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?
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.
– 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.
2. San Antonio
5. Lake Charles
6. Houmas House and Gardens
7. Oak Alley Plantation
8. New Orleans
Follow me on Instagram @VickyFlipFlop to keep up with the adventures
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.
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).
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
Best Hostels in Austin
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.
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.
Also, it’s so close to Austin, you might as well.
Austin to San Antonio road trip | 2 hours 58 mins
3. Space out in 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 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 Science Museum – it’ll be a packed two days but worth making the stop.
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
If there’s one thing you have to try in Lake Charles, it’s a crawfish boil.
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.
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 it 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.
– 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?
6. Explore Houmas House Plantation and Gardens
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.
Houmas Plantation to Oak Alley Plantation road trip | 32 mins
7. Learn about the Oak Alley Plantation
Drive from Austin to New Orleans and I’d definitely recommend making a stop at Oak Alley Plantation.
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.
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
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.
Also, make sure you leave room in your suitcase to pick up some of the best New Orleans souvenirs too.
Frenchman Street is where you’ll find the best jazz in the evenings, but of course, no trip to New Orleans is complete without a little perusal down Bourbon Street. 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).
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!
Questions about the drive from New Orleans to Austin
Need to book your car hire from Austin? Check out RentalCars.com for the best Austin car hire deals!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Austin to New Orleans drive
– 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!
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