When you drive from Houston to New Orleans, you'll follow Interstate 10 from eastern Texas to the eastern edge of Louisiana. With so many fascinating things to do and see along the way, be sure to save extra time for some of the most interesting sights along the way. Follow this route to plan a two-day road trip from Houston to New Orleans that the whole family will enjoy. Be prepared for the open road by visiting our checklist of road trip essentials.
Drive Time from Houston to New Orleans: approximately 6.5 hours
Distance from Houston to New Orleans: approximately 385 miles
Best vehicle for the trip: Full-Size SUV
The fourth most-populous metropolitan area in the country is bound to have lots to do for visitors and locals alike. Savor the competition and catch a game as Houston is host to multiple professional sports teams including the Astros, Texas, Dash, Rockets, and Dynamo. Make your way to Discovery Green, a 12-acre park in the heart of Houston. Here, you'll find walking paths, vast green spaces, bocce courts, public art, and a splash pad for cooling off.
If you like to visit local oddities, consider a trek to the Eclectic Menagerie Park or the Art Car Museum. The former has a collection of 26 large metal sculptures of animals, insects, and machines. The latter is an eclectic collection of cars decorated in all imaginable manners.
Day 1: Kick off this road trip in the Bayou City with a bite to eat before hitting the road. Head over to the Montrose neighborhood for breakfast at Baby Barnaby’s. Nosh on some migas or huevos rancheros with a few cups of organic coffee to fuel up before heading out.
When you're ready to hit the road, head east on Interstate 10 until you reach Port Arthur. Located near the Louisiana border, Port Arthur offers an intriguing mix of cultural attractions and historic sites.
Stop by the Museum of the Gulf Coast, nestled in the center of town, and browse exhibits that explore the history of Southeast Texas. You can see everything from artwork by internationally renowned artists to a preserved alligator famous for defying death.
On the southern edge of town, don't miss the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site. This site marks the location of a significant Civil War battle, and the interpretive signage here tells the captivating story of the 1863 skirmish.
Next, cross the border into Louisiana and set your sights on Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. This 125,000-acre site includes 85,000 acres of marsh grassland and 40,000 acres of water, and its home to numerous habitats and countless animal and bird species.
While you can hunt and fish at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, this road trip only stop leaves you with just the right amount of time for a hike along one of the refuge's primary trails. Make your way to the Wetland Walkway and keep your eyes peeled for the alligators that frequent this area. You can also head over to the Blue Goose Trail to spot turtles, white pelicans, great blue herons, wood ducks, and many more waterfowl and shorebirds.
After a walk through the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, head north to Lake Charles. Home to annual festivals for Cajun and Creole cultures such as crawfish, Zydeco music and Mardi Gras, this city is a great place to indulge in delicious food and stay for the night.
Lake Charles is known for its crawfish boils, and Seafood Palace is the perfect place to get your fill. If you're looking for a little more variety, head to Steamboat Bill's, where you can dig into hot and spicy boiled crawfish or try the gumbo, blue crabs, or po'boys.
After a restful night's sleep, stop by the Imperial Calcasieu Museum to marvel at the festive Mardi Gras gear. This small museum boasts the world's most extensive collection of Mardi Gras costumes, and it's the ideal spot to gear up for your visit to New Orleans.
Continue along Interstate 10 and head east toward Baton Rouge. The drive will take about two hours and cover 130 miles. Start your tour at the State Capitol, the tallest building in the city. Here, you can take in beautiful views of the town before strolling through the manicured gardens on the capitol grounds.
Sample Baton Rouge's arts scene by stopping at the Shaw Center, which houses the Louisiana State University Museum of Art, the Manship Theatre, Forward Arts, and several more museums and theaters. While hopping around LSU’s campus, swing by The Chimes Restaurant, a college joint where everyone goes for tasty, made-from-scratch Louisiana cuisine.
See the city's natural beauty with a tour of Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, which features more than a mile of boardwalks that wind through the forests, as well as an indoor facility where you can get up close and personal with the wildlife.
The last leg of the journey will take 90 minutes and cover about 80 miles along I-10. As soon as you arrive in New Orleans, you'll want to make the world-famous Café du Monde in the French Quarter your first stop. Sit down on the patio, treat yourself to an afternoon treat of powdered sugar-dusted beignets, and sip a cafe au lait as you watch locals and tourists alike stroll by. After refueling, take your own leisurely stroll through the French Quarter and admire the historic architecture throughout this beautiful district. Meander over to Jackson Square for a beautiful sight of St. Louis Cathedral, one of the oldest in the United States. Around Jackson Square is a bevy of street performers, but the best are found on Royal Street. They’ll get your feet tapping with bluegrass, jazz, blues, brass band, and more.
While New Orleans' food scene is the stuff of legends, there is more to the city than chowing down. Spend some time exploring the 1,300-acre City Park, where you can play disc golf, bike, fish, visit the carousel gardens, and much more. New Orleans also plays host to a beautiful zoo and a fantastic aquarium.
Of course, while you're in town, you should also enjoy the epic culinary landscape. Toups Meatery is always an excellent choice for cured meats, dirty rice, and surprises like the fresh crab claws with pineapple and chiles. There are many world-famous restaurants like Commander’s Palace to discover and explore as you’re walking about town.
Ready to take the ultimate road trip from Houston to New Orleans? Rent a family-friendly SUV and be prepared to hit the road.