Family Friendly Weekend Getaways in Louisiana
Have you ever wanted to get away for a weekend, but you don’t have the funds to hop on a plane and fly to New York or Denver, or even Houston for a change of scenery?
That’s why I put this list together for three places in Louisiana that make great places for weekend getaways from New Orleans!
Right in the heart of Louisiana, Alexandria is home to many places you can enjoy with your family whether you are a fan of museums or the great outdoors.
The Cenla (Central Louisiana) region is home to the Kisatchie National Forest; 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 the longest hiking trail in Louisiana. You can also go horseback riding with Hays e Daze through the forest or even take a trip to the Lake Kincaid Recreation Area.
Museums & Education
If you would rather spend some time indoors on your visit with your family, downtown Alexandria is home to the TREE House Children’s Museum, which houses many great exhibits along with a playground and model train. Other great places to visit 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)
Just two hours west of New Orleans, the Acadiana area is a culture rich area and home to the Cajun way of life. Did you know that Lafayette was voted the Happiest City in America by the Wall Street Journal Market Watch? That may explain why there is not a shortage of things for your family to do on a visit to Acadiana!
If you and your family want to explore the great outdoors, you are in luck. Home to the Atchafalaya Basin, this 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, 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.
Cajun Culture & Arts
If you are really interested in getting to learn more about the Cajun culture, you should visit 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 full of history!
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!
Just one hour north of Alexandria on the banks of the Cane River is the picturesque town of Natchitoches, the oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase! Natchitoches is also famous for its annual Christmas Lights Festival and for its portrayal in the movie, Steel Magnolias.
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 & breakfasts along the walk in the quaint town.
Arts & Sports
If you are more into the arts , 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!