Are you planning a vacation in sunny Los Angeles and you want to leave from Miami? The drive is rather long but can be done by car. What do you need to know ahead of leaving for your trip?
Driving from Miami to Los Angeles will pass through Orlando, Pensacola, and parts of Texas such as Austin and El Paso before you reach Tucson and finally, LA. The entire trip takes about 39 hours by car and must be divided into at least five days.
If you’re ready to pack up the family and venture out, I’ve got all the information you need to make the most of your trip.
I’ll recommend a route to LA from Miami, help you plan each day of driving, and tell you what you can see and do along the way, as you’ll need the entertainment.
Let’s get into it!
The best route from Miami to Los Angeles
If you were hoping to reach Miami in a day or two, then you’d have to leave from elsewhere besides Los Angeles or take a plane.
The road will be a long one, and your drives should be broken up across at least five days.
Along the way, you’ll get to drive through parts of Florida, Texas, and Arizona before reaching warm, tropical California.
That alone makes it worth the trip, and the kids will think so too!
Here is the route you should take from Miami to Los Angeles.
Miami to Orlando
The first leg of your journey will require you to cross through much of Florida as you drive from Miami to Orlando.
Since Miami is in southern Florida and there’s nothing surrounding you but water, there’s no way to go but up.
On your northern voyage, you’ll drive for about three and a half hours.
Try to time the start of the trip so you can avoid heavy traffic periods, which will only delay your arrival in Orlando further.
Since you already spent such a long time driving, even if it was on a relatively straight route, it might be a good idea to stop for the night in Orlando.
If you don’t, then you’ll add over six hours of driving to your overall time, which I don’t recommend doing all in one day, especially if you have young kids in the car!
Orlando to Pensacola
Wake up to a beautiful Orlando morning, have a leisurely breakfast with the kids, check out from the hotel on time, and then hit the road.
Today, it’s all about reaching Pensacola, which is all the way on the westernmost side of the Florida Panhandle.
Already you’ve made some great progress on your drive through Florida, so you should be proud!
The drive from Orlando to Pensacola requires you to drive northwest for approximately six and a half hours without traffic.
Since you’ll be on the road for so long, some traffic may be inevitable, which means even more time in the car.
That’s why I’d again recommend you stop for the night once you reach Pensacola, as surely, you and the family will be tired.
The next day, you can explore the beaches, museums, and ballparks here or maybe even go kayaking.
I’ll offer recommendations for what to do in Pensacola a little later in this guide, so make sure you check that out!
Pensacola to Austin
You get one more picturesque morning waking up with the Florida sun because day three of your voyage is when you’ll bid your home state adieu.
Your destination is Austin, Texas, but it’s going to take you a long time to get there. I mean a long time, like 11 hours.
Could you stop along the way? If you really wanted to, yes.
All you have to do is drive westward. As you leave Florida, you’ll pass through some of Alabama and the entirety of Louisiana.
New Orleans is along the route if you must break the 11-hour drive into two nights.
The state capital of Austin is one of the most famed cities in the United States. It’s esteemed for its music scene as well as activities like boating, swimming, biking, and hiking.
There’s surely something for your family to do here. Once you arrive, find some lodging for the night and then take your time exploring the city.
Austin to El Paso
Day Two of your time in Texas begins that next morning when it’s back in the car and time to head to El Paso.
Texas is another larger-than-life state, so traversing it is no fast feat.
It will take you approximately eight hours to reach El Paso from Austin. You’ll drive northwest the entire time.
At least once you get to El Paso, there’s a lot to look forward to, such as state parks, art museums, botanical gardens, and zoos.
Of course, you and the family will probably be tired by the eight-hour drive (remember, that’s without traffic, so it will probably take you longer) so all you’ll want to do is sleep it off.
In the morning, adventure can await!
El Paso to Tucson
Once you’ve had your fill of El Paso, you can make a beeline to Tucson, Arizona.
This is, thankfully, a much shorter drive than the other long stretches lately.
Without traffic, you should get to Tucson in about four and a half hours by driving straight west.
Tucson is a desert region with dusty national parks, fascinating museums, and public parks for the kids to play in.
You should like it here, and it’s a good thing too, as you’ll once again stay overnight as you gear up for the last part of your drive.
Tucson to Los Angeles
As you and the kids wake up full of energy the next morning, you’ll leave Arizona in the rearview as you drive for about seven and a half hours into Los Angeles. You’ve finally arrived!
How long will it take you to get to Los Angeles from Miami?
Most of the drivable road trips I’ve spotlighted on the blog recently are doable in a day or two, maybe three days tops.
However, the drive from Miami to Los Angeles is undoubtedly the most ambitious venture yet.
If you tally up all the driving, you’ll drive for three and a half hours on day one, six and a half hours on day two, 11 hours on day three, eight hours on day four, and another four and a half hours to get from Tucson to LA on day five.
That’s a grand total of 38 hours and 43 minutes of road tripping.
All this is assuming that you don’t run into traffic.
Maybe if you were only driving for one or two hours at a time, you can get away with avoiding traffic.
However, if you’re on the road for six or eight hours at a clip or even up to 11 hours, there’s no way you can drive without hitting some snags.
Thus, I would recommend you give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination.
Must-See destinations on the road to Los Angeles
Even though your drive is long and at times will drag, you can at least rest assured that on the voyage from Miami to LA, you’ll have plenty of entertaining avenues to explore with the kids to make your vacation amazing.
Here’s what I recommend along each of the stops on your route!
- Universal Orlando Resort
If the kids have never been to Universal Orlando Resort before, then now should finally be the time you change that.
You can choose from three amazing parks on the resort grounds.
There’s the famed Universal Studios with such rides as TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
The Islands of Adventure are the home of The Incredible Hulk Coaster and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.
You and the kids can also cool off at Volcano Bay with the Ohno Drop Slides, Ko’okiri Body Plunge, and Krakatau Aqua Coaster.
As a Florida resident, special pricing is available for any of the parks, which is certainly something to take advantage of!
- Walt Disney World Resort
Okay, so is Walt Disney World Resort the best pitstop? No, as you can (and should!) plan a vacation where you stay at the park for days.
After all, Disney World is the home of Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and the Magic Kingdom as well as two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.
Besides the parks, you can also check out the ESPN Wide World of Sports, Disney Springs for shopping, and Disney’s Boardwalk.
If you and the kids have gone to Disney World before, then you can hit up one or two of these locations in an afternoon, which would certainly be worth it!
- LEGOLAND Florida Resort
If your kids are young enough that Legos are still the coolest toy ever, then LEGOLAND Florida Resort could be just what you and they need to kick off your vacation fun.
The park features an assortment of water rides and non-wet rides for younger and older kids alike, including AQUAZONE Wave Racers, Beetle Bounce, Flying School, Kid Power Towers, Imagination Zone, and MINILAND USA.
With Lego character meet-and-greets, shows, and 4D movies, not to mention delectable dining and incredible shopping, the kids might not ever want to leave.
If you’re tired of all the crowds at Universal, Disney World, and LEGOLAND, then I implore you to check out Gatorland.
This is a much smaller theme park that’s only 110 acres. Founded in 1949, Gatorland is also a wildlife preserve.
Kids can ride the Screamin’ Gator Zipline, the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure, or check out a gator show!
- Perdido Key State Park
After all that theme parking the day before, you and the family can enjoy a relaxing experience once you arrive at Perdido Key State Park.
This Florida state park is 290 expansive acres and features clear, white beaches, appealing sand dunes, and gorgeous waters that will welcome you to swim and splash.
Other activities available here include sunbathing, surf fishing, and casual strolling.
If you wish to have a picnic lunch with your family, you’ll find several covered picnic tables with stunning views of the beach.
- Splash City Adventures
Okay, you may be tired of the amusement parks, but I guarantee you that the kids are not. They can run and play all day.
If so, then make a stop at Splash City Adventures, a small but still exciting water park.
The park offers two kiddie play pools with small slides, seven bigger pools, an endless river that’s 750 generous feet, and 12 water slides.
- National Naval Aviation Museum
For a nice change of pace, the National Naval Aviation Museum is a great way to spend an afternoon.
This museum at Pensacola’s Naval Air Station features a giant screen theater, aircraft galleries, cockpit trainers, a virtual flight deck, a 4D experience, and even a flight simulator.
Even if your kids aren’t exactly enthused at the idea of looking at old planes all day, they’ll certainly love the theater and the flight simulator much more so!
Thinkery is an Austin children’s museum that’s quite the renowned attraction.
The interactive, hands-on exhibits include the Move! Studio, the Fresh! Farmers Market, the Story Nook, an outdoor exhibit called Our Backyard, the Light Lab, the Notion of Motion, the Spark Shop, and the Innovators’ Workshop.
The children will love exploring their creativity while learning as well.
The museum is open six days per week and welcomes general admission visits.
- Inner Space Cavern
A hidden gem in Austin, the Inner Space Cavern went unfounded for more than 10,000 years. Then, in 1963, a Texas Highway Department drilling team discovered it.
Since then, visitors have been welcome to explore the cave’s depths to see prehistoric animal bones, spacious cavernous areas, and rock formations.
The kiddos can even pan for gemstones, which sounds like oodles of fun.
The snack bar sells gourmet fudge that’s made inhouse.
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
On the grounds of the University of Texas at Austin is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is open to visitors.
The wildflower center showcases 900+ Texas plant species, all of which are native to the southern state.
- Toy Joy
Since 1987, Toy Joy in Austin has been a premier toy store.
The store is literally jam-packed with toys going back generations. New toys are stocked as well.
From novelty items to model kits, toddler toys, books, plushes, outdoor toys, science toys, and arts and crafts, there’s something for every kid’s taste at Toy Joy.
El Paso Destinations
- El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens
If your kids are eager to see some animals, take them to the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens!
The animal exhibits are divided into the following categories: Africa, Americas, Asia, and the Chihuahuan Desert.
When the kids are done seeing all the animals, they shouldn’t miss attractions like the African Star Train, the Foster Treehouse Playground, the Hunt Family Endangered Species Carousel, the Hunt Family Desert Spring, the Wildlife Amphitheater, or the Copper Canyon Challenge Ropes Course.
- Western Playland
The 30-acre Western Playland is an amusement park with rides for toddlers, young children, kids, and teens.
You and the kids can hop aboard the Scrambler, the Mine Coaster, the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Merry-Go-Round, the Flying Skooter, or the Fireball, which spins in a giant loop.
- Wet ‘N’ Wild Waterworld
In nearby Anthony is Wet ‘N’ Wild Waterworld, a water park with twisting enclosed slides, open tube slides, beach volleyball courts, splashpads for the kids, a kiddie creek, a lazy river, and a wave pool.
As the kids get hungry throughout the day, the Ribbit Café is sure to satisfy all their cravings.
Kids can nosh on chicken sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, nachos, fries, funnel cake, or a souvenir drink.
- The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures features teeny-tiny versions of beautifully and lovingly recreated exhibits.
They include the Silver Queen Collection Cameo, the Sally Hemings Collection Cameo, the Weaving Studio Collection Cameo, the Carriage House Antique Store Collection Cameo, the Colonial Room Collection Cameo, and the Essence of Island Books Collection Cameo.
- Children’s Museum Tucson
Fostering an environment of learning, creativity, and discovery, the Children’s Museum Tucson is a necessary stop on the road to Los Angeles.
Kids shouldn’t miss the Bodyology exhibit about the body, the Curiosity Courtyard for playing and exploration, the Gravity and Electricity exhibits, and Imagine It!.
Declared as “the creative heart of the museum,” Imagine It! is a paint pod that welcomes kids (and adults) to paint on the walls.
Don’t worry, the staff will take care of the cleanup.
- Reid Park Zoo
If you had to miss the zoos to this point, now that you’re so close to Los Angeles, make it a point to stop at the Reid Park Zoo.
Besides the amazing array of animals on display here, kids can also ride the Cox Wildlife Carousel or the Zoo Train.
Behind-the-scenes experiences are available as well for small groups (of under 10 people) and an additional fee separate from zoo admission.
- Funtasticks Family Fun Park
Before you leave Tucson, don’t miss the Funtasticks Family Fun Park.
The park features water rides at Cactus Springs, go-karting, bumper boats, a full-fledged Kiddy Land with rides, mini golf, laser tag, and an arcade with video games and skills games where kids can win tickets.
You’re charged according to which rides and attractions your kids partake in, so plan your day (and your budget) carefully!
What can you do around Los Angeles?
Now that you’re in Los Angeles, what can you and the family do? If you’re all a bunch of thrill-seekers, then trust me when I say there is no shortage of activities here to keep you entertained!
Here are some of my top recommendations.
You might have had to pass on Disney World, but at least you can make it up to the kids by taking them to Disneyland Park in nearby Anaheim.
The park is divided into a variety of sections with rides for each, including Main Street, U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Mickey’s Toontown, Fantasyland, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Critter Country, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Adventureland.
Of course, all the live entertainment, shows, parades, character meet-and-greets, and other Disney experiences you crave are here as well!
Universal Studios Hollywood
Your kids won’t be so glum about not being able to go to the Universal Orlando Resort once you pull up to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Some of the top rides in this park are Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Fast & Furious – Supercharged, Jurassic World – The Ride, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Take your kids through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Studio Tour Plaza, and Springfield U.S.A. for a truly magical day of family togetherness.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
The 262-acre Six Flags Magic Mountain calls itself the thrill capital of the state.
Experience those thrills for yourself on an assortment of coasters.
If you want something a little less exciting, you can ride all sorts of family rides and kiddy rides.
In between the rides, check out some live entertainment such as a live show, concert, or festival. You can also do some shopping or eat all nature of food at this park.
At the various food stops and restaurants throughout the park, you and the kids can snack on turkey legs, pizza, burgers, cotton candy, nachos, soft pretzels, ice cream, tacos, and funnel cake.
Knott’s Soak City
To beat the California heat, treat the kids to an afternoon at Knott’s Soak City, a water park.
The 15-acre park features 23 slides, including body slides, tube slides, and speed slides.
The Beach House is an interactive wet and wild experience with 200 sprayers, nozzles, and water guns.
The Sunset River will help the whole family relax, as it’s a one-third-mile lazy river.
The Tidal Bay wavepool has 750,000 gallons of water and the Wedge is a family rafting ride.
Knott’s Soak City is open between May and September.
Los Angeles Zoo
The Los Angeles zoo is a must-see as well.
The zoo features over 270 animal species across several exhibits. In the gardens, you and the children can witness gorgeous plants from all over the world.
The kids will enjoy spinning slowly around on the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel with more than 60 hand-carved wooden figurines!
Planning a road trip from Miami to Los Angeles is quite the involved drive.
Fortunately, there are so many exciting and family-friendly destinations along the way that you won’t mind making stops here and there!