Roadtrip! Here's where to stop between Houston and Pensacola Beach... with kids!
I asked my kids where they wanted to go on a roadtrip and they were absolutely certain they needed to go to the beach in Florida. I don't know why exactly... but I think they had heard stories of the white sand beaches and clear blue water.
So, I looked at the map, and since I was going to be driving alone, agreed to slowly drive from Houston, Texas to Pensacola Beach, Florida... just inside the Florida state line.
Over eight days, we drove from Houston (through Beaumont, Lake Charles and Lafayette) to Baton Rouge. Then we drove from Baton Rouge to Biloxi (driving along the Mississippi coastline). Then from Biloxi (through Mobile) to Pensacola Beach. On the return trip back to Houston, we swung through New Orleans.
The drive from Houston to Pensacola Beach is about eight hours in each direction, but we did a lot of short drives and a lot of sightseeing.
Before the trip, I had asked YOU for recommendations on where to stop between Houston and Pensacola Beach, and I have listed them below. Also, the map is at the bottom. (I've highlighted the places we went to with "*"!)
I've already promised my kids we would take this trip again soon... so if you have more recommendations for what to see between Houston and Pensacola Beach, let us know!
Where to Stop between Houston and Pensacola Beach:
What to see in Beaumont:
- Spindletop Museum
- Gator Country
- Beaumont Children's Museum
- Fire Museum of Texas
- Edison Museum
- Texas Energy Museum
What to see in Lake Charles/Sulphur:
- Louisiana Welcome Center (At LA State line... but it was closed for renovations when we were there.)
- Millennium Park
- The Children's Museum of Lake Charles
- Creole Nature Trail (Sulphur)
- Brimstone Museum (Sulphur)
- Sulphur Park Waterpark (Sulphur)
- Golden Nugget/Casinos (Stretch your legs and eat at the buffet.)
- Hollier’s Cajun Kitchen(Sulphur)
- Steamboat Bills
- Mr. Bills Seafood Express
- Darrell's Poboys
What to see in Lafayette:
What to see in Avery Island:
What to see in Baton Rouge:
In Baton Rouge we stayed downtown, within walking distance of the USS Kidd and Old State Capital (and a longer walk to the State Capital).
- USS Kidd* (In the old ship bathrooms, all the toilets are just lined up with no privacy. My little boy cannot stop talking about this. (Insert sigh and smile here.)
- Old State Capital* (This is free to visit and looks like a castle!)
- State Capital* (This is free to visit and you can take the elevator to the top observation deck!)
- Rural Life Museum
- Baton Rouge Zoo
What to see in New Orleans:
In New Orleans we stayed in the French Quarter and went to the City Park on the way out of town. Hotel reservations were a little hard to get, so we planned our trip around the New Orleans hotel.
- French Quarter*
- Jackson Square*
- Carriage Rides* (This was expensive... but good way to see the French Quarter and learn a lot of history!)
- Louisiana Children's Museum* (Free with Children's Museum of Houston membership!)
- WWII Museum
- Mardi Gras World
- Audubon Park
- Audubon Zoo
- Audubon Aquarium
- Central Grocery*
- Street Car
- City Park*
- Story Land Park* (This playground has lots of storybook characters and my little girl loved it! You do have to pay to get in.)
What to see in Pearlington:
What to see in Gulfport:
What to see in Biloxi:
We stayed on the west side of Biloxi, right along the beach. The sand was white and the boardwalk was nice to walk along. (The water is still the same Mississippi-mud color as Galveston.)
The beach was pretty quiet (which is great for us) and it looked like more people were in the beaches in the center of Biloxi.
What to see in Mobile:
- USS Alabama*
- Bellingrath Gardens
- Gulf Coast Exploreum
- Buc-ee's* (Just outside Mobile is a new Buc-ee's! And it was insanely busy. Just think of a busy Texas Buc-ee's and multiply the business by three. But we still went twice!)
What to see in Orange Beach:
What to see in Pensacola:
- National Naval Aviation Museum
- Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum
- Gulf Breeze Zoo
- Panhandle Butterfly House
- Red Slipper Cafe
What to see in Pensacola Beach:
In Pensacola Beach, we stayed on the west side of the small island. Holiday Inn Express was just remodeled, had direct access to the beach and every room had a balcony towards the gulf.
At Pensacola Beach, the sand was white and the water was blue. Somewhere after Mobile Bay, the water changed from Mississippi-mud to blue!
The west side of the island was pretty quiet and perfect for us. On the middle of the island, near the pier, is where the college kids hung out for spring break.
On Pensacola Beach, we spent several days digging in the sand, walking up and down the island jog/bike path and watching the waves from the balcony.
We took one little trip to the old Fort Pickens and one over the bridge to Gulf Breeze to find a sports field (because I don't think there is any grass on the island)... but the rest of the time was spent at the beach!
- Pier* (It costs a couple of dollars to walk on the pier and more to fish.)
- Fort Pickens*
- Free Trolley (in the summer)
Update: Thanks to MCT for the reminder in the comments! The bridge from Pensacola to Pensacola Beach is out due to hurricane damage. The target date for re-open is currently March 2021. You can still access Pensacola Beach, but you’ll need to plan an alternate route around Pensacola on I-10 and down through the Garcon bridge into Gulf Breeze.
Take a look at more pictures below... and if you have more suggestions for where to stop between Houston and Pensacola Beach, be sure to let us know for the next trip!
Roadtrip Map... Where to Stop between Houston and Pensacola Beach:
Pictures... Where to Stop between Houston and Pensacola Beach:
Old State Capital, Baton Rouge
Story Land Park, New Orleans
USS Alabama, Mobile
USS Kidd, Baton Rouge
Jackson Square, New Orleans
Story Land Park, New Orleans
Fort Pickens, Pensacola Beach
Holiday Inn Express, Pensacola Beach