A road trip from Gainesville to New Orleans takes you through sections of four states—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Much of the trip parallels the Gulf of Mexico with its pristine shores and temperate climate. The quickest route is to take Interstate 10 West (I-10 W). Though you can cover the distance in eight hours, taking your time to visit several sites off the main road completes a memorable family vacation.
There are two national parks within a day’s drive from this route, both of which are in Florida. If you wish to plan trips to other national parks, visit RVshare’s list of national parks.
Biscayne National Park
The two national parks within driving distance of your proposed route are a good distance away from Gainesville but well worth the trip. Take the Florida Turnpike South out of Gainesville toward Miami. Biscayne National Park is on the coast 8 miles north of Miami. At the end of the five-hour trip, you will find this wonderful park that covers 170,000 acres. The park preserves the natural wonders of the area. As a result of the preservation, you can enjoy crystal blue reefs, great scuba diving and snorkeling, and the region's original wildlife.
Everglades National Park
The world-famous Everglades National Park covers over 1.5 million acres. The park is home to alligators and other exotic wetland wildlife indigenous to the area. Guided tours, including boating and hiking tours, are available year-round. Nine RV campgrounds service the park, but because of this park's popularity, be sure to call ahead and make your reservation.
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
When you reach New Orleans, don’t forget to visit the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park near the French Quarter. The park shares the cultural history that produced the jazz movement. The centerpiece of the park is Perseverance Hall No. 4, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Florida Caverns State Park
Just 190 miles into your road trip from Gainesville to New Orleans is the Florida Caverns State Park. A 6-mile detour off I-10 W is as far as you need to go to reach this park. It offers a great place to stay the night with 38 RV campsites. Activities include a guided flashlight tour through caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites, colorful quartz, and other exotic geologic formations. Horseback riding, hiking, swimming, and fishing are also available.
Gulf State Park
Gulf State Park sits on the Gulf of Mexico shore of Alabama. To get there from I-10 W, take the 98 South exit in Mobile and head to the beach. The park features 2 miles of glistening white sand, an extensive system of boardwalks, and a fishing pier with indoor facilities as well as outdoor fishing locations. Two RV campgrounds service the park. Make sure to call ahead for reservations.
Buccaneer State Park
Buccaneer State Park is 482 miles into your road trip from Gainesville to New Orleans. The park is located on the Mississippi shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico. It is only 15 miles off the I-10 W corridor. Activities at the park include a 4.5-acre water park, hiking trails through forest land, swimming, fishing, and a challenging disk golf course. The park is a popular retreat for families throughout the area and has over 300 campsites from which to choose.
Fontainebleau State Park
If you are looking for a place to end your road trip from Gainesville to New Orleans, consider parking your RV at Fontainebleau State Park. The park is directly across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. With a travel distance of 41 miles from New Orleans and 52 miles from Baton Rouge, the park is the ideal spot to stop and take in the two cities. The park features hiking trails, bike trails, fishing, swimming, and you can rent a sailboat to use on the lake. Get there early to choose from one of the 23 premium RV campsites.
The number of points of interest that you can add to a road trip itinerary from Gainesville to New Orleans is astronomical. This list has the most intriguing attractions along the way that will add flavor and adventure to your family’s vacation.
USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park
The USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile Harbor is a great stop for any family on vacation. The sheer enormity of American battleships of WWII cannot be experienced through a photo or painting. Visiting the USS Alabama lets you and your family walk the decks of a full-sized battleship. Another attraction of the park is the submarine, USS Drum. There are 25 aircraft also available for exploration. Taking your kids here is a fantasy come true.
The Biloxi Lighthouse is one of the longest standing lighthouses in the Gulf of Mexico. The coastal town of Biloxi is just off the I-10 W corridor, making the side-trip a quick one. The lighthouse has lit the Mississippi Sound since 1848. The lighthouse is open for tours, and there is a small museum that highlights its unique history.
Lunar Lander Exhibit
Along the last stretch of your Gainesville to New Orleans trip is the Lunar Lander Exhibit. The mockup of the Lunar Lander is located at the “Welcome to Mississippi Center” in Pearlington, MS, located on the Louisiana-Mississippi border. The exhibit is an actual replica of the ill-fated Apollo 13 capsule that was used by the astronauts to train for their mission. You will not have to detour to see this exhibit as it sits next to the I-10 W freeway.
There are many towns you pass through or near on a road trip from Gainesville to New Orleans. There are also three major cities through which you travel. These cities are great places to stop to refresh, relax, and prepare for the next leg of your journey.
About 150 miles along your road trip on I-10 W, you will come to the Florida state capital—Tallahassee. With a population of 195,000, it is one of the largest cities in Florida. There are some major attractions in the town, including museums, intricate gardens, artificial-falls at Cascades Park, and the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. One of the oldest Spanish missions is located in Tallahassee—the Mission San Luis de Apalachee. There are many dump stations in Tallahassee where you can clean your tanks. Campgrounds in and near Tallahassee have hundreds of campsites available for the traveler on a Gainesville to New Orleans RV road trip.
Pensacola, FL, is also located on the I-10 W corridor, about 350 miles on your road trip from Gainesville to New Orleans. The town is famous for two things, its naval base, and its beaches. Other attractions in Pensacola include museums, the quaint downtown district, and the famous lighthouse and park. Most of the service stations around Pensacola have dump stations. The area appeals to snowbirds who stay in RVs during the winter months to enjoy the warm climate. Don’t worry, there are plenty of RV campgrounds left for temporary visitors.
Nearly 400 miles into your Gainesville to New Orleans road trip, you will enter Mobile, AL. The town covers a large area, housing more than 200,000 people. The old town section of the city sits next to Mobile Bay with spectacular views of a seemingly endless ocean. Attractions include several museums, some in the Old-South mansions that were popular in Mobile before and during the Civil War period. Dump stations are available downtown and around the edges of Mobile. RV campgrounds take advantage of this coastal area with sites lining the shores and surrounding the city itself.
Though the road trip from Gainesville to New Orleans is a long one, there are plenty of places along the way to stop and rest. The road trip is a journey through the South, not only of the present day but of the past as well. RV travel through this area lets you and your family experience some of the friendliest people in the country. Before starting your journey, visit RVshare’s rental page for Gainesville to find the RV that best suits your needs. Many take the road trip in the opposite direction; for them, RVshare has a New Orleans rental page. No matter which direction you are taking, slow down, enjoy the trip, and you will be rewarded with rich memories that will last a lifetime.