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14 Best Scenic Drives in New Orleans: An Expert’s Secret Guide

New Orleans Lousiana Scenic Drives

New Orleans isn’t just about Bourbon Street and beignets! This city’s got a wild side, with hidden pockets of natural beauty just a short cruise away. 

This guide, crafted by your local expert, will unveil some of the best drives around NOLA, offering a respite from the urban buzz and a chance to soak up the charm of Louisiana’s landscapes.

1.   Rollin’ with the River (Great River Road)

Cruise alongside the Mississippi on this epic route. Spot fancy plantations, wildlife refuges, and cool towns.

Hit up Oak Alley Plantation for some serious mansion envy, or get swampy at Jean Lafitte National Park.

Read More: Best Bars in New Orleans for a Night to Remember

2.   Maurepas Mystery Tour (LA 406)

Get your jungle on with a drive through the mysterious Maurepas Swamp. Keep your eyes peeled for gators, listen out for funky bird calls, and watch out for those crazy cypress knees poking out of the water!

Read More: Visiting New Orleans? Don’t Leave Without Checking Out These Seven Places

3.   Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (I-10)

Not for the wobbly-legged, but the views are CRAZY good. This bridge stretches on FOREVER (well, almost), giving you epic panoramas of Lake Pontchartrain. Just hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

4.   Seashell Shuffle (Shell Beach Drive)

Craving some beach therapy? Shell Beach Drive leads you to a paradise for shell-combers. Chill on the white sand, hunt for treasures, and soak up those Gulf Coast vibes.

5.   Grand Isle Getaway (LA 1)

Feeling adventurous? Take a longer trip to Grand Isle, a barrier island famous for its epic fishing and untouched beauty. Hike or bike the beach, scope out some birds, or just relax and work on your tan.

6.   River Road Ramble (LA 18)

This scenic route winds through plantation country, like driving through a history book! See fancy old mansions dripping with Spanish moss, like Destrehan and Laura Plantations.

7.   Houma to Avery Island Hootenanny (LA 1)

Cruise through cute towns and past historic plantations. Then swing by Avery Island to explore Jungle Gardens, a wacky botanical wonderland straight out of a dream.

8.   Swamp Tour on the Bayou Teche (LA 308)

Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Bayou Teche on this watery adventure. Glide past moss-draped cypress trees, spot wildlife like egrets and alligators, and learn about the unique ecosystem of the bayou.

9. Atchafalaya Adventure (Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Byway)

Buckle up for a journey through the heart of the HUGE Atchafalaya Swamp, the biggest one in the US of A! Learn about the unique culture of the region and witness the wild swamp life.

10. City Park Chill Out

Escape the craziness with a scenic loop through City Park. Cruise by peaceful lagoons, admire the ancient oak trees with their Spanish moss beards, and maybe even stop and smell the roses at the New Orleans Botanical Garden.

11. Metairie Cemetery Cruise (Self-guided)

Ok, this one’s a little spooky, but hear me out! Take a slow drive through the historic Metairie Cemetery, a sprawling arboretum with cool tombs and creepy-beautiful statues. Just don’t forget to be respectful!

12. NOLA to Baton Rouge Blitz (I-10)

Not exactly scenic, but this drive takes you to the state capital, Baton Rouge. Check out its cool museums and the impressive Capitol building.

13. New Orleans to Lafayette Lafayette (I-10)

Head west for a taste of Cajun and Acadian culture in Lafayette. Immerse yourself in the music scene, devour delicious food, and visit Vermilionville, a living history museum that’s like stepping back in time.

Read More: Mesmerizing Scenic Views to Experience in Halifax, Nova Scotia

14. NOLA to Natchez, Mississippi (US 61)

Feeling ambitious? This longer drive takes you to the historic town of Natchez, Mississippi. Explore its grand antebellum homes, learn about the city’s fascinating past, and enjoy epic views from the Mississippi bluffs.

Read More: Breathtaking Scenery (And Other Reasons to Visit Canmore)

Pro Tip: Pack a picnic basket, some bug spray (trust me!), and your camera to capture all these unforgettable adventures. So buckle up, turn up the tunes, and get ready to see a whole new side of NOLA!

Weekend Getaways

Best Bars in New Orleans for a Night to Remember

Best Bars in New Orleans for a Night to Remember

New Orleans has no shortage of amazing watering holes and authentic venues. If you’re looking for a memorable night out, here are some bars you shouldn’t miss.

New Orleans has legendary bars of every kind – from the friendly neighborhood joints, through high-end venues, to pubs representing live historical sites. And when it comes to drinks, none are more prominent than cocktails – in fact, some of the bars still working today serve cocktails invented at the very spot.

If you want to feel the incredible atmosphere of the city’s nightlife, and drink an amazing cocktail or two, here are some of the best bars in New Orleans you shouldn’t miss.

1. Sazerac Bar

Located in the Roosevelt Hotel, this upscale bar is among the most authentic in the city. The interior abounds in wooden and leather highlights, but the most stand-out feature is the walls covered with fascinating murals. The striking wall paintings adorn the whole venue and present a picture of old New Orleans.

2. Avenue Pub

The Avenue Pub is housed in a corner building with a gorgeous terrace on the upper floor. Inside the spacious, bright interior awaits an excellent selection of beers and whiskey waiting for new visitors. You’ll find this fantastic pub in the Garden District, a quieter residential area of New Orleans.

3. Vaughan’s Lounge

If you’re looking for a fun night filled with great music, Vaughan’s Lounge is among the best bars in New Orleans to visit. This Bywater venue has kept its charm for the 50 years it’s been around and is often full of long-time loyal customers. 

There’s an expansive dance floor for situations when the live band inspires you to move. And if you miss out on the show, you can get your kicks from a fully-stacked jukebox.

4. Cure

The fire station building that houses this bar is over a century old. Today, it’s home to a high-end cocktail bar with a fascinating selection of its own mixes. The Cure offers classic cocktails with a twist, original concoctions, and even custom-made drinks that will suit even the picky drinker.

5. Twelve Mile Limit

Twelve Mile Limit is a bar that’s kept on growing for the past decade. Its signature offers are plentiful and affordable cocktails, but the bar also has a kitchen that dishes out fantastic, tasty meals. 

Although the interior is enticing, it would be best if you could visit on a sunny day for you to spend time on the bar patio.

6. Bacchanal

This bar started out as a lesser-known, hidden place for customers of refined tastes. But it’s grown quite popular these days. So if you want to sit down while having your drink, try avoiding the busy weekend nights. 

Located in Bywater, this trendy venue has a fantastic offer of wines and cheeses, but you shouldn’t mistake it for a snobby, overpriced joint. In fact, the backyard is pretty casual and you’ll have a great time listening to authentic jazz among the mismatched chairs and the warm light of tiki torches.

7. Erin Rose

An Irish pub in the busy French Quarter, Erin Rose is a lively place made for enjoyment. Among the select beers is the world-famous Guinness, as well as some other great beverages. But if cocktails are more up your alley, there’s no shortage of choices in that department. Try their Irish coffee to feel the unique twist this bar brings to its mixes.

8. Barrel Proof

Barrel Proof has lately pivoted to becoming a restaurant, but it’s kept the essence of its origins with excellent cocktails. Located in the Garden District, this bar houses a happy hour where you can grab their signature cocktail variants or a drink to go for a great price.

9. Carousel Bar and Lounge

It might take you some time to find an empty seat on the rotating centerpiece of the Monteleone Hotel’s fascinating bar, but the wait will be worth it. The seats are decorated with stylistic images of wild animals, making for a colorful spot in the classy interior. 

Carousel bar is among the many places that serve several cocktails of their own making. And if you’re big on mixed drinks, you should definitely give them a try.

10. Bar Tonique

Bar Tonique has a very classical feel, with the interior abounding in wood, high ceilings, and a central bar with a backdrop of a bottle-covered wall. The bar is a prominent feature of the square space, so you’ll have a good overview of the lively place while you sip on their well-made cocktails. 

11. Bakery Bar

If you’d like some authentic New Orleans food to go with your drinks, Bakery Bar offers all this in spades. The main delicacy you shouldn’t miss is the doberge – a layered cake with custard and icing that’s a staple of the local cuisine. 

When it comes to drinks, you’ll find everything from amazing cocktails to superb wines and beers. And if you don’t plan on sticking around, everything on the menu’s available to go.

12. Longway Tavern

Stylish and quiet, the Longway Tavern will make you forget you’re in the middle of the French Quarter and its heavy tourist traffic. The selection of cocktails is wide and interesting, with classic mixes as well as original inventions. Besides the tasteful interior, the Longway Tavern features a wonderful courtyard teeming with greenery.

13. Manolito

For a touch of Cuban flare, you need not look further than the French Quarter’s Manolito. Naturally, there are many classic Cuban cocktails on offer and other concoctions come with a unique twist. You’ll enjoy the tasty beverages in a pleasant setting filled with great music and photos of Cuba adorning the walls.

14. Latitude 29

Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 moves away from the classic palette of cocktails found in other New Orleans bars. Instead, this bar focuses on the tropical vibe, which is well-represented in the choice of amazing food and drinks available.

Experience the Amazing Nightlife of New Orleans

Whether you want to feel the authentic atmosphere of the incredible Louisiana city or just want to have a good time, the best bars in New Orleans got you covered. There are many tasty drinks to try together with excellent local food in the colorful bars.

All these will undoubtedly give you a night to remember.

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Tips + Planning

Visiting New Orleans? Don’t Leave Without Checking Out These Seven Places

Visiting New Orleans? Don’t Leave Without Checking Out These Seven Places

Beautiful, mystical, and full of culture, New Orleans houses many sights that are not your average attractions. Here are some you shouldn’t miss on your next visit.

New Orleans is a haven of cultural diversity, which is apparent in everything from the local cuisine to architecture. And those visiting the historical hometown of jazz will have plenty of sights to marvel at, including museums, gardens, squares, and various cultural venues. 

The city is just oozing with history and character. If you make it a point to visit the highlights of the city, you’ll leave with a strong, lasting impression that will urge you to come back. 

Here are the seven amazing New Orleans locations that are guaranteed to make you fall in love with the city.

1. Jackson Square

Initially called Place d’Armes, the beautiful square is located in the French Quarter and by the banks of the Mississippi. Jackson Square is an idyllic spot as it’s surrounded by other New Orleans landmarks, such as the St. Louis Cathedral and Louisiana State Museums of Presbytère and Cabildo. 

Among the luscious greenery are various restaurants and shops. And the square’s centerpiece is a statue of Andrew Jackson on a horse, dating from the mid-19th century.

2. The National WWII Museum

The three sections of the museum document World War II history and are devoted to the European and the Pacific theaters, while the third section exhibits aircraft from the conflict.

There is an abundance of short films that illustrate how the people back then used the various items on display, including authentic testimonials. It’s also interactive, as the museum visitor takes on the role of a common soldier as they receive updates at several stations during the tour. 

Besides the exhibits, there are two noticeable amenities within the museum. 

You can get some refreshments while enjoying a matinee or a dinner show in the Stage Door Canteen. This era-appropriate entertainment contributes to the already great immersion provided by the museum environment that strives for authenticity.

There’s also a 4D Theater where you can see a showing of a documentary film while rumbling chairs and stage props enhance the experience. It’s an excellent addition to the exhibits and might be the main attraction for many visitors.

3. The French Quarter

Without a doubt, the historic French Quarter is the primary city location for most tourists. This aptly named part of New Orleans is full of intricate architecture, with buildings that are over three centuries old showcasing the French style of the era. 

There are plenty of restaurants and hotels, shops that sell various souvenirs, as well as galleries and jazz venues for those interested in the rich New Orleans culture. Note that the more high-end spots are mainly located along Royal Street. And if you want to catch some quality traditional jazz, many excellent joints can be found on Frenchmen Street.

Of course, there’s the world-famous Bourbon Street that might not be for everybody because it can get rather crowded and filthy, especially at night.

4. St. Louis Cathedral

Within the French Quarter and near Jackson Square is where you’ll find the fascinating St. Louis Cathedral. The oldest continually used cathedral in the U.S., the church was erected in 1794 during New Orleans’ rebuilding efforts after a considerable portion of the city experienced damage in a great fire.

Its construction lasted for more than five years and the location used to be the site of a previous church that didn’t survive the destructive fire. The cathedral received the internal decoration in 1825 and an organ four years later. 

5. Garden District

The Garden District offers an authentic, if somewhat stereotypical, sight of New Orleans, as it’s adorned with mansions and houses dating from the 19th century, and luscious greenery. 

This is primarily a residential area that’s more serene than some other spots. But it doesn’t mean the Garden District isn’t welcoming to tourists. Besides the captivating architecture, the area features various shops, boutiques, and eateries, although those are not as densely packed as their French Quarter counterparts.

If you’re interested in experiencing the history and beauty of the neighborhood, guided walking tours are available to take you through all the noticeable sites.

6. The Voodoo Museum

Those that want to explore the history of New Orleans with a focus on the mystical will find themselves at home in the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. The museum’s been offering fascinating tours since 1972 and it houses amazing relics and artwork. 

However, the attractions spread even beyond the museum building.

Through the Voodoo Museum, you can get in touch with authentic practitioners that perform various rituals, readings, and ceremonies. The museum isn’t the direct service provider but it will rather help you contact the mystic experts.

Another popular service the museum has in stock is the walking tours to the cemetery. While the idea might sound somewhat bleak, there are many interesting features to see in the St. Louis Cemetery, also known as the City of the Dead.

7. City Park

The expansive park has plenty to offer to visitors, whether they’re interested in art, entertainment, sports, or just taking a long relaxing walk. City Park has a unique atmosphere, and its gorgeous landscape is even more mesmerizing in the evening, when the trees, monuments, and statues become highlighted through a subtle haze. 

In the park is where you can find the beautiful New Orleans Botanical Garden, filled with lush, interesting, and rare plants. Art lovers will expectedly rush to the nearby Museum of Art, but there’s also plenty to see under the open sky in the Sculpture Garden. 

If you’re visiting with kids, they’ll love the amusement park and Storyland. Those interested in sports can have a try at some of the tennis courts or even the golf course. However, the most captivating feature of the park is its walking areas. Take a stroll and see the majestic oaks that are centuries old, or simply take in the serene atmosphere.

New Orleans Has Something for Everyone

The captivating atmosphere and sights of New Orleans will leave you wanting for more. Whatever your tastes are, you’ll find a way to satisfy them in the gorgeous city and leave with long-lasting memories. 

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