How To Plan A Road Trip In Louisiana


June 20, 2024

How To Plan A Road Trip In Louisiana

Planning a road trip in Louisiana means diving into a journey filled with rich history, vibrant culture, and unforgettable food.

Louisiana offers a road trip experience like no other. With its blend of French, Spanish, African, and Native American cultures, the state is a melting pot of traditions and flavors – way different that any other state in the US.

As you drive through its scenic byways, you’ll encounter everything from historic plantations to bustling cities and mysterious swamps. Unlike other parts of the world, Louisiana’s landscapes are steeped in stories and legends that come to life through its music, cuisine, and people. To be honest, being in Louisiana feels more like being in the Caribbean than in the US.

One of the most striking aspects of Louisiana is its diverse geography. From the bustling streets of New Orleans to the tranquil bayous and swamps, every turn of the road offers something new. The vibrant nightlife and jazz-filled streets of New Orleans give way to the serene, moss-draped trees of the Atchafalaya Basin. As you drive further west towards Lafayette, the landscape changes to vast fields and picturesque farmland. Each region has its own unique charm and character, making a road trip through Louisiana a constantly evolving experience.

A Road Trip in Louisiana on a Nutshell

Where to book flights:
Skyscanner or Kiwi offer good discounts.
Where to get internet:
Flexiroam or Airalo.
Where to book hotels: or Agoda. Hostelworld if you are on a budget.
Where to rent a car:
Discover Cars or RentalCars
Where to book a tour:
Get your Guide or Viator

The best starting point for a road trip is the city of New Orleans
The best starting point for a road trip is the city of New Orleans

Renting a Car in Louisiana

Renting a car in Louisiana is straightforward. Major cities like New Orleans have numerous rental agencies, including international brands like Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis.

To rent a car, you’ll need a valid driver’s license, a credit card, and you must be at least 21 years old. Some agencies may charge an additional fee if you’re under 25. It’s wise to book your rental in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.

Renting a car at the airport is ideal to avoid traffic, and it’s especially convenient if you’re flying into New Orleans. However, if you’re planning to spend a few days in New Orleans, consider not renting a car until you’re ready to hit the road. New Orleans is a walkable city with excellent public transportation options, including streetcars and buses. Parking can be a hassle and expensive, so it’s best to explore the city by foot or using rideshare services like Uber.

Read more: How to plan a road trip in Iceland

We rented a compact car. This was the most efficient way to travel around the state and keep cost low.
We rented a compact car. This was the most efficient way to travel around the state and keep cost low.

Driving Tips for Louisiana

Driving in Louisiana can be an adventure. Here are some tips to make your journey smooth:

  • Be mindful of speed limits: They can change frequently, especially in small towns. Also, for those who are not familiar with the speed in miles per hour, it might take a day or two to adapt yourself to seeing completely new numbers.
  • Explore nature: Louisiana, like every other state in the US, has highways connecting the big cities. My best recommendation is to avoid them and try the less traveled road to see a different side of the state.
  • Move around with Google Maps: To discover new places, I simply used Google Maps and check which spots were around my destination.
  • Prepare for weather: Louisiana’s weather can be unpredictable. Be ready for sudden rain showers, especially in the summer. For example, one of swamp tours got cancelled last minute due to heavy winds.

Be connected at all times in Louisiana.
I got a e-SIM with Airalo and bought a plan of 10 GB for my whole stay in the country.

Key Spots Around New Orleans


Lafayette, located about two hours west of New Orleans, is the heart of Cajun country. It’s known for its lively music scene and delicious food. Visit the Acadian Village, a replica of an old Cajun town, or the Vermilionville Historic Village to learn about the area’s history. Don’t miss the local zydeco and Cajun music festivals if your trip aligns with one.

Plantation Visits

Louisiana’s plantations offer a glimpse into the state’s complex history. Oak Alley Plantation, with its iconic tree-lined pathway, is one of the most famous. Laura Plantation offers tours that focus on the Creole culture and the lives of the enslaved people who worked there. Each plantation has its unique story, and visiting these sites provides a deeper understanding of Louisiana’s past.

Entry fees typically range from 30-40 USD (25-38 EUR).

Read more: How to plan a road trip in Nova Scotia

Visiting plantations are a must in Louisiana.
Visiting plantations are a must in Louisiana. Don’t worry. I have a guide for it.

Swamp Tours

No road trip in Louisiana is complete without a swamp tour. Just a short drive from New Orleans, you can explore the mysterious bayous with a guided tour. Look out for alligators, herons, and the beautiful, eerie Spanish moss hanging from the cypress trees. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is a great place to start.

A swamp tour prices generally range from 50-70 USD (50-63 EUR).

Tabasco Factory Tour

Located on Avery Island, the Tabasco Factory is a must-visit for any hot sauce enthusiast. Here, you can learn about the history of this iconic brand, see how the sauce is made, and even sample some of their products.

The factory tour costs around 15 USD (13 EUR), and it’s a fascinating stop that adds some spice to your road trip. This was one of my favorite stops in Louisiana.

Read more: How to plan a road trip in Yucatan

The swamp tour was also one of my favorite activities
The swamp tour was also one of my favorite activities

Turn your road trip into a food trip – The Importance of Food in Louisiana

Food in Louisiana is more than sustenance; it’s a celebration of culture and community. From Creole to Cajun dishes, the state’s cuisine is diverse and flavorful. Be prepared to indulge in gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, and beignets. The state’s food culture is deeply rooted in its history, with recipes passed down through generations. Don’t worry! I will do a full article about this topic.

As you drive through Louisiana, you’ll encounter numerous roadside diners and family-owned restaurants that offer a taste of the state’s rich culinary heritage. These establishments are not just places to eat; they are social hubs where locals gather to share stories and enjoy music. For instance, the drive from New Orleans to Lafayette is dotted with eateries like Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans, known for its Creole cuisine and historic significance. Further along the route, stop at Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge for a zydeco breakfast, where you can enjoy live music while savoring classic Cajun dishes.

Read more: A plantation guide in Louisiana – which plantations should you visit in the state

Louisiana is known for food.
Louisiana is known for food. Not trying new dishes, means not propertly visiting the state.

Diners and Roadside Stops

  • Dooky Chase’s Restaurant (New Orleans): This iconic restaurant is a must-visit for its rich history and delicious Creole cuisine. It’s a perfect spot to start or end your journey in New Orleans.
  • Cafe des Amis (Breaux Bridge): Known for its zydeco breakfast, where you can enjoy live music while savoring classic Cajun dishes.
  • Prejean’s Restaurant (Lafayette): Famous for its gumbo and crawfish dishes, this place offers a true taste of Cajun country.

INSIDER TIP:  These are some of the recommendations you will hear over and over. I think the best part of a road trip is the flexibility of going wherever you want. Maybe try a new diner, or discover a restaurant you never went before. Give it a try.

Best Time to Visit

Louisiana can be visited year-round, but the best times for a road trip are spring and fall when the weather is milder. Summer can be hot and humid, and there’s a higher chance of encountering hurricanes. Winter is also a good time, especially if you want to avoid crowds.

I visited New Orleans during Mardi Gras, and it was an amazing experience. However, the best decision was to not rent a car until Mardi Gras was over. During Mardi Gras, the city is bustling with parades, music, and revelry, making it difficult (if not impossible) to navigate by car. Instead, I moved around New Orleans by foot or using Uber. Unlike many cities in the U.S., New Orleans is perfect for walking, with its compact layout and vibrant street life.

Read more: The Perfect Guide for First-Time Foodies in Louisiana

Thank you so much for your valuable feedback.
Thank you so much for your valuable feedback.

Embracing Louisiana’s Culture

A road trip in Louisiana is not just about the destinations, but the journey itself. Stop by the small towns, talk to the locals, and immerse yourself in the culture. Whether you’re dancing to zydeco music, savoring a bowl of gumbo, or marveling at the beauty of the swamps, Louisiana promises an adventure that’s rich in experiences and memories.

By planning your trip thoughtfully and embracing the unique opportunities along the way, you’ll discover why Louisiana is such a special place to explore by road.

Read more: How Easy Is It to Travel the American Midwest without a car?

Louisiana was full of surprises
Louisiana was full of surprises




Planning a Visit to Victoria Falls National Park


Planning a visit to the White Desert and Black Desert in Egypt


Planning a Gorilla Trekking at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest


Planning a safari at Masai Mara Natural Reserve


Planning a visit to Saxon Switzerland National Park