Oak Alley Plantation In Louisiana

New Orleans To Lafayette: A Louisiana Road Trip

If you are wanting to get to know Louisiana a little beyond New Orleans, this road trip can give you more insight into the state’s history and culture in a single day trip. The drive between New Orleans and Lafayette is filled with gorgeous rural landscapes and stunning historical homes. Be unlike most travelers and explore other parts of Louisiana.

New Orleans To Lafayette Road Trip

This road trip begins in New Orleans and ends in Lafayette however you could begin in Lafayette as there is a small regional airport there with a car rental facility. The one-way drop off fee for the car rental between these two cities would be minimal.

The total driving distance is only 135 miles and if you were to drive non-stop it would take about two hours. This is a one day driving itinerary with an overnight in Lafayette. It could be extended to a two night road trip if you wanted to spend a full day exploring the River Road plantation homes and spent the first night at one of the bed & breakfasts in or near Vacherie before continuing with the rest of your driving itinerary.

Sample Driving Itinerary

Day 1

  • Spend the morning touring Oak Alley or Laura Plantation Home
  • Visit Avery Island and tour the Tabasco Factory
  • Spend an hour at Jungle Gardens
  • Overnight in Lafayette

Day 2

  • Explore Lafayette
  • Drive back to New Orleans via Baton Rouge

Best Stops Between New Orleans and Lafayette

New Orleans To Vacherie: 54 miles

Stop: Oak Alley Plantation

The Oak Alley Plantation is one of many plantation homes that can be found along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge however this particular home is considered to be the Grande Dame of the ‘River Road’ plantations and the most popular to visit.

Best Stops Between New Orleans And Lafayette

The architecture of the main house is a beautiful Greek Revival style that was built between 1837 and 1839. One of the most stunning features of the house is the free-standing colonnade of twenty eight massive Doric columns. The driveway leading to the main house is lined with magnificent oak tree’s draped in Spanish moss which is one of the main reasons this is such a popular destination for photographers and travelers.

The Oak Alley Plantation was originally a sugar cane plantation as were many other plantations in the area during the mid-nineteenth century, however after the civil war and the end of slavery, the plantation was no longer economically viable. Many of the original buildings from this era remain on the grounds.

There is a restaurant onsite should you choose to have breakfast or lunch before continuing with your road trip. If you plan to stay overnight in the area, there are several cottages located on the plantation grounds. All stays here come with a full country breakfast which is served daily at the Oak Alley Restaurant between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

New Orleans Road Trip To Lafayette

Entry into the site requires the purchasing of a ticket which includes access to various exhibits, the Blacksmith shop, the Sugarcane theater, and a guided tour of the ‘Big House’ aka mansion. Their operation hours are 9 am to 5 pm. A minimum of two hours is recommended to fully appreciate the history and sights.


Admission to the Oak Alley Plantation home is $25 for adults, $10 for youth, and $7 for children or you can visit for FREE on the New Orleans Pass.

Vacherie To Avery Island: 102 miles

Stop: Avery Island

Avery Island is the highest point on the Gulf Coast and rises dramatically above Louisiana’s surrounding flat wetlands to 163 feet above sea level. It is not a real island but appears island-like because of it’s height and surrounding swamps, bayou’s and salt marshes. The surrounding bayou’s include Stumpy Bayou, Saline Bayou, Bayou Leleu, and largely Bayou Petite Anse.

Avery Island is the largest of five salt domes on the Louisiana coast sitting on top of a deposit of solid rock salt that is said to be deeper than Mount Everest is high. The primary industries on Avery Island are oil production, salt mining and tourism. The latter is owed to the McIlhenny family who have been manufacturing Tabasco products here for over 140 years.

Stop: Tabasco Factory Tour & Museum

Avery Island is the birthplace of the TABASCO® brand pepper sauce which is owned and operated by the McIlhenny family who have been producing the popular sauce for over 140 years.

Best Stops Between New Orleans And Lafayette
New Orleans To Lafayette Road Trip

You can learn about the history of Tabasco in the Tabasco Museum and follow it up with a tour of the Pepper Greenhouse and Barrel Warehouse then see the blending and bottling production line. Be aware that the factory does not bottle on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Afterwards you can visit the Country Store where you can sample and purchase some of the products.

Be sure not to miss the 1868 Restaurant if you’re feeling hungry. Their southern style menu is infused with Tabasco sauce such as pepper-jelly boudin, pepper barrel crawfish etouffee, and Cajun crawfish nachos. Even their cheesecake is served with a raspberry Tabasco glaze!

For those of you who love to cook, there is a cooking class you can join for a fee to learn about southern cuisine which includes a three-course meal.

Stop: Jungle Gardens

After touring the factory and sampling the Tabasco sauce in the country store, be sure to pay the Jungle Gardens a visit before leaving Avery Island. Entry into the gardens is $8 or you can get a combined Tabasco factory tour ticket.

Best Stops Between New Orleans and Lafayette

The Jungle Gardens is a huge park (170 acres to be exact) that stretches along Bayou Petite Anse. Things to see at the park include a magnificent Buddha statue set in a beautiful garden, a bamboo grove that is said the be the oldest in America, and Bird City which is a protected rookery where you can see thousands of snowy white egrets (depending on the time of year). Wildlife you may encounter here include alligators, black bears, turtles, pelicans and deer.

If you want to explore the park, there is a three mile loop gravel path that will take you through the bamboo forest, by live oak tree’s covered with Spanish moss, and past ponds filled with alligators.

Avery Island To Lafayette – 30 miles

Stop: Lafayette

Lafayette is the geographic and cultural center of Louisiana. Even though this city is only two hours west of New Orleans, it seems worlds away in terms of how laid back it is compared to the Big Easy. Whether you’re looking to further your knowledge in Louisiana’s French history, wanting to sample the authentic Cajun culinary scene, or interested in listening and dancing to Zydeco music, Lafayette will not disappoint.

The French/Canadian culture responsible for the delicious dishes and French-named streets was brought to Louisiana by the Acadians who were expelled from parts of Eastern Canada including Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in the mid-1700’s due to feuding between the French and British people.

To get acquainted with Acadian culture, pay a visit to the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve which is operated by the National Park Service. Here you will find a museum with exhibits that detail the expulsion of Acadians from Canada.

For more on Lafayette’s history, you can visit the Alexandre Mouton House (also known as the Lafayette Museum) which was constructed in the 1800’s by Jean Mouton, one of the first settlers of Southwest Louisiana. The house is filled with artifacts on display from this earlier period.

A favorite stop for most travelers to Lafayette is the Vermilionville and Acadian Village where you can experience what early Acadian life was like in Louisiana. Both of these attractions are living history museums with original period buildings dating back to the early 1800’s. Besides the several buildings you can tour, there are costumed historians that provide demonstrations on crafts that were performed by the early settlers.

For seafood lovers, Lafayette is a great place to visit, especially during crawfish season when dozens of restaurants and stores sell the boiled creatures by the truckload. The city is also known for their fried catfish, alligator sausage, and oysters.

If you’re wanting to put on your dancing shoes, head to Randol’s Restaurant & Cajun Dance Hall or Artmosphere for lively nightly Cajun music where you’ll see locals pull out their jitterbug moves.

Where To Stay In Lafayette

Mouton Plantation – A seven room bed & breakfast in downtown Lafayette. This plantation home was originally built in 1820 and the grounds also offer quaint cottages at very reasonable prices. 

DoubleTree By Hilton – Set on the banks of the Vermilion River, this beautiful hotel has two bars onsite, a swimming pool and restaurant. 

The Chateau Hotel – A budget hotel close to downtown and Lafayette airport. 

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