15 Fun Day Trips From New Orleans LA

These 15 fun day trips from New Orleans offer cool, fun, and happy experiences, whether you have a few hours or a full day to explore. From swamp tours and holding alligators to authentic Cajun food and culture to exploring beaches and bayous, these New Orleans day trips will make every person in your family or group happy.

The following New Orleans getaways are grouped by state. For each state, destinations are listed according to distance from New Orleans, according to Google Maps.

beautiful sunset in Coastal Mississippi
catch a sunset at these day trips from New Orleans

Fun Day Trips from New Orleans to Louisiana

The following Louisiana destinations offer swamp tours and outdoor experiences to get your heart pumping, unabashed and authentic Cajun cuisine and culture, and chances to get away from it all into a different and more relaxing world.

— Dew Drop Music Hall in Mandeville LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 35 miles, 44 minutes

You can find jazz all over New Orleans but not quite like this. Dew Drop Dance and Social Hall in Mandeville was built in the same year jazz started, 1895. The building remains in its original state, except for some unauthorized paint and stenciling from the prop crew for the movie Pretty Baby. If your New Orleans visit coincides with one of the six seasonal Dew Drop shows, GO!

Wow, this is a special treat. Listening to 5 of New Orleans best traditional jazz musicians playing at the oldest jazz…

Posted by Charles McCool on Saturday, March 9, 2019

 

While in Mandeville, visit Fontainebleau State Park, Sunset Point, and The Candy Bank. Mandeville restaurants include Liz’s Where Y’at Diner, Rip’s On the Lake, The Lakehouse, and Mandeville Seafood Market and Eatery.

— Louisiana Northshore Day Trip to Covington LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 41 miles, 55 minutes

Seems ironic to leave New Orleans for amazing food but I visited at least three magnificent Covington restaurants. I was struck by the similar stories at Del Porto, LOLA, and Oxlot 9. All are owned and operated by married couples with young children who chose to come here. One couple worked at Brennan’s in New Orleans, another in Napa Valley, and the third at Veranda in Birmingham (via New Orleans).

Just finished a magnificent dinner at Oxlot 9 at Southern Hotel ~ Covington, Louisiana. Had scallops, frog legs,…

Posted by Charles McCool on Friday, March 8, 2019

 

Historic downtown Covington Louisiana is a popular shopping and festival destination. Be sure to visit the throwback HJ Smith & Sons General Store and Museum, Acquistapace’s Covington Supermarket (it is fascinating), also order an ice cream flight at Hoodoo.

— Airboat Tours by Arthur Matherne in Des Allemandes LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 46 miles, 50 minutes

Get up and close with a wild 14 foot alligator with Airboat Tours by Arthur Matherne. When I say up close, I mean you might be able to touch Big Al, as I and my group were fortunate to do—although two chose not to. We saw several 10+ foot gators along with some of the most gorgeous bayou scenery, including a watery oak alley.

Oak Alley in the bayou. Airboat tours by Arthur Matherne
Oak Alley in the bayou. Airboat tours by Arthur Matherne
touch a 14 foot gator in Thibodaux Louisiana
touch a 14 foot gator in Des Allemandes Louisiana near New Orleans

Before or after your incredible airboat ride, stop at nearby Spahr’s for lunch. It is the closest Cajun Bayou Food Trail stop to New Orleans (see below for more about the Cajun Bayou Food Trail).

— Bayou Adventure in Lacombe LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 48 miles, 50 minutes

Bayou Adventure will outfit you for whatever you want to do in Real Louisiana, calling themselves the “concierge for the refuge and bayou area.” Bike the Tammany Trace trail, fishing, crabbing, or whatever escape from New Orleans entices you. My #FeedYourSoul experience was kayaking #LiquidRoadTrip between Fontainebleau State Park and Lake Pontchartrain on Bayou Cane. If you are lucky, a gator will bump your kayak, as happened to me. Bayou Adventure can provide transport to/from New Orleans for a group.

Watch this video of a foggy day kayaking with Bayou Adventure.

Before or after your Bayou Adventure (maybe even during), you might want to visit Abita Brewing Company, the wicked amazing Abita Mystery House, and some other other places mentioned in this article in Covington or Mandeville.

— Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery in Covington LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 48 miles, 60 minutes

If your day trip from New Orleans is in August or September, look into the gator hatching experience at Insta-Gator. You might have the rare opportunity to hold a baby alligator while it hatches from its egg. At any time of the year, Royce and crew entertain and educate up to hundreds of visitors per day and guests have an opportunity to hold larger gators (optional charge).

Insta-Gator in Covington Louisiana
hold a gator on a New Orleans day trip to Insta-Gator in Covington Louisiana

McCool Travel tip: I have never done this (as a tease) but there is something to see at Insta-Gator that is nowhere else in the world. Something even rarer than letting a gator egg hatch in your hand. Insta-Gator does not advertise it and the guide might not even mention it during the tour. Many visitors are not even aware of what they see/saw but you will because you will be looking for it!

— Spuddy’s Cajun Cooking Experience in Vacherie LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 49 miles, 53 minutes

Within 5 minutes of meeting the namesake of Spuddy’s Cajun Foods, I finally realized that andouille sausage is a German-Cajun fusion invention. Why did I not know that prior? Spuddy—aka “The Jambalaya King”—runs a very popular off the beaten track restaurant but is developing a Cajun cooking experience to attract New Orleans day trips by the busloads. If you happen to visit before the classes are announced, stop in for amazing Cajun food including, yes, andouille!

— Cajun Bayou Food Trail in Lafourche Parish, Thibodaux LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 64 miles, 68 minutes

Experience raw and authentic Cajun culture and food on the Cajun Bayou Food Trail. Hit seven of the 16 stops (plus six festivals) and earn a free t-shirt. Several places are in Thibodaux, parish seat of Lafourche Parish, which locals call naturally and unapologetically Cajun. Yes, eating at seven places on a day trip sounds daunting so let me help you out.

Kajun Twist in Galliano is run by Anthony, great-grandson of Alzina from Alzina’s Kitchen (her place is booked on weekends a year in advance. WOW!). Try the shrimp boulette patty and gumbos at Kajun Twist, on old school linoleum diner tables. It is also a family affair at nearby Rose’s Cafe. At Rose’s Cafe you will find pure Cajun comfort cuisine with a Memphis twist. The fried shrimp and oysters (ask about Captain Wilbert!), shrimp boil and crawfish boil are staples but you gotta try the chicken wings with three amazing sauces.

try Cajun Food Trail items at Kajun Twist in Galliano Louisiana
try Cajun Bayou Food Trail items at Kajun Twist in Galliano Louisiana
Cajun food items at Rose's Cafe in Galliano Louisiana
Cajun food items at Rose’s Cafe in Galliano Louisiana

The voodoo shrimp at Flanagan’s will tickle your tastebuds and sustain you until the next stop. Later, head to Fermin’s in Thibodaux for fresh oysters and you might find a pearl (as I did!). For a relative hidden gem, stop into Bourgeois a 4th generation Cajun meat market in Thibodaux. They stake claim to the world’s best jerky and the first boudin burrito. Add Louisiana hot sauce to the burrito and definitely buy some jerky for the road. Spahr’s has three locations and the catfish chips and bread pudding are the item to order.

bread pudding at Spahr's in Louisiana
bread pudding at Spahr’s in Louisiana

Order a po’ boy from Bubba’s or Harry’s to nosh during your drive back to New Orleans.

Well done, that was seven Cajun Bayou Food Trail stops. To get your free Cajun Bayou Food Trail t-shirt, stop in the visitor center or mail your passport.

— The Cajun Village in Sorrento LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 53 miles, 54 minutes

The Cajun Village is a great pit stop (only 1/2 mile off I-10) or can be an entire New Orleans day trip destination. The village is a collection of old Cajun houses now housing local shops. Definitely sample the beignets at the coffee shop. Check out the kitchen items with a Louisiana focus and the Louisiana crafts in another shop. Try the make-your-own pottery experience. Look for Big Boy and Nubby behind the shoppes. The Cajun Village also has Cajun themed B&B and cottages nearby.

a fun New Orleans day trip is to The Cajun Village in Sorrento Louisiana
a fun New Orleans day trip is to The Cajun Village in Sorrento Louisiana

— Houmas House and Gardens in Darrow LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 58 miles, 59 minutes

It is worth stopping at Houmas House and Gardens for nothing else than seeing the place where the mint julep cocktail was invented. But also admire the amazing oak trees and gardens, sample fare from three restaurants, and tour the wonderful historic plantation home, which now hosts events and weddings. Stay tuned for the upcoming Louisiana’s Great River Road Museum, scheduled to open in November 2019.

Houmas House and Gardens is magnificent. Floors from 1770s, eclectic art and stuff, and so many oaks. The Lincoln statue…

Posted by Charles McCool on Sunday, March 24, 2019

— Greenwood Gator Farm in Gibson LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 74 miles, 81 minutes

Learn all about the powerful and popular reptile, feed them, hold them (really!), plus take a swamp tour—all at Greenwood Gator Farm in Gibson, Louisiana. Greenwood Gator Farm is one of 12 gator farms in Louisiana and the only place where people can tour a working gator farm.

Before or after your Greenwood Gator experience, stop for lunch or dinner at Boudreau & Thibodeau’s Seafood in Houma.

Read more about the experience at Louisiana Bayou Tour at Greenwood Gator Farm

Greenwood Gator Farm. Article and photo by Charles McCool.
Instagrammable moment at Greenwood Gator Farm

— Bayou Rum in Lacassine (Lake Charles) LA

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 189 miles, 3 hours

A bit more than a simply New Orleans day trip, but if you are driving on I-10 west to Lake Charles, Beaumont, or Houston, take time to stop at Bayou Rum in Lacassine LA (exit 48). Bayou Rum was recently awarded #1 Louisiana attraction and #1 visitor center. After earning over 100 awards for their rum products, Bayou Rum calls itself USA’s #1 craft rum. Stop in and see why.

Try the Satsuma rum at Bayou Rum in Lacassine LA
Try the Satsuma rum at Bayou Rum in Lacassine LA

See also this #USGulpCoast article: Fun US Gulf Coast Bars, Breweries, and Beverage Spots.

For more Louisiana Gulf Coast information, see these resources:

Louisiana Travel | Louisiana NorthshoreNew Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou (Thibodaux)| Louisiana’s Bayou Country (Houma)

Relaxed Luxury at L’Auberge Lake Charles

Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras: Family-friendly Carnival in Lake Charles

Fun Day Trips From New Orleans to Coastal Mississippi

These Mississippi Gulf Coast destinations offer beaches near New Orleans, mild adventure experiences, and transformative travel opportunities for all the senses.

— INFINITY Science Center in Pearlington MS

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 43 miles, 45 minutes

Take a selfie with the most powerful engine ever created. Then immerse yourself into a deep sea diving VR experience, see how hurricanes work, learn about carnivorous plants, and much more. Science is cool and fun at INFINITY Science Center! Take the optional tour of Stennis Space Center to see where NASA rockets and engine components are tested before actual use.

visit INFINITY Science Center in Coastal Mississippi on a day trip from New Orleans
visit INFINITY Science Center in Coastal Mississippi on a day trip from New Orleans

Before heading back to New Orleans, have a meal at Mockingbird Cafe in Bay St Louis or sample a few craft brews at Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in Kiln.

See also my #USGulpCoast article: Fun US Gulf Coast Bars, Breweries, and Beverage Spots.

— Art and History Road Trip to Bay St Louis MS

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 58 miles, 64 minutes

One Bay St Louis B&B owner told me that Bay St Louis is the place where Crescent City residents go on vacation, when they want to find a beach near New Orleans. She would know, since she worked for New Orleans tourism for 25 years. Things I love about BSL include the angel trees (artists carve figures into damaged oak trees and branches), Ruth’s Roots (an eclectic community garden), 100 Men Hall (historic site on Mississippi Blues Trail), and being able to watch sunrises and sunsets from the shoreline.

angel oak in Bay St Louis MS
angel oak in Bay St Louis MS

In addition to the above recommendations, stop in Pass Christian for the artistic sushi creations at Fatsumo for lunch or the relaxed upscale cuisine at Whiskey Prime.

— Wolf River Canoe & Kayak in Long Beach MS

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 70 miles, 70 minutes

Want to get away from it all for half a day? Take an exhilarating #LiquidRoadTrip on the Wolf River. Allow 2-4 hours for your adventure with Wolf River Canoe & Kayak. On your way to the pick up spot, stock up on drinks and food. I recommend the incredible bread and chicken salad from Serious Bread in Bay St Louis. While paddling along the Wolf River, look for petrified wood and embrace the natural landscapes. McCool Travel tip: Wolf River features a couple of low level rapids, which are super fun in a kayak.

Wolf River Canoe and Kayak liquid road trip, Coastal Mississippi
Wolf River Canoe and Kayak liquid road trip, Coastal Mississippi

Visit the 500+ year old Friendship Oak on the USM campus before or after your Wolf River #LiquidRoadTrip.

See also this liquid road trip article: Fun Places to Kayak in US.

— Fishbone Alley (and coming soon Mississippi Aquarium) in Gulfport MS

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 78 miles, 81 minutes

The new, magnificent Mississippi Aquarium is scheduled to open its doors in late 2019 or early 2020. Until then, watch a time-lapse video of the Mississippi Aquarium construction progress but visit Gulfport Mississippi anyway. Fishbone Alley has vibrant, cool public art, plus a few excellent restaurants and bars—try 27th Avenue Bistro and say hello to Chef David! Gulf Islands Water Park has miles of water slides to cool you off on those warm and humid summer days. Or the adults may opt to cool off with a craft beer flight at Chandeleur Brewing Company (their satsuma cream ale is delectable). Jones Park is often the hub of activity for festivals and events, or, when not, just a place to relax and stroll around the harbors.

see the public art at Fishbone Alley in Gulfport MS
see the public art at Fishbone Alley in Gulfport MS

— Bahn Mi and #BigShrimpin in Biloxi MS

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 91 miles, 86 minutes

Biloxi MS was once the Shrimping Capital of the World and the shrimping industry still reigns supreme on the #SecretCoast of Coastal Mississippi. Learn about Mississippi Gulf Coast sea life on the super fun and entertaining Biloxi Shrimping Trip. The captain trawls the gulf floor for the first half of the tour. Then first mate Dave takes over and entertains and educates guests; Dave of the Biloxi Shrimping Trip is particularly adept at engaging children and encouraging them to handle the collected sea critters.

try Biloxi Shrimping Trip on your day trips from New Orleans
Biloxi Shrimping Trip is a fun day trip from New Orleans

Before or after your shrimp boat tour, continue your #BigShrimpin experience with some hyper fresh Deer Island oysters or shrimp and grits at White Pillars, a Bahn Mi po’ boy at Le Bakery and Cafe, or an order of steamed Royal Reds at The Blind Tiger. The nearby Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum is well worth a visit to see historical shrimping machinery and fascinating informational displays.

French Hermit oysters at White Pillars in Biloxi MS
French Hermit oysters at White Pillars in Biloxi MS

See also: Mississippi Gulf Coast Restaurants: Coastal Mississippi Dining Guide.

— Get Artsy in Ocean Springs MS

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 92 miles, 88 minutes

The legendary Anderson family dominates the Ocean Springs art scene, featuring Walter Anderson Museum of Art and Shearwater Pottery (founded by his brother Peter Anderson). The Anderson family influence extends throughout Ocean Springs, from the epic community center mural (see video below) to the design and room names at the award-winning The Roost boutique hotel. Definitely stay at The Roost or its sister property Inn at Ocean Springs if your New Orleans day trip runs too long.

See this video of the Walter Anderson mural room in the Ocean Springs Community Center.

See also: Mississippi Gulf Coast Hotels: Fun Lodging Along the Mississippi Coast.

Ocean Springs’ casual beachy but artsy vibe extends into its food scene. James Beard semi-finalist chef Alex Perry is a culinary wizard at Vestige. Sample the fresh daily biscuits at Greenhouse on Porter. The Wilbur Bar (in The Roost) serves creative cocktails that will awaken several of your senses. Coincide your New Orleans day trip to Ocean Springs with a Mary C. cooking class to foster and feed your inner artist.

fresh local heirloom tomatoes at Vestige in Ocean Springs, Mississippi
fresh local heirloom tomatoes at Vestige in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Countless Ocean Springs small business and festivals entice shoppers and weekend visitors. Several art galleries line the classic #USGulfCoast downtown streets. Lovelace Drugs was recently lovingly restored to its 1950s glory. On a pleasant day, have a meal or drink in the outside courtyard behind Maison de Lu. Still looking for places to eat in Ocean Springs? Try The Shed for BBQ, Charred for steak and oysters, or RAW Bar for seafood and sushi.

— Nature on a Pascagoula Day Trip

Distance and Time (from New Orleans): 109 miles, 99 minutes

Experience the longest free flowing river in continental USA with McCoy’s River Boat Tour from the Pascagoula River Audubon Center. Or explore the Pascagoula River area on your own with a rented kayak from the center. Either way, get a shrimp and oyster po’ boy from Bozo’s Seafood Market before or after your visit. You will thank me!

Pascagoula River McCoy Boat Tour from Pascagoula River Audubon Center
Pascagoula River McCoy Boat Tour

Other things to do in Pascagoula include exploring the LaPointe-Krebs museum (oldest house in Mississippi), seeing the avenue of oaks in Moss Point, visiting Jimmy Buffett’s first home (also Jimmy Buffett beach and Jimmy Buffett bridge), and nearby is Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.

For more Mississippi Gulf Coast information, see these resources:

Coastal Mississippi

Fun Things To Do On The Mississippi Gulf Coast

Mississippi Gulf Coast Hotels: Fun Lodging Along the Mississippi Coast

Margaritaville Resort Biloxi: Fun Lodging Along the Mississippi Coast

Tips For Day Trips From New Orleans

 

Traffic will most likely be heaviest during morning rush hours into New Orleans and afternoon rush hours out of New Orleans. For best results, avoid travel in the heavy directions at those times.

The shortest direction may not be the quickest. For instance, driving straight across Lake Pontchartrain to get to parts of Louisiana Northshore may take longer than driving through Slidell on the east edge of the lake.

Thank you for reading this list of cool, happy, and fun day trips from New Orleans. By no means is this a comprehensive list. Comment with your favorite New Orleans day trip, places to go in Coastal Mississippi, or things to do in Louisiana Gulf Coast.

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15 Fun Days Trips From New Orleans was originally published on McCool Travel.com on May 7, 2019.

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23 thoughts on “15 Fun Day Trips From New Orleans LA”

  1. I’m sure I could spend a week in New Orleans and not need to explore the surrounds, but if I went back again I would have a great time with this list of adventures. One I have already taken on another trip is Houmas House and Gardens in Darrow–would LOVE to go back there again.

  2. I’m always in the market for more things to do in and around New Orleans, one of my very happy places. Is Lafayette too far? Probably to include on this list, but I’d add that in anyway. As for the gators, not so much. Good Cajun food however is definitely worth a drive.

  3. You’ve really assembled an amazing collection of day trips from new Orleans. We have always focused our attention on The Big easy, but see there are a slew of other options in close proximity. Looks like we will need to expand our horizons on our next visit.

  4. I’d love to go on that Cajun Bayou Food Trail …several years ago I spent an afternoon with Chef Marcelle Bienvenue Lagasse at her home on the bayou. She showed me how to make jambalaya and we then took a boat tour beneath a curtain of Spanish moss – it truly is a remarkable part of the world. Well worth a day trip from New Orleans!

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