Austin to New Orleans Road Trip

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This is a lovely eight-and-a-half-hour drive through the Texan plains and past the Louisiana Gulf. In fact, the Austin to New Orleans drive offers pleasing stopovers every few minutes. Whether you are a foodie or a fan of American history, you are in for a treat on this route.
Texas and Louisiana are famous for three things: food, natural beauty, and good people. This itinerary covers all three and includes stops in Houston, Lake Charles, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge so you have time to discover the best that the South has to offer.
Of course, don’t hit the road without car insurance and roadside assistance with Jerry. It may not cover alligator-related disasters, but it can rescue you from flat tire and dead-battery catastrophes (for only $6.99).
Ready? Throw that baby in drive and let’s zoom, zoom.

Key trip details

Austin, TX to New Orleans, LA
Austin, TX to New Orleans, LA
​​Distance: 356 miles
Driving time: 5 hours and 46 minutes
Suggested length of trip: 1 to 3 days
You could breeze through this trip in one swift afternoon, but there’s definitely enough things to do and see to make it worth stopping along the way!

Itinerary

  • Austin, TX—Starting point
  • Houston, TX—Half a day
  • Lake Charles, LA—Half a day
  • Lafayette, LA—Half a day
  • Baton Rouge, LA—Half a day
  • New Orleans, LA—1 to 2 days

Houston, TX

162 miles, 3 hours
It’s not too far a drive from Austin to Houston. Now, if you’re an Austinite then you’re probably a loud and proud fan of your city. As you should be!
But we hope you will also give Houston a chance to impress you. With food, art, and space-related activities, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Try to see Houston as more of a beloved sibling than the competition.
To get to Houston, follow the US-290 E and take exit 47C from I-45 S.

Where to eat in Houston

  • Xochi ($$): Serving Oaxaca-inspired dishes, this downtown destination has a standard and vegetarian menu that you can order from. Try out their four-course meals for a guaranteed fantastic dining experience.
  • Verdine: Their comfortable, inviting interior lends itself to the restaurant's inviting atmosphere. Their menu puts creative, vegan spins on traditional comfort food—we recommend trying out the jackfruit carnitas or beet falafel!

What to do in Houston

Kemah Boardwalk at sunset.
Kemah Boardwalk
  • Space Center: If you want to learn more about Texas’ extensive history and involvement in space exploration, the Space Center is a leading learning center in the nation. They have numerous exhibits and experiences, and a lot of activities perfect for kids and families!
  • Art Car Museum: This institution is dedicated to contemporary art, featuring artists on a local, national and international level. With an emphasis on art cars, it’s an art gallery unlike any other.
  • Kemah Boardwalk: Located only a few miles from Houston’s downtown, the Boardwalk is great to stretch your legs and get some air. It has rides, games, food stands, and endless other activities.

Lake Charles, LA

143 miles, 2 hours
On the bayou, Lake Charles is just off the highway and makes for a very pleasant stopover, whether you only want to pause for a few minutes or a few hours.

Where to eat in Lake Charles

  • Darrell’s: A local favorite in Lake Charles, Darrell’s has delicious specialty po boys—don’t be surprised if you find yourself making the drive just to pick up an order of their Darrell’s Special!

What to do in Lake Charles

A ship left the port in Lake Charles, LA at sunset.
Lake Charles, LA
  • Charpentier Historic District: This historic district includes 40 blocks of well-preserved Victorian-style architecture. You can explore by foot or drive the route, but it’s worth seeing no matter how you do it!
  • Pintail Wildlife Drive: Located in the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, this three-mile swamp tour lets you see alligators and other local wildlife without having to leave the safety of your car
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Lafayette, LA

75 miles, 1 hour
If you’re a foodie, make sure you stop by Lafayette. The plethora of Cajun and Creole history here means good food and better festivals. It’s a university town so you’ll also find plenty of good coffee shops and shopping opportunities.
You can follow the I-10 E to US-167 S, then take exit 103A to get to Lafayette.

Where to eat in Lafayette

  • The Grouse Room ($$): If you’re looking for delicious eats and live music, head to The Grouse Room for fresh, flavourful burgers and wings. The food is great but the lively, exciting atmosphere is even greater.
  • Cafe Vermilionville ($$$): If you’re looking for a more refined dining experience, this carefully restored Acadian cypress house serves upscale Creole fare and a full-service eat-in bar. You can even book a private dining room to enjoy their steak frites and (if you’re feeling adventurous) alligator tenderloin.

What to do in Lafayette

A low angle view of the brick facade of St. John’s Cathedral.
St. John’s Cathedral
  • St. John’s Cathedral: It’s worth driving by this historic church, a lovely red and white brick cathedral with a stately interior. If you are especially interested, there are guided tours available.
  • Acadian Village: Jump back in time to this 19th-century Cajun bayou community, which contains carefully maintained, authentic homes. There is a museum dedicated to Native American history on the grounds as well, so this is a must-see for any history buff!
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Baton Rouge, LA

55 miles, 1.5 hours
Stop in Baton Rouge if you want to see the state capitol building and other historic landmarks. The drive from Lafayette to Baton Rouge is equally impressive. With relaxing views of the Atchafalaya Basin, this leg of your trip will fly by.

Where to eat in Baton Rouge

  • Louisiana Lagniappe Restaurant ($$$): A popular spot in Baton Rouge since its opening in 1984, this lively, welcoming restaurant serves deliciously fresh seafood and gumbo that’ll warm your tummy for the last leg of the trip.

What to do in Baton Rouge

Interior of the Old State Capitol and its stained glass windows.
Interior of the Old State Capitol
  • USS Kidd Veterans Museum: If you’re interested in naval history, come here for an interesting, in-depth tour of this decommissioned WWII battleship on the Mississippi River.
  • Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center: Looking for some fresh air and greenery while in town? This 103-acre facility houses an award-winning exhibit of live animals, flora and fauna, and other fascinating swamp scenery.
  • Old State Capitol: A lot more compelling than its modern counterpart, you can tour this historic building and learn about Louisiana's rich history and view a number of exhibits currently on display.

New Orleans, LA

81 miles, 1.5 hours
The Big Easy, the Crescent City—whatever name you choose to describe New Orleans, it could never encapsulate everything the city has to offer. Never miss a chance to visit NOLA, as there’s always more to discover! Music, festivals, food, and incredible history—need we say more?
To reach your final destination, follow the I-10 E to Poydras St in New Orleans, taking exit 234B.

Where to stay in New Orleans

  • Hotel Monteleone: A long-time favorite New Orleans hot spot, this is a luxury stay in the heart of the French Quarter. Their rooms are comfortable and elegant, and their Carousel Bar & Lounge is a great place to unwind and have a couple of drinks at the end of the night. Cost per night: from $159.

Where to eat in New Orleans

  • Toups Meatery ($$-$$$): This contemporary Cajun restaurant serves delicious meats, charcuteries, and cocktails with an intimate, welcoming atmosphere. You can’t really go wrong with anything on their menu, but we especially recommend their Double Cut Pork Chops!
  • La Petite Grocery ($$$): Housed in a quaint cottage that was once a grocery store in the 1800s, La Petite’s locally-sourced menu includes blue crab beignet starters, turtle bolognese, and buttermilk & cornmeal clafoutis for dessert.

What to do in New Orleans

Colorful buildings line the French Quarter, New Orleans.
French Quarter, New Orleans
  • City Park: A must-visit while you’re in town! It’s full of walking paths, recreational activities, and pure good vibes. We recommend parking if you can and getting around on foot or riding the streetcars.
  • Tree of Life: Officially known as the Étienne de Boray Oak, this gnarled, sprawling oak tree is believed to be between 100-500 years old. It’s definitely a sight worth seeing while in town, and its pure size and presence can be an almost spiritual experience!
  • Frenchman Street: This buzzing, vibrant stretch of blocks features some of the best live music you could find, ranging from traditional jazz to blues to reggae and rock. Walking around here can be the perfect bookend for your trip.
Pro Tip Parking can be a disaster in New Orleans, so we recommend looking for a hotel that includes parking and getting around by foot or transit instead.

Tips for road-tripping along the Gulf

Weather in Louisiana can swing wildly from rainy and humid to, well, sunny and humid. Stay alert and navigate carefully as changing conditions mean you’ll need to adjust your driving behavior.
Pack light since you’re bound to find things you wish to bring home. Don’t worry about finding good food on your drive, as there is no stretch of highway on this route that does not offer tasty and affordable Southern eats.
Finally, we recommend you consider adding uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. It’s not required by law for Louisiana drivers (or Texas drivers), but about 15% of Louisiana drivers are uninsured. If you get into an accident on your Austin to New Orleans road trip, this policy can help cover your costs if the other party cannot.

Why you need roadside assistance

For the price of a cup of coffee and a pastry, you can become a member of the roadside assistance program with Jerry. Seriously, it’s only $6.99! But what you get is far better than a simple breakfast.
Membership in Jerry’s program means that you don’t have to worry about lockouts, flat tires, dead batteries, or trip interruptions. Well, we can’t stop you from worrying. But we will be there to help you if anything happens!
Road trips are supposed to be exciting and adventurous. Get Jerry so you can adventure confidently!

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FAQs

Is it hard to find parking in New Orleans?

Yes, it can be tricky to find parking in New Orleans. There is metered city parking as well as lots with day rates. Arrive before 9 AM to get the cheaper, early-bird rates. You can find some free street parking near Crescent Park if you’re willing to walk a mile or two to town. Another good alternative is to select accommodations that offer a parking spot for your vehicle—then use public transit to get around.

How long is the Austin to New Orleans drive?

It’s eight and a half hours from Austin to New Orleans if you drive nonstop.

When is the best time to road trip to New Orleans?

The best time to visit New Orleans is between February and May. That’s when the weather is the most comfortable, and it’s also when most of the festivals occur. If you’re not interested in festivals, try to visit in December or January to avoid the crowds.
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