From shopping in the French Quarter to catching a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, there is always something exciting to do when you’re in New Orleans, Louisiana. When you want to get away from the big city, plan a weekend trip to experience the surrounding towns and communities. If you’re staying at a New Orleans vacation rental, you can easily embark on a getaway to one of the seven popular destinations near New Orleans.

1. Dauphin Island, Alabama

Seagulls on a beach
Source: Flickr/Erin Kinney

In about three hours, your family can enjoy a weekend on the beach when you make Dauphin Island your vacation destination. Learn more about American history with tours of Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines. Both of these historic sites were an integral part of the American Civil War, and at Fort Gaines, you learn about its role in the Battle of Mobile. Kids enjoy an afternoon at The Estuarium which showcases the four main ecosystems in the area and features hands-on activities for the little ones. Choose a seat on the patio when you have dinner at Pirate’s Bar And Grill for stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico during dinner.

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2. New Iberia, Louisiana

Garden walkway with pants and trees
Source: Flickr/NatalieMaynor

It takes around three hours to drive to New Iberia/Avery Island in Louisiana but you’ll love the slower pace of life. For the golfer in your family, stop by the Squirrel Run Golf Club. This local golf course offers 18 holes surrounded by scenic natural beauty. Learn more about life in the bayou region with a tour of the Bayou Teche Museum. Take a tour of Avery Island over the weekend, but expect to spend an entire day. This small island features the Tabasco plant, Jungle Gardens, and miles of hiking paths. While visiting the historic downtown area, relax for a few minutes at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.

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3. Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake at sunset
Source: Flickr/Louisiana Travel

Enjoy a weekend out on the lake boating and fishing at Lake Charles. It only takes around three hours of driving to reach this fabulous weekend hideaway. Enjoy some hiking at the Creole Nature Trail, where you can see more than 400 different types of birds. Before hiking, stop by the Creole Nature Trail to learn more about the ecosystem and the types of wildlife that call the area home. In the evenings, take the adults to L’Auberge Casino to play the slots or try their luck at the gaming tables. For great Cajun food, try Rabideaux’s with its unique take on all of your favorite fried kinds of seafood.

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4. Natchez, Mississippi

Plantation surrounded by trees
Source: Flickr/anthonyturducken

With three hours of driving, your family can step back in time to see what life was like before the American Civil War with a visit to Natchez in Mississippi. This town managed to survive any major damage during the war and much of the gorgeous antebellum architecture remains unchanged. Start your visit with an afternoon at the Natchez National Historical Park. This park has three unique sites, including a fort dating back to when the French owned the area, the home of a free black person who ran a barber shop, and the Melrose plantation. On Saturday, take older family members to the Charboneau Distillery to learn more about making rum and pick up a bottle to enjoy at your vacation rental.

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5. Lafayette, Louisiana

Tree lined walkway leading to a house
Source: Flickr/Louisiana Travel

Take a leisurely three-hour drive through postcard-perfect scenery to arrive in the heart of Cajun country, the town of Lafayette. If you love a good festival that includes mouth-watering eats, live music, and family fun, then plan your trip for late September when the Festival Acadians come to town. In the evening, take the adults to the Blue Moon Saloon for some suds and outstanding live music Cajun style. Kids love visiting the Vermilionville Historic Village. This village features living history, restored buildings, and staff in period clothing so you get a realistic view of life in the 19th century.

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6. Fairhope, Alabama

Sandy shore with driftwood on a body of water.
Source: Flickr/mobilealabama2003

Soak up the natural beauty of Bay of Mobile when you select a Fairhope vacation rental on the shore. Stroll through the Fairhope French Quarter with towering crape myrtle trees to provide you shade while you listen to live music and find something that you can’t live without at one of the eclectic shops. Visit Oak Hollow Farm for an afternoon of horseback riding, or opt for a hayride if you have small children. In the later afternoon, walk down the Fairhope Municipal Pier and pick up fresh bait at the store on the pier to do a little fishing.

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7. Pensacola, Florida

Sandy and grassy Florida beach.
Source: Flickr/dconvertini

Feel the warm, white sand under your toes after the four-hour drive to Pensacola in Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Feel your heart jump as you roll and dip in a flight simulator at the National Naval Aviation Museum. This museum also has a great selection of aircraft from various decades that you get a really close look at. Take a tour of the Pensacola Light to learn more about the area’s maritime history and let the kids climb all the way to the top for amazing views. Let your little mad scientists loose in the Pensacola MESS Hall. This museum teaches kids about science and engineering through experiments.

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