Want to learn more?
The first section of our Road Trip USA Deep South Tour was driving from Miami to New Orleans.
We had a time frame of 6 nights to complete this journey from the end of our Caribbean cruise as we wanted to arrive in New Orleans in time for J’s birthday. This was easily achievable. Our experiences driving from Miami to New Orleans are below!
Between these places, there are several choices. We didn’t take the fastest, the turnpike, as we wanted to avoid tolls. We took the interstate freeway most of the way. This probably would have been boring if it hadn’t been new to us.
The last part to Kissimmee was very boring and depressing. We were on a highway with lots of traffic lights, cheap chain motels, food chains and tacky tourist shops that seemed to go on and on and on and on and on for nearly an hour. It took so long to go such a short distance that we actually thought the GPS was wrong at the beginning of this section about its estimated arrival time. It was wrong – it took longer!
We broke up the journey at Walmart just off an interstate exit at West Melbourne as we wanted a cheap stroller and the chance to go to Melbourne (we are from Melbourne, Australia) was too good an opportunity to pass up. The walmart had some good cheap food for lunch too.
We were happy to find that interstates are covered in signs about what’s at the next exit including food, gas stations and accommodation. These signs were very handy when S needed a toilet. We didn’t find toll signs to be at all obvious, so beware! We actually went on one accidentally while we were driving round Orlando. We didn’t have the change to pay for it so we set off some alarm. We rung our rental company, and they were no help. We are still waiting to find out what will happen. Fingers crossed it is not too bad! You can read more about our stay in things to do in Orlando on a budget, visiting Disney World with toddlers and the best family hotels in Miami.
We stayed at the Palms Hotel and Villas, Kissimmee.
Driving time: 4 hours
This is a very easy and quick drive taking only an hour to Tampa and then another half hour to Clearwater. The drive to Tampa had plenty to interest us outside the windows with some weird sites by the road – such as buses upended and cut out cows! The kids also enjoyed driving past Dinosaur World.
The drive between Tampa and Clearwater went along the longest causeway I have ever been on. I think about ten miles. It was a nice drive. You can read more about our visit to Tampa and Clearwater.
We stayed at the Magnuson Hotel Clearwater Central.
Driving time: 1 hour to Tampa + 0.5 hours to Clearwater + another 20 minutes to the beach
We travelled to Tallahassee via Homosassa Springs, This was a great stretch of road, and it was nice not to be on an interstate freeway.
There wasn’t much traffic, maybe because of Thanksgiving? Unfortunately, there was the occasional traffic light. Still, it was interesting to go through a couple of towns rather than just skip them like on the interstate. None of the towns seemed that great though and there was the usual spread of fast food chains, motel chains, walmarts and other random things. This longer journey was made much less painful by the fact that the kids slept much of the second part of the drive.
We didn’t see many actual houses which keeps surprising me – we haven’t had to drive through suburbia like we would have to in Australia. The stretches of food and motel chains do get depressing though. It is nice that on this route, we had some trees to counter balance it. Read more about our Thanksgiving in Tallahassee.
We stayed at the Motel 6 Tallahassee Downtown – very cheap and central!
Driving time: 1.5 hours to Homosassa Springs + 3.5 hours to Tallahassee
This stretch of our Miami to New Orleans drive was a fairly easy 3.5 hours along interstate 10. We only stopped twice. Once was at Defuniak Springs for a picnic lunch and another at a gas station where Josh needed to stretch, and we wanted toilets and a snack.
J has been having problems today with his back and legs seizing up which has caused him stress and pain. We may have to start stopping more often which is a pain. The kids did a good job of sleeping in the first two hours of the journey, but any stop usually wakes them.
The interstate itself was mostly surrounded by bush which made it quite pretty. It is in great condition overall. We were very excited when we crossed over into Alabama! Naturally, we had to stop and take a picture on the border.
We then drove the last bit of the way to Mobile with Sweet Home Alabama playing 🙂
Mobile was a bit more complicated to drive around than we are used to as there are lots of one way streets. You can read about how we spent our 24 hours in Mobile with kids.
We stayed at the Microtel Inn and Suites Daphne – click here for the latest prices and more details.
Driving time: 2 hours to Defuniak Springs + 1.5 hours to Mobile
The final park of our Miami to New Orleans drive was easy. We only had one stop for a toilet break, as well as some for state signs, so it was also a quick drive.
This section of Miami to New Orleans was more interesting thanks to passing through Mississippi on the way. It was exciting to pass through three states in one day with two new ones.
The border with Louisiana is just outside New Orleans. As soon as we crossed, we were off to a drive thru daiquiri shop! We didn’t have any problems driving through New Orleans, although we used public transport during our stay since it was easy and cheap. Read more about our visit to New Orleans with our list of things to do in a few days which includes all the practical information from our stay as well.
We stayed at two different hotels:
Driving time: 2 hours
Overall, we were very happy with our week driving from Miami to New Orleans.
We have learned that the kids do struggle a bit with one night stopovers as they do not get enough time to just relax and play in our room which is important to them. We are going to try to do mostly 2+ night stopovers for the rest of our road trip. Our kids are generally not car sleepers – S never even slept in the car as a baby – but they were both good at napping in the car on the longer journeys.
I would have liked to spend another night in Mobile, so we could have spent some time in Tallahassee in the morning before driving on. I also think I would have preferred one less night in Orlando, since Disney World was not a hit and maybe have spent that night in Clearwater instead and visited one of the kid attractions in Tampa instead such as the zoo. Overall though, we are very happy with what we did.
It was tiring though. Our kids often wake us up at night, and we are used to some down time in the middle of the day while Z naps to make up for this. Since he was napping in the car instead, we missed out on this down time and that made life harder for us. It has been worth it though. Overall, we have loved the attractions and cities that we have visited and, more importantly, we have loved road tripping the USA.
You can also read about the second section of our Deep South road trip – from New Orleans to Atlanta, the third section – driving from Atlanta to Miami, as well as our overall thoughts of our Deep South road trip.
Where would you want to stop if you were driving from Miami to New Orleans?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you may a booking after clicking on one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!!!