February 25th is Mardi Gras Day 2020 in New Orleans. It’s a tradition that brings thousands to the Big Easy. You must come to watch the parade (in costume, if you feel like it) and eat oysters. The cuisine and the music are experiences in themselves, so you might choose to stay a bit longer after the streets have calmed down. By all means stay for a few days for more Creole samplings. Then, head out from “The City that Care Forgot” to other great destinations in the continental United States. Check out the definitive list of weekend trips from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Make time for a tour on Avery Island (formerly Petite Anse Island), which is the home of Tabasco, the iconic hot sauce. It will take you anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to reach Avery Island on Iberia Parish from New Orleans, at a distance of 222 km (138 mi). FYI, the island itself is a salt dome. In 1861, a pure rock salt mine started producing salt for the Confederacy. The Avery family, for which the island was named settled there in the 1830s. In 1868, one of the sons-in-law invented a processing formula for a sauce that is known throughout the world as Tabasco brand pepper sauce. A guided tour of the island is available.
New Orleans Airboat and Plantations Tour
Duration: 9 hours
They say Lafayette is “The Happiest City" in America.” If you’re a bit sceptical, then prove them wrong by going there. Still, it might be difficult because it’s Cajun and Creole territory. The smell of the food alone would make your tummy jump for joy. And yes, you’d be salivating when you see the crawfish menu. Ask for boudin and you won’t be disappointed, especially in diners, restaurants (and gas stations) where the lines are long and people are waiting happily. Aside from dining destinations, there are historical landmarks on the local register for your itinerary. Lafayette is 217.26 km (118 mi) from New Orleans. The trip takes 2.5 hours on average.
3. Fairhope, Alabama
Fairhope on Mobile Bay is a charming city with plenty of views of the water. Head downtown and get seats at Panini Pete’s for flaky beignets and savory panini. Once rested, consider spending time at Weeks Bay Reserve. Inquire about the annual Pelican Paddle, where local kayak and paddleboard champions butt their oars. There are a couple of routes from New Orleans to Fairhope. The faster route is via I-10 E and should take only about 2.5 hours. The distance between New Orleans and Fairhope is 217.77 km (135.32 mi).
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4. Mobile, Alabama
Mobile has its own Mardi Gras so you can have another go at a fun parade after New Orleans. The longer route along the MS-26 E takes almost three hours, but you can reach Mobile in two hours on the I-10 E. Travel 232 kilometers (144 miles) and be rewarded in Mobile with exceptional Southern fare. The city’s top restaurants and bars have great reviews. For a glimpse at history, check out the old neighborhoods and stately homes. Mobile is particularly proud of the new GulfQuest: National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico, which opened in 2015.
The people are kind, the food is great, and the views of the Mississippi are stunning. Baton Rouge is all these and more. Located upriver on a natural bluff, Baton Rouge is the perfect capital of any state. It has key historical and cultural landmarks as well as natural attractions. You can set a day ticking off key architectural sites in the city such as the old Neo-Gothic Capitol and the new Art-Deco Capitol. There are also a number of notable antebellum houses. One of the museums, USS Kidd is anchored on the river itself. Experience the capital after driving 129 km (80 mi) from New Orleans.
Baton Rouge Self-Guided City Scavenger Hunt
Duration: 2 hours
6. De Soto National Forest, Brooklyn, MS
It takes two hours and a distance of 208.9 km (129.80 mi) from New Orleans to reach a protected national park, and one of Gulf Coast’s most diverse ecologies. When a breather from city streets is necessary spend a weekend at De Soto National Forest in Brooklyn, Mississippi. The protected area is home to hardwood trees, clear streams, and rolling terrain. Anglers, canoeists, campers, and hikers frequent its wide open spaces. Adventure seekers troop to the wilder parts of the reserve. You can choose to trek along established trails, or head off to the swamps or a thicket of pine without a guide. Either way, De Soto has more than enough space to get you sorted out.
Pensacola is “The City of Five Flags” in the Florida Panhandle. The moniker is a historical reference to the number of nations that ruled the area in the past. You’d better be ready to share in its 450-year history with a comprehensive tour of forts and museums. If you’re visiting on Veteran’s Day weekend, expect people to take to the streets for the Pensacola Marathon. You may find yourself in the middle of the Crawfish Festival if you arrive in April, and the seafood festival if you decide to drop by in September. From New Orleans, you’d easily cover the 323 km (201 mi) in 3 to 4 hours.
Pensacola Historic Landmarks Sightseeing Tour in Historic Bus
Duration: 2 hours
If you are driving, you must travel 215 km (134 mi) to New Iberia. It would take about two hours and 10 minutes if you don’t encounter any delays. Stroll along New Iberia’s Main Street. Spend time at Bayou Teche Museum for their interactive exhibits. Check out the downtown area before the day ends. We also recommend a visit to the Joseph Jefferson Home, a 19th-century architectural masterpiece during your weekend in New Iberia.
New Orleans, 2-Hour Louisiana History Walking Tour, with Guide
Duration: 2 hours
The most economical way to reach Dauphin Island, Alabama from New Orleans is to drive 238 km (147.9 mi) of roads. When you reach the barrier island on the Gulf Coast, you can head directly to Public Beach. The ferry brings people and cars over to the island so you can drive there, too. Visit Fort Gaines on the eastern portion after you’ve rested. It’s highly recommended that you allot a day at Audubon Bird Sanctuary. It is a very strategic location for bird migration, an important pit stop for South American species flying north to warmer shores.
4hr Inshore Fishing Trip from Dauphin Island
Duration: 4 to 6 hours
You will reach Natchez, Mississippi, from New Orleans in under 3 hours; a distance of about 268.76 km (167 mi). The city is named after a Native American tribe that thrived in the lower Mississippi and later moved to Oklahoma. Natchez is particularly known for its antebellum homes. These elegant mansions were introduced by Anglo-Americans in the first half of the 19th-century. Antebellum is not a type of architecture. Rather, it refers to a period of time. Translated from the Latin, “antebellum” means “before war,” which in this case refers to the American Civil War, which raged from 1861-1865 . You have to visit three plantation homes during your Natchez weekend. These are the William Johnson House, Melrose Estate, and Fort Rosalie.
City Sightseeing Natchez Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Duration: 50 minutes
Make the Big Easy your starting point
Give it a day or two to quell the Mardi Gras fever. When you recover, get ready for other weekend getaways in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. When you make New Orleans the departure point, something wonderful awaits at all points of the compass.
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