Things to do Just Outside of New Orleans

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If you’re taking, or planning, a trip to New Orleans, don’t miss your chance to explore outside the city. Louisiana is known for its deep rooted history and culture all throughout the state, not just in New Orleans. Therefore, you’ll find plenty of unique things to do just outside of New Orleans. Here we will share some experiences from my visit back in October. 

Manchac Swamp Tour history

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1. Drive along the scenic Mississippi River Road

About 70 miles long, this historic road winds through small towns, plantations, cypress swamps, and is located on both sides of the river between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I made the drive south on my way from Lafayette to LaPlace, where I spent a couple nights. Along the way, I had to cross a couple bridges, otherwise you don’t really get to see the waterfront. 

St Gabriel Church in Louisiana

I did stop to take a picture of this cute old church. To my surprise, when I got to the Great River Road Museum, I recognized it in a photo, and learned the name and history of the church. St Garbiel is the site where the first Acadians settled in Louisiana, so it was a nice suprise to see this historic site.  

Things to do outside of New Orleans along the Great River Road

2. Visit the Great River Road Museum

Great River Road Museum things to do outside of New Orleans

If you explore along the Great River Road, then visiting the Great River Road Museum is a must. Uniquely laid out, as if walking along the banks of the Mississippi River, you learn what life was like along the river over the past couple hundred years.

Evergreen Plantation Louisiana

You can read in depth histories of the plantations that used to line the Mississippi River, like Evergreen Plantation. This one was most interesting to me, because my friend’s grandfather was born on this plantation. It’s also the largest, most intact plantation, even though it’s not open to the public. 

3. Tour a Louisiana plantation

You can’t travel along the Mississippi River, without stoping for a plantation tour. The Great River Road Museum is on the same property as Houmas House Plantation, therefore it’s an ideal option. Not to mention, you can enjoy lunch at  one of the three restaurants, walk the beautiful grounds, and grab a cocktail at The Turtle Bar.

Destrehan Plantation is closest to New Orleans, and also the oldest plantation in lower Mississippi Valley. We did “The Unheard Voices of the German Coast” tour, hosted by Dianne “Gumbo Marie” Honore. She is a descendant of Jean Baptiste Destrehan, the father of the original owner of Destrehan Plantation, and an enslaved African woman named Genevieve Bienville. This tour also includes some interactive music demonstrations, which our group enjoyed. 

What is the oldest plantation is Louisiana?

Laura Plantation Louisiana's oldest plantation outside New Orleans

Laura Plantation is the oldest plantation in Louisiana, and my favorite. Full of so much detail and history. Our group all agreed, if you can do one plantation, this is the one to visit. Learn about four generations of life on the plantation, and why the namesake Laura, wanted nothing to do with continuing life there.

4. Visit a local brewery 

Woman at Abita Brewing Tap Room just outside of New Orleans

Take the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway across to Abita Springs and enjoy a flight from Abita Brewing Company. This was a bucket list brewery for me, because their strawberry lager is one of my favorite beers. We loved the atmosphere, and our beertender was super friendly and helpful. Not to mention, they have a huge selection of beer on tap. Everything we tried, we liked. 

For the history buffs, check out Faubourg Brewing, the oldest operating brewery in New Orleans. Originally opening as Dixie Brewing in 1907, they have quite the story of overcoming multiple obstacles. Located just outside of Downtown New Orleans, we stopped on our way heading back to Florida. 

What is close to New Orleans?

5. Go on a swamp tour

Canjun Pride Swamp Tour things to do just outside New Orleans

Southern Louisiana is well known for its swamps and bayou. Take a tour to learn some history, see gators and other wildlife, or just sit back and relax. We did our tour with Cajun Pride Swamp Tours in the Manchac Swamp. Located about a 30 minute drive just outside of New Orleans, on the western coast of Lake Pontchartrain. 

We of course saw lots of gators, since they knew feeding time would come. Also saw this cute family of raccoons. 

6. Zip line over a swamp

If you’re a little more adventurous, then how about zip lining over the swamp. Just up the road from Cajun Pride is Zip NOLA. Zip high above the Manchac Swamp amongst the Cypress trees. I was pretty nervous, because I had never been zip lining before, and it was a spontaneous stop on our day out. But, after making that first jump off the platform, the rest were a breeze. 

Unique things to do near New Orleans

7. Take a Cajun Cooking class

Instead of going out for dinner, book a cooking class to make your own at Spuddy’s Cajun Cooking. This hands on experience will leave you feeling like a master in the Cajun kitchen. Cook up Louisiana favorites like gumbo and jambalaya. Then, enjoy the fruits of your labor. You may even learn a couple basic cooking tips to help with lots of other meals. 

8. Attend a local festival

Check out local visitor bureau websites for events happening around the area. We traveled with LA River Parishes, and happened to be in town when the Andoullie Festival was happening. It’s a great way to live like a local, enjoy great bands, talent, and cuisine. 

Final thoughts on things to do just outside of New Orleans

As you can see, there’s lots of things to do just outside of New Orleans, so you could always stay outside the city, and still take a day trip in. Here you can find things to do in New Orleans from my friend Tonya, with Detail Oriented Traveler. We stayed in LaPlace, but next time I would also consider Metairie and Jefferson area. Maybe find more historic places, and parks. We like to mix up our big city trips, with some historic small towns, therefore New Orleans area can do both for us. If you have more time, I highly suggest going over to Lafayette for a couple days.

Share Our Happy!!

Julie Gazdecki

Julie is owner and founder of How We Find Happy. As an optimist, the name is perfect as we share the ways we find happy living in Florida, visiting breweries, spending time with our adult children, and getting away on some couples trips. As previous residents of Michigan, we still spend lots of time each year visiting our family up there, along with new and favorite places. My hope is to encourage others to spend time exploring this beautiful world, and finding happy in unexpected places.

22 thoughts on “Things to do Just Outside of New Orleans

  • Wow! There is so many things to do just outside of New Orleans! As a history geek I would love to visit the museum and the plantations. And, of course, end the day with zip lining!

  • The New Orleans area is definitely on my list of places to visit. We haven’t made it yet, but I would leave tomorrow if I could! I’d certainly do a swamp tour, and I’d love to catch some of the plantation tours. Hopefully, I’ll make it there soon!

  • I really enjoyed this list (and the pictures!) of things to do just outside of New Orleans! Funnily enough, I just got done watching a TV series set in New Orleans and it seems like such a fascinating city….and now I can see the outskirts are full of treasures to see too! Would love to visit someday…

  • I love NOLA! And this sounds like a custom-made itinerary just for me! Would love everything on your list of things to do outside of New Orleans – especially all the historic sights and the road trip along the Mississippi.

  • I haven’t been to New Orleans. Looks like there are lots of great things to do.

  • I haven’t had a chance to visit! But a plantation tour sounds awesome!

  • I have always wanted to visit New Orelans and did not realize there was so much to do oustide of the city itself. I will definitely have to make a point to go visit this area one day. The cajun cooking and plantation tours would definitely be at the top of my list!

  • Jennifer

    I think a drive along Mississippi River Road outside of New Orleans to see the scenery. In your list of things to do, I like to learn history so I would visit the museum and the Plantations.

  • The New Orleans area has so much to offer! And more than just Bourbon Street 🤗

  • How fun! There are so many fun things to do in and around New Orleans. I would love to explore an old plantation home. I think they are beautiful and full of history!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    The plantations are definitely beautiful. The history must never be forgotten.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    That’s the truth. There is so much culture to explore all throughout Louisiana.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Exactly what I enjoy doing. Learning all about the real history.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    I’m with you, I had no idea what Louisiana had to offer outside of New Orleans. So happy I got to experience so much.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Definitely worth visiting. Hope you get there.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    There is for sure a lot to choose from if you ever get there.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Sounds like next trip needs to be outside New Orleans. You will love it.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Oh nice. It’s fun to watch movies and shows that take place where we’ve traveled.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Hope you get to visit soon. I would go back tomorrow if I could too.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Fellow history geek here too. I know you would just love this area, and all of Louisiana.

  • Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog

    The list of things to do outside of New Orleans is great! We will place some of these on our list for our next adventure to the New Orleans area.

  • These are fun activities outside of New Orleans! I want to go back to that area. It’s been a few years.

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