Regarded as one of the most unique and intriguing cities in the United States, New Orleans has a vibe that can neither be found elsewhere nor resisted. Renowned the world over for the over-the-top Mardi Gras experience, Cajun cuisine, and of course, jazz music, the city is often considered as the melting point of diverse cultural significance that can be observed in everything from its music to its food to its festivals and its architecture. The French Quarter is where all the action takes place. Nestled along the Mississippi River, the area’s architecture, shopping, and dining avenues are the biggest temptation. While here, don’t miss a visit to Bourbon Street (especially after sunset). History and technology would appreciate the eccentric displays at the National WWII Museum. Oher significant places here include Jackson Square, Preservation Hall, and Garden District.
If the overwhelming, larger-than-life city gets a bit too much, take a break and enjoy some time off at one of the below-mentioned weekend destinations from New Orleans:
The fourth-largest city in Louisiana, Lafayette is an amazing weekend getaway to explore. Explore through the streets of the Arcadian Village which is an 1800s Cajun village. While here, you can see the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, tour the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island, catch a show at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, and dine at some of the finest restaurants. If you are traveling with kids, you must take them to the Children’s Museum of Acadiana which offers hands-on experience with many interactive exhibits created for equipping kids with practical knowledge on several subjects including health, finance, and so on. Other important places to visit here are Lafayette Science Museum, Cypress Island, and Acadian Cultural Center.
Best Time to Visit: June to August is the best time to visit Lafayette. These are also the peak months in the city so expect higher prices for lodging, accommodation, and other such services.
How to Reach: To get to Lafayette, you could take a direct bus or a train from New Orleans. Buses take around 3 hours and 15 mins and cost $20 to $30 whereas trains take around 3 and a half hours and cost $30 to $45.
A city more familiar with the deep south than usual Florida, Pensacola is a small town that has grown popular as one of the most frequented spots in the state. Sitting in a different time zone than the rest of Florida, the city has a plethora of things to see and do. The National Naval Aviation Museum houses over 150 wonderfully restored, classic combat aircraft, including the one to first land at the South Pole. Also known as the Seville Historic District, the Historic Pensacola Village offers 28 beautifully renovated structures, many museums, and a chance to retrace the footsteps of many pioneers. T.T. Wentworth Jr. Museum, Old Christ Church, and Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum are some more notable places to visit.
Best Time to Visit: The most preferred time to visit the city is from the middle of September to October when the family vacationers and spring breakers have left, making the beaches calmer and other attractions emptier.
How to Reach: If budget is not a concern, there are direct flights between the two cities that will transport you to Pensacola in three and a half hours and cost $100 to $500. Alternatively, you can drive to the city in under three and half hours and expect to spend $20 to $30 on fuel. Last but not the least, you can also take a Greyhound to Mobile and then a taxi to Pensacola. This, also, takes three and a half hours and costs $27 to $40.
From the gorgeous Fairhope Municipal Pier to the marsh wetlands at Weeks Bay Reserve, Fairhope houses plenty of things to see and do. The Pier remains open around the year and is an ideal place to spot many shorebirds or enjoy fishing. Another remarkable attraction, Fairhope Museum is home to many exhibitions devoted to the city’s unique and opulent past, from its earliest Native American inhabitants to the area’s widespread history with clay pottery.
Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts must take the time to explore Weeks Bay Reserve. Spread across 9.317 acres, the area consists of protected forests, interesting bog habitats, marsh wetlands, as well as several water bodies.
Canoeing, bird watching, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and picnicking are some of the activities to be experienced here.
Best Time to Visit: July is the peak season in Fairhope, followed by August and June. Essentially, expect to pay higher prices for all tourism businesses and services.
How to Reach: The most convenient way to travel between New Orleans and Fairhope is to drive. Expect to spend around three hours and $15 to $25 in fuel. But, if that’s not your scene, take a bus to Mobile ($25 to $30) and take a taxi to Fairhope (30 minutes, $50 to $60).
Founded in 1716, the quaint town of Natchez was one of the most significant locations in the state during the cotton trade. Consequentially, it is dotted with many stunning and historically important antebellum-era mansions and estates. Most of these are open to the public. Take a stroll along the pedestrian-friendly historic downtown center to witness the most remarkable shopping and dining avenues in the area. Stanton Hall, popularly known as the Belfast House, is among the largest and grandest historical estates in the country. Some more fascinating locations in the town include Natchez Trace Parkway, Natchez City Cemetery, and Auburn Museum and Historic Home.
Best Time to Visit: Spring is the best season considered by many to visit this city.
How to Reach: From New Orleans, hop on a train to either Brookhaven Amtrak Station or Mccomb. From here, Natchez is an hour and a half away. Both options cost between $35 to $55 and take three and a half hours in total.
Alternatively, you can drive down to the city for the same amount of time and expect to pay $15 to $25 in fuel.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
If Southwest Louisiana is an extensive sensory experience, Lake Charles is its beating heart and welcoming hub. Whether you enjoy admiring the exquisiteness of the Cypress Swamp or observe the rich wildlife at Creole Nature Trail, you leave this town with a genuine immersion into the rich culture of the state. Interestingly, the Mardi Gras Museum of Lake Charles is known to house the world’s largest collection of Mardi Gras costumes. If you enjoy outdoor activities, spend some time at Sam Houston Jones State Park and indulge in hiking, a round of disc golf, or simply picnicking with your family.
Best Time to Visit: Depending on your comfort level, the summer months of June till August is the busiest here whereas the spring months of March till May is the second busiest. Prices of tourist businesses vary depending on the crowds.
How to Reach: There are direct buses and trains between New Orleans and Lake Charles. Buses take three and a half hours and cost between $27 to $40, but trains take an hour more and cost between $35 to $55. Additionally, there are direct flights between the two locations that take the same time as a bus or a train, however, expect to pay between $250 to $600.
Made famous in many Hollywood movies and series, documentaries, and travel publications, the city of New Orleans is easily one of the most captivating and culturally spellbinding cities in the United States if not the world. To experience it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So, if you get a chance to spend your holiday here, it makes absolute sense to not leave without exploring the handful of weekend destinations from New Orleans which add to the experience.