Abita Springs, LA
Located in St. Tammany Parish, the relaxing countryside and peaceful forests have long been a favourite haunt for people looking to escape the hubbub of New Orleans. Abita Springs in particular is lovely to visit and is conveniently less than an hour’s drive from the city. While the area’s pristine nature is a draw for many, others prefer to head to the Abita Springs Brewery to sample some of the local beers. For those intrigued by the weird and wacky, the ‘Mystery House’ is sure to entertain and astound in equal measure. With a park, picnic and playground, Abita Springs is perfect for parents looking for a peaceful day out.
Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
This incredible national park is well worth a day trip from New Orleans. The largest river swamp in
the USA, the park has endless waterways for you to explore and is composed of a number of diverse
ecosystems. Weaving their way through the wetlands are trails and paths for you to follow either
on foot or by bike. Alternatively take to the water and paddle your way among the submerged trees
that create such a distinctive environment. With its mesmerising landscapes and breathtaking
scenery, Atchafalaya makes for an unforgettable day out. Just over two hours outside of the city,
you won’t regret making the journey to this amazing national park.
Mississppi's Gulf Coast
Just an hour and a half away from the city lie the tranquil beaches that form Mississippi’s coast. The small, laid-back coastal towns are the perfect getaway for some rest and relaxation with the best stretch being between Gulfport and Ocean Springs. Lying on the soft sand in the sun is idyllic after having explored all that New Orleans has to offer. Taking a dip in the Gulf also feels magnificent and is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised. If the Big Easy’s nightlife and partying has not yet quenched your thirst for thrill seeking then head to one of the casinos at Biloxi and try your luck.
The capital of the state of Louisiana, Baton Rouge has a number of attractions to entice tourists away
from New Orleans. From sumptuous Southern cuisine to metropolitan museums and amusement parks;
there are a diverse range of activities for you to explore. The Louisiana Art and Science Museum has
great exhibitions on show as does the African American Museum for those looking to learn more about
the local Louisiana culture. If you are a thrill seeker intent on getting your fill of adrenaline, head to the
Blue Bayou Water Park and give the massive Conja water slide a go.
Two hours east of New Orleans lies Mobile, a port city on the Gulf of Mexico. While Mobile has the usual conveniences of a city on hand, it has a number of interesting historical sites that make it worth visiting. Historic Fort Conde, for instance, is a beautiful reconstruction of a French fort that was previously built on the site in 1723. Also of note is the Battleship Memorial Park that is home to the USS Alabama and the USS Drum, both of which were used in the Second World War. The city’s cathedral is also worth a visit due its stunning architecture.
Saint Bernard Parish
The Parish has a diverse range of things to see and do and, just outside New Orleans, the area makes for
a very convenient day trip. On the outskirts of the city, for example, is Chalmette: the site of the Battle of
New Orleans. It was here that the British invasion was stopped and history changed course. Further along,
the beautifully scenic road links the city to the shore at Shell Beach. Serene and secluded, the beach is a
stone’s throw away from Fort Proctor. Although only accessible by boat, the dilapidated 19th Century fort
makes for fun exploring if you have the chance.
The Great River Road
The spectacularly scenic road weaves its way alongside the Mississippi River, meandering through the swamps and wetlands. Despite its beauty, however, the Great River Road in Louisiana is primarily known for the former plantations that line the route. While the sugar plantations themselves are stunning in style, they were once home to wealthy families’ who built their fortunes on slave labour. Each plantation has its own history and visiting numerous properties makes for a very interesting experience as you explore a mosaic of stories that give you the bigger picture. This trip is not to be missed for anyone looking to gain a greater understanding of the area’s past.
For anyone looking to learn a bit more about the culture of Louisiana, Lafayette is a great place to
visit. The Acadian Cultural Center for instance explores the rich cultural heritage of the Cajuns who
inhabit the south, delving deep into their origins and history. At Breaux Bridge, not far from
Lafayette, is the perfect experience to consolidate what you have learnt. Visiting Maison Madeleine,
a restored traditional Creole Cottage, you cannot help but be immersed in the local culture. Maison
Madeleine’s is absolutely beautiful and harkens back to a bygone era. Only a couple of hours from
New Orleans, this educative yet entertaining trip is invaluable to understanding Cajun history and culture.
Jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico is the picturesque Plaquemines Parish. The thin peninsula runs either side of the Mississippi River and is home to the southernmost point of the river. Here, Venice, the last accessible town by land, is appropriately nicknamed the ‘end of the world’. The surrounding areas of the delta make for good fishing and many city folk head here at the weekend. Famous for its freshwater fishing and deepwater fishing alike; the Plaquemines Parish is one of the best locations in the world. The peaceful quiet and fresh air of the isolated Parish makes for a lovely day trip from New Orleans.