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New Orleans is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America because it’s such a fun place to party, sightsee, and listen to live music. But if you live in this area or have some extra time to spend in the region, you might be looking for a getaway spot that’s in easy driving distance. Deep in the heart of the American South, you can check out some really fascinating places nearby in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. Here are some weekend getaway ideas from New Orleans to inspire you.
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It’s an easy 1.5-hour drive to get from New Orleans to Biloxi heading northeast by car. There’s a wonderful paved trail that goes along the Gulf of Mexico here, so bring your bike along for some exercise and scenic views. People often travel to Biloxi to try their luck at the local casinos and relax on the beautiful beach as well. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, MGM Park, and New Palace Casino Point Cadet are popular local destinations.
Another weekend idea is to take a drive to Lake Charles, which is just over three hours from New Orleans. This is a fun place to visit for some outdoor recreation since it’s a top boating and fishing destination. Birdwatchers enjoy coming here to hike the nature trails. There are also casinos in the area if you want to try your luck or find a delicious meal at one of the casino restaurants. Local parks to check out are Millennium Park, Sam Houston Jones State Park, and Prien Lake Park. It’s fun to see the Mardi Gras Museum in Lake Charles and grab a beer at Crying Eagle Brewing Company.
Meanwhile, the historic and fun city of Mobile, Alabama is just over two hours from New Orleans and a fun weekend trip from New Orleans. Mobile has some really great restaurants and bars to treat yourself to a night out. It’s easy to keep the whole family entertained on a trip to mobile when you visit the Battleship USS Alabama, GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico, the Mobile Carnival Museum, and the History Museum of Mobile.
For your weekend, you can take a drive to Grand Isle from New Orleans and get here in just about two hours. This is a great place for fishing and birdwatching, as well as eating delicious seafood. Shrimp and oysters are excellent here. The Grand Isle area offers public beaches, state parks, and a wildlife refuge. The town has a small full-time population but really swells in size due to all the tourists who love it here. Charter boat tours and cruises are popular here for fishing trips.
Florida might sound far away from New Orleans, but you can get to the Gulf Coast city of Pensacola in just about three hours. Plan this weekend getaway if you’re looking for beautiful beaches and family-friendly attractions. There are some great learning opportunities in Pensacola, including the National Naval Aviation Museum and the Pensacola Lighthouse Museum. Check out the Pensacola Bay Brewery while you’re here for a local brew. Boat cruises are popular activities here, as well as catching a game at the Blue Wahoos Ballpark and experiencing Uncle Sandy’s Macaw Bird Park.
A three-hour drive from New Orleans will get you to Orange Beach, Alabama where you can take a parasailing tour, go fishing on a boat ride, or even get airborne in a helicopter. The Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail is a great place to get outside and active here. Meanwhile, the Wharf and Orange Beach Waterfront Park are popular local attractions and great places for walking around. Foodies particularly love to visit Orange Beach and sample the local restaurant scene.
If you have a three-day weekend ahead of you and don’t mind a slightly longer drive, consider taking a trip from New Orleans up to Memphis, Tennessee. This is an easy drive straight up north on Interstate-55. Memphis is an awesome place to be if you love music and learning about the history of music. Make sure to get some delicious barbecue and bar hop along Beale Street to catch a performance on your weekend trip. Other ways to spend your days on a trip to Memphis include checking out Sun Studio, Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
Head east from New Orleans for about 2.5 hours and you can reach the popular southern destination of Dauphin Island, Alabama. There are a couple of historic forts here that were part of the Civil War, Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan, which you can visit and learn about. Dauphin Island enjoys beautiful sunsets and offers fresh seafood and a laid-back vibe for travelers. Plan to spend some time at Dauphin Island Public Beach if the weather is nice.
An easy weekend trip that you can make from New Orleans is to the Louisiana capital city of Baton Rouge. This destination is easy on your gas tank and less than an hour and a half away. In Baton Rouge, you can check out the Capitol Park Museum and get some exercise on the levee trail that runs along the Mississippi River. If you visit during the right season, you might be able to catch a game at LSU Tiger Stadium or at Alex Box Stadium/Skip Bertman Field.
We also love Natchez, Mississippi as a weekend getaway spot from New Orleans, and this city is less than three hours from NOLA. Like many destinations in the South, Natchez offers Civil War history and allows you to take a step back in time. The Natchez National Historical Park offers interesting history lessons about the area. To kick back and relax with a great beverage, stop by the Charboneau Distillery or the Old South Winery.
Another great pick for your three-day weekend is Galveston, a Texas beach town that’s less than six hours from New Orleans. Galveston State Park is a popular place to visit for outdoor recreation. There are lots of family-friendly attractions in Galveston, such as mini-golf and the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. You can learn a lot during your weekend trip by visiting the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and the Galveston Naval Museum.
In about five hours by car, you can plan a weekend getaway to Shreveport and experience a totally different part of Louisiana. Shreveport is home to some casinos if you want to try your luck and also the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium that hosts exciting concerts during the year. A great nonprofit organization called Chimp Haven is in the Shreveport area and definitely worth a visit if they are hosting a public day during your weekend trip. Chimp Haven is an inspiring chimpanzee sanctuary that gives chimps a second chance at life after being retired from biomedical research.
A two-hour trip to the west will take you to Lafayette, Louisiana after a scenic drive through the region. This is a great place to visit for a dose of traditional Cajun culture music, food, and family fun at the annual festival in September. Any time of the year, favorite local restaurants for Cajun cooking include Johnson’s Boucaniere and The French Press. Favorite dishes to try include gumbo, boudin, and cracklins. Another fun idea is to take a tour of the Tabasco pepper sauce factory.
A quaint and lovely southern destination that belongs on your bucket list is Fairhope, Alabama, which is about 2.5 hours from NOLA. Fairhope offers plenty of scenic views of the Bay of Mobile and opportunities for fishing, shopping, and live music. The town is known for its art scene and great restaurants. The Fairhope Brewing Company is also a popular spot to hang out. The Alabama Eastern Shore Trail and Fairhoper’s Community Park are great places to get outdoors while you’re here for the weekend.
The quickest road trip on this list is Abita Springs, which you can get to in under an hour from New Orleans. The main reason that makes people plan this quick trip is to sample beers from the largest and oldest brewery in the state, Abita Brewing. The brewery also has a brewpub that hosts live music and has great burgers. The brewery taproom in nearby Covington offers guided tours that are family-friendly for the beer portion and even craft soda tours with soda tasting options. Other things to do in the area include the Abita Mystery House, Abita Springs Art & Farmers’ Market, and the Abita Springs Trailhead Museum.
For a dose of history without having to travel too far, plan a trip to Vicksburg, which is a little over three hours from New Orleans. The big attraction here is the Vicksburg National Military Park. Other local things to see and do on your weekend here include visiting the U.S.S. Cairo Museum, seeing the riverfront murals, and checking out the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum.