Whether you are a local looking for a place to escape to or a traveler who just needs to know the next logical destination, this guide will help you figure out where to go for the perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
Discover antebellum towns, pristine Gulf Coast beaches, and culture gems just a short drive away from New Orleans, also known as the Big Easy. Whether seeking nature’s tranquility, cultural experiences, or Souther hospitality, this blog post will help you pick the right destination.
Let’s find some hidden treasures and charming stops and make your escape from New Orleans one to remember!
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What city is two hours away from New Orleans?
Lafayette, Louisiana, is roughly two hours away from New Orleans. It is a great side trip from New Orleans to add to your itinerary, full of great bars, farmer markets, and parks. Visitors are drawn to Lafayette for their festivals and Cajun Culture.
Where to go after New Orleans?
New Orleans is a great city to visit, but if you are looking for additional Louisiana vacation spots to tag onto a New Orleans trip, add a few of these towns to your itinerary: Abita Springs, Lake Charles, and Lafayette.
How many days do you need to enjoy New Orleans?
To have unique experiences in New Orleans, we suggest our readers book anywhere from 3-5 days. You will always want to go back, but trying to squeeze in sights from the Garden District, Historic French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Magazine Street, and Jackson Square may make you exhausted.
To learn more about New Orleans and its Rich History, check out our Frequently Asked Question about the Crescent City. It is a fun place to visit!
Road Trip (less than two and a half hours of driving)
A 2.5-hour drive is perfect for weekend getaways for a short weekend trip! You can leave on Friday afternoon and stay through Sunday afternoon for some of the best road trips! I’ve included the driving distance after each town or attraction’s name.
1. Fountainbleu State Park, Louisiana
Distance: 40 miles
Hiking is hard to come by in Louisiana, but Fountainbleu State Park offers several trails through a biodiverse landscape, including swamps, woodlands, and along the Lakefront. While hiking, you can pack a picnic and relax in the designated picnic areas. There is also an opportunity for boating and kayaking on the lake.
There aren’t any food options within the park, so unless you plan on bringing a picnic, you must venture out to Mandeville or Covington to find delicious restaurants. Stay at the Fountainbleau State Park Campground when extending your vacation! If a hotel is more your style, we suggest staying at The Southern Hotel – a great place in quaint Covington!
2. Abita Springs, Louisiana
Distance 45 miles
Abita Springs is a Charming town on the North Shore just 40 miles from New Orleans. Even though this is a small town, there are plenty of attractions to keep you entertained for a day trip or weekend. Almost everyone who visits New Orleans knows about Abita Beer, so why not take a tour of the Abita Brewery? If exercising is in your future, you can take your family on a 31-mile paved trail perfect for biking, walking, or jogging. If you are visiting during the summer, escape the heat by visiting the Abita Springs Trailhead Museum.
Grab a bite at the Abita Springs Cafe – this local favorite offers yummy southern comfort food. Want to extend your weekend? Stay at the Abita Springs Hotel. This Historic hotel is in the heart of town and is super cute! It has easy access to many of the local attractions.
3. Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana
Distance: 53 miles
Oak Alley Plantation is a beautiful historic plantation located West of New Orleans along the Mississippi River. When people take a day trip to a plantation, they usually ensure that Oak Alley is on the list. With its stunning antebellum architecture, oak-lined ally, and rich, yet horrible, history, people come here to learn more about Louisiana’s past. You can take a guided tour of the Plantation to learn about its history and architecture or explore the grounds. While in the heart of plantation country, you should take a trip to visit Laura Plantation and Homous House Plantation
Oak Alley Plantation does not have a restaurant on the grounds, but you can take a road trip to Vacherie or St. James to grab a bite. If you want to extend your weekend, plan on staying at the Inn at Houmas House for a unique and luxurious experience.
4. Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Distance: 60 miles
If you want to escape Louisiana and head to a charming coastal town, Bay St. Louis is your destination. Bay St. Louis offers many family-friendly activities for the day or a short weekend. Check out the Historic Old Town and explore the quaint streets known for its galleries, unique shops, and charming architecture. You can also visit the Alice Mosley Folk Art and Antique Museum to explore this exciting museum. For those golf fends, Bay St. Louis has excellent golf courses with beautiful views.
Grab a bite to eat at The Blind Tiger; their laid-back atmosphere and outdoor seating are the perfect spot if your family likes an expansive menu with burgers and other American treats. The Carroll House Bed & Breakfast is a historic bed and breakfast that dates back to the 1880s. You do have to stay at least two nights at this property, but it is a great spot to explore all the fun things in Bay St. Louis!
5. Hammond, Louisiana
Distance 58 miles
Hammond is just a short ride through the Maurepas Swamp, and there are many things to do in this area. Wildlife is super popular in this part of Louisiana, and you can spend the day finding Alligators at Kliberts Turtle and Alligator Tours or experience a safari-like adventure at Global Wildlife Center. If Antique shops are more your speed, you will find plenty of those in the neighboring town of Ponchatoula.
Grab a bite to eat at Jacmel Inn – this charming restaurant. The menu changes, and you can find delicious southern dishes with a unique take. Take advantage of the Shrimp and Grits.
Spend the night at the Historic Michabelle Inn. This family-owned country hotel is just a quick drive from Southeastern Louisana and downtown Hammond. You will love your little vacation home away from home!
6. Gulfport, Mississippi
Distance: 77 miles
Head to Gulfport, Mississippi, if you are looking for the closest beach to New Orleans with beautiful white sand. Gulfport is perfect for a day trip if you want to dip your toes into the Gulf of Mexico and play on the beach. However, you should stop by the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center if you have small children. You can also visit the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies to learn about marine life and animal encounters.
For an extended weekend, take a ferry from Gulfport to Ship Island and enjoy the Gulf Islands National Seashore. I used to do this every Fourth of July, and exploring this small island was so much fun.
Stop by The Chimneys, a historic restaurant in an old brick mansion, for upscale dining on seafood and steaks. The Almanett Hotel & Bistro near The Aquarium is an adorable little hotel that provides on-site dining options for guests.
7. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Distance: 82 miles
Welcome to Louisiana’s capital city If you want to take a brief road trip up I-10 to the Capitol, you will have much fun in downtown Baton Rouge. Tour the Louisiana State Capitol – did you know it is the tallest capitol building in the United States? Spend the day exploring the Baton Rouge Zoo or the USS Kidd & Veteran Memorial. When I was younger, we took a field trip to the USS Kid, and all the students had to buy t-shirts in the gift shop because we got caught in a typical Louisiana summer storm!
Baton Rouge has plenty of places to eat, but my favorite is Ruffino’s Italian Restaurant. You can find yummy dishes from Shimp Alfredo to Eggplant Parmesan on the menu.
If you are the gambling sort, try staying at the L’auberge Casino Hotel Baton Rouge. You never know. You might win big at the casino and pay for the whole road trip!
8. Biloxi, Mississippi
Distance: 92 miles
Biloxi might be the next best thing if you can’t travel to Vegas. Biloxi is known for its casinos and beach activities. If gambling is not your thing, you can take a boat to explore the Mississippi Sound, local Wildlife, and scenic coastline views.
You can’t get away from New Orleans if you want to eat at the Half Shell Oyster House; here, you can eat delicious dishes like Smoky Bacon Shrimp and Grits or delicious fresh Gulf fried oysters. If you are looking for a place to stay? The White House Hotel is the cutest place to stay. Shaded by oak trees and stunning Gulf Views, this hotel is the best place to stay.
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9. Grand Isle, Louisiana
Grand Isle is a small tow on a barrier island over a hundred miles from New Orleans. If fishing is one of your favorite activities, this is a great option to come down and fish the Gulf. You can also take the krewe swimming, birdwatching, boating, and go on small nature walks. One of the main events here is a Tarpon Rodeo in July, bringing thousands of fishing competitions.
Grand Isle is super tiny, so only a few restaurants support this small community, but the good news is that you can find unique and popular restaurants there. Check out the Sand Dollar Marina and Restaurant to enjoy waterfront dining and grab a poboy.
If you want to visit Grand Isle is the perfect place to bring or rent an RV and camp in Grand Isle State Park.
10. St Francisville, Louisiana
Distance: 112 miles
St Francisville is a charming town in Southern Louisiana with lots of history and close to the Mississippi River. Many locals know St. Francisville is home to the Myrtles Plantation, but did you know there is also Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge? Nature lovers will enjoy hiking and birdwatching in this nature preserve. Just a few more miles away is Tunica Hills. Some of the highest bluffs in this area provide stunning views and breathtaking sunsets.
Grab a bite to eat at the Carriage House Restaurant – it is located at the Myrtles Plantation and offers classic dishes of Southern foods in a historic, yet spooky, setting.
If you go all the way to St Francisville, make sure you stay at the Myrtles Plantation! You have an opportunity to stay in the Plantation or a cozy cabin. Spend time walking around the ground.
11. Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Distance: 113 miles
Just over an hour from New Orleans, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the perfect family getaway for a quick road trip. Bring the bikes, bike, walk, or jog on the Longleaf Trace if you love outdoor activities. Suppose you have a history buff; head to the African American Military History Museum to learn about African Americans’ contributions to the US Military. Finally, head on over to the Hattiesburg Zoo for a family-friendly day. With a bit of planning, you can participate in the Sloth Experience!
Hattiesburg has plenty of places to eat, but my favorite off-the-beaten path was going to Donanelle’s. This small but mighty restaurant can hold many people on a non-rainy day. Pack your patience – the kitchen is small, but the Ribeyes are worth it.
We stayed at the Hotel Indigo Hattiesburg – a boutique hotel across from The University of Southern Mississippi.
12. Red Bluff Trail, Mississippi
Distance: 117 miles
If you are spending a more extended weekend in Hattiesburg, make a day trip to Red Bluff, Mississippi. Only two hours away from New Orleans, this trail is commonly called the Little Grand Canyon or the Grand Canyon of Mississippi. This moderately challenging loop takes 30 minutes to complete, and you will hike through vivid red and orange soil.
13. Lafayette, Louisiana
Lafayette is an excellent getaway for anyone living in or visiting New Orleans. It is the heart of Cajun Country town for Cajun and Creole Cuisine, Cajun Music, and exciting History. You are more likely to hear someone speaking French in Lafayette than in New Orleans. A great way to explore the history of Lafayette is by stopping into Vermilionville and immersing yourself in the history and culture of the Acadian, Creole, and Native American people. Lafayette is the Hub City of Louisiana Music, so you must stop here for live dancing and catch a musical performance.
Stop by Prejean’s Restaurant for a taste of Cajun classics. You can get Louisiana favorites like gumbo and crawfish etouffee. There may even be Live music! Another great stop is the Olde Tyme Grocery – a place for you to grab po boys. You can take a short little trip to Broussard, one of Louisiana’s Small towns, and go to the acclaimed Parish Brewing.
The Juliet is a boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown Lafayette. It has a mixture of rooms and suites and offers a rooftop pool with city views. If you want to stay in a Plantation, Mouton Plantation is for you. It is a small B&B.
You can also add a side trip to Breaux Bridge while you are in Lafayette.
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14. New Iberia, Louisiana
Distance: 133 miles
New Iberia is just a short distance from Lafayette – a quaint town perfect for embracing beautiful scenery and delicious food. One of the more famous landmarks in New Iberia is the Avery Island and Tabasco Factory – the birthplace of Tabasco hot sauce. You can spend an entire day on a walking tour of Avery Island and the lush gardens of Jungle Gardens.
Weekend Trips and Getaways (less than five hours of driving)
If you are looking for a long weekend, a five-hour road trip each way is the perfect getaway! If you plan on driving to these destinations, I recommend a 1-3 night hotel stay. Many of these destinations have a lot of things to do so that you can make a whole weekend out of it!
You can try a few restaurants, including Clementine, a popular eatery known for gourmet hamburgers, fresh salads, and delicious sandwich options.
If you want to stay in a unique hotel, Shadows on the Teche Cottages is the perfect location for a unique lodging experience. You can stay in one of the historic cottages.
15. Mobile, Alabama
Sweet Home Alabama – I may be partial to Mobile because I attended college in this town, but you will have good times. There are many things to do, including exploring the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. If you want to wander through the beautiful gardens of Bellingrath Gardens or Explore downtown Mobile, you are in a treat to see beautiful architecture.
Wintzel’s Oyster House is a staple for any first trip. Wintzel’s is a Mobile institution known for its fresh seafood and delicious oysters.
Stay at the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa for luxurious accommodations in the middle of downtown.
16. Dauphin Island, Alabama
Dauphin Island, just outside of Mobile, is a small island with a bird sanctuary that is a paradise for bird watchers and beachgoers. You can explore the different ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico or hang out and relax on the pristine sandy beaches.
Whenever I go to Dauphin Island, I bring a picnic lunch; there are a few fresh spots to try – stop by the Island Restaurant, which has excellent food and incredible views. You can get delicious sunshine sandwiches, po boys, and a Northern Favorite.
There are few options to stay in Dauphin Island, so if you have a camper or an RV, Dauphin Island is perfect for a relaxing trip.
17. Natchez, Mississippi
Located on the Mississippi River, Natchez, Mississippi, is an excellent spot to drive along the Mississippi River. You can enjoy this by driving some of the Natchez Trace Parkway and stopping for overlooks, hiking trails, and historic sights.
Make sure you add Mammy’s Cupboard to your list of places to eat; this giant teapot-shaped building is known for its delicious Southern Comfort food.
Stay at the Eola Hotel, a historic boutique hotel with comfortable rooms in downtown Natchez.
18. Orange Beach, Alabama
Orange Beach is a local favorite of all people from New Orleans. This Beach town is the best way to spend a long weekend enjoying the beach and sightseeing. Enjoy family friend activities like hiking, biking, and birdwatching in the Gulf State Park, or soak in the sea and sun while lying on the sand. You can even go to the Orange Beach Waterfront Park for some family-friendly attractions.
There are so many yummy places to eat in Orange Beach, but one of our favorite places was Coastal Orange Beach. Prepared for outdoor dining year-round, you will be satisfied with grabbing a bite to eat here.
One of the best things about going to the beach is renting a condo! You want to rent a Condo because the gorgeous property has a kitchen and bedrooms.
19. Pensacola, Florida
Just further down I-10 in Pensacola, Florida! If you are looking for gorgeous beaches in the Gulf come to Pensacola. Here, you will find clear water, white sand, and a beach perfect for sunbathing and exploring that the whole family will love. Kids will love going to the National Naval Aviation Museum.
Grab a bite at the Five Sisters Blues Cafe with soulful dishes like fried chicken and collard greens.
The Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach is family-friendly, with beachfront access, amenities, and a relaxing atmosphere! You must add it to your list.
20. Lake Charles, Louisiana
Last but not least is Lake Charles, Louisiana. Lake is a gambler and golfers paradise just a few miles from Texas! If those two things do not interest you, do not worry; Lake Charles and plenty of things to do, including visiting the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu or walking the Creole Nature Trail.
When looking for some fabulous food look no further than Steamboat Bill’s – a local favorite for Cajun and seafood dishes, including crawfish, gumbo, and poboys. You want to avoid sleeping on their pistolettes. Stop by Crying Eagle Brewing Company to grab a local beer or two to bring back to the hotel!
Check out other things to do in Lake Charles.
Weekend Getaways from New Orleans
The vibrant city of New Orleans offers a world of possibilities, but sometimes, a change of scenery is just what you need. Our journey through the 20 Easy Getaways from New Orleans has shown us the region’s richness, from the serene Gulf Shores to the historic charm of Natchez, Mississippi.
These quick trips, just a stone’s throw away from the bustling streets of New Orleans, provide an escape into a world of natural beauty, cultural richness, and tranquil relaxation. Whether you seek sandy beaches, historical sites, or lush landscapes, our guide covers you.
So, pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on these unforgettable adventures. Whether planning a weekend escape or a spontaneous day trip, these getaways promise to leave you with cherished memories and a renewed sense of wonder.
As you explore these hidden gems and experience the diverse landscapes and cultures of the South, remember that the world beyond New Orleans is waiting to be discovered. Let the open road be your guide, and let the adventures continue. Safe travels and happy exploring!
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