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5 Best Day Trips from New Orleans

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Looking for the best day trips from New Orleans? If so, read on!

New Orleans is a unique city with a lot of things to see and do. From the exciting and intriguing French Quarter to the glamorous Garden District, there are a lot of fun things to pique your interest!

Though it really will take a solid few days to see the top sites in New Orleans, it’s a great idea to consider a day trip or two if you have the time. It’ll give you a more rounded perspective of the city and the influences from the area.

When I recently visited New Orleans, I had limited time but decided to take a day trip. We rented a car and combined a couple of things to do outside the city. We were so glad we did!

As fun as New Orleans is, it’s so nice to spend a little time outside the city to explore other areas. And you have a lot of fun options for day trips when it comes to New Orleans!

Here are the five best day trips from New Orleans to tempt your fancy!

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1. Go on a Swamp Tour

One of the most popular day trips from New Orleans is to the swamp. It may not sound very appealing, but it really is fun! It’s a fun adventure taking a high-speed airboat that goes to speeds up to 35 miles per hour through the swamp.

During the tour, you’ll get to see wildlife like alligators, birds, and more. The pilots are experts in the swamp, having generally grown up there and living there for their entire lives. They know where to go to see the action!

You’ll learn all about living in the swamp, and you may be surprised by its beauty. You’ll also learn all about alligators, including how and where they live. Don’t worry—there will be some great photo ops!

It’s only 35 minutes or so from the center of New Orleans, so it makes for a great half-day trip. You can easily visit a plantation when you’re out as well if you rent your own car. Or, you can find some tours that offer both.

Airboats are fun as they have stadium seating, so there really isn’t a bad view. And they can go into really shallow water in the marshlands where other boats can’t go.

Swamp Tour Info

Taking an airboat swamp tour is one of the most popular things to do in New Orleans. The swamps are under an hour from the center of New Orleans, so doing this makes an easy half-day trip.

The Louisiana Tour Company offers several different tours. I had the opportunity to take their 16-seater swamp boat tour, and it was a lot of fun. They also offer a 6-9-person airboat tour as well.

They offer combined swamp and plantation tours if you’re short on time. I even found this one that includes Whitney Plantation!

2. Learn the True Slavery History at the Whitney Plantation

There are a number of popular antebellum plantation tours you can go on when you visit New Orleans. Sure, they are gorgeous buildings, and visiting such a lovely place and hearing stories about their opulence and wealth feels good.

However, like many plantation tours, they skim over—or don’t even address—that the enormous wealth was achieved by the tortuous labor of the Black slaves owned by the plantation. Their lives were difficult and short.

The Whitney Plantation dives deep into slavery at this plantation. It’s not an easy tour to do, but it’s so very important to learn both sides of plantation life.

I highly recommend taking a tour of the Whitney Plantation. Learn about the families that once lived on the plantation, including both the owners and the slaves. Let’s not forget the true story here.

It’s a beautiful place, and they do an incredible job of educating people about the history of this plantation from both perspectives. You’ll leave here a smarter and hopefully better person.

3. Take a Mississippi Cruise

If you want to get out of the city for a different perspective, why not take a Mississippi River cruise? Enjoy the views of the city and along the river on the historic Steamboat Natchez on this 1-day Mississippi River boat cruise from New Orleans.

It’s the only authentic steamboat that survived the test of history in New Orleans today. It was renovated and is worth seeing on its own accord, and adding the cruise is a perfect touch.

They offer jazz during the day, though if you have the time, the night jazz cruise is worth it. You’ll get gorgeous views of the twinkling lights of the city as the sun sets and after.

You can get a buffet lunch add-on if you choose for a bite while you enjoy the tranquil river. And you can enjoy some great craft cocktails as well. The jazz is by the Dukes of Dixieland trio.

Make sure you check out all four decks as well as the top of the ship for the best views. A Steamboat Natchez river cruise is a great way to enjoy New Orleans from a different perspective.

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Steamboat Natchez

4. Head to Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge is the capital city of Louisiana and the second-largest city in the state. Like New Orleans, it’s also on the Mississippi River, and it shares a similar history, having been owned over time by the French, Spanish, and British.

It also has similar influences as you’ll find in New Orleans from the Cajuns and Creoles. You’ll find similar food and a fairly similar spirit.

But that’s largely where the similarities end, as they are very different cities.

Two of the most popular things to do in Baton Rouge are to visit the Old State Capitol and the New State Capitol. The Old State Capitol is a castle-like fortress that was built in the mid-1800s. It sits on a hill overlooking the city and the Mississippi River. It has been renovated to its original grandeur and is worth seeing.

The New State Capitol is quite different, and it’s an art deco masterpiece. It has quite an interesting story, as the site of an assassination, a bombing, and scheming kingpins and politicians.

You can also visit the USS KIDD Veterans Museum. It’s a National Historic Landmark and a nonprofit organization highlighting Louisiana citizens’ role in US military history.

And don’t forget to grab some amazing eats here. There are some great restaurants that rival those in New Orleans with local fare. Sports lovers will enjoy this city as well!

aeriel view of baton rouge, day trip from new orleans

5. Visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Mississippi Gulf Coast offers 62 miles of shoreline, so if you’re looking for some beach and ocean time, this is the place to be! It makes for a great day trip from New Orleans.

And it’s not just beach time here on the coast. The Gulf Coast has a number of smaller towns on the coast with different flavors.

Biloxi and Gulfport both have casinos, and Biloxi has quite a few. There are twelve along the coast, so you have your pick of places to go. So, if you want to try your hand at a big win, it’s a good bet!

In Biloxi, visit the lighthouse, stroll Biloxi beach, or visit the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. You’ll also find a lot of incredible eco-friendly outdoor activities.

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How to Take These New Orleans Day Trips

I included tour groups you can take for the first three-day trips from New Orleans on this page: a swamp tour, plantation tour, and Mississippi River Cruise. If you don’t have a car, taking a tour is the easiest way to do these activities. (Though you don’t need a car for the river cruise.)

For Baton Rouge and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it’s easiest to rent a car. There are buses you can take to Baton Rouge, but it’s not convenient once you get to the city, particularly for a day trip.

It is around 80 miles from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and just a little further to the Mississippi coast, depending on where you stop.

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Top Things to Do in New Orleans

Of course, you’ll want to spend time in New Orleans to see the sights. Check out my 2 days in New Orleans itinerary for the top spots in a weekend. If you have more time, it’s worth spending exploring. Here are some of the top spots to see.

  • Explore the French Quarter.
  • Visit the World War II Museum.
  • Stroll around the Garden District.
  • Go on a walking tour for ghost, vampire, and voodoo lore.
  • Enjoy the tunes on Frenchman Street.
  • Cruise the Mississippi on the Steamboat Natchez.
  • Intrigue yourself at the Pharmacy Museum.
  • Eat a beignet (or two!) at Cafe du Monde.
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WWII Museum

Which New Orleans Day Trips Will You Take?

Taking some day trips from New Orleans is a great way to explore the area to see the influences and surroundings of this fun and vibrant city.

There are a lot of different options, from swamp tours and plantation tours right around the city to venturing out a bit further to see Baton Rouge and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

You really can’t go wrong, and in fact, I’d encourage you to take at least a day trip or two when you visit. It’s nice to get out of the city and see something a bit different!

Which New Orleans day trips will you take? Comment below on what interests you the most!

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