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The Perfect Day Trip from New Orleans

The Perfect Day Trip from New Orleans

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New Orleans is full of incredible food, great music, and interesting people.  Steeped in history and surrounded by over 40 percent of the nation’s wetlands, finding a day trip from New Orleans is easy.

Hands down, New Orleans is one of our favorite cities in the United States. We joke that we know our way around the French Quarter better than Dallas! There is just something amazing about the French Quarter and the city of New Orleans.

Full of amazing food, incredible architecture, and interesting history, the Big Easy is one of those places that just keep us coming back for more.

Whether you are knocking items off of your couples bucket list or just spending 3 days in New Orleans, you are going to have a great time in the Crescent City.

While being in New Orleans is great (and a great addition to any deep south road trip, it’s nice to escape and get out of the hustle and bustle for a day or two while you’re visiting. 

The state of Louisiana has so many great places waiting to be explored. From learning about the state’s Cajun culture to exploring the wetlands and swamps, it’s easy to see why people love Louisiana.

Let’s dive in and see all of the great things to do near New Orleans so that you can design your perfect day trip.

*This post contains affiliate links.  By purchasing through these links, we get a small commission at no additional cost to you. That Texas Couple is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.  As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases. This is a sponsored post.  Although Marty and I were provided free tours, all opinions are our own.  

Day Trip From New Orleans

Louisiana Swamp Tour

One of our favorite day trips from New Orleans is to head into the Louisiana Bayou and explore the wetlands and swamps that encompass this area.

While you can easily see some of this unique terrain by land, it is best to see it by boat.

The Louisiana swamplands are home to a variety of flora and fauna, some species are even unique to this area.

The best part about a Louisiana swamp tour is the opportunity to see the wildlife in the area. Look carefully to find alligators, turtles, birds, and more!

It’s really a cool feeling to be out on the waters of the swamp. There is a beautiful calm that surrounds you and you feel engulfed in nature.

There are numerous tours that will guide you through the Honey Island Swamp which is located about 30 minutes away.

The Honey Island Swamp covers almost 70,000-acres. Almost half of this land is part of the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area, making Honey Island a fabulous place to tour.

A swamp tour is an easy day trip from New Orleans as there are many to choose from in the area. Here are some of our favorites from the Big Easy!

New Orleans by Airboat Tour

New Orleans High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Tour

Manchac Bayou Swamp Tour

New Orleans Swamp and Bayou Boat Tour

Visit the Great River Road

New Orleans Plantations -Oak Alley

Venture just outside of New Orleans and you will find the Great River Road. This scenic stretch of road meanders and winds its way through the wetlands and countryside of Louisiana.

The Great River Road is famous for the former plantation homes that still line much of the route.

You can visit many of these former plantations to learn about the sugar barons that helped to build New Orleans.

Each plantation tour offers a there own take on the history of their property and they include what they want you to know.

If choosing to participate in a day trip from New Orleans to one of the Louisiana plantations, please remember that these lavish homes were built for families who made their fortunes from slave labor.

Here are some River Road Plantation Tours to Consider:

Oak Alley Plantation & Airboat Swamp Tour

St. Josheph and Laura Plantation Tour

Whitney Plantation Tour

Oak Alley Plantation Half Day Tour

Lake Pontchartrain

A fun and easy day trip from New Orleans is a visit to Lake Pontchartrain.

Lake Pontchartrain is the largest inlet body of water in the state of Louisiana. This huge lake connects multiple bayous and rivers with the Gulf of Mississippi.

When we drive to New Orleans from Dallas, we love crossing the 23 mile Causeway Bridge that spans Lake Pontchartrain.

Lake Pontchartrain allows you to spend the day boating, fishing and seeing the great sites of this gorgeous region of Louisiana.

Baton Rouge

capital building in Bston Rouge

The Louisiana State Capitol of Baton Rouge is located about an hour’s drive outside of New Orleans, making this getaway easy and fun.

Boasting a rich history (over 300 years worth), great museums, and some incredible Cajun cuisine, Baton Rouge is definitely one of the best day trips from New Orleans.

Visit the tallest state capitol building in the United States before heading to one of the many museums in Baton Rouge. Some of the most noteworthy museums in the city include the Louisiana Art and Science Museum and the Baton Rouge African American Museum.

History lovers will definitely want to include the Audubon Historic Site and the USS Kidd on their itinerary. While outdoor lovers won’t want to miss the Louisiana State University’s Hilltop Arboretum during their time in Baton Rouge.

Houma

Houma is a stretch of swamps and wetlands that encompasses over 2,500 acres.

A visit to Houma allows you to explore the Cajun heritage of the area even more.

Take the Wetlands Cultural Scenic Byway and enjoy driving by the majestic cypress trees as you meander your way through the Houma area. Don’t forget to stop at some of the Cajun restaurants that you will pass.

The area also offers guided boat tours and hosts several festivals throughout the year including the Best of the Bayou Festival every September.

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

swamp and trees

One of Louisiana’s National Park, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area makes for a great day trip from New Orleans.

The incredible landscape and scenery of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area immediately make you feel like you are in another world.

The land is home to some amazing animals and vegetation. I especially love the incredible cypress trees that stand tall in the waters of the swamp.

The 150-acres of land is comprised of swampland, rivers, prairie land, and marshes. Visitors here love exploring the area on foot, kayak, bicycle, or boat.

There are Ranger-led events and programs that take place regularly, and there are several private companies that provide guided tours of the area.

This is a great day trip to get up close and personal with Cajun country.

Avery Island

If you are a lover of hot sauce, then you definitely don’t want to miss this day trip from New Orleans!

Buckle in your taste buds and head for Avery Island, Louisiana. Located just over two hours from New Orleans, Avery Island is home to the world-famous Tabasco factory!

Tabasco Hot Sauce originated here and has been in production since 1868.

Visit the Tabasco Factory and Museum to learn all about the history of Tabasco Brand Hot Sauce, including how Edmund McIlhenny’s secret is still used today.

After the tour, be sure to visit the on-site restaurant and gift shop.

Natchitoches

building in Natchitoches a day trip from New Orleans

One of the best day trips from New Orleans is to the Louisiana town of Natchitoches.

Established in 1714, Natchitoches is the original French colony in Louisiana. This French influence can still be seen around town today.

Today visitors come to Natchitoches to explore the city’s rich history, eat one of their famous meat pies, and enjoy the Natchitoches Christmas Festival where the town comes alive with millions of lights.

Another “claim to fame” for Natchitoches is the fact that the movie Steel Magnolias is based on people from the town and was filmed here also! You can do a self-guided tour of the Steel Magnolia filming locations during your visit if you would like.

Take time to visit the Cane River National Heritage Area and the Natchitoches National Historic Landmark District when visiting.

Honestly, this charming town is one of our favorites. We always spend the night in Natchitoches on our way to New Orleans.

Mandeville and Fontainbleau State Park

Founded in the mid 19th century, Mandeville is home to some fabulous historic houses and Fountainbleau State Park.

The Fountainbleau State Park is not only a recreational area, it is also a glimpse into Mandeville’s past.

The historical evidence can be found in the crumbling remains of a sugar mill that was built here in the mid-1800s. The wealthy founder of Mandeville started this area as a sugar plantation in 1852 and named his land Fountainbleau after the beloved forest near Paris.

Today you can explore the 2,800-acre park that sits on the bank of Lake Pontchartrain. Enjoy hiking, cycling, inline skating, or just relaxing on the sandy beach.

While here, be sure to do some shopping in town as there are numerous cute boutique-style shops to choose from. Of course, there are also several great restaurants in the area also.

Mississippi Coast

beach with welcome to mississippi gulf coast written on it

If you want a real escape from the city, head for the beach! The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a short drive away, making it a perfect escape from New Orleans.

The Mississippi Coast is lined with charming small towns that are great to explore, especially considering that they have the beach right on their doorstep.

These day trips from New Orleans are made for relaxing, so swim in the ocean and relax on the beach. That’s what you’re here for!

De Soto National Forest

Another one of America’s National Parks, De Soto is 500,000 acres of land located just across the state border in Mississippi.

A visit to De Soto allows you to enjoy a load of recreational activities. Here visitors can do some hiking, cycling, canoeing, horseback riding, and more.

The Big Biloxi Recreation Area offers camping, picnic, and bathhouses for guests to use while staying along the Big Biloxi River.

This is one of the best day trips from New Orleans that is great for outdoor lovers.

Mobile, Alabama

building in downtown Mobile, Alabama

Another coastal city, Mobile, Alabama is about two hours away from New Orleans.

This port city has all of the makings of a big city but boasts an interesting history which makes it worth visiting from New Orleans.

If you look at the brick buildings with the wrought-iron balconies that are dotted throughout the city, you might start wondering if you ever left New Orleans. That’s because Mobile was once the original capital of French Louisiana, so you see this influence in both cities.

History lovers will definitely want to check out the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico. You can also check out the historic homes in the area that are now museums.

The city also hosts festivals throughout the year including Mardi Gras and the Azalea Trail Festival.

This is another one of the best day trips you can take from New Orleans!

Global Wildlife Center

Global Wildlife Center is a free-range animal preserve that houses over 4000 animals. And not just any animals, exotic animals also!

Visitors travel in old-style wagons through the park seeing zebras, giraffes, deer, kangaroos, and more. If the animals approach the wagon, then you can feed them as well.

This reminds us very much of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near us in Glen Rose, Texas.

The Global Wildlife Center is much bigger though. This place is huge!

Grand Isle

beach and ocean

Grand Isle is a barrier island located off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.

With impeccable views of the Gulf of Mexico and 7-miles of coastline, this is one of the best day trips from New Orleans.

Visitors can enjoy the day swimming, fishing, birdwatching, or just relaxing at the beach before grabbing dinner at one of the island’s restaurants.

At the east end of the island is Grand Isle State Park and Elmer’s Island, which is a wildlife refuge, is located nearby.

Infinity Science Center

You will find the Infinity Science Center located about an hour’s drive outside of New Orleans in Pearlington, Mississippi.

Offering visitors the opportunity to get hands-on while learning about the Earth, space, and science makes this a fun and easy day trip.

Serving also as the official visitor’s center for NASA Stennis Space Center, a rocket testing facility, Infinity Science Center is a truly unique experience.

The exhibits explore the interior of the Earth and the expansiveness of space and space exploration.

Lafayette, Louisiana

buildings in Lafayette

If you love all things Cajun, then you definitely have to make a day trip to Lafayette.

Dive right into the Cajun culture at one of the local Zydeco dance halls while listening to some live music before eating some delicious Cajun food.

You can learn more about the history of this culture by visiting the Vermilionville and Acadian Village. Here you can learn about the French-Canadians who called this area home in the 1700s.

To dive even more into the history and culture of Cajun country, check out the restored historic Creole cottage Maison Madeleine.

Abita Springs

Most famous for its artesian waters, Abita Springs is one of the best day trips from New Orleans if you want a nice small town to visit.

The waters found in Abita Springs deep artesian wells are said to have healing powers and have been drawing visitors to this small town for decades.

Today visitors still flock to the area to experience the water, especially the beer made with the water, Abita Beer.

You can also visit the Abita Brew Pub, a great Louisiana brewery that serves up traditional pub food alongside of its fun and unique beer.

As Abita Springs is located directly on the Tammany Trace Bike Trail, a 31-mile path along an abandoned railroad line, visitors here can enjoy exercising on the trail at their leisure.

A huge crowd comes to the annual Louisiana Bike Festival that is held in this area.

While here you can also check out the Abita Springs Opry to listen to some live music.

If you are a festival lover, Abita Springs has you covered there also as this small town hosts numerous festivals throughout the year.

Lake Charles

lake with building in the background

About a 3 hour drive from New Orleans, Lake Charles is a little farther than the other day trips from New Orleans on our list but has lots to offer.

As the town border Lake Charles, you have an entire lake and the adjoining swamplands at your doorstep just waiting to be explored. Enjoy fishing or boating for a day on the water while in Lake Charles.

If you are a Mardi Gras fan, you definitely will want to visit the Lake Charles Mardi Gras Museum, the largest one in the world.

Lake Charles has a number of attractions for those of you who like arts and culture also. In addition to murals and street art, there are also several galleries and theatres to visit.

You can learn more about the history of this area when you visit the DeQuincy Railroad Museum or the Imperial Calcasieu Museum. One of the things we really enjoyed doing was following their self-guided tour around the historic homes in the city.

Lake Charles is also home to casinos, great restaurants, and a large number of festivals that it hosts each year.

Cruise the Mississippi River

steamboat and dock in New Orleans-one of the best day trips from New Orleans

You can take a day cruise on the Mississippi River right in the heart of downtown New Orleans. Just hop on the Steamboat Natchez!

Seeing the area from the mighty Mississippi River gives you a completely different perspective. Combine that with the fact that you are on a historical authentic steamboat and you have the perfect day trip from New Orleans!

The Steamboat Natchez was one of the first steamboats to dock in New Orleans and have been here ever since. They have been providing steamboat services on the Mississippi River to New Orleans since 1817!

Steamboat Natchez offers many different cruise options, some including food and live music (jazz bands)!

You can join Steamboat Natchez for a Sunday brunch, a daytime or evening jazz cruise with a meal.

As you are cruising with Steamboat Natchez you will learn so much about the history of New Orleans and the surrounding area.

This is one of the fun day trips from New Orleans you can take.

Saint Bernard Parish

You will find Saint Bernard Parish located about 30 minutes drive from New Orleans.

This Parish is most famous for the site of the Battle of New Orleans, Chalmette Battlefield.

For it was on this battlefield that the British were stopped and thus changed the outcome of the war and the course of history.

Chalmette Battlefield is not the only thing that Saint Bernard Parish has to offer. You can also learn about the history of this area and the Spanish colonists who settled here by visiting the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and the Los Islenos Museum & Village.

The Parish also offers several great restaurants, a scenic byway, and multiple waterways for you to explore.

Bush

vineyard

Now, you know that I am going to include a wine town on my list of day trips! So, here you go…You’re welcome!

Bush, Louisiana is home to the Pontchartrain Vineyards and Winery, the only winery in Louisiana producing wine from traditional grapes. This is the perfect place to snap some photos and pair them with our sunshine captions for your Instagram.

A visit to Bush allows you to visit Pontchartrain Vineyards and Winery and taste their delicious wines. They also have special events that run throughout the year.

Nearby you will also find another vineyard, LA Serendipity, which is open for weekend tastings.

If you want to make a weekend out of your visit then you will definitely want to check out Splendor Farms. This bed and breakfast offers horseback riding with access to 250 acres of riding trails, a petting zoo, lawn games, a pool, and more.

This is one of the best day trips in New Orleans in my opinion.

Final Thoughts on the Best Day Trips From New Orleans

No matter what you are in the mood for, chances are that you will find that one of the best day trips from New Orleans will fit your needs.

We hope that you find the perfect outing to help you explore Louisiana even more. Here’s a summary of our day trips:

  • Louisiana Swamp Tour
  • Great River Road
  • Lake Pontchartrain
  • Baton Rouge
  • Houma
  • Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
  • Avery Island
  • Natchitoches
  • Mandeville and Fontainbleau State Park
  • Mississippi Coast
  • De Soto National Forest
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • Global Wildlife Center
  • Grand Isle
  • Infinity Science Center
  • Lafayette
  • Abita Springs
  • Lake Charles
  • Mississippi River Cruise
  • Saint Bernard Parish
  • Bush

Until next time, happy travels, friends!

Read Next:

25 Fun Things to do in Salem, MA

15 Epic Things to do in New Orleans

Haunted Hotels in New Orleans

3 Days in New Orleans: What to See, Eat, and Do

Weekend in Boston: A Great 2 Day Boston Itinerary

25 Incredible Things to do in Savannah, GA

5 Awesome Road Trips in Texas

20 Fabulous Small Towns in Texas Must Visit

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight:

We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best prices on flights. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines all over the world to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.

Book Your Vacation Package:

If you want to book an entire vacation package, then we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.

Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!

For full guided vacations including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all of your needs while ensuring that you have a great experience.

Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop-shop.”

Book Your Accommodations:

We always begin our search by checking out the honest review on hotels at TripAdvisor. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site as well!

There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it gives you a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.

Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!

HotelsCombined is another cool site. They allow you to compare all of the top travel sites with one search to ensure you are finding the best deal out there. Kayak works in this way as well.

If you are looking for a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, then consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.

Tour Companies We Trust:

We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!

For a guided city tour, check out City Sightseeing and BigBus Tours. These bus tours are so much fun and easy to hop on and hop off at top attractions in cities around the world.

CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.

Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.

Looking to Save Time and Money?

Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!

Michelle Snell founder of That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel

About The Author

Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel.  Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region.  She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.

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Chi

Tuesday 1st of May 2018

As it comes to the holiday, New Orlean is the first town that comes to mind. There’s no other place I’ve seen that has such strong connections with the culture.

thattexascouple

Tuesday 1st of May 2018

You're so right, Chi. There is a unique and vibrant culture in New Orleans.

Mona

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

I’m dying to go to New Orleans and I love history so this seems like a great day trip! Thank you :)

thattexascouple

Monday 23rd of April 2018

You have to go, Mona. NOLA is fabulous!!

Kate

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

Love all the beautiful nature around New Orleans! We took a similar tour, though we did the Oak Alley Plantation instead (I was dying to see those oak trees). Such a different atmosphere than NOLA itself, even though you don't travel far!

thattexascouple

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

You're so right, Kate. It is such a different atmosphere. We visited Oak Alley also. It's so pretty!

Kristin

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

What a cool day trip! All I could think about was the show True Blood while looking at the photos! I like that it's a combo of wildlife and some local history.

thattexascouple

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

Thanks, Kristin!

Nailah

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

I have been to New Orleans many times, but never stayed long enough to take in a day trip. I'd be interested in seeing the swamp tour to see the gators up close (but not too close!)

thattexascouple

Sunday 22nd of April 2018

You will have to book it next time you visit, Nailah.