Whether it’s winter break, a weekend getaway, or a spontaneous day trip, these locations are all a one- to two-hour drive from the Red Stick. They have everything from beaches, to small towns, to hiking — making for the ideal mini-vacay.
Only an hour away, Lafayette is the perfect destination for a short day trip filled with historical views, Cajun classics and southern shopping. The city features a historic homes site, Vermillionville, which offers tours and Yoga en Français every
Tuesday. After you work up a sweat you can celebrate by getting a cone from Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream where ice cream is made to order and flash-frozen using liquid nitrogen, or grab one of the best sugar cookies you’ll ever have at Pouparts Bakery. Run by Mainstreet at River Ranch before you head home for some local shopping, including boutiques, dining and services in a small-town atmosphere.
Abita Springs is Louisiana’s Stars Hollow. The small town consists of 2,300 people and is found on the North Shore about an hour from Baton Rouge. The town center feels like it’s straight from a movie, which is fitting because Zac Efron’s “The Lucky One” was shot there in 2010. Walking along the trailhead, you’ll find a park and pavilion, storefronts housing local businesses like Artigue’s Abita Market and Blu Skye (a great ice cream and snowball shop), and the Abita Mystery House — a must-visit if you like anything zany and unusual. Don’t leave without eating at the Abita Brew Pub and touring the Abita Brewing Company. Other picturesque areas near Abita Springs include downtown Covington, Old Mandeville and the Madisonville riverfront.
BAY ST. LOUIS
Louisiana’s Gulf Coast locale means we have a close proximity to beach states like Alabama and Florida, but they aren’t the most convenient for a day or weekend trip. Enter Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Luckily, this two-hour destination has sun and sand for that perfect summer vibe. After a day at the beach, you can cool off with popsicles at Pop Brothers, or have an alligator po-boy at Dan B’s Restaurant and Bar. Noteworthy neighboring gulf towns include Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi.
Tunica Hills is a go-to hiking spot for nature lovers near Baton Rouge. About an hour outside of the Capital City, hitting this hidden paradise is the perfect way to de-stress after a long week. From camping to waterfalls, Tunica will make you question if you’re still in the Bayou State. Pro tip: Getting lost on the way is common, so plan for extra time. Also pack a lunch to enjoy a peaceful outdoor picnic.
Looking for a vacay that’s just a few more hours away, but still within Louisiana? These locations are great for longer trips and holiday breaks:
Take a walk down the river and shop the 33-block historic district, an easy three hours away. Take a tour of the “Steel Magnolia” filming sites, but be sure to grab a famous Natchitoches meat pie before you leave. Spend a night under hundreds of thousands Christmas lights for the annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival, which ranked third in 2013 by Yahoo.com for “Best Holiday Light Show” behind the Rockefeller Center and Disney World.
Only four hours north, tourists can visit the new Shreveport Aquarium and enjoy a unique dinner and movie experience at the Robinson Film Center. Guests 21 and older can visit one of the many well known casinos. Stop by Strawn’s Eat Shop and grab a slice of strawberry or chocolate pie, or drive over the bridge and walk the outdoor shops at the Louisiana Boardwalk.