Driving directly from Destin to Orlando is around 6 hours.
You would be driving along I-10 and I-75 for much of the way.
The distance from Destin to Orlando is around 415 miles by driving this route.
Explore the map.
Or, you can also mostly skip the interstate and take your time and make stops along the way!
Of course there are many (many!) different ways to get from Destin to Orlando.
Consider the list below some ideas of stops to make along the way if you want to make it a multi-day drive!
The stops can include white sand beaches, caves, and springs!
And you might even have a chance to see waterfalls, turtles, and alligators!
You can go to state parks, a national forest, and a national natural landmark!
What a well-rounded Florida road trip?! Yes, it is! 😉
Florida road trip to state parks between Destin and Orlando
The Destin to Orlando driving route below includes many Florida state parks.
The Florida Park Service says that you can see the “real Florida” when you go to state parks.
In general, Florida state parks have an entry fee. This ranges from $4 to $6 per car for the state parks on the list below.
If you plan on making this the year of visiting many Florida state parks, then there is also an annual Florida state park pass that you can buy when you arrive at any Florida state park that is staffed.
Florida state parks also have picnic tables so they can also make for a perfect stop for a picnic.
So stop by a Publix grocery store for prepared food or picnic food and eat your meal outdoors with views!
Florida road trip to springs between Destin and Orlando
There are said to be over 1,000 springs in Florida!
And you have many springs to choose from along the way on your drive from Destin to Orlando!
And, many Florida springs are for swimming!
It’s said that the water temperature of many springs in Florida are a constant high 60s to low 70s year-round.
This means that in theory, you can go swimming in Florida springs any time of year.
Bring goggles so you can see the underwater life! (You can bring snorkeling gear if you have it!)
You may also consider wearing a swimming shirt with UV protection for swimming in the Florida springs too.
See more about what to pack for a trip to Florida springs.
Here's some info on Florida trip prep!
- Things to do in the Florida Panhandle for VIEWS!
- Best beaches in the Florida Panhandle
- Best state parks in the Florida Panhandle
- Best campgrounds in the Florida Panhandle
- Driving from Florida Panhandle to Orlando
- Best Ocala National Forest springs
- Things to do in Southwest Florida
- Things to do in the Florida Keys
Save the Florida Panhandle video playlist to watch on youtube later!
What is there to see between Destin and Orlando?
Explore the map. Play around with this map by adding and removing destinations to see how much of a detour (aka how much extra driving time) each stop requires!
Starting the drive from Destin…
1. Henderson Beach State Park
Cost: $6 per car
Before you leave Destin, one last activity to see views of the gulf coast in Destin!
You can head to the best state park in Destin.
There’s a Walmart pretty much right across the street from the Henderson Beach State Park entry.
So pick up picnic food from there and enjoy a picnic with views on the beach or at the picnic tables!
Picnic lunch at Henderson Beach State Park before you start your drive to Orlando!
There is also the Henderson Beach State Park campground for camping in Destin.
More beaches around Destin
If you haven’t spent a few days in Destin to go to some of the best beaches in and around Destin, then you might not want to go inland just yet!
Further to the east along the coast, there’s the 30A beaches and Panama City Beach if you don’t want to leave the white sand beaches of the gulf coast quite so soon!
Florida state parks with beautiful white sand beaches along this stretch:
- Henderson Beach State Park
- Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
- Grayton Beach State Park (former #1 beach in America)
- St Andrews State Park
These state parks also have campgrounds… if you can manage to get a reservation!
These state parks are known to be difficult to find campsite availability.
It can often depend on getting lucky and searching shortly after someone cancels a reservation!
It will be easier to find availability for a 1 night stay. But even then, there’s often no availability.
You can check availability and make camping reservations through the official Florida State Parks camping reservation website.
For another form of overnight lodging in Florida state parks, there are also the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park bungalows… again, if you can manage to get lucky!
See more about what to pack for a trip to Florida beaches.
Now heading inland…
2. Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
Cost: $4 per car
Florida State Parks says the water temperature of Ponce de Leon Springs is a constant 68 degrees year-round.
NOTE: Not to be confused with De Leon Springs State Park, which is another Florida State Park!
Who is Ponce De Leon?!
According to Florida State Parks, Juan Ponce de Leon led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513.
Explore the map of Destin to Ponce de Leon Springs State Park to Orlando.
3. Falling Waters State Park
Cost: $5 per car
At the Falling Waters State Park entry, there’s a sign that says what the water flow of the waterfalls is like.
When I went in March, the water flow was listed as moderate.
Well, when I arrived at the upper waterfalls overlook, it looked more like a trickle to me.
Even so, going down to the lower waterfalls overlook was a wow feeling when you look down the sinkhole where the waterfalls “fall” into!
For camping, there is the Falling Waters State Park campground.
Explore the map of Destin to Falling Waters State Park to Orlando.
4. Florida Caverns State Park
Cost: $5 per car for state park entry + $11 per person for cave tour
The Florida Caverns Natural Area is a National Natural Landmark, as designated by the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Interior.
You can see a variety of rock formations by walking through the cave underground.
The only way to take a walk through the underground cave is through a Florida Caverns State Park cave tour.
This lasts about an hour.
The cave tours can only be bought in person on the same day, and it’s said that they can sell out. See the current info.
So my plan was to go camping at the Florida Caverns State Park campground to be able to get cave tour tickets in the morning. This worked out well.
It was a Monday morning. When I showed up just after 9am, I was able to go on the next departing tour. I got the last ticket for that timing, but the following timing was 15 minutes later.
Although, when I arrived on a Sunday late afternoon, there were cave tour tickets still available. (But I still waited to go the next day.)
So when I went, it wasn’t all that busy.
Also note that no cave tours are offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. See the current schedule.
Florida Caverns State Park is in the central time zone.
While the cave tour is THE reason to go to Florida Caverns State Park, if it turns out you have some time before your cave tour (or want to make time afterwards), there are a couple of above ground things to do in Florida Caverns State Park.
You can hike the Bluff Trail to the Tunnel Cave (above ground) and beyond.
And you can also see and/or go swimming at Blue Hole Spring. Florida State Parks says the water temperature of Blue Hole Spring is a constant 64 degrees year-round.
And then of course, as a Florida state park, you can always go for a picnic!
Also note that Florida Caverns State Park was in large part destroyed by category 5 Hurricane Michael in 2018.
According to Florida State Parks:
Florida Caverns State Park lost more than 90% of its thick canopied forest.
There are parts of Florida Caverns State Park where this destruction can still be seen.
When I went in March 2022, the cave tour guide noted that after you exit the cave at the end of the tour, you can still see the downed trees there.
Camping near Florida Caverns:
- Florida Caverns State Park campground
- Falling Waters State Park campground (30 minutes away to the west)
- Three Rivers State Park campground (30 minutes away to the east)
- Torreya State Park campground (1 hour away to the east)
Falling Waters and Three Rivers are in central time zone. Torreya is in eastern time zone.
At Three Rivers State Park campground, just across the lake is Georgia in eastern time. My phone was showing eastern time in Three Rivers State Park! (I also had limited to no service there, by the way.)
If you look at a map, the Apalachicola River divides the central time zone and eastern time zone in Florida.
For hotels near Florida Caverns, there are chain hotels in Marianna FL (closest to Florida Caverns) and Chipley FL (30 minutes away to the west).
Explore the map of Destin to Florida Caverns State Park to Orlando.
See more about this stop between Destin and Orlando:
5. Wakulla Springs State Park
Cost: $6 per car for state park entry + $7.50 per person for Wakulla Springs State Park boat tour
Wakulla Springs are some more Florida springs that you can go swimming at.
But the reason to go to Wakulla Springs State Park is for the boat tour!
You have a chance to see some wildlife, including possibly alligators!
Unfortunately when I went, the weather wasn’t the best for alligator sightings, but I still saw around 5 alligators.
Although 5 alligators is nothing compared to another boat tour I did near Orlando. But how many alligators you see on these boat tours is always all about the weather: water temperature, air temperature, and sunny vs overcast will affect whether alligators are out or not!
Apparently there is a stretch that the Wakulla Springs boat goes by that a ton of alligators like to lay around, but because of the weather conditions, they stayed in the water the time the boat went by and there were none in that particular spot.
But despite not seeing as many alligators as you can in optimal conditions, I still thought the boat tour was worth it.
It was a nice boat ride through the “real Florida” as the people of Florida State Parks like to say!
There have also been jungle movies filmed in what is now Wakulla Springs State Park.
There is no camping in Wakulla Springs State Park, but there is the Lodge at Wakulla Springs for overnight lodging in Wakulla Springs State Park.
You can also go dining at the lodge after your boat tour.
You also make the Wakulla Springs boat tour reservations through the lodge.
Wakulla Springs State Park is in the eastern time zone.
Explore the map of Destin to Wakulla Springs State Park to Orlando.
6. Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
Cost: $6 per car
The Gilchrist Blue Springs are more Florida springs you can visit on a drive from Destin to Orlando!
I saw turtles swimming at Gilchrist Blue Springs!
For camping, there is the Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park campground and the O’Leno State Park campground (30 minutes away).
For hotels near Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, there are chain hotels in Alachua FL (20 minutes away).
Explore the map of Destin to Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park to Orlando.
See more about this stop between Destin and Orlando:
👆 Driving towards Orlando from Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park to Ocala National Forest.
7. Salt Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest
Cost: $8 per person on weekdays and $11 per person on weekends and holidays
Another option for Florida springs to stop off at on your drive from Destin to Orlando is the Ocala National Forest springs.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the water temperature of Salt Springs is a constant 74 degrees year-round.
There are several “recreation areas” in Ocala National Forest with springs, so you can take your pick:
- Salt Springs Recreation Area
- Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area
- Juniper Springs Recreation Area
- Alexander Springs Recreation Area
Explore the map of Ocala National Forest springs.
You can go camping at Salt Springs, Juniper Springs, and Alexander Springs.
There are more campgrounds throughout Ocala National Forest if you don’t care about being near springs.
If you are RV camping and looking for full-service hook-up, then you will want to go camping at the Salt Springs campground.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, this is the only campground in Ocala National Forest with full hook-ups for RVs.
Explore the map of Destin to Ocala National Forest to Orlando.
See more about this stop between Destin and Orlando:
And driving to Ocala National Forest will make you 1.5 hours away from Orlando.
And then you can continue driving to Orlando!
And that’s a bit about driving from Destin to Orlando!
I did a drive in the areas between Destin and Orlando in March 2022. Your experience may vary! Things may change!
Things to do near Orlando:
- Kissimmee Swamp Tour to see alligators
- Lake Louisa State Park for lakes and glamping
- Wekiwa Springs State Park swimming
HAPPY DRIVING FROM DESTIN TO ORLANDO!