With even a short road trip near New Orleans, you can find beautiful white-sand beaches, southern plantations, nature-filled state parks and more. But how do you pick the best things to see and do within a few hours’ drive (or less) of New Orleans, if you’re not familiar with the area?

    We’ve put together a list of the best road trips near New Orleans to help you pick the best things to see and do in the surrounding region, all that will be well worth the drive time.

    1

    Biloxi, MS

    Get out of the city and head to this nearby beach town

    Biloxi is located a short drive from New Orleans, along the Gulf of Mexico. This beach city offers a vibe that New Orleans, with its shorelines of river and swamp, just can’t. A world away from The Big Easy, Biloxi features long sandy shores and all the popular beach activities that come with them.

    After you’ve enjoyed the beach life, shake the sand from your shoes and visit some of the top attractions in the area, such as the Biloxi Lighthouse and the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum, as well as the multiple casinos in the area.

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    2

    Baton Rouge, LA

    Step back in time at the state’s capital

    • History
    • Photo

    Baton Rouge only takes a short drive north from New Orleans, until you find yourself in the riverside capital of Louisiana. Visiting Baton Rouge feels like a step back in time, thanks to the many historical structures and remains from the past.

    Visit the Old Louisiana State Capitol to learn more about the state’s history. With other historic attractions like the USS Kidd, the LSU Rural Life Museum and Magnolia Mound Plantation, Baton Rouge is truly a can’t-miss road trip from New Orleans for any history lover.

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    3

    Abita Springs, LA

    Find plenty of nature, craft brews and live music events

    The small town of Abita Springs is located just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Take the bridge and find yourself enjoying a slower pace of life than what you might find even in The Big Easy.

    Abita Springs is known for a few things, including its wealth of nature, many annual events and craft brews. Visit Abita Brewing Company for a taste and consider timing your visit with some of the most popular events, such as the Abita Springs Opry or Louisiana Bicycle Festival.

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    photo by Saint Tammany (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Mandeville, LA

    Spend a day on the water in this lakefront town

    Mandeville, just south of Abita Springs and even closer to Lake Pontchartrain, is a worthy short drive from The Crescent City. Visit the Northshore Lakefront to take in the water and moss-covered ancient oak trees.

    Sunset Point Fishing Pier provides a spot to cast your line and the nearby marina is the place to go if you fancy renting a boat for the day. If you’d rather stay away from the live fish, as well as off the water, you can still enjoy the lakeside vibe with waterfront dining options along Lakeshore Drive.

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    5

    Houmas House Plantation

    Explore, dine and stay at this historic home

    Houmas House and Gardens, located in Darrow, Louisiana, is one of the top attractions worth driving to see when you’re in New Orleans. This Greek revival mansion dates back to the early 1800s and now offers visitors a glance at what life on a sugar plantation might’ve been like in the 19th century.

    Beyond the history, the gorgeous grounds are worth a look for their beauty alone and they’ve even attracted movie makers and TV producers over the years, most recently for 2011 episodes of The Bachelor.

    Location: 40136 LA-942, Darrow, LA 70725, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 225-473-9380

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    photo by Thank You (21 Millions+) views (CC BY 2.0) modified

    6

    Fontainebleau State Park

    Immerse yourself in an abundance of nature

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Fontainebleau State Park is a great place to drive to if you really want to get away from New Orleans’ hustle and bustle for the day. Within less than an hour, you can be enjoying a little rejuvenating amid a wealth of nature. Just hop across Lake Pontchartrain and spend some time in the expansive park.

    Open 24/7, this 2,800-acre park offers a little bit of it all – a beach, cabins and lodges for rent if you want to stay longer, a wildlife centre, hiking trails and a bayou. There are even historical elements like the remnants of a sugar cane plantation and brickyard.

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    Location: 62883 LA-1089, Mandeville, LA 70448, USA

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +1 985-624-4443

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    photo by Mark Holloway (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Morgan City, LA

    The Jumbo Shrimp Capital of the World

    Morgan City sits to the west of New Orleans, near the Atchafalaya River and the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge. Beyond providing a gateway to these 2 natural attractions, though, Morgan City is known as the Jumbo Shrimp Capital of the World and welcomes travellers from all over the country and world for events like the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, which celebrates the city’s 2 primary industries.

    Try the shrimp at the local restaurants along Main Street. Then see the petroleum side of things when you pay a visit to the International Petroleum Museum & Exposition, which features the only offshore oil rig that’s currently open to the public.

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    8

    Ocean Springs, MS

    Enjoy a mix of ocean air, nature preserves and cultural attractions

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    Ocean Springs is a beach town that you'd do well to visit if you’re craving some white sands. Beyond the beach, Ocean Springs offers a charming, southern-style downtown and plenty of options for nature lovers.

    Visit Gulf Islands National Seashore or Fort Maurepas City Park and Nature Preserve to learn more about the area’s natural habitats and ecosystem. History and culture fans can make stops at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and the Charnley-Norwood House, the latter of which is an 1890s cottage designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

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    9

    The Myrtles Plantation

    Spend a night with the spirits at ‘the most haunted home in America’

    • Food
    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    The Myrtles Plantation offers a little bit of it all and is a fun pick for a quick night’s stay outside New Orleans – if you’re brave enough. The historic structure was built in the late 1700s and is a fine example of pre-Civil War and Creole architecture. It now houses both a hotel and a restaurant.

    The plantation is considered one of the most haunted homes in America. While the supposed ghosts may change how you feel about spending a night in the elegant hotel, it’s still worth stopping by for a meal and a free tour.

    Location: 7747 US-61, St. Francisville, LA 70775, USA

    Phone: +1 225-635-6277

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    photo by Bogdan Oporowski (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Destrehan Plantation

    Discover hands-on history at one of the state’s oldest homes

    • History
    • Photo

    Destrehan Plantation was built in the 1800s and is one of Louisiana’s oldest plantations. It produced sugarcane and indigo before becoming more widely known as the home of a Louisiana senator. Today’s visitors, though, might know the plantation more for its pop-culture connections, as the home was used as a shooting location for Interview with the Vampire (1994), 12 Years a Slave (2013) and even the music video for Beyonce’s Lemonade.

    Visitors can take a guided tour of the grounds and see historical interpreters hard at work demonstrating skills such as indigo dyeing, candle making and open-hearth cooking.

    Location: 13034 River Road, Destrehan, LA 70047, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 4.30 pm (Wednesday to 4 pm)

    Phone: +1 985-764-9315

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    photo by Thank You (21 Millions+) views (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Holly Riddle | Contributing Writer

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