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A Definitive Guide for Your Houston to Florida Road Trip

This article explores the top eight tourist destinations you won’t want to miss during the Houston to Florida road trip.

What to Expect on Your Houston to Florida Road Trip

Road trips enable travelers to explore the countryside, meet people of different cultures, enjoy the finest dining experiences, spend time relaxing on beaches, and visit world-class national parks.

Traveling from Houston to Florida is a popular road trip that covers a wide range of tourist attractions such as live music concerts, theme parks, sand white beaches, restaurants, museums, and parks. If you are an adventure lover, this trip immerses you in several activities, including kayaking, water surfing, hiking, biking, parasailing, scuba diving, and many more.

The total distance of this road trip is 1,077 miles, with a driving time of approximately 18 hours and 40 minutes.

Your Houston to Florida Road Trip Itinerary

Here is the list of the top eight tourist attractions you’ll want to visit during your Houston to Florida road trip (listed in order from Houston, TX to Merritt Island, FL):

  1. Houston, TX

  2. Lafayette, LA

  3. New Orleans, LA

  4. Pensacola Beach, FL

  5. Panama City Beach, FL

  6. Gainesville, FL

  7. Orlando, FL

  8. Merritt Island, FL

If you follow a route like the one outlined below, you won’t miss a single sight! 

1. Houston, TX

Houston, TX is the sixth most populous city in North America. It is home to numerous entertainment centers, parks, restaurants, bars, live music concerts, and billiards. If you love live concerts, stage plays, and stand-up comedy, you may enjoy spending time at Bayou Music Center.

Houston is also known for Galleria, the largest shopping mall in Texas. With stores such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and more, the Houston Galleria will immerse you in the best shopping experience ever.

Houston has over 337 parks. If you have time, never miss visiting Hermann Park, Lake Houston Park, and Buffalo Bayou Park. If you are traveling with children, you can take them to Houston Zoo, which is home to 6,000 animals and 600 species.

Other tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss in Houston are:

  • Houston Museum of Natural Sciences

  • Sam Houston Park

  • The Downtown Aquarium

2. Lafayette, LA

Lafayette, LA is one of the largest cities in Louisiana located along the Vermilion River. The city is known for traditional music, cajun cuisine, and world-class festivals. Named the Happiest City of America, Lafayette has several cultural centers, including Alexandre Mouton House, Brandt House, Daigle House, Old Lafayette City Hall, and more.

If you are an art lover, you may enjoy visiting the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, which features Japanese paints and folk art. Another main tourist attraction in Lafayette is LARC’s Acadian Village, a 10-acre farmland converted into a village to recreate the 19th-century settlers' life.

Other tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss in Lafayette are:

  • Vermilionville

  • Lake Martin Rookery

  • Lafayette Science Museum

3. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, LA is the most populous city in Louisiana. Located along the Mississippi River, the city is known for live music concerts, vibrant nightlife, and spicy cuisines. You can also find several stylish boutique hotels, coffee bars, and vintage shops in the city. 

Don’t forget to visit the French Quarter, a neighboring city of New Orleans, during this trip because it has numerous art galleries, jazz clubs, nightclubs, and famous restaurants. French Quarter is also known for tourist attractions such as Preservation Hall, Café du Monde,  Bourbon Street, and Jackson Square.

Other tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss in New Orleans are:

  • Garden District

  • Audubon Zoo

  • New Orleans City Park

  • Woldenberg Park

4. Pensacola Beach, FL

Want to spend time at sugar-white sand beaches? Then, you should visit Pensacola Beach located on the Gulf Coast of Santa Rosa in Florida. With sugar-white sand and green waters, the beach is famous for fun things such as boating, biking, fishing, paddling, surfing, snorkeling, parasailing, and diving. The beach has a long stretch of eco-trail with 29 spots that encourage visitors to walk, drive, bike, and swim.

You can also find numerous restaurants and coffee shops along the beach. Many of these restaurants are kid-friendly. The beach will also provide a captivating experience of watching dolphins play. You can take dolphin cruises available to witness dolphins from the closest distance possible.

Other tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss at Pensacola Beach are:

  • Perdido Key

  • Gulf Islands National Seashore

  • Big Lagoon State Park

  • Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park

  • The Discovery Nature Trail

  • Pensacola Beach Boardwalk

5. Panama City Beach, FL

Panama City is known for its white-sand beaches on the Gulf of Mexico Coast. Featuring over 27 miles of coastline, the beach is home to several public beach access points, waterfront restaurants, and state parks. The famous activities at Panama City Beach are scuba diving, fishing, cruising, parasailing, and boating.

Never miss spending time at Pier Park when you visit Panama City. The best places to visit at the park are the Grand Theater, Emerald Coast Mirror Maze & Laser Tag, and Dave & Busters.

  • Nightlife: The nightlife at the beach is vibrant with live music and beach bars.

  • Piers: The beach has two piers named Russell Fields Pier and M.B Miller Pier.

  • Parks: The beach has several other parks, including St. Andrews State Park, Frank Brown Park, Camp Helen Park, Aaron Bessant Park, and more.

Other tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss at Panama City Beach are:

  • Shell Island

  • Gulf World Marine Park

  • Shipwreck Island Park

6. Gainesville, FL

Gainesville, FL is the largest city in North Central Florida. The city is famous for world-class museums, performing arts, and live music. With over 100 miles of trails for biking and hiking, the city offers the best adventurous experience to tourists. Other outdoor activities you may explore at Gainesville are birding hotspots, fishing, paddling trails, and parks.

The city has several museums, including Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center, Cade Museum for Creativity & Innovation, Harn Museum for Art, Florida Museum for Natural History, and more. The nightlife in the city is vibrant with lively restaurants, pubs, live music, and theaters.

Other tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss at Gainesville are:

  • Alferd. A Ring Park

  • Bivens Arm Nature Park

  • Cellon Oak Park

  • Alpin Bistro

  • Amelia’s Italian Cuisine

7. Orlando, FL

Orlando, FL is the third-largest city in Florida behind Miami and Tampa. The main tourist attractions in Orlando are Walt Disney World, Legoland, Fun Spot America, and Universal Orlando. The city attracted over 58 million tourists in 2021.

Don’t miss visiting the following theme parks, water parks, and resorts if you visit Walt Disney World:

  • Theme Parks: Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

  • Water Parks: Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach.

  • Resorts: Disney's Beach Club Resort, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Yacht Club Resort, and Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.

Other tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss in Orlando are:

  • Aquatica Water Park

  • Discovery Cove

  • Volcano Bay

  • Islands of Adventure

  • Universal CityWalk

8. Merritt Island, FL

Merritt Island, FL is a census-designated place located along the Eastern Florida Coast of the Atlantic Ocean. A few popular activities at Merritt Island are kayaking, windsurfing, paddling, and fishing.

The region is famous for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Tourists are allowed to enter into Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which has several attractions, including the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, Rocket Garden, Apollo 8 and the Firing Room, Lunar Theater, Moon Tree Garden, and more.

Other tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss on Merritt Island are:

  • Cocoa Beach

  • Brevard Veterans Memorial Museum

  • Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

  • Black Point Wildlife Drive

Don’t Miss a Single Sight with Airport Van Rental

The Houston to Florida road trip offers a unique experience of visiting theme parks, sandy beaches, shopping centers, museums, and a space center. It also enables you to meet different people, explore hiking trails, and eat at the finest restaurants. You can extend the trip by adding other tourist destinations such as Biloxi, Galveston, Mobile, Austin, Florida Panhandle, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville.

Since this road trip involves highways and countryside roads, you may need to choose a sport utility vehicle (SUV) with features such as dual AC, a Wi-Fi hotspot facility, and automatic transmission.

Airport Van Rental (AVR) has a well-maintained fleet of SUVs, minivans, and passenger vans that could make your road trip memorable for a lifetime. We are a customer-centric company; we give priority to the convenience and safety of our customers. With over a dozen rental locations from coast to coast, we offer flexible pick-up and drop-off facilities.

Travelers love to choose us for their road trips because of our:

  • Reliable and well-maintained vehicles

  • Discounts, coupons, and rewards for AAA and USAA members

  • Extra amenities such as GPS and Wi-Fi hotspot across all vehicles

  • Premier customer support

Book a rental car with AVR for your Houston to Florida road trip at the lowest price!

AVR Van Rental

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