There's plenty to do in the heart of New Orleans, but for repeat visitors or those with extra time, a day trip offers a broader Louisiana perspective. Whether you take a paddle wheel voyage down the Mississippi, an airboat swamp adventure, or visit a historic plantation, here are some top ways to go beyond the Big Easy.
The Louisiana Swamps
The jazz clubs and cafes of the French Quarter seem a world away in Cajun country, where the only sounds are of birds and insects chirping in the mangroves at the water’s edge. Explore wildlife-rich wetlands including Honey Island Swamp, Manchac Swamp, and Atchafalaya Basin on a swamp tour from New Orleans. Options include eco-cruises led by naturalist guides and high-speed airboat rides that whisk you along snaking estuaries.
River Road Plantations
The 70-mile stretch of the Great Mississippi River Road, dotted with many of the state’s former sugarcane plantations, offers a look back at Louisiana history. These once-grand estates showcase the contrasts of plantation life, with stately mansions and elaborate gardens standing alongside slave cabins. The best-preserved plantations include Houmas House, Oak Alley, Laura, and Destrehan, while the Whitney Plantation is fully dedicated to the memory of enslaved people.
Mississippi River Cruises
New Orleans remains a busy port, so get a new perspective on river life with a cruise down the mighty Mississippi. Most cruises depart directly from docks right in the French Quarter and last about two hours, leaving plenty of time for other adventures. Book a jazz brunch or dinner cruise to pair your voyage with Creole cuisine and live music.
Located about 1.5 hours upriver from New Orleans, Louisiana’s capital city offers an urban slice of life in the American South. Get your culture fix at museums such as the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, test your puzzling skills on a scavenger hunt, or take the kids for a day of seasonal splashy fun at the Blue Bayou Water Park.