The famous Universal Globe at Universal Studios on a sunny day

Road trip from Los Angeles to Orlando

Published by Dianne Titos on December 8 2023

From the sunny beaches of California all the way to the famous theme parks of Florida, the cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to Orlando is the drive of a lifetime. From awe-inspiring national parks to iconic cities, you will have much to write home about on this unforgettable journey.

The 2,560-mile road trip from Los Angeles to Orlando will take 38 hours to drive nonstop. Highlights en route are San Antonio, Houston, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, El Paso, Pensacola, Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Dallas, Atlanta, and Savannah.

No matter what type of adventure or scenery you're looking for, you'll find them on this mammoth road trip from Los Angeles to Orlando. Read on to learn more about our recommended routes, top highlights, best places to stay, and the best seasons to make the journey.

How far is Orlando from Los Angeles, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip routes between Los Angeles and Orlando
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Southern Route2,560 miles38 hours
Northern Route2,925 miles43 hours

The Southern Route is a beautiful drive from Los Angeles to Orlando that spans approximately 2,560 miles and takes around 38 hours to complete without detours.

Alternatively, the Northern Route covers a distance of 2,925 miles and takes about 43 hours, leading you through destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Dallas, and Savannah before arriving in Orlando.

Although this journey can be completed in about 10 days, there's a wealth of sights and experiences along each route, so we recommend making it a two-week adventure instead.

Orlando, Florida, USA with an aerial view of the skyline, city buildings in the foreground and Lake Eola in the distance at sunset.
No matter what you are looking for, we guarantee you that you will find it in Orlando. From its famous theme parks to world-class museums, this Florida city is home to a myriad of attractions.
Sean Pavone/

Best road trip route from Los Angeles to Orlando

While both the Southern and Northern Routes from Los Angeles to Orlando offer endless landscapes and cultural experiences, they are quite different, as you might expect from drives of this epic length.

The Southern Route quickly immerses you in desert wildernesses, with national parks dotting the path through Arizona and New Mexico. This route then transitions to the lush green forests around San Antonio, Texas, leading towards the Gulf of Mexico's stunning beaches.

You'll pass through Louisiana's picturesque lakes and bayous, before reaching the Florida Panhandle's forests and central Florida's alligator-populated lakes (keep a safe distance!).

The Northern Route offers a more varied terrain, starting with the dry, mountainous regions on the way to the Grand Canyon. The route then weaves through the bustling urban landscapes of Albuquerque, Amarillo, Dallas and Atlanta.

You will have plenty of greenery to admire on this route as well, such as the beautiful Bienville National Forest and Talladega National Forest.

The route then takes you to the historic charm of Savannah on the Atlantic Coast, and if you have time, you'll be able to stroll around St. Augustine, one of the most historical cities in America.

The Southern Route is ideal for those who enjoy desert vistas and the unique culture of the Gulf Coast, while the Northern Route is perfect for travelers seeking a blend of cities, forested landscapes, and historical highlights.

How to drive from Los Angeles to Orlando

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Los Angeles and Orlando. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

Southern Route

Start your journey on the Southern Route from Los Angeles, starting on Interstate 10 (I-10) heading east towards Phoenix, Arizona. As you continue on I-10, you'll reach El Paso, Texas, where the El Paso Mission Trail awaits you.

As you continue heading east, you can make a long, but worthy detour to Big Bend National Park past El Paso as you head towards San Antonio, Texas, home to the iconic Alamo, a symbol of Texan independence. Then, drive eastward to Houston.

Continuing on to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, you'll find the Raising Cane's River Center, a hub for events and entertainment plus some of the best food in the South.

As you reach New Orleans, the non-stop fun of the French Quarter awaits you. After soaking in the city's lively atmosphere, head towards the Gulf of Mexico to explore the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum.

Continuing your journey, you'll encounter Destin, Florida, where the Destin Harbor Boardwalk provides a scenic waterfront experience. Before reaching your final destination in Orlando, you can visit Tallahassee and Gainesville.

Space Shuttle mounted on Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, USA.
Pay a visit to NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston if you are following our Southern Route.
Wangkun Jia/

Northern Route

Begin your journey on the Northern Route, starting with a northeast drive towards the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Your first major stop is the Grand Canyon South Entrance, where you can experience the breathtaking vistas of this natural world wonder.

Next, head east on Interstate I-40 towards Albuquerque, New Mexico, to explore the ancient Petroglyph National Monument.

Continue your journey to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the historic Santa Fe Plaza offers a rich cultural experience like nothing else. As you proceed to Amarillo, Texas, don't miss the Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery and Cadillac Ranch.

Moving towards Dallas, Texas, the Reunion Tower provides a panoramic view of the city's skyline. After experiencing the big-city excitement of Dallas, you'll drive to Birmingham, Alabama, where you can see the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

As you drive towards Atlanta, Georgia, consider visiting Skyview Atlanta for stunning city views and Zoo Atlanta for a family-friendly adventure. The journey then takes you to Savannah, Georgia, a city famous for its architecture and cuisine.

Before reaching your final destination in Orlando, Florida, a detour to Jacksonville, Florida, allows you to explore The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary. Afterwards, don't miss a detour to St. George Street in St. Augustine and the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach.

Toroweap (Sunset) Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Early bird catches the worm! If you head to Toroweap Overlook in the early morning, you can catch one of the most beautiful sunset views in the Grand Canyon, if you choose the Nothern Route.

Best places to stop between Los Angeles and Orlando

You'll be covering a lot of ground on this road trip from Los Angeles to Orlando. To make sure you're well-rested and have enough time to explore the highlights along the way, consider staying in one of these thrilling destinations below.

Paint the town red in New Orleans

New Orleans, nestled along the Southern Route approximately 28 hours from Los Angeles, is an ideal stopover. Known for its world-famous music scene, lively nightlife, festivals, and exceptional Creole and Cajun cuisine, the city is something special.

The essence of New Orleans lies in its ability to celebrate life like nowhere else. The city's heartbeat is its music such as jazz, blues, and zydeco, that fills the air in the French Quarter's historic streets.

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA at St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.
Take in the views of the beautiful St Louis Cathedral and then take a stroll in Jackson Square before you head to the French Quarter in New Orleans.
Sean Pavone/

Celebrate the local heritage with a visit to The National WWII Museum, or admire the majesty and architecture of St Louis Cathedral, two of the city's most iconic landmarks.

Did you know that New Orleans natives used to blend chicory with coffee during the Civil War due to shortages? This tradition continues today, adding a unique twist to the local brew.

For your stay, we recommend staying at the luxurious ONE11 Hotel. Located on the Mississippi Riverfront, next to Woldenberg Park and the Audubon Aquarium, the hotel is a modern tribute to the city's former Sugar District.

It features an outdoor swimming pool, a sun-drenched terrace, and world-class dining experiences created by award-winning chefs. The rooms and suites, with their exposed brickwork, contemporary furnishings, and river views, provide a sophisticated yet cozy retreat.

Just a short walk from the hotel, explore Jackson Square, less than a mile away, a historic park known for its vibrant street performers and artists. A bit farther, at about 2 miles, is Louis Armstrong Park, a beautiful green space commemorating the jazz legend.

Absorb the rich history of Dallas

Dallas, located about 24 hours along the Northern Route from Los Angeles, is an excellent choice for an overnight stop. This bustling metropolis is famous for its world-class museums, incredible arts scene, and popular sports teams.

The Dallas World Aquarium and Pioneer Plaza are must-visit destinations that will take you into the city's natural and cultural heritage. If you're interested in American criminal history, Dallas is also the hometown of the notorious outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose final resting place is in Western Heights Cemetery.

Penguins sitting on a rock together in the pool
You can learn about the fascinating marine animals of Dallas World Aquarium and see these adorable penguins up-close during your visit.

For your stay in Dallas, we recommend the highly-rated The Joule. This boutique hotel, set in the heart of the city, is an epitome of modern elegance and a gathering place for art lovers and design enthusiasts.

It has an award-winning subterranean spa, outdoor pool, and modern fitness center. The rooms at The Joule are meticulously appointed, offering all the comforts of home. For dining, the on-site restaurant CBD Provisions serves delightful breakfasts daily.

In the Joule's vicinity, you can explore the Dallas Museum of Art is a short walk away, showcasing a vast collection of art across various cultures and time periods.

Another short journey will take you to Old City Park, a historic village offering a glimpse into Dallas' past through its preserved buildings and landscapes.

Where to stay when you reach Orlando

It goes without saying that Orlando is the theme park capital of the world. It's a place that offers an adventure-packed vacation for families and thrill-seekers alike.

From the magical realms of Walt Disney World Resort to the action-packed Universal Orlando, the city is a paradise for theme park enthusiasts. But don't worry if amusement parks are not your thing, Orlando has plenty to keep you entertained!

The Incredible Hulk roller coaster in Universal Studios on a sunny day
Let your inner child out in one of the amazing theme parks in Orlando. Will you dare ride this "The Incredible Hulk" roller coaster?

If you're interested in educational entertainment, the Orlando Science Center has plenty of interactive exhibits and experiences. Universal Studios, another iconic attraction, immerses you in the world of movies and television, with thrilling rides and behind-the-scenes glimpses.

A lesser-known fact about Orlando is its abundance of lakes, with over 100 dotting the landscape. These lakes are perfect for relaxing after a long day of fun.

For your stay in Orlando, we recommend staying at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club Tuscany Village Orlando. You can choose from spacious studios and one and two-bedroom suites, all equipped with full kitchens, living and dining areas, and screened balconies or patios where you can relax in style.

The resort's architecture is inspired by the charming ambiance of Tuscany, complemented by family-friendly amenities such as a resort-style pool and a variety of kids' activities.

Things to see on a road trip from Los Angeles to Orlando

On your drive from Los Angeles to Orlando, you'll experience an endless amount of destinations and experiences. To help you plan easily and choose your perfect itinerary, we've listed our favorites below.

Southern Route

  1. Lincoln Memorial Shrine - Located in Redlands, California, this museum and research facility is dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War, featuring an extensive collection of manuscripts and artifacts.
  2. Aerial Tram - This attraction in Palm Springs offers panoramic views and a unique perspective of the landscapes it traverses, providing an unforgettable aerial experience.
  3. Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours - Near Apache Junction, Arizona, this restored ghost town offers a glimpse into the area's mining history with guided tours and old west gunfights.
  4. El Paso Mission Trail - A historic trail in El Paso, Texas, featuring three 17th-century missions that highlight the region's rich Spanish and Native American heritage.
  5. The Alamo - This historic Spanish mission in San Antonio, Texas, is famous for the 1836 Battle of the Alamo and serves as a symbol of Texan independence and resilience.
  6. Houston's Underground Tunnel System - A network of subterranean walkways beneath Downtown Houston, Texas, offering a unique way to explore the city away from the heat.
  7. Raising Cane's River Center - A multi-purpose complex in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hosting concerts, sports events, and conventions, with scenic views of the Mississippi River.
  8. Cajun Pride Swamp Tours - Located in LaPlace, Louisiana, these tours offer an immersive experience into the Louisiana bayous, showcasing local wildlife and Cajun culture.
  9. French Quarter - The historic heart of New Orleans, Louisiana, known for its vibrant nightlife, colorful buildings, jazz music, and the annual Mardi Gras celebration.
  10. Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu - Located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, this museum celebrates the history and pageantry of Mardi Gras with costumes, floats, and memorabilia.
  11. Houmas House Plantation - A historic estate in Darrow, Louisiana, offering tours of its antebellum mansion and lush gardens, reflecting the South's rich history.
  12. GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico - In Mobile, Alabama, this museum is dedicated to the Gulf Coast's maritime heritage and culture, featuring interactive exhibits and maritime artifacts.
  13. Five Flags Speedway - In Pensacola, Florida, this paved oval racetrack hosts various auto racing events, including the prestigious Snowball Derby.
  14. Destin Harbor Boardwalk - A bustling boardwalk in Destin, Florida, featuring waterfront dining, shopping, and entertainment, with stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico.
  15. Florida Caverns State Park - Located in Marianna, Florida, this park offers guided tours of Florida's only open-air cave, along with camping, hiking, and fishing opportunities.
The historic building in the background with beautiful colorful flowers in the foreground on a cloudy day
Book a tour in the beautiful Houmas House plantation and then treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the restaurants on-site as a treat.

Northern Route

  1. California Route 66 Museum - Situated in Victorville, California, this museum celebrates the history and culture of the iconic Route 66 with vintage cars, memorabilia, and interactive exhibits.
  2. Grand Canyon National Park - A bucket-list destination, Grand Canyon National Park is famous for its vast and colorful canyon, showcasing millions of years of geological history. It's a popular destination for hiking, rafting, and breathtaking scenic views.
  3. Petroglyph National Monument - Near Albuquerque, New Mexico, this site preserves thousands of historic petroglyphs, offering insight into the region's ancestral Puebloan culture.
  4. Santa Fe Plaza - The historic center of Santa Fe, New Mexico, surrounded by historic buildings, galleries, and shops, reflecting the city's rich cultural heritage.
  5. Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery - Famous for its 72-ounce steak challenge, this restaurant in Amarillo, Texas, offers a quintessential Texas dining experience.
  6. Reunion Tower - A landmark observation tower in Dallas, Texas, providing panoramic views of the city skyline with its unique, glowing ball structure.
  7. Vicksburg National Military Park - In Vicksburg, Mississippi, this park preserves the site of the Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, with monuments, cannons, and a restored ironclad gunboat.
  8. Jackson Volcano - An extinct volcano located beneath the city of Jackson, Mississippi, known for its intriguing geological history.
  9. Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument - In Birmingham, Alabama, this site commemorates the pivotal role of the city in the Civil Rights Movement, with historic sites and interpretive exhibits.
  10. Skyview Atlanta - A Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, offering stunning views of the cityscape and a unique perspective on the bustling metropolis.
  11. Zoo Atlanta - Located in Atlanta, Georgia, this zoo is known for its conservation efforts and diverse collection of wildlife, including giant pandas and African elephants.
  12. Forsyth Park - A large, historic public park in Savannah, Georgia, known for its picturesque fountain, ample walking paths, and lush greenery.
  13. The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary - A wildlife sanctuary in Jacksonville, Florida, dedicated to the rescue and care of big cats and other endangered wildlife.
  14. St. George Street, St Augustine - A charming, pedestrian-only street in St. Augustine, Florida, lined with historic buildings, quaint shops, and eateries.
  15. Daytona International Speedway - In Daytona Beach, Florida, this world-famous racetrack hosts the Daytona 500 and other major motorsport events.
 SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel in Centennial Park on a sunny day
See Atlanta from up above on the Skyview Atlanta Ferris wheel!
Moti Meiri/

Best time to go on a road trip from Los Angeles to Orlando

The journey from Los Angeles to Orlando, whether you choose the Southern or Northern Route, is an adventure you can undertake any time of the year and each season will add something different to your experience.

Winter in Orlando features pleasant temperatures, averaging in the mid-60s Fahrenheit, making it an ideal escape from colder regions. While driving the Southern Route in winter, most areas remain accessible with very rare snowfall and occasional frost.

On the Northern Route, be mindful of potential snow closures near the Grand Canyon. It is also good to keep in mind that the North Rim is closed during this season.

If you are traveling during this time, don't miss out on the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival in December.

Spring sees temperatures ranging from the high 60s to low 80s Fahrenheit, perfect for exploring theme parks and outdoor attractions.

On the Southern Route, April's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival near Los Angeles is a must-see for any music fan. In Orlando, March's Music Fest is a festival worth experiencing.

Orlando's summer temperatures often reach the high 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit. This is the ideal time for water-based activities in the city's many theme parks. However, you might find the attractions busy and accommodation prices relatively higher.

Fall brings milder temperatures to Orlando, ranging from the high 60s to mid-80s Fahrenheit, perfect for enjoying its outdoor shopping and nature excursions. The Fiestas de Santa Fe in September and the State Fair of Texas on the Northern Route from September to October are fall highlights.

If you're traveling in fall, don't miss the Wings Over Houston Air Show in October on the Southern Route. On both routes, you may see some beautiful fall colors, especially on the inland and higher elevations sections of the drive.