We have dozens of family travel tips on New Orleans Mom. If you are looking for longer adventures and road trip ideas from New Orleans, check out this list of budget friendly road trips within driving distance of New Orleans. The ideas below are designed for short trips within Louisiana itself!
Family Friendly Weekend Getaways in Louisiana
If you are looking to get away from New Orleans for the weekend, we have you covered with several unique trip ideas that are within driving distance of New Orleans. Maybe the kids are off for a long weekend, or maybe you are just looking to get out of the city for an evening. The good news is that we have plenty of towns to explore right here within Louisiana, and most of these weekend trips can be planned at the last minute. Louisiana is culturally vibrant, historic and interesting, so before you book that next flight or seek out an exotic locale … consider taking the kids somewhere closer to home!
Cenla/Alexandria :: Weekend Trip From New Orleans
For a great weekend trip from New Orleans, check out the central Louisiana area, featuring the city of Alexandria. Right in the heart of Louisiana, Alexandria is home to many family-friendly attractions and places you can enjoy with your family. Whether you are a fan of museums or the great outdoors, Alexandria is a fun weekend getaway within driving distance of New Orleans.
What to do outdoors in Central Louisiana
The “Cenla” (Central Louisiana) region is home to the Kisatchie National Forest, composed of acres and acres of beautiful woodlands and pine forests. It is also home to the Wild Azalea Walking Trail, a 31 mile long trail, which is – fun fact – the longest hiking trail in Louisiana. You can also go horseback riding with Hayes E Daze through the forest or even take a trip to the Lake Kincaid Recreation Area.
Museums Worth Visiting in Central Louisiana
If you would rather spend some time indoors on your visit with your family, downtown Alexandria is home to the T.R.E.E. House Children’s Museum, which houses many great exhibits along with a playground and model train. Other great places to visit with kids in Alexandria include the Alexandria Zoo (which has reciprocal admission for Baton Rouge Zoo members) and Gone Wild Safari where you can feed llamas, giraffes, deer, and even a “zorse” (half horse, half zebra).
Acadiana/Lafayette :: Weekend Trip From New Orleans
Just two hours west of New Orleans, the Acadiana area is a culturally diverse and historica region of Louisiana and home to the Cajun way of life. If you have not taken your kids to Lafayette for the weekend, it is an easy and fun trip for the whole family.
What to do outdoors in Lafayette
If you and your family want to explore the great outdoors in Louisiana within driving distance of New Orleans, you are in luck. Home to the Atchafalaya Basin, the Acadiana region has a huge area open for exploring. Home to several state parks with lots of space for outdoor recreation, you can’t go wrong in Lafayette whether you are hiking, canoeing in the Atchafalaya Swamps, or fishing in any of the many bayou areas. There are oodles of options for swamp tours in this area, and Jungle Gardens on Avery Island is a great place to visit and check out wildlife and a beautiful botanical garden. Kids of all ages also enjoy the Tabasco Avery Island experience, which can be done in one day without spending the night if you prefer a day trip from New Orleans.
Cajun Culture & Arts
If you are really interested in getting to learn more about the Cajun culture, we recommend visiting the Vermilionville Acadian Village which offers hands-on learning about the Acadians and their way of life. Another great place to visit is the Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center which offers a junior ranger program and background on the origins, experiences, and the modern way of life of Cajuns. You can also learn more about the culture and arts of Acadiana by making a visit to the Acadiana Center for the Arts, taking tours of Martin’s Accordions or even taking a Cajun Food Tour! You can also visit Avery Island, home of Tabasco or Shadows on the Teche, a famous antebellum home in New Iberia full of history! One of the attractions in the Lafayette area that is a must visit with kids is Acadian Village, a quaint and idyllic village that displays just how simple life in Louisiana was for the earliest settlers. If you are hoping to catch a glimpse of an alligator in real life, you don’t have to head further than the University of Louisiana – Lafayette campus; Cypress Lake is full of swamp life.
Museums Worth Visiting in Lafayette
The Lafayette Science Museum boasts a planetarium, terrarium exhibit, and even a fossil exhibit with a skeletal model of a mastodon. Other exhibits include one of meteorites and planetarium shows. If you want a children’s museum, look no further than the Children’s Museum of Acadiana which includes Ami, a full size ambulance exhibit inside the museum! Families also report having a lovely time at the Hilliard Art Museum. It doesn’t get much more picturesque than the Saint John Cathedral; it is recommended that you make arrangements in advance to tour this historical place of worship.
Natchitoches :: Weekend Trip From New Orleans
Just one hour north of Alexandria, Louisiana on the banks of the Cane River is the picturesque town of Natchitoches, the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase! This is a fabulous weekend trip from New Orleans with kids. Natchitoches is also famous for its annual Christmas Lights Festival and for its portrayal in the movie, Steel Magnolias.
History of Natchitoches
Because Natchitoches is the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase, it is home to many historical homes as well as the Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historical Site, which is a great place to visit to get historical background on the city and people of Natchitoches and its surrounding areas. Once you get a little background, I highly recommend taking a free guided tour through the historical district of Natchitoches, courtesy of the Natchitoches historical commission. There are many beautiful old homes and bed and breakfasts along the walk in the quaint town.
Arts & Sports in Natchitoches
If you are more into the art, I highly recommend doing a self-guided Steel Magnolias Tour with this guide and downloaded map. You’ll be able to see everything from the house where Shelby was married to the riverbank, where the Easter Egg hunt took place, and everything in between. If art is more your thing, be sure to check out the Natchitoches Heritage Art Gallery and/or the Orville Hanchey Gallery at Northwestern State University. For those in your family who are into sports, head on over to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame where you can see sports memorabilia from famous athletes across Louisiana. Some members include Bobby Hebert, Coach Ed Orgeron and Pistol Pete Maravich, among many others.
Hopefully, this list will inspire you to take a quick little getaway that can refresh and recharge your family all while learning a little more about our home state of Louisiana and all it has to offer!
Poverty Point :: Weekend Trip From New Orleans
You may not know that tucked into the northeast corner of Louisiana are the remnants of an ancient civilization that is at least 3,400 years old. Located in rural Richland Parish, 55 miles from Monroe, Poverty Point World Heritage Site was once a major prehistoric trading center home to thousands of people. Although many archaeologists consider it to be North America’s first city, very few New Orleans families are aware about this history marvel located right here in Louisiana. If you like history, here’s everything you need to know about planning a trip to Poverty Point (and yes, it is a kid-friendly road trip from New Orleans).
Shreveport :: Weekend Trip From New Orleans
Northern Louisiana has some great places to visit for a weekend getaway! Shreveport, while mainly known for its casinos, has many fun, kid-friendly attractions. The Shreveport Aquarium features many hands-on sea creature interactions that are perfect for little ones! There are great free playgrounds for the children to play on in Shreveport. A.C. Steere Park even has a mini water attraction that is turned on during the summer. If you are open-minded, even the casinos can be fun for the kids! Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville has a fantastic pool. In fact, almost all of the casinos have fun pools that allow the kids to play and then some time for parents to play the slots. If your kids are more into science, the Sci-Port Discovery Center is full of interesting science exhibits and an IMAX theater. While a little further of a drive from New Orleans than other locations, Shreveport has a little bit of everything for kids of all ages and can make a really memorable weekend getaway.