If you love history and natural beauty, then you'll truly appreciate the sights found on a road trip from Tampa to New Orleans. You may want to start by going southeast to explore Biscayne National Park, but just be aware that it adds about 537 miles to your total trip. However, the chance to go scuba diving and canoeing at this park may be worth the extra drive. You'll also find fabulous state parks along the Gulf of Mexico, where you'll want to stop to hike, fish and canoe. You can look forward to passing through fantastic cities like Tallahassee, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama, along your route.
Check out this guide to national parks to learn more about national parks in the United States that should be included in your future trips. On this Tampa to New Orleans road trip, you can add Biscayne National Park, but you'll drive about eight more hours.
Biscayne National Park
Begin your visit to Biscayne National Park by stopping by the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, which was built in 1875 and had its light installed in 1876. It has since been replaced with a solar-powered light that can be seen 17 miles out to sea on a clear night. Just a short way from this lighthouse, you can launch a boat. Head out to sea and use the mooring buoys located near coral reefs to anchor your boat while you go scuba diving. Then, head to the Elliott Key section's swimming beach to enjoy swimming and your favorite beach activities. Finally, go hiking along trails in the Adams Key area where presidents Hoover, Johnson and Nixon roamed when this was their private retreat.
Silver Springs State Park
In the past, guests arrived by steamship to Silver Springs State Park to relax in beautiful surroundings. Glass-bottom boats allowed them to see the natural springs and marine life. You can have that same experience when you visit this state park near Ocala, Florida. This park protects some of the 30 springs that rise out of the ground on the Spring River's northern part. Then, launch a canoe or kayak to explore the river. Stroll through the Silver River Museum, which is open to the public on the weekends, to see a late-1800s one-room schoolhouse, wood-fired pottery kilns and log cabins. Hike along the Sandhill Trail to see various wildlife, including white-tail deer, gopher tortoises and wild turkey.
Dudley Farm Historic State Park
You'll feel like you've stepped back more than 100 years when you help with Dudley Farm Historic State Park's chores. You can feed the chickens, help plow the garden, pump water and complete many other tasks on this working farm. Phillip Benjamin Harvey Dudley, Sr. first established the farm. Run between the 18 historic buildings as you hustle to help complete the farm work during your visit to this park near Newberry, Florida. The garden in front of the homestead comes alive with beautiful flowers in the spring, and it would make for a great place to learn about other Florida state parks. Check the special events calendar.
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
If you're a fan of Stephen F. Foster’s folk song "Old Folks at Home," you'll love visiting White Springs, Florida’s Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. Listen to Foster’s music as it streams regularly from the Carillon Tower and make some folk art while visiting the square. Stroll through the Craft Square to see how various forms of folk art are created and buy some at various locations around the park. Visit the historic Spring House, where many people flocked believing the water that's high in sulfur would cure their ailments. Then, launch a kayak on the Suwannee River.
Florida Caverns State Park
Join a guided tour through limestone caves at Florida Caverns State Park near Marianna, Florida. Start by walking 350 feet into this cave’s entrance. Then, walk down 35 steps to see the dozen large cave rooms with their magnificent stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstones that water has created over thousands of years. Look carefully and you'll see bats, mice and other wildlife that call this cave home. Your tour guide will tell you about how Native Americans and others used this cave throughout time.
Orman House Historic State Park
The Orman House was built for Thomas Orman in 1838 to serve as headquarters for his cotton business and so that he could entertain guests. Tour this home filled with period furnishings. You'll be amazed at the Greek Revival and Federal details found in this home. Then, head next door to view the Chapman Botanical Gardens. Stroll along the half-mile-long loop to see various migratory and native butterflies or sit in the gazebo and soak in the solitude at this site while reading about other Alabama state parks.
Lapham-Patterson House Historic Site
Fish-scale shingles, oriental-style porch decorations, long-leaf pine inlaid floors, a double-flue chimney, a walk-through stairway and a cantilevered balcony are just a few of the details you'll notice when you visit the Victorian Lapham-Patterson House. This home, located in Thomasville, Georgia, was built in 1884 and 1885 for shoe merchant C.W. Lapham as his winter retreat. You're likely to be amazed at the details included in this home, such as gas lighting, hot-and-cold-running water, indoor plumbing and closets.
Panhandle Pioneer Settlement
Meticulous care was given to move the 18 historic buildings from around Calhoun County to this site in Blountstown, Florida. You can compare the round log, the split log and the dovetail log style of building log cabins found throughout Florida in the early 1900s. Shop at the general store used as a post office and shopping destination from 1941 to 1985. See a medical doctor’s office, smokehouse, blacksmith shop and many other trade buildings. If you have children along for the journey, they'll love seeing the farm animals.
Seacrest Wolf Preserve
Get up close to wolves at Seacrest Wolf Preserve located near Chipley, Florida. You can see gray, arctic and British Columbia wolves. A variety of tours that usually involve petting wolves are available.
National Naval Aviation Museum
Stop at the National Naval Aviation Museum at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. Tour the many old airplanes used by the United States Navy or try your hand at flying the MaxFlight and motion-based simulators. Watch movies about the Blue Angels in the 4D theater and head outside to watch them practice. End your visit with a drink and meal in the Cubi Bar Café, set up to look like the Cubi Point Officers Club that served soldiers in the Western Pacific.
Bellingrath Gardens and Home
Tour the Bellingrath Gardens and Homes that were constructed in 1935 using salvaged materials for Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. The bricks used to construct the home were originally constructed for the women’s suffrage movement leader Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont’s home. The iron gates came from Mobile’s iconic Southern Hotel. There's always something in bloom in the gardens as the 65-acre property contains more than 400 varieties of camellias.
One of the first cities that you should consider including on your road trip itinerary from Tampa to New Orleans is Gainesville, Florida. Consider visiting the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and the University of Florida’s Bat House. Campgrounds in Gainesville include the Williston Crossings RV Resort and the Grand Lake RV & Golf Resort. RV dump stations in Gainesville include Sportsman’s Cove Resort and Grand Lake R.V. and Golf Resort, as well as a few other locations.
You may want to visit many tourist attractions in Tallahassee, Florida, including the Tallahassee Museum and the Museum of Florida History. Tallahassee campground options include A Stone Throw’s RV Park and the Tallahassee RV Park. Big Oak RV Park and Lakeside Travel Park have RV dump stations in Tallahassee, or you can check out other nearby dump station locations.
You may want to start your visit to Mobile at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, where you can tour two battleships and see tanks and military planes. The Mobile Carnival Museum is a fascinating place to learn about the city’s Mardi Gras history and ride on a simulated float. Mobile campground options include Coastal Haven and Driftwood RV Park. RV dump stations in Mobile include the Econ Family Travel Center and Chickasabogue Park and Campground, in addition to other locations across the state.
History comes alive as you visit historic homes and settlements on a Tampa to New Orleans RV road trip. The journey allows the opportunity to learn about a range of subjects, including wolves, battleships and planes, to name a few. There are also fantastic state parks containing caverns, historical buildings and more. Get your RV packed up and head out as soon as possible to experience this route. If you don't have one, rent an RV in Tampa or New Orleans.