It’s summer, and you can finally go to the beach to relax, tan, and swim to your heart’s content. But wait . . . there aren’t any idyllic beaches in Louisiana. You can’t just pack your beach bag on a whim and drive on down to the nearest sandy expanse. You’ll just have to make plans to go to a beach in Mississippi, Alabama, or Florida. Sometimes that drive can be long, tiresome, and occasionally annoying when you have someone in the car constantly asking, “Are we there yet?" (especially as a joke). But don’t worry, your dreams of a summer weekend getaway aren’t ruined just yet. Although Louisiana isn’t known for her beaches--despite being surrounded by water--there are still some trip-worthy, beachy destinations that will rival the clear blue waters of any typical tourist hot spot.
If you’re a beach sports enthusiast, you’re in luck. Coconut beach, located in Kenner, is less than half an hour away from the city. This sand sports complex is dedicated to volleyball, soccer, and dodgeball. With no open water in sight, this one isn’t for those looking to have a lazy day by the ocean. But if you do find yourself coming out here to support a friend playing in one of the various sports leagues, don’t worry: there is a bar and grill with daiquiris, food, and plenty of beer and alcohol options to keep you occupied.
22 min drive from New Orleans
Nothing beats a short car ride, especially with kids in the back seat. This destination, 51 minutes out from the city, is located in Mandeville, LA. Although you’ll have to take the Causeway Bridge (everyone’s favorite), this trip is definitely worth it. For a small admission fee of $3 for adults, you can enjoy a variety of nature trails, swim in the shallows, bask on the white sands, picnic, camp, or, if you bring your own or rent a kayak or canoe, ride the waves.
51 min drive from New Orleans
Have the best of both worlds with a beach and waterpark at White Sands Lake Day Beach in Franklinton, LA. It’s opened from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Tuesday - Sunday, with an admission fee of $15 for adults and $10 for children. You can escape the hot humidity of New Orleans and cool off at the aqua park, which features water trampolines, slides, and a popular blob bag, whatever that may be. If that doesn’t sound like your ideal escape from the city, the beach has paddleboard and kayak rentals and multiple cabanas for rent that include a grill for barbecue enthusiasts (I’m looking at you dad).
1 hr 17 min drive from New Orleans
Visit Cypremort Point Beach, a small, half-mile expanse at this state park. Although the beach may be small, the expanse of water is not. For fishing and water-sports enthusiasts, take a boat out into the bay for fishing, ride the waves on a pair of water skis, leisurely sail, or windsurf. Besides your usual beach activities, venture into the state park to see Louisiana’s native wildlife, including black bears, alligators, nutrias, and red foxes.
2 hr 14 min drive from New Orleans
Just a little more than a two-hour car ride from New Orleans, Grand Isle is certainly a sight to behold. It is Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island that functions as a town and beach resort. This state park is certainly no bore. Besides a scenic walk on the beach, you can enjoy birding, fishing, camping, exploring various trails, and dining at a variety of seafood restaurants. You can even have the same experience as renting a beachside condo by staying in a quaint house right by the waters. For those of you who take the title “Sportsman’s Paradise” seriously, Grand Isle hosts an annual Tarpon Fishing Rodeo. To swim in the waters, however, requires a small fee.
2 hr 16 min drive from New Orleans
Dreaming of those picturesque white sands they always show in movies? You’re in luck. North Beach, one of Lake Charles’ many beaches, boasts that it is the only inland white sands beach in the Pelican State. Right off of I-10, this beach is open from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and is the perfect all-day get away trip. Go swimming, relax and tan in the sun, or play volleyball with friends. If you’re planning on staying longer, Lake Charles has plenty other attractions, such as casino resorts, a variety of southern-themed dining options, the Mardi Gras Museum, Creole Nature Trail, and historic U.S.S. Orleck Naval Museum, to name a few.
3 hr. 6 min drive from New Orleans
Unknown to us urbanites, this beach has apparently been a popular spot for rural folk. No wonder though, as it started out as a fishing camp with small cabins, rvs, and tents. This beach suffered damage from hurricanes Rita and Ike, but has been repeatedly rebuilt, nevertheless. At this destination, you can enjoy typical bayou activities, such as fishing, shelling, and crabbing. But if that’s too redneck for you, enjoy the waves and sand (even though they are not as pristine as the other beaches on this list), hike the nearby Creole Nature Trail, or see the historic Sabine Pass Lighthouse.
3 hr 59 min drive from New Orleans