Where to stop on road trip from New Orleans to Orlando?

We’re driving (DH, DS5, & me) New Orleans to Orlando in November. I understand we could just hop on a plane but I’m one of those people who enjoys the comforts of home… so we’re taking the sheets, pillows, comforters, sound machine, Keurig, and much more. That said, DH wants to break our 9-10 hour trip over two days. I’ve looked and looked and can’t find any recommendations to stop overnight. If you’ve done this before, what do you recommend? Thanks.

Gainsville. There are plenty of motels just off the I-75, just south of Gainsville and the next morning you are about 2 hours from WDW,so you can arrive in time to get a full days value from your admission.

I’d Suggest Panama City, which is a little out of your way since you’d have to cut over to the coast, or maybe Tallahassee. Anything further than that and you’re practically there. I’m not sure I could stop though. We drove 18 hours through the night which was too long, but at 9 hours I’d probably leave at around 5am and be there around 3 that afternoon. Spend a lazy night unpacking and swimming and be ready for the next day.

I wasn’t planning on hitting the parks on our arrival day but we could free up tickets for that day by not using them on our MVMCP day. Thanks for the idea, opens up lots of new options.

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@outer1 I agree but that’s what DH wants. It’s a compromise considering he wanted to fly and insisted for years that no way we were going to drive. :wink:

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Well then I’d say PCB is a good option. Maybe even catch a couple of hours of beach time on the second morning before finishing the drive. You’d be at 5 hours driving each day.

I drive from Pensacola, and have been to NOLA numerous times, so I’m pretty familiar with your entire drive. Panama City is about as close to “halfway” as you can get, and there are certainly PLENTY of hotel options - at “off season” prices. The only downside is that it IS a good distance from the I-10, which could add close to an hour to each day of your drive. As an alternative, there are a number of motels right off of the I-10 in Tallahassee (Exits 199 and 203), with a good number of food options. Not as picturesque (by far), but on a drive to WDW (which I hate), the last thing I would personally want to do is add hours in the car. From there, you’re about 4 - 4.5 hours out of WDW.

Also, for planning, don’t forget the time zone change. My “actual” drive time from Pensacola is around 7 hours - but it takes me 8 hours “by the clock” to get there…

Destin would be a good option. A little closer to I-10 than Panama City.

I thought about recommending the Destin/Sandestin area; I personally like it much better than PCB, and it’s only about 30 min south of the I-10. If they really want the “beach experience” for the night, this would definately be the best choice. But this would leave them with more than half the drive still ahead of them for the second day, and would still add about an hour of extra “car time” for the trip.

So many options. I’ll give all the info to DH and ask him to make the call. It’s up to him if he wants to drive the additional hour(s) to the beach. Thanks for the help.

We are from Memphis, so we have been to NOLA a ton, and now we live in Navarre, Fl., which is between Destin and Pensacola on Hwy 98, after moving from Biloxi. We only drive, never fly, to all of these aforementioned locations so we are extremely familiar with travelling around this entire part of the south. We make the drive to WDW at least once a year. You do not want to stay in Destin or Panama City Beach. That is too far off course for what you want to do. Crazy unless you plan on taking extra time to do a beach day. If all you want to do is stop for the night to break up the trip then you will want to stop on I-10. Stop as early as Crestview, Fl. or as late as Tallahassee, or somewhere in between those two if you find an exit with a hotel. Crestview is about 3.5 hours from you, directly on I-10, has a few inexpensive hotels and restaurants. Also has a Starbucks for the morning. Crestview is a little military town directly on 10 (I-10 actually cuts directly through the center of the little town) and is a super easy stop. Tallahassee is around 5 hours from you and also on I-10. Also very easy to find a hotel right off of your route with plenty of dining and gas options.


Living in Pensacola, I make the I-10 drive frequenty (yesterday, as a matter of fact, coming home from Tampa). I would add Marianna to the list of recommendations; it’s between Crestview and Talahassee and has several motels right off of the highway. It’s probably the closest to “halfway” as you can get, and is my typical “breakfast” stop going to WDW, and my “dinner” stop coming home. If you push on to Talahassee (about 6 hours from NOLA) there are a lot more motel and dining options.

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I’ve been leaning more towards Tallashasse on the ride there so we can get to Orlando earlier in the day. But these are definitely possibilities for the trip home. Thank you!