Road tripping through the Deep South is one of the finest vacation experiences to be had across the United States. There’s a real sense of freedom that comes with hitting the road with everything packed into the trunk of your car, and Texas and Louisiana are two of the South’s most fascinating and exciting states to explore.
The best part about taking to the road on your travels is that you can go where you want when you want. You can stay on the highway, visit all the bucket list attractions wherever you go, or just take a random detour and see where that tiny side road ends up. The choice is yours. But while freedom and spontaneity are the hallmarks of a good road trip, it is important to have a rough idea of where you are going and what you want to see along the way.
If you hit the road and keep going, the drive from Austin to New Orleans should take you about nine hours. But why would you want to miss out on the magnificence of Texas and Louisiana? Getting to know places a little bit off the beaten track is a massive part of what makes a road trip exciting. This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of some of the wonderful stop-offs on the road from Austin to New Orleans and to help you plan your trip. Take a look and see what you think!
Austin is one of Texas’ most alternative cities, with a reputation for hip, trendy cultural happenings, and superb live music. The street food scene here has to be seen to be believed (people queue for hours at some of the most popular), and the city boasts a hugely impressive range of craft breweries. Don’t miss Rainey Street, where most of the best food trucks gather, or Craft Pride, an artisan beer bar with over 50 beers on tap.
A trip to Austin wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the pure joy that comes with floating down a river on an inner tube. ‘Real Summer’ in Texas, from July to September, can be unbearably, unthinkably, frying-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot, and the only response is to take to the cool, crystal-clear waters that run through and around the city for refreshment. Try an afternoon on the San Marcos River, or head out a little further and enjoy the leafy surrounds of the Comal River in New Braunfels.
Lockhart and Gruene
Two tiny towns just outside San Antonio, Lockhart and Gruene are hidden gems for very different reasons.
Gruene is a 19th-century cotton town on the Guadalupe River famous for its live music, particularly at the historic Gruene Hall. The old-timey half-timbered architecture of this delightful town makes it a charming spot to drive through, and the deep Eastern European roots of this part of the world are exemplified at Naegelin’s Bakery in nearby New Braunfels, where the sausage kolaches are to die for.
Lockhart is a paradise for BBQ lovers and welcomes vast numbers of smoked meat pilgrims every week. The three most popular spots for your BBQ fix are Kreuz Market, Black’s Barbeque, and Smitty’s Market, where the flavors are out-of-this-world.
Houston is a name famous around the world as the home of US space flight and is a fantastic destination for anyone interested in the history and science of space exploration. It is a perfect city for exploring by car (and tricky to do so without), so it makes a great road trip stop.
The Space Centre and the Houston Science Museum are the obvious highlights, but there are other exciting things to do in this excellent city too. The Beer Can Museum is a terrific little slice of weirdness, while the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple is absolutely stunning and worth exploring for the photo opportunities alone.
Lafayette is a delightful university town, a supremely relaxed counterpoint to the excess and debauchery of New Orleans itself, and the center of Cajun culture in Louisiana.
There’s an impressive amount to do in Lafayette, with some great museums like Alexandre Mouton House and the Children’s Museum, as well as beautiful parks and an excellent zoo. However, the real joy of Lafayette is in discovering the unique Acadian history and culture that makes the Cajun community so fascinating.
Explore the historic Cajun way of life at the Acadian Village and the Vermilionville Historic Village. Get to grips with Cajun culture at the Acadiana Center for Arts, as well as listening to traditional Cajun music at the Blue Moon Saloon. Finally, give your tastebuds a treat at The French Press, where you’ll feast on boudin, French bread, and gumbo.
Finally, you’ll reach the vibrant, party city of New Orleans. The Big Easy is a truly unique city, a remarkable blend of cultural influences, with some of the best food and music, found anywhere in the US. Whether it is your final destination or you plan to depart from New Orleans on a cruise, it is worth spending a few days here to soak everything up.
New Orleans is one of those travel destinations that can be whatever you want it to be. You can find riotous excess and wild parties, some of the finest live music in the country (even if jazz isn’t your thing!), and high culture in the form of art galleries, museums, and wonderful historic landmarks.
You can even get up close and personal with the natural world, with hiking trails, boat rides, and ‘gator tours just a short way hop out of town at the Barataria Reserve in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park.
From jazz and blues on Frenchmen Street to the garish neon of Bourbon Street, via the colonial elegance of the Garden District and the dark voodoo delights around every corner of the French Quarter, this is a destination that deserves special attention. A road trip that ends up in New Orleans is one that will reward you with unforgettable experiences that will last a lifetime!