Swamp tours and plantation visits are fun and different, but let’s face it: There is way more to do around New Orleans. What else, you ask? Well, here are five day trips to get you out and about. It’s always a good idea to get away from the island of New Orleans every once in a while.
Tucked in the woods of Mississippi, a giant sports complex opens up off a road only a mile from the interstate. It’s a straight, one-hour shot from New Orleans. One piece of advice is to call when you get close, because it’s easy to miss the sign for the “Harness Hut.” It’s great for groups (typically teenagers, but even we 20-somethings had a blast).
You glide, climb, crawl, and swing between trees and over roads. We were laughing the whole time at our (lack of) skills and simply using our bodies and minds in ways we hadn’t since childhood. In the summertime, you can hop right over to the water park that juts out next door.
Go eat at Murky Waters next to the beach afterwards. I suggest the burnt ends, potato salad, fried okra, and garlic parmesan wings.
Kayak to Fort Proctor
There is not much left to see or do recreationally down near Shell Beach, but you can still see the remnants of Fort Proctor, or “Beauregard’s Castle,” just a few hundred yards from shore. The fort was built in the 1800s, but never garrisoned. Decades ago, young adults would drive their cars out there at low tide, but as the water has changed, so does the method of transportation.
There is a great water expanse between the shore and Fort Proctor that you can paddle across, and then climb around the brick facade. Put on your best Indiana Jones attire, grab a camera/drone/GoPro, and go exploring! It’s a great way to connect with Louisiana’s historic military and naval past in a personal manner. Due to a lack of funds, many forts are not going to last, so venture out sooner rather than later.
Global Wildlife Center
Why don’t more people talk about this place? Why is it not listed in travel magazines? Why am I not there now? The GWC is a fascinating place with giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, camels, bison, and llamas, all roaming a 900-acre open field in southeastern Louisiana. Take a moment to let that sink in.
This place is amazing for anyone. You buy a cup of food, hop into the open-air safari truck, and get driven around the expansive area while exotic animals pop their heads in and eat from the cups. I’ve touched a giraffe’s nose, almost been bitten by a zebra, and thrown food pellets to bison.
It, too, is only an hour outside of New Orleans, so I highly suggest putting this high up on your list of places to go on a weekend day.
Couche Couche Club
Why are the best things in life the simplest? What is couche couche? Couche Couche (pronounced how you might imagine a French elder trying to say “kush”) is a cornmeal-based Cajun dish, eaten either sweet or savory, served with various toppings as a breakfast, dessert, or snack. It is delicious.
This early-morning (5 a.m. sort of early) outing is a great way to listen to a live band out in nature, drink hot coffee—spiked, perhaps?—and eat boudin, couche couche, and bread with jam and butter. There is little to no effort exerted by the guests. The crew is spectacular, and they have thought of every detail to make this experience memorable and easy.
It was started by Effie Michot as a way to get together and celebrate life—truly what Louisianians do best. Tickets go on sale when they announce the next event, so get on the newsletter!
This oldie-but-goodie day trip is fun for summer outings. Be prepared to pack all your provisions; this trip is definitely worth the day. Arrive in Mississippi in the morning, board a ferry, and get—ahem—ferried out to a private island in the Gulf.
The brackish water clears up, and the island boasts large, sandy beaches to spread out on and frolic. There are all sorts of people who come, so be prepared to people watch and mingle with the masses. To avoid the largest of crowds, do not go on the weekends in the summertime. There is Fort Massachusetts to explore as well.
Pack your sunblock and a hat and climb aboard!