Many Midwesterners flee the winter months and head to either Texas or Florida.
They both offer warm weather and affordable prices, why not visit both?
The drive from Texas to Florida can be a lot of fun, offers many cool things to do along the way, and provides miles of incredible views.
No matter where you start and end or how much time you have, the drive from Texas to Florida takes you through five states and a whole lot of diverse scenery.
Let’s check it out!
Driving Across Texas
Texas is a huge state, and it can take ten hours to drive from El Paso to Houston. North to South, Texas is nine hours from Oklahoma to Mexico. For this trip, we’ll focus on the scenic route along the coast, starting in Houston. Because the coast is always the best option…who doesn’t love ocean views?
Just outside of Houston is the town and island of Galveston. If you want to kick off your road trip with some time at the beach, Galveston is the perfect spot. This resort city and port have been drawing beachcombers for decades.
If you want kitschy tourist resorts and activities, you’ll find them in Galveston. But you’ll also find a lot of natural areas to explore, including Galveston Island State Park, a popular spot for bird watchers.
QUIRKY THINGS TO DO IN GALVESTON
How fun would it be to explore Galveston in these 1908 Electric Model-T golf carts. Choose a 5 or 8 seater, complete with the ahooga horn. This rental comes with several suggested itineraries to choose from that make planning easy.
This segway tour of the Galveston Tree Carvings, beautiful and whimsical carvings that salvaged trees damaged and destroyed in 2008 when Hurrican Ike battered the island. The segway allows you to see more on this tour than you’d see on foot.
Relax after a full day of exploring with a fire on the beach. You may be wondering how on earth that would be relaxing after lugging everything to the beach but with this activity, everything is done for you. All you need to do is show up with your family or friends to enjoy the fire pit, chairs, tiki torches, cornhole boards, and s’mores.
Galveston to Port Arthur, Texas: 2 hours
Port Arthur, Texas
After some beach time, it’s time to head east. The scenic route continues along the coast, across the Bolivar Peninsula, avoiding the traffic of Houston without adding any extra time to the drive. Along the way, you’ll pass through three wildlife refuges and management areas. Port Arthur is best known for oil production and is home to the largest oil refinery in the United States.
The top three things to see in Port Arthur are:
- Visit The Museum of the Gulf Coast where you can learn about fossils and oil
- Explore Doornbos Heritage Park, a local park popular with ducks and geese
- Tour Pompeiian Villa, a stately historic home built in 1900
Port Arthur to Lafayette, Louisiana: 3 ½ hours (2:15 by the Interstate)
From Port Arthur, we leave Texas and enter Louisiana. This is true Creole country, especially if you take the scenic route instead of the interstate!
You’ll follow the coastal route through several wildlife refuges before finally heading into the city of Layfayette, the heart of Cajun & Creole Country. Obviously, you’ve got to stop here to soak in this unique culture and try some authentic Cajun or Creole cuisine.
Other things to do in Lafayette include:
- Explore Lafayette’s food scene for as many meals as you can spare!
- Visit Vermillionville, a Cajun & Creole living history museum on this self-guided tour.
- Take a swamp tour by airboat or kayak
Lafayette to New Orleans: 2 ½ hours
New Orleans, Louisiana
The scenic route from Lafayette to New Orleans takes you through the delta of the Atchafalaya River.
If you love water and wildlife, you could spend days or weeks in this region, exploring the swamplands. But you might be excited to get to New Orleans, one of the most unique cities in the United State.
A fun blend of French-Cajun and American culture and a laissez-faire attitude has made New Orleans a party destination for decades!
Stay as long as possible because the fun never ends in New Orleans.
- Exploring the cemeteries of New Orleans is a must!
- Visit the New Orleans Katrina Memorial, a sobering reminder of one of our deadliest hurricanes in modern times
- Eat these quintessential foods of New Orleans
As you leave New Orleans, it’s worth a short detour to take the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which, at 24 miles long, holds the world record for the longest bridge over water.
SUGGESTED TOURS IN NEW ORLEANS
When I visit a new city, I love to take an overview tour to learn about the history, culture, and arcitechture of the city before I decide where to focus my time. The New Orleans City and Cemetery Tour does this from an air-conditioned bus.
The Louisiana Swamp Boat Ride and Oak Alley Plantation Tour from New Orleans is a great way to see this piece of history, learn about the antebellum life and experience the wild of New Orleans through a private swamp tour. Make sure you have your camera handy. This tour will provide plenty of wildlife to photograph.
New Orleans to Gulfport, Mississippi: 1:45 (via Lake Pontchartrain)
Continue through Mississippi
After New Orleans, we reach another popular beach destination: Gulfport, Mississippi.
You’ll find miles of white sandy beaches to explore, and of course, lots of hotels and condos to stay in if you want to take a break from the road trip for a few days. Gambling is another popular activity in Mississippi, and while you’ll find a few casinos here, you might want to hold off on gambling until our next stop.
Other things to do in Gulfport include:
- Visit the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum
- Spend a day at Gulf Islands Waterpark
- Take a cruise out in the gulf; there are many excursions to choose from!
Gulfport, Mississippi to Biloxi: 20 minutes
Take a short drive along the coast to our next stop, which is Biloxi, Mississippi. Biloxi is an interesting mix of attractions, as it’s best known for casinos, but it is also home to several nature centers and preserves.
While you’re in Biloxi, a few of the best things to do include:
- Take your chances at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, the tallest and largest building in the state
- Visit Gulf Islands National Seashore
- Visit the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library
- Take a guided tour of the Biloxi Lighthouse
- Go for a hike or paddle at Deer Island Coastal Preserve, home to ten endangered species
Biloxi, Mississippi to Dauphin Island, Alabama: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Alabama is Waiting
Dauphin Island, Alabama
As you enter into Alabama, the entire width of the state only takes two hours to cross, but we’re focusing on the scenic route here.
The Alabama coast has recently become a popular family vacation destination, giving the Florida beaches a run for their money!
Starting at Dauphin Island, you are now at the mouth of Mobile Bay, an important historical site for many reasons.
This tiny island packs in a lot of things to see!
- Tour Fort Gaines, a 19th-century fort at the mouth of the bay
- Look for exotic birds at the Audubon Bird Sanctuary
- Stroll the living marsh boardwalk at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Estuarium
Dauphin Island to Fort Morgan: 40 minutes by ferry
Fort Morgan, Alabama
At Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, you can drive on to a ferry across the mouth of the bay to Fort Morgan. It’s a 40-minute trip, and a great way to take a break from driving and enjoy the ride.
Of course, visiting the historic fort site is one of the most popular things to do in Fort Morgan. There’s also a Sand Castle University here if you’re interested in learning the art of sand sculpting.
Fort Morgan to Gulf Shores: 35 minutes
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach, Alabama
After a short drive from Fort Morgan, you’ll reach the resort area at the heart of Alabama’s Gulf Coast. This area is known for white sandy beaches and warm water, which is why it’s become such a popular vacation destination.
Of course, you’ll find lots to do in this area as it’s the most popular tourist destination in Alabama! Besides lounging on the beach, there are many things to do in this area!
- Fish off the pier at Waterfront Park (expected to reopen Fall 2022)
- Learn about the original inhabitants of the region at The Orange Beach Indian & Sea Museum
- Go shopping at the Wharf
- Visit one of many local amusement parks and waterparks
Orange Beach, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida: 45 minutes
Finally in Florida
Welcome to Florida! After leaving Texas and crossing Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, you’ve finally reached the sunshine state.
Before you hit the beaches and explore the rest of Florida, Pensacola is definitely worth a short stop.
SEE THE BEST OF DOWNTOWN PENSACOLA on this Hop on Hop Off Tour. This tour is great for first time visitors. Learn about Pensacola and hop off at the stops that interest you and skip the ones that don’t. Your pass includes a guided tour to Pensacola’s oldest house and self-guided cemetery tour. You’ll also get over discounts to businesses and attractions along the route that are worth over$100!
As home to the Blue Angels, there is a lot of aviation history here.
- Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum
- Tour the Pensacola Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
- Gain some culture at the Pensacola Museum of Art
From Pensacola, the entire state of Florida is at your doorstep. From the white sandy beaches of the Florida panhandle to the entertainment mecca of Orlando, you could spend weeks and months exploring the best things to do in Florida.
Here are a few of our favorite Florida destinations:
- St. Augustine, a historic fort city on the Atlantic Coast
- Van Camping in the Florida Keys
- Enjoy the natural beauty of Gulf County Florida
- Visit Legoland Florida
Are you ready for a scenic road trip from Texas to Florida? Don’t forget these road trip essentials before you go!