If your family is looking for a budget-friendly adventure near New Orleans, camping is a great choice! Louisiana offers dozens of kid-friendly camping opportunities, all within driving distance of New Orleans. If you are looking for a non-camping getaway within Louisiana, we also have several weekend trip suggestions here. We love to travel at New Orleans mom and enjoy sharing our family travel tips and tricks!
We’re a Camper Family Now
After many years of my husband talking about getting a camper (travel trailer), we agreed to start looking for the perfect option for our family. Part of the desire to get a camper was to allow him to have sleeping quarters for hunting and fishing trips, but also to provide quick and inexpensive getaway options for our family.
We have four kids and heaven forbid they ever “touch each other” so our main objective in our camper search was to find a suitable size (easy enough to tow, big enough to fit) that had four individual bunks. We learned that there are a vast number of options including layout options, bunk options, kitchen configurations, outdoor kitchens, and on and on and on. These things are built like a transformer, and you can truly find almost anything you’re looking for! We knew we wanted to be able to tow it easily from my husband’s truck so size and weight requirements were also part of the decision (as was budget!). We found a great option that was pre-owned but just barely. It had everything we needed and still smelled new!
We settled on a 37-foot travel trailer with one slide-out (this is the part of the camper that moves out to expand the interior space). It’s the perfect size for our family of six for just a few days at a campsite. The bathroom is small but it’s usable. (Typically, we use the bathhouse for showers anyway.) I’ve learned so much about camping life and the features/functions of a camper. Thanks to YouTube and a great salesperson, we received enough of a tutorial to make this happen!
My stipulations for my husband are that we limit our travels to two to four days for now and that we try to stay within a four-hour drive because traveling with our four kids in our truck is less than ideal. I also asked him to promise we wouldn’t forego our other “normal family vacations” to condos, hotels, and regular favorite spots we enjoy as a family. This new camping opportunity was intended to add some relaxation and togetherness time to our normal agenda. We’ve only been on three trips so far, but I have to say, it’s been a wonderful experience for our family.
Why we love being a camping family
- The togetherness time is the best part. Sure, all the kids drive each other crazy for the first few hours but then the magic sets in. They somehow start to play together and get along. It’s the magic of the outdoors or something! I can’t explain it, but I’ve seen it happen!
- Unplugged. Often the cell service is spotty. There is a tv inside with antennae capabilities that may or may not work, but the wifi usually never does. And with that, we unplug almost completely. The kids’ complaint (we’re bored!) rears up at first, and then they figure out how to entertain themselves with activities I categorize as “be a real kid!” referring to an early 90s childhood of doodlebug collecting, bike riding, exploring, and playing outside.
- Activity. We have fun taking walks as a family, exploring the campgrounds we’re visiting, finding the playgrounds, and going on bike rides together. We sometimes go on three or four bike rides a day because there just isn’t that much else to do! But we have a great time and enjoy the outdoors. The movement is good for all of us.
- The proximity of decent campgrounds. Within a three-hour drive of New Orleans, you can access several really nice campgrounds, each offering different amenities and activities for kids. Some have water features, water parks, nice playgrounds, crafts, special events, and more. Once you get there and pay the campground fees, you can usually participate free of charge (or for minimal additional fees). Some of our favorite local spots include:
Bogue Chitto State Park – Franklinton, LA – small water slide, splash pad, mountain bike trails, playgrounds, river access, real hills!
Fontainebleau State Park – Mandeville, LA – lake access, playgrounds, splash pad, easy biking
Buccaneer State Park – Waveland, MS – water park (extra ticket fee), disc golf, gulf access, trails, playgrounds, and activity building
Jellystone Pelahatchie – a Yogi Bear Park near Jackson, MS with a pool, large splash park with slides, lake access and water rentals, craft room, playgrounds, mini-golf, giant jumpy, and water balloon sling slot [This is a kid favorite!]
The great thing about accessing these nearby parks is that you can also visit them on a day trip from New Orleans! We have learned so much about what the parks have to offer and how the simplest things like cooking outdoors and prepping for a campfire with s’mores can bring so much fun to our family! Being outdoors and running around outside with our kids has been a great escape from our often hectic lives. We can’t wait to see where the next adventure takes us!