Miami to New Orleans road trip

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New Orleans, perched on the Mississippi River, is filled with pleasures. A refreshingly easy-going Louisiana city, NOLA rewards visitors in the best possible way — with good old times. This ultimate Miami to New Orleans road trip itinerary, with epic gems along the way, makes sure that you arrive in the highest possible spirits.

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  • Total distance: 925 mi / 1,489 km
  • Total driving time: 14 h

1. Miami, FL

Vroom, vroom — the car is ready to hit the road — and hopefully so are you. But if you haven’t toured Miami yet, enjoy the sunny South Florida hub before taking off.

Head over to Wynwood

Want to begin the road trip from Miami to New Orleans in colorful fashion? Then make your way to the Wynwood neighborhood.

Above all Wynwood is highly regarded for its street art. Blocks upon blocks of murals draw crowds from far and wide.

The neighborhood is like an enormous open-air gallery.

Then it’s all the absorbing shops, tasty restaurants and hip breweries. Many visitors come to Wynwood for the street art but return for everything else there’s to discover past its facade.

See alligators in the Everglades

You probably saw this coming, didn’t you?

A South Florida visit just isn’t complete without a stop to check out the Everglades’ unique wilderness. The vast wetland represents the wild and untamed side of Florida, and there are many reasons to visit Everglades.

In Everglades National Park you find tropical birds, lizards and, of course, alligators. Nature lover or not, the Everglades is a big experience.

Just make sure to keep a safe distance when viewing the Everglades’ wildlife. As a rule of thumb, 60 feet (18 m) is generally regarded as a safe distance to alligators. 

An airboat ready for another tour of the Everglades
The Everglades makes up a wild first stop.

2. Orlando, FL

  • Driving distance: 239 mi / 384 km
  • Driving time: 3.5 h

Orlando, Florida’s undisputed theme park capital, is located right along the way from Miami to New Orleans. It’s a city offering fun-filled moments for roadtrippers of all ages, not only kiddos.

Meet Mickey Mouse

Disney World in Orlando is by every measurement a huge attraction. Spanning around 40 square miles, Walt Disney World Resort is almost as big as San Francisco.

The vast Disney World is home to four different theme parks:

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot
  • Hollywood Studios
  • Animal Kingdom

In addition the resort includes waterparks, hotels and the shopping and entertainment center Disney Springs.

With so much going on, Disney World covers every base. From the rides to the colorful characters, Disney World is full of fun for the itinerary.

Cast a spell at Universal

Universal Orlando Resort offers thrilling attraction and rides based on popular movies. The carefully refined themes make you feel like you’re really part of the movies featured.

There are two distinctive theme parks within the resort: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Moreover a waterpark, hotels and an entertainment center complete the Universal experience.

Most famously so Universal Studios presents the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. At Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, you get to walk in the steps of Harry Potter himself — Abracadabra!

Where to stay

Lake Buena Vista is best for Disney World, while I-Drive gives you great access to Universal. The latter is also excellent if you want a night out on Florida’s answer to Las Vegas’ famous Strip.

Waving Pluto greets visitors at Disney World
Be greeted by Disney characters in Orlando.

Additional stop: The drive from Orlando to Pensacola Beach is 458 miles and 6.5 hours, which by a margin makes it the longest stretch on this itinerary. If that’s is too much in one go, consider an overnighter in Tallahassee. Florida’s capital is not where you find top theme parks or beaches, but conveniently so it’s almost exactly halfway between Orlando and Pensacola Beach.

Additional stop: Pensacola Beach is far from the only beautiful town in Florida’s Panhandle. Other stunning options for where to stay in the Florida Panhandle, from east to west, include St. George Island, Panama City Beach and Destin.

3. Pensacola Beach, FL

  • Driving distance: 458 mi / 737 km
  • Driving time: 6.5 h

Not far from the Alabama border, Santa Rosa Island welcomes visitors to enjoy its endless sand dunes. Here you find Pensacola Beach, truly a sugar-white stop on the Miami to New Orleans road trip

Park at Casino Beach

Sandwiched between two different areas of Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola Beach’s location can’t be overestimated. Where life really is a beach, picking just one favorite beach spot isn’t easy.

But the community’s most popular stretch of shoreline is Casino Beach.

Here the Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier, 1,471 feet (448 m) long, extends out into the Gulf of Mexico. Prepare for gorgeous views, salty air and friendly fishermen happily showing their catch of the day.

Many locals rather dodge the Casino Beach crowds and go elsewhere on Santa Rosa Island. But for people watching, Casino Beach — where something fun most often is going on — is an unmatched spot.

Tour Fort Pickens

You certainly find scenery all over Pensacola Beach and Santa Rosa Island. However, head to the island’s very western end to add American history to the mix.

Fort Pickens, proudly standing since 1834, is a remarkable Florida Panhandle landmark. That it took 21.5 million bricks to build the historic military fort says a lot about its size and mark on the coastline.

Tour Fort Picken’s ins and outs to discover all its rooms, walls and outside areas. Surrounded by such natural beauty, this is a road trip stop that caters to visitors of all interests, certainly not only history lovers.

Pro tip: For some romance on the road trip, Fort Pickens also is a lovely sunset spot. So pack a nice picnic basket, surprise your loved one and thank us later!

Where to stay

Don’t miss the sugar-white, seemingly endless, beauty of Pensacola Beach. All Pensacola Beach hotels give you either direct or easy access to some of the best beaches in Florida.

Seemingly endless white beaches contrasted by blue water in Pensacola Beach
Park your car in the stunning Pensacola Beach.

4. Fairhope, AL

  • Driving distance: 67 mi / 108 km
  • Driving time: 1.5 h

It’s hard to find a place along the Gulf Coast that’s more pleasant than Fairhope in Alabama. Often mentioned as one of the best small towns in the South, you can’t miss its charm when visiting en route from Miami to New Orleans.

Step into Fairhope

Located a short distance from the much bigger Mobile, the simple things in life are appreciated in Fairhope. Among moss-covered oak trees and on streets lined by colorful flowers, it’s easy to enjoy yourself.

Downtown Fairhope is the town’s hub of activity. Here, on Fairhope Avenue, you find an eclectic mix of shops, cafes and restaurants. As you stroll the street, you can touch the warm southern hospitality.

Is this a Hollywood movie set?

At the end of Fairhope Avenue, a medium walk or short drive from the downtown area, the landmark Fairhope Pier stretches out into Mobile Bay. Watching a sunset from the pier, or anywhere else along Mobile Bay, is the perfect end to a day on the Miami to New Orleans journey

Pier with gazebo shooting out into Mobile Bay in Fairhope, Alabama, during sunset
Sunset over Mobile Bay, AL.

Additional stop: This ultimate Miami to New Orleans route goes through the Alabama city Mobile. In Mobile you find interesting museums, such as Mobile Carnival Museum and the USS Alabama. Either day trip from Fairhope, or explore Mobile as you continue towards New Orleans.

Additional stop: Coastal Mississippi, between Alabama and Louisiana, is an area off the beaten path. Above all the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including Gulfport and Biloxi, is famous for its casino scene and delicious seafood. However, on the Mississippi Sound, you don’t find beaches that compare to beaches further east on the itinerary.

5. New Orleans, LA

  • Driving distance: 161 mi / 259 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

After 161 more miles on the road, you arrive in New Orleans. Also known as the Big Easy, this is a destination that knows how to treat you with a good time.

New Orleans values the easy going and appreciates all the temptations in life like no other city in America. If you feel any tension, it’s time to finally shake it off.

Taste the French Quarter

New Orleans’ renowned French Quarter presents a blend of historic French, Spanish, Creole and American architecture. Its homes, with signature iron balconies, truly showcase an unrivaled multicultural heritage.

Touring the historic quarter, you also notice the charming touch with French street signs.

Bourbon Street, releasing tensions day or night, is the number one street in New Orleans for party-seeking visitors. It’s nothing less than a legendary spot to celebrate a successful Miami to New Orleans road trip.

The neon green Hand Grenade is a popular New Orleans cocktail, but there are less shiny beverages to try too. On such an iconic street, anything goes.

Cruise Mississippi River

A few streets from Bourbon Street, the timeless Mississippi River flows. North America’s second longest river — more than 2,300 jaw-dropping miles long — is muddy, but you didn’t come to NOLA to swim it anyway.

Just strolling along the Mississippi riverfront is energizing.

But to fully seize the opportunity, a boat tour on the Mississippi River is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Savor the beauty of New Orleans aboard a steamboat, or embark on a cruise taking you far past the state of Louisiana.

On the great Mississippi River, everything is possible.

Historic Andrew Jackson Hotel, with wrought-iron balconies, in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana
The French Quarter — a great road trip end.

Road trip from Miami to New Orleans FAQ

How long does it take to drive the ultimate Miami to New Orleans road trip?

This ultimate Miami to New Orleans road trip is 925 miles (1,489 km) long. Driving it takes roughly 14 hours, not including any stops along the way.

If you just take the quickest route from Miami to New Orleans, the drive is 865 miles (1,392 km) and 12.5 hours.

Where should I stop between Miami and New Orleans?

The main stops included on the ultimate Miami to New Orleans road trip are Miami, Orlando, Pensacola Beach, Fairhope and New Orleans. Additional stops along the route include Tallahassee, St. George Island, Panama City Beach, Destin, Mobile and Coastal Mississippi.

How many days do I need to take the Miami to New Orleans road trip?

The route from Miami to New Orleans is pretty straightforward, and you can drive it over just two days if you’re short on time. But if you’re not in a hurry, take your time and make the most of the stops along the way.

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