Austin to New Orleans Road Trip
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- Lake Charles
- Baton Rouge
- New Orleans
- Roadside assistance
- Cheap insurance
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.
Two and a half hours from Austin is 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.
Why you should go: After a few hours in the car, Houston is a great place to stretch your legs—and you can do it in the urban downtown or a natural recreation area outside the city. Plus, you can find unique space-related attractions and art collections here that you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
It’s a great opportunity to grab something to eat to fuel you up for the rest of your drive.
What you should do: Visit the Space Center or the Science Museum if you want to learn more about Texas’s role in space exploration. If you want to witness some gorgeous artwork, head to the Art Car Museum or the Rothko Chapel.
For fresh air, head to the Boardwalk, and for a glimpse of some powerfully spiritual architecture, go to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple. It is a place of worship, so make sure to respect the rules if you visit.
Lake Charles, LA
On the bayou and just two and a half hours from Houston is Lake Charles. It’s 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.
Why you should go: Lake Charles is a beautiful area with historic neighborhoods to explore and plenty of good food. You can also gamble here, if that piques your interest.
What you should do: The Charpentier Historic District includes 40 blocks of well-preserved Victorian-style architecture. You can explore by foot or drive the route, following along in the app or with a brochure from the Visitors Bureau.
In Lake Charles, you can see alligators without having to leave the safety of your car! Visit the Pintail Wildlife Drive in Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge and take yourself on a three-mile swamp tour.
Before you go, chow down on a classic crawfish boil and swing by the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu to marvel at the costumes on display.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
One hour due east is Lafayette, a major food destination and happening festival town. If you’re a foodie, make sure you stop here for a meal.
Why you should go: 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.
What you should do: If you have time, try to catch some live music. Or get some music with your meal at The Grouse Room. Either way, make sure you try Cajun food here. Adventurous eaters should try Cafe Vermilionville for alligator tenderloin.
It’s worth driving by St. John’s Cathedral, a lovely red and white brick church with a stately interior. You can also visit the Mouton Plantation house in town, an Acadian-style manor that now functions as a bed & breakfast.
Key Takeaway The Acadian heritage of Lafayette means great food and interesting architecture.
St. John’s Cathedral, Lafayette
Baton Rouge, LA
One hour east is Baton Rouge—but it’s the drive from Lafayette to The Capital City that will impress you more than the city itself. With relaxing views of the Atchafalaya Basin, this leg of your trip will fly by.
Why you should go: Stop in Baton Rouge if you want to see the state capitol building and other historic landmarks. If you haven’t already done a plantation tour, you can find good ones in the vicinity.
What you should do: The old state capitol building is far more impressive than the current one. If you’re interested in naval history, visit the USS Kidd Veterans Museum for a tour of a decommissioned battleship on the Mississippi River.
One of the best plantation tours in the south is an hour south along I-10 in Vacherie at the Oak Alley Plantation. It’s right along your route and well worth the time. If you’re just looking for some fresh air and greenery in town, then visit Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center. Another good choice is the Houmas House and Gardens in Darrow, about 30 minutes outside of town.
New Orleans, LA
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!
Why you should go: Music, festivals, food, and incredible history—need we say more?
What you should do: City Park is a must-visit. 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.
Eating is a given, and you can’t go wrong if you follow the locals. La Petite Grocery is guaranteed to impress, and Toups Meatery is a good choice if you want to support a restaurateur who gives back to the community.
For live music, head to Frenchman Street to find the best jazz. Make sure to visit the Tree of Life in Audubon Park before you leave—it’s a spiritual experience.
Key Takeaway 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.
Frenchman Street, New Orleans
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!
Finding cheap car insurance
We believe there’s a better way to find car insurance than spending hours online or on the phone negotiating with providers. Jerry is a free app that generates competitive quotes from top companies. The artificial intelligence uncovers discounts and handles the entire signup process for you. No paperwork, no testy negotiations—just savings and a great policy, done efficiently.
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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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