Top 12 Weekend Getaways From New Orleans, Louisiana - Updated 2024

| 5 min read

February is commonly Mardi Gras season in New Orleans. It’s a tradition that brings thousands to the Big Easy. You must come to watch the parade and eat oysters. The cuisine and the music are experiences in themselves, so you might choose to stay a bit longer. 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. Your hideaway in your chosen destination must be as pleasing. So make sure to check in at a hotel with an in-room hot tub in Lafayette if you wish to discover more of the happiest city in America. Those who are exploring the outdoors have the many vacation rentals in Lake Charles to choose from for their short trips. Check out the definitive list of weekend getaways from New Orleans, Louisiana.

1. Atchafalaya Natural Heritage Area

Natural wonders shaped by water are abundant in places surrounding New Orleans. Louisiana is unbeatable in that facet with Atchafalaya Natural Heritage Area under its belt. Atchafalaya, an American-Indian word that translates to a long river, is America’s largest freshwater swamp and a perfect destination for short trips from New Orleans as it is just about a two-hour drive from the city center.

Home to winding bayous, backwater lakes, and expansive marshes, Atchafalaya showcases rich wildlife from every corner. Make sure to bring your cameras with you as you’re bound to see some of the over 270 species of birds, alligators, raccoons, crawfish, and bears that found shelter in its mysterious landscape. Apart from the paradisic atmosphere, you can also immerse yourself in a great blend of unique food and music during your trip here.

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2. Lake Charles, Louisiana

LC Collage4
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user CTtcg used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The thriving city of Lake Charles is roughly about three hours from the heart of New Orleans but makes the trip well worth it as it is a destination for all sorts of interests. Whether you’re into indoor fun or outdoor thrills, your type of diversion is sure here. While the place is an urban destination, the headliners for fun day trips here are its hunting, hiking, and fishing adventures. Your eyes must gaze at the teeming wildlife of Creole Nature Trail All-American Road and Sam Houston Jones State Park.

If you fancy chasing the sun in this part of Louisiana, you can head over to Holly Beach or Rutherford Beach. The city’s food scene is also a good route to scout especially if your taste buds have a thing for Cajun and Creole cuisine.

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3. Avery Island (from USD 255.0)

The famous Tabasco factory on Avery Island (Louisiana, USA 2012)
Source: Photo by user Paul Arps used under CC BY 2.0

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.

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New Orleans Airboat and Plantations Tour

Duration: 9 hours

1166 reviews

4. Lafayette

Acadian Village, Lafayette, Louisiana
Source: Photo by user Maren used under CC BY 2.0

They say Lafayette is “The Happiest City" in America.” If you’re a bit skeptical, 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, which takes 2.5 hours on average, and is a worthy place for vacations near New Orleans.

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5. Fairhope, Alabama

Bayview Oak - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mike Tilley used under CC BY 3.0

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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6. Mobile, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama on the Gulf Coast
Source: Pixabay

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.

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7. Baton Rouge (from USD 12.0)

Baton Rouge Aerial
Source: Photo by user formulanone used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The people are kind, the food is great, and the views of the Mississippi are stunning. Baton Rouge is all these and more that’s why it’s a great spot for quick weekend getaways from New Orleans. 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.

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Baton Rouge Self-Guided City Scavenger Hunt

Duration: 2 hours

8. De Soto National Forest, Brooklyn, MS

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Joe Furr used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

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.

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9. Pensacola, Florida (from USD 25.0)

Pensacola FL Big Lagoon SP beach west01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ebyabe used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Pensacola is “The City of Five Flags” in the Florida Panhandle and offers one of the best weekend trips from New Orleans. 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.

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Pensacola Historic Landmarks Sightseeing Tour in Historic Bus

Duration: 2 hours

73 reviews

10. New Iberia (from USD 32.0)

ChrisLitherlandNewIberiaLouisiana (modified)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Chris Litherland used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

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New Orleans, 2-Hour Louisiana History Walking Tour, with Guide

Duration: 2 hours

5 reviews

11. Dauphin Island, Alabama (from USD 705.0)

Dauphin Island, AL
Source: Photo by user faungg's photos used under CC BY-ND 2.0

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.

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4hr Inshore Fishing Trip from Dauphin Island

Duration: 4 to 6 hours

12. Natchez, Mississippi (from USD 20.0)

William Johnson House
Source: Photo by user James Case used under CC BY 2.0

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.

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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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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Deanna Kathrina, a pediatric physical therapist specializing in neurodevelopmental disability, serves as a teacher and advocate. As a lifelong learner, she enjoys the company of music and aspires...Read more

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