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Day-Trips from New Orleans

Cajun Country, The Gulf Coast, NASA, Mississippi, Alabama, and more

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There are many easy and interesting day-trip drives from New Orleans, including sites in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and even the Florida panhandle. Here are some day-long road trip ideas:

The Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a traditional spot for R&R for New Orleanians. You'll find miles of beautiful white beaches (and not so pretty water - unless you take the boat trip to Ship Island where the water is clear.), huge casinos (which unfortunately block the gulf view in some spots), great food, fishing, boating, history, art galleries, museums, shopping, and much more. Well worth quite a few day trips or a full-fledged vacation. And it's so close. I know people who have commuted to New Orleans from the Coast.

The closest stop is Bay St.Louis, small bayfront arts town, and Waveland which are just about an hour away. Nearby and right off the I-10 is the Diamondhead development with a golf course, restaurants, and more.

Further down the coast are the big destinations of Gulfport and Biloxi, as well as smaller communities like Long Beach. A bit further is Ocean Springs, an artsy town with a Southern vibe. If you get off the interstate early, just driving the scenic beach route through all the towns is worth a trip.

More Mississippi: Jackson and Hattiesburg

To escape the flatlands and experience hills, plus a bit of culture and a Southern atmosphere, go to Jackson, Mississippi. Visit the Mississippi state capitol and state museums, including an art museum that sometimes has world class exhibits, such as past Alexander the Great and Russian Kremlin shows. Stop in small town Poplarville, at the Crosty Arboteum, or in college city Hattiesburg (University of Southern Mississippi) on the way.

Northshore of New Orleans

Lots of communters live on the Northshore and make that trip across Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans every day. Take the twin-spans to Slidell or take the Causeway Mandeville, Madisonville, Covington, Lacombe, Abita Springs, and beyond. You'll find a beautiful lakefront, atmospheric old towns, as well as superior shopping and restaurants. You can feed giraffes and other exotic animals at Global Wildlife, enjoy music in a vinyard, or go to the Louisiana Opry. There are lots of festivals and concerts. Favorite yearly events are the Louisiana Renaissance Fair and the Wooden Boat Festival.

Baton Rouge

Take the I-10 from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to visit the state capitol and park, the old state capitol (which looks like a castle and is now a political museum), the state arts & science museum (There's a real mummy!), art museums, the state archives, the rural life museum, LSU's campus (and the real Mike the Tiger in his elaborate habitat), the lakes, etc, etc, etc.

As a New Orleanian, I can't help but notice all the chain restaurants and the fact that LSU shirts seem to be preferred attire for all ages of Baton Rougians. Look for festivals and special events such as the state book festival, LSU football games, and art festivals. There's a lot to do in Louisiana Capitol City and if you haven't been there in a while, you will be amazed at how it has grown.

Houma

Houma, located on the Westbank of the Mississippi River, has Cajun culture and food, plus swamp tours, charter fishing, and more including annual festivals and its own Mardi Gras celebration.

NASA Space Center

Less than an hour from New Orleans and right off the I-10 is NASA's renovated Space Center. I hope to get there soon and give a report.

Hammond, Louisiana

The Hammond area which includes Hammond and Pontchatoula is between Baton Rouge and New Orleans/Northshore and seems to be getting closer all the time as the area population grows. There are popular events including antique auctions, an Oktoberfest, and the Strawberry Fest. Hammond's live alligator mascot lives in the middle of town.

 

 

Cajun Country

New Orleans is not Cajun, despite what the rest of the world may think. (Though you can find a touch of Cajun nowadays at Michaul's, K-Paul's and a few other spots.) Other parts of the Louisiana like Breaux Bridge, Mamou or the German Coast have the real Cajun culture which includes Cajun food, music, dance, fun, and hospitality. If you're looking for a very different Cajun Mardi Gras celebration, take a day trip to Tee Mamou on Mardi Gras

Alabama: Mobile, Fairhope, Point Clear, the Alabama Beaches

Mobile, Alabama has the beautiful Bellingrath Gardens, a dog racetrack, musuems, a battleship, and a beautiful city square lines with cafes. Nearby are Point Clear, a favorite vacation spot for generations of New Orleanians, and Fairhope, an atmospheric, arty, and literary town that's home to some famous authors. And of course, the beaches on the Alabama Gulf Coast, which are close enough for long day trip, although most people from New Orleans go for at least a weekend.

Pensacola in Panhandle Florida

Although most go for at least a weekend, the Pensacola can be a long day trip. In addition to the beautiful beaches, there's a great Air Force Musuem at the end of the bridge in Pensacola that is worth the trip.
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