8 Coolest Stops on an Austin to New Orleans Road Trip

Austin to New Orleans drive time is around nine hours straight, but why would you want to go direct when there are so many cool stop offs on the way? Here are all the best stops from Texas to New Orleans…

An Austin to New Orleans road trip is a great idea, but make sure you’ve read up on the route to make sure you really get the most from your journey.

I’m here to help. 

Here’s how to drive from Austin to New Orleans in the most scenic way possible. And of course, you can start from the bottom and make it a guide to the New Orleans to Austin drive too!

austin to new orleans

– Now updates to ‘8 stops on an Austin to NOLA road trip, but I like this picture in Austin so I’ll keep it. 

If you want to get to know America beyond the big cities, the towns in between Austin and New Orleans are a great place to start your America education. If you have the time I’d recommend staying over in each of these 8 stops, and if not, park up and take a few hours to explore at least.

On the Austin to New Orleans drive you’ll pass from the states of Texas to Louisiana, via a whole lot of crazy roadkill (think alligators and possums), some amazingly delicious fast food outlets (make sure to try Popeye’s in Louisiana) and some stunning countryside. Expect bridges over epic swamps, farms in the middle of nowhere and thick, lush forests.

Stops on the Austin to New Orleans Road Trip

The Austin to New Orleans drive is a unique one, that’s a little lesser known that some of the big USA road trips out there. 

Austin to New Orleans

Click for the Austin to New Orleans Road Trip Map 

  • 1. Austin 
  • 2. San Antonio
  • 3. Houston 
  • 4. Lafayette 
  • 5. Lake Charles
  • 6. Houmas House and Gardens 
  • 7. Oak Alley Plantation 
  • 8. New Orleans 

1. Keep it weird in Austin

Austin is one of the coolest cities I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot of cities. There’s so much to do there.

As the state capital, Austin is the heart of Texas. It’s also the live music capital of the world.

Austin street sign

Make sure to save some time to queue up for the legendary food trucks and the Franklin BBQ. It’s like a whole day out trying to get into that place – people actually take coolers of beers and chairs to wait their turn.

Barton Springs offers an awesome outdoor swimming opportunity, just a mile from the city centre. And take the car out to Hamilton Springs for what’s rated one of the most stunning places in the USA (so say Buzzfeed). You can cycle there with this electric bike tour, and see some of the best Austin sights along the way, too.

The coolest hostels in Austin

While you’re in the city take some time out for a yoga class, followed by a juice. It’s the way they roll here, when they’re not eating homemade sausages and downing craft beers on Rainey Street that is.

You could also visit the Cathedral of Junk, check out the castle at Graffiti Park (a park dedicated to the art), and visit the impressively huge Capitol building. You also need to make sure you go to Broken Spoke – a true Texan diner serving up chicken-fried steak and the best beer all with a helping of country-dance.

Right, let’s get started: the Austin TX to New Orleans road trip begins!  

Austin to San Antonio road trip | 1 hour 17 mins

READ MORE: How to Save Money on a USA Road Trip

2. Pop down to San Antonio

Right, I’ve been everywhere else on this list, but I didn’t quite have the time to visit San Antonio. I totally would if ever I’m in the area again though, which is why I wanted to include it on this list of the New Orleans to Austin drive.

stops on an austin to new orleans road trip
San Antonio – one of the coolest stops on the Austin to New Orleans road trip

So, still in the Lone Star State of Texas, San Antonio is worth a visit for the food. Spend at least 24 hours here so you can get every meal in, and eat as many meats as possible. San Antonio is Texas’ second city and, as most second cities are, it’s a bit more chilled than the first. 

You can still expect the same great level of shopping, entertainment and things to do, but just at a more chilled pace. I’d recommend you book onto this San Antonio food tour to get a look around the city with a local expert, and to try some local flavours too.

Also, it’s so close to Austin, you might as well pop in! 

Austin to San Antonio road trip | 2 hours 58 mins

3. Space out in Houston

Exploring Houston

Houston’s an awesome city, if you have a car. Otherwise it can be a little tricky to navigate, but seeing as you’re driving from Austin to New Orleans, you needn’t worry!

Top highlights in Houston include the Houston Space Centre, the Beer Can Museum, the Art Car Museum and the Rothko Chapel. You should also check out the zoo, the Kemah Boardwalk and the Houston Science Museum – it’ll be a packed two days but worth making the stop. It could be worth getting the Houston City Pass if you’re visiting a few Houston attractions, it’ll save you a few dollars and gives you skip the line access too.

Oh, and visit the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple too – absolutely incredible.

The drive from Houston to New Orleans is a great one, with some gems to check out along the way. 

Houston to Lake Charles road trip | 2 hrs 30 mins

4. Visit the casinos of Lake Charles  

Exploring Lake Charles

If there’s one thing you have to try in Lake Charles, it’s a crawfish boil. This will be a real highlight on your way from Texas to New Orleans.

In the UK we know them as crayfish, and they’re kind of the same, but different. Here you’ll get a huge plate of the ‘mud bugs’ as they’re fondly called, ready to crack open and fish those meaty tails out.

Lake Charles is also where you’ll find the biggest collection of Mardi Gras costumes, in the world. It’s also a great place for a swamp tour, complete with plenty of alligators. If you want to see a huge concentration of them, in their natural habitat, check out the Pintail Wildlife Drive. I saw 27 in three miles.

Nature in Lake Charles

There are lots of cool things to do in Lake Charles – downtown you’ll find some cool bars and restaurants (drink at the Luna Grill), and the Charpentier Historic District is a work of architecture to drive around. Pick your favourite house and you can keep it. Maybe. Not. 

Right, let’s stop fantasising and crack on with our New Orleans road trip shall we?

Lake Charles to Lafayette road trip | 1 hr

5. Check out Lafayette

Next up on the New Orleans to Austin drive, Lafayette.

Lafayette is a university town – but don’t expect the same kind of ruckus as you’d get from any in the UK. I went on a Friday, morning, and was told that nothing really happens until 5pm, so maybe hold off your visit until then. Most weekends they have some sort of celebration, so time your trip from Austin Texas to New Orleans just right.


Cool things to see in Lafayette include the Kid’s Museum – with a whole exhibition dedicated to Dr Seuss – and the French Press Restaurant. I had the Cajun Benedict, the restaurant’s signature, which featured French bread, boudin (local sausage), eggs, gumbo and scallions. That was one delicious feast.

Lost luggage challenge

– Me by the swamps of Lafayette

Another highlight was the Cajun Jam at the Blue Moon Saloon, where we watched a lady play the spoons on her metal vest. Awesome.

The state capital of Louisiana is Baton Rouge, but trust me, I’ve been and I wouldn’t even bother stopping the car on your way past to the plantations. You could drive round the Capitol if you want to at least say you’ve seen something, but that’s about it.

Lafayette to Houmas House Plantation and Gardens road trip | 2 hrs 9 mins

Distance from Austin to New Orleans

Go straight from Austin to New Orleans and you’re looking at around 511 miles. Add these stops and you can add infinitely more. It’s all about the journey rather than the destination though, right? 

Road trip in Louisiana

12 Best Ways to Save Money on Your USA Road Trip

6. Explore Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

Austin to New Orleans Road Trip

Houmas House is stunning. I’m not even that into plants and gardens but still, I could appreciate the work and planning that’s gone into making the house as special as it is. Once a sugarcane plantation, in the 1700s, the 10-acre grand antebellum estate also used to be the home of one of the wealthiest landowners in the area.

Leave a few hours to take a tour here, go explore, and get some food at one of the onsite restaurants. The ‘Sunday Brunch with a Southern Twist’ at Latil’s Landing Restaurant is apparently legendary, although I didn’t have the time to check it out sadly.

You can book your Houmas House tickets in advance here, to save time and money at the gate, and help you plan your budget for your trip too.

Houmas Plantation to Oak Alley Plantation road trip | 32 mins

7. Learn about the Oak Alley Plantation

Austin to New Orleans
– You HAVE to go to Oak Alley on the Austin to New Orleans road trip!

Drive from Austin to New Orleans and I’d definitely recommend making a stop at Oak Alley Plantation. This was a real highlight of my trip from Texas to New Orleans.

Walk up the main entrance of the Oak Alley Plantation and you’ll be wowed. I guarantee. Huge oak trees flank the driveway, ones that were rooted long before the plantation was established but seem totally made for it. I’ve written a whole post about what to expect from the inside of Oak Alley here.

Oak Alley Plantation

You’re in plantation country now and Oak Alley is one of the grandest ones to see. On site you’ll find a re-creation of the slaves quarters, along with some of the tools and apparatus they’d use to control them. There are also displays set out as odes to the slaves who’d made the plantation what it is today and what happened to them in the end.

Take a tour around the grand house – it’s the best way to learn about the tedious and degrading work the slaves used to do there, and how things have changed.

Oak Alley Plantation to New Orleans journey time | 1 hr

8. Go crazy in New Orleans

2017 plans

Ah New Orleans, you’ve made it!

You’ve successfully completed the Austin to New Orleans drive. 

I love New Orleans – definitely one of my favourite cities to visit in the world. The food, the drink, the party atmosphere, the history and the endless things to do – honestly, I was there for three weeks and still feel like there was more to do and see.

You can definitely pack quite a bit in a few days though. Make sure to visit the Mardi Gras Museum, City Park, chill on the waterfront and ride those street cars too. They’re the best way to get around. You could also join this bike tour in City Park to learn about the sites from a local tour guide too.

Also, make sure you leave room in your suitcase to pick up some of the best New Orleans souvenirs too.

Loving life in New Orleans

Frenchman Street is where you’ll find the best jazz in the evenings. If you’re unsure where exactly to go, or don’t have anyone to go with, join this Frenchman Street jazz night tour with GetYourGuide]. It’s the easiest way to find the best places.

Of course, no trip to New Orleans is complete without a little perusal down Bourbon Street either. Just stay away from those Tropical Isles and Hand Grenade drinks, or you’ll end up riding a rodeo bull in a bar (like I did).

Don’t miss the French Quarter in New Orleans. If you don’t have long in the city, I’d recommend joining this City of New Orleans and Katrina Recovery Tour to learn about the distant and recent history of the area, and to see how it’s recovering.

And if you’re looking for a cool places to stay in New Orleans, on a budget, check out my guide to the best hostels New Orleans has to offer.

Check out my video on New Orleans for more info!

My Top 7 Food Experiences in New Orleans

Questions about the drive from New Orleans to Austin 

Need to book car hire from Austin? Check out RentalCars.com for the best Austin car hire deals!

1. Is it safe to drive to New Orleans? 

Driving on the main roads is fine but just keep your doors and windows locked when you stop in the city centre, especially around Bourbon Street. Unfortunately New Orleans is known as a crime hotspot and you don’t want to be another victim. I’d aim to drop your hire car as soon as you get to New Orleans if I was you, saves the hassle. You can easily get the streetcar to all the top places to see in New Orleans.

2. What to pack for the Austin to New Orleans drive? 

This isn’t exactly the longest road trip in the world so I don’t think you really need to pack anything special to drive from Austin to New Orleans. I’d def bring some snacks, but apart from that, just the usual. 

new orleans street car

3. What’s halfway between Austin and New Orleans?

“The halfway point between Austin, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana is: Vidor, TX. Find a place to meet halfway. These two locations are 514 miles apart and the exact midpoint is 190 North St, Vidor, TX 77662, USA. Some places you could meet at include Jingo Cajun Eatery, Rikenjaks South Street, and Schnitzel.”

Austin during daytime

4. Can I get the train from Austin to New Orleans?

You can get the train between Austin and New Orleans but it takes longer. You can expect to spend around 10 hours on the trains and FlixBus to make the journey. 

5. How long is the flight time from New Orleans to Austin?

On a non-stop flight, the time it would take between Austin and New Orleans is an hour and thirty minutes.

Austin scenery

6. What does the Austin to New Orleans road trip look like?

Take a road trip from Austin to New Orleans and you’ll pass sprawling countryside, with fields and bayous aplenty!

7. How many hours drive time from Austin to New Orleans?

A non-stop drive from Austin to New Orleans would take 8 hours, at most. But, save yourself from a long and boring drive by planning stops to visit on the trip using this Austin to New Orleans itinerary. You can check some of the hidden gems from the above.

Austin to New Orleans drive 

In Austin

– Me living it up in Austin at the SXSW Festival 

I loved Austin, I loved New Orleans, and I loved travelling in between the two. If you have any questions about making this Austin to New Orleans road trip, just let me know in the comments box below.

Always happy to help. 

The drive from Austin to New Orleans has a lot of great places to stop off – so enjoy!



  1. Hi, thanks a lot for all your tips! How long was the whole trip? We are planning on doing that in 7-8 days, do you think it is a lot or not enough?
    Thank you!

  2. Me and my partner are hoping to go the US in May 2022. We have family who live in Austin so we will be staying there for about 7 days. Then we plan to go to Nashville for 3 days coz we’re big country music fans, (recommend anywhere central and safe in Nashville). Then we fly to New York for 4 days and then fly home to Shannon.

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