newark but rejoins before the bridge), or for the upper or lower levels of the bridge
- While on the bridge get into the lanes for I-95 North.
- As you cross New York keep alert for the correct lanes for I-95 North because several major roads join and leave you, and you can get distracted and be in the wrong lane
- Take I-95 nearly the whole length of Connecticut (95 miles or so) to exit 82A, Frontage Road. It is clearly signed to the Coast Guard Academy
- Stay on the service road for about half a mile as it parallels I-95. Stay to the left past the exits for the strip mall and downtown New London. Take the ramp uphill on the right towards Briggs St just before it looks like you're going to rejoin I-95.
- Stay to the left on the ramp and turn left at the light. There are small signs to the Academy
- Go straight for a further half mile or so. The road curves to the right and over a bridge. Stay to the right and go straight across at the light.
- You see the Academy entrance on the immediate right.
This route is a good balance between driving further and avoiding New York City's traffic. It's about 15 miles further than the I-95 route but is normally much quicker unless you're driving late at night or some other really quiet time. The Merritt and the Tappan Zee Bridge can sometimes jam up, so listen to the New York news stations. If the bridge is jammed there's no real alternative other than going through New York City, so it might be a good time to stop for a meal.
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- Get onto the Garden State Parkway northbound by the most convenient route for you. Stay on the parkway until the end
- If you're coming from West New Jersey it may be faster to take I-287 North directly and bypass the Parkway, depending on your starting point
- Follow the signs to I-287 East to the Tappan Zee bridge and cross the Hudson River
- After the bridge toll follow I-287 as it becomes the Cross Westchester Expressway
- Take exit 9N (confusingly just after exit 9A) towards the Merritt Parkway. On the exit ramp stay in the left lane and go through the permanent 'straight-ahead' arrow at the traffic lights at the bottom of the ramp. After the light get into the right lane immediately and take the 9N exit to the Merritt Parkway (just 2/10ths of a mile from the light)
- Alternative: stay on I-287 past exit 9N for 5-6 miles and join I-95 North.
- Stay on the Merritt until Connecticut exit 54 (about mile 39) at Milford. Take the exit to I-95 and US-1 at the top of a large river bridge (Sikorsky Helicopters on the left).
- After about 3/4 of a mile on the ramp take I-95 North direction New Haven and Providence, then follow the directions above
- Caution returning this way - the Merritt junction with I-287 is tricky, about 2 miles past the New York state line. You exit right, take a big right-hand turn and merge onto a 3 lane highway. You have to cross all 3 lanes and exit left onto I-287 in the space of a couple of hundred yards.
This route takes you the length of Long Island to Orient Point, where you take the car ferry directly to New London. It is 20 miles or so shorter than the I-95 route (if you don't count the miles traveled by boat). The crossing takes 75 to 90 minutes, plus time to load and unload the ferry. The ferry is expensive - $53.65 for a car and driver and $15.25 for each adult passenger (as of June 2014) and can get fully booked in the summer, so make sure you call and have a reservation (you'll need a credit card to pre-pay for car and driver) before you commit to this route. Reservation numbers are (860) 443-5281 in New London and (631) 323-2525 in Orient Point. You can also visit their website for reservations or more information: Cross Sound Ferry
This is a great drive if you're not in a hurry and are not travelling in the summer season, but listen to the traffic reports when you get in range for delays at the Verrazano and the eastbound Belt. There is a lot to see on the way - New York Harbor, large bridges, the rides at Coney Island and JFK airport. The drive up the north fork of Long Island is really pretty - sometimes you have water on both sides of you, and there are many old houses, vineyards and farms. Coming into New London Harbor you get a great view of the submarines being built at Electric Boat in Groton, while on the New London side you pass by the prior location of the Academy - Fort Trumbull. It is also the home of the New London Coast Guard small boat station. If you're really lucky you might see a submarine entering or leaving harbor, complete with Coast Guard escort. What better way to arrive at the Coast Guard Academy than by boat?
- Cross onto Staten Island via the Outerbridge Crossing on 440 East. This is reached either by I-287 South (which becomes 440 when it ends), from the New Jersey Turnpike exit 10 or the Garden State Parkway just north of the Raritan tolls.
- Take 440 East (West Shore Expressway) to I-278 East (Staten Island Expressway, or SIE), direction Verrazano Narrows bridge
- On the bridge take the left hand lane on either the upper or lower level.
- Peel off left to the Belt Parkway towards JFK airport.
- A few miles after the airport the Belt divides into two; take the right fork onto the Cross Island Expressway.
- Take the exit onto Long Island Expressway (LIE) I-495 East direction Riverhead until it ends
- Take route 25 towards Orient Point. You should have been seeing small signs to the Cross Sound Ferry since the last few miles of the LIE. Sometimes this road is route 25, sometimes route 48 - just follow the ferry signs.
- The road (and Long Island itself) ends at the ferry terminal
- Coming off the boat in New London follow everyone else out of the dock, cross the Amtrak rail lines and turn right onto Water Street at the light just after the tracks. Continue up the hill in the right lane and turn off to I-95 South.
- Before you actually get onto I-95 you'll see signs to Briggs St and the Academy. Follow the signs.