Hi there!

 

Driving directly from Pensacola to Orlando is around 6.5 hours.

You would be driving along I-10 and I-75 for much of the way.

The distance from Pensacola to Orlando is around 455 miles by driving this route.

 

Pensacola to Orlando map of driving route. florida road trip map. florida travel blog
Explore the map.

 

Or, you can also mostly skip the interstate and take your time and make stops along the way!

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive. florida road trip. what is there to see between pensacola and orlando. florida travel blog

 

Of course there are many (many!) different ways to get from Pensacola 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 seashore, 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 Pensacola and Orlando

The Pensacola 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.

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 Pensacola and Orlando

Pensacola to Orlando drive. Florida springs to see between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

There are said to be over 1,000 springs in Florida!

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive. Florida springs to see between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

And you have many springs to choose from along the way on your drive from Pensacola to Orlando!

And, many Florida springs are for swimming!

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive. Florida springs to see between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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.

 

 

🌞

 
More photos/info below, but first...
Side note!
Here's some info on Florida trip prep!


I have a lot of 30-90 second Florida outdoor travel videos. A few of them might be on this page. If you can't see the video directly below, it might be because you have an ad blocker. Save the Florida outdoors video playlist to watch on youtube later!



Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida which resulted in historic destruction. If you are looking to help but not sure how, consider donating to the Florida State Parks Foundation: DONATE HERE. One of the notable Florida state parks is Cayo Costa State Park in Southwest Florida. Cayo Costa is mentioned as the first spot that the hurricane made landfall. Also see: State parks in Southwest Florida

Are Florida state parks open after the hurricane? Check the Florida Park Service website for current closures. (There are many state parks that are closed.)
Are Florida national parks open after the hurricane? Check the National Park Service website for current closures (October 2 update: Most of the Miami side of Everglades National Park is open, except for camping)

 

 

Now…

What is there to see between Pensacola and Orlando?

Pensacola to Orlando drive. florida road trip. what is there to see between pensacola and orlando. florida travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando map of driving route with stops. florida road trip map. florida travel blog
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!

 

 

1. Pensacola Beach pier

Cost: FREE parking for the beach + $2.25 per person for Pensacola Beach pier walking pass

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Pensacola Beach pier. Florida piers between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

Before you leave Pensacola, one last activity to see views of the gulf coast in Pensacola!

There’s a big parking lot at the main beach of Pensacola Beach, and there’s free parking.

You can use this parking lot to go to the beach.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Pensacola Beach pier. Florida piers between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

And you can use this Pensacola Beach parking to go to walk the Pensacola Beach pier!

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Pensacola Beach pier. Florida piers between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Pensacola Beach pier. Florida piers between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

There is a fee to go out onto the pier. This cost for a Pensacola Beach pier walking pass is $2.25 per person. A fishing pass is $7.50 per person. See current fees.

 

 

2. Opal Beach, Gulf Islands National Seashore

Cost: FREE to drive through Santa Rosa area of Gulf Islands National Seashore, $25 per car for entry to Opal Beach area

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see gulf islands national seashore, santa rosa island. national parks between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

A national seashore is a type of a national park, similar to a national lakeshore.

National seashores are managed by the National Park Service.

Gulf Islands National Seashore has many “areas” near Pensacola.

 

 

The Santa Rosa area can be one of the most convenient to visit, because you don’t even need to get out of the car to see the amazing views of Gulf Islands National Seashore!

If you take the slow scenic route of driving out of Pensacola through Gulf Islands National Seashore, this will be a 30 minute detour.

You will be driving with views of the ocean at times! (Well, you’ll be driving with views of the Gulf of Mexico, which is an ocean basin of the Atlantic Ocean!)

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see gulf islands national seashore, santa rosa island. national parks between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

If you want to make this a longer picnic stop, there is a picnic area at Opal Beach.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see gulf islands national seashore, santa rosa island. national parks between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see gulf islands national seashore, santa rosa island. national parks between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

Opal Beach does have a national park entry fee of $25 per car.

But if you don’t already have an annual national park pass (which covers Gulf Islands National Seashore), and you don’t want to pay so much for a short stop, then there are other parking areas along the way that will give you simple beach access so you can walk out onto the sand.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: stop to see gulf islands national seashore. national parks between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: stop to see gulf islands national seashore. national parks between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

You won’t encounter a national park entry station driving through the Santa Rosa area if you don’t go to Opal Beach.

For camping in Gulf Islands National Seashore, there is one campground in Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida that is in a different area, to the west.

That is the Fort Pickens Campground in the Fort Pickens area of Gulf Islands National Seashore, where you will find Langdon Beach.

 

Explore the map of Pensacola to Opal Beach to Orlando.

 

See more about this stop between Pensacola and Orlando:

 

 

3. Navarre Beach pier

Cost: FREE parking for the beach + $1 per person for Navarre Beach pier walking pass

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Navarre Beach pier. Florida piers between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

If you have taken the route through the Santa Rosa area of Gulf Islands National Seashore, then you will end up passing the Navarre Beach pier!

Navarre Beach FL calls itself the most relaxing place in Florida.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Navarre Beach fishing pier, most relaxing place in florida. Florida piers between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

The way it goes in Navarre Beach is that there is one main beach, and then you’ll come across some other beach access spots at you’re driving along the main road.

You can stop at those other beach access stops, which you will pass as you are driving from Gulf Islands National Seashore.

The “main beach” is the beach at the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier.

There’s a big parking lot here, and there’s free parking.

You can use this parking lot to go to the beach, and you can use it to go to walk the Navarre Beach pier!

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Navarre Beach pier. Florida piers between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

There is a fee to go out onto the pier. This cost for a Navarre Beach pier walking pass is $1 per person. A fishing pass is $7 per person. See current fees.

 

Explore the map of Pensacola to Navarre Beach to Orlando.

 

 

Now, leaving the gulf coast, we will start driving inland.

But if you haven’t spent a few days along the gulf coast, you may not want to go inland just yet!

Further to the east along the coast, there’s Destin and Panama City Beach if you don’t want to leave the white sand beaches of the gulf coast just yet!

Florida state parks with beautiful white sand beaches along this stretch:

  • Henderson Beach State Park
  • Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
  • Grayton Beach State Park
  • 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.

 

Okay, now heading inland…

 

 

4. Ponce de Leon Springs State Park

Cost: $4 per car

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Ponce de Leon Springs State Park. Florida springs between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

Florida State Parks says the water temperature of Ponce de Leon Springs is a constant 68 degrees year-round.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Ponce de Leon State Park. Florida springs between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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. And the story seems to be that he was after the fountain of youth.

 

Explore the map of Pensacola to Ponce de Leon Springs State Park to Orlando.

 

 

5. Falling Waters State Park

Cost: $5 per car

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see falling waters state park waterfalls. florida waterfalls between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see falling waters state park waterfalls. florida waterfalls between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

Well, when I arrived at the upper waterfalls overlook, it looked more like a trickle to me.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see falling waters state park waterfalls. florida waterfalls between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

Even so, going down to the lower waterfalls overlook was a wow feeling when you look down the sinkhole where the waterfalls “fall” into!

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see falling waters state park waterfalls. florida waterfalls between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see falling waters state park waterfalls. florida waterfalls between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

For camping, there is the Falling Waters State Park campground.

 

Explore the map of Pensacola to Falling Waters State Park to Orlando.

 

 

6. Florida Caverns State Park

Cost: $5 per car for state park entry + $11 per person for cave tour

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park. caves between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

The Florida Caverns Natural Area is a National Natural Landmark, as designated by the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Interior.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park. caves between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

You can see a variety of rock formations by walking through the cave underground.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park. caves between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park. caves between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park. caves between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park. caves between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park. caves between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park. caves between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see florida caverns state park springs. florida springs between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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 Pensacola to Florida Caverns State Park to Orlando.

 

See more about this stop between Pensacola and Orlando:

 

 

7. Wakulla Springs State Park

Cost: $6 per car for state park entry + $7.50 per person for Wakulla Springs State Park boat tour

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to do wakulla springs state park boat tour. where to see alligators between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to do wakulla springs state park boat tour. where to see alligators between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to do wakulla springs state park boat tour. where to see alligators between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to do wakulla springs state park boat tour. where to see alligators between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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! If you will be going even further south after Orlando and want to see alligators, you must go to Everglades National Park and the Tamiami Trail!

 

 

 

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.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to do wakulla springs state park boat tour. florida jungle between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see wakulla springs state park lodge. historic lodging between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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 Pensacola to Wakulla Springs State Park to Orlando.

 

 

8. Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park

Cost: $6 per car

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park. Florida springs between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

The Gilchrist Blue Springs are more Florida springs you can visit on a drive from Pensacola to Orlando!

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: Stop to see Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park. Florida springs between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

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 Pensacola to Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park to Orlando.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: driving to ocala national forest. national forests between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog
👆 Driving towards Orlando from Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park to Ocala National Forest.

 

 

9. Ocala National Forest

Cost: $8 per person on weekdays and $11 per person on weekends and holidays

Pensacola to Orlando drive: stop to see ocala national forest springs. salt springs. national forests between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

Another option for Florida springs to stop off at on your drive from Pensacola 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.

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: stop to see ocala national forest springs. salt springs. national forests between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

Pensacola to Orlando drive: stop to see ocala national forest springs. salt springs. national forests between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog

 

There are several “recreation areas” in Ocala National Forest with springs, so you can take your pick:

 

Pensacola to Orlando drive: ocala national forest springs map. florida springs between pensacola and orlando. florida road trip travel blog
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 Pensacola to Ocala National Forest to Orlando.

 

See more about this stop between Pensacola 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 Pensacola to Orlando!

I did a drive from Pensacola to Orlando in March 2022. Your experience may vary! Things may change!

 

Things to do near Orlando:

 

HAPPY DRIVING FROM PENSACOLA TO ORLANDO!

 

 

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Things to pack for your Florida vacation!

The ultimate beach towel for travel?!
Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phone
You can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!
Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!
Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're swimming.

More for your Florida packing list



Watch the videos to see Florida in action!

Find more amazing things to do Florida: Watch my Florida videos on youtube
If you see an activity you like, look in the description below the youtube video for the individual blog post about that specific activity!