New Orleans has so much to offer, you could never leave and still find something to do every single day of the week. But sometimes, you need a change of pace without spending very much.
Sure, we’d love to hop on a flight to some exotic island, but with our wallets in mind, we’ve created a list of “staycations” – places outside the city that feel like a whole new world but are just a short drive away. Whether you head to the shores of Dauphin Island or the stately guest rooms of Nottoway Plantation, bookmark this list for a weekend getaway or a quick day trip… you deserve it!
Road Trips from New Orleans
Celebrate a Noted Ceramicist
Take the hour-and-a-half drive to Biloxi and visit the Ohr-O’Keefe museum, a non-profit museum that highlights the work of ceramicist George E. Ohr. While the O’Keefe component may conjure up images of desert flowers, it isn’t named for Georgia O’Keefe: instead, the O’Keefe portion of the museum’s name comes from Annette O’Keefe, the late wife of the former Biloxi mayor whose donation dollars were instrumental in bringing the museum to life.
Photo courtesy Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art on Facebook
Famed architect Frank Gehry designed the museum, which is a work of art in and of itself. Comprised of five separate buildings, the museum includes dedicated spaces for special exhibitions, African American art, and ceramics.
Where to Stay: If you decide to extend your stay beyond a day trip, there are a variety of hotels within the area. Many even give you the option to test your luck at an included casino!
What Else to Do in Biloxi: Go on a fishing charter, visit the outlet malls in nearby Gulfport, or simply hit the beaches. With that in mind…
Stay at a Gulf Coast Beach
The Gulf Coast is full of gorgeous beaches perfect for a getaway from New Orleans. Our recommendations? Bay St. Louis for its charming downtown, Dauphin Island near Mobile for a more rustic and nature-immersed feel, and Grand Isle to stay in state and experience a beautiful state park. All of these beaches are fewer than three hours away (Bay St. Louis is only an hour drive), but if you’re willing to drive even farther, we have two additional recommendations:
Destin, FL: The four-hour drive is worth every minute for sparkling blue waters and a charming town.
Photo courtesy The Pearl RB on Facebook
Rosemary Beach, FL: Just a bit farther from Destin, you’ll find Rosemary Beach, which has the same charming feel and beautiful waters. If you can spring for the Pearl Hotel, we say go for it – their high-style décor, incredible pool, and proximity to both downtown and the beach makes for a memorable vacation.
Holly Beach, LA: This coastal community in Cameron Parish is about a four-hour drive from New Orleans. You won’t get the same crystal-clear waters as Florida beaches, but the abundance of shells and serene, peaceful feel will keep you intrigued and in awe.
Experience the Past at Plantations
Plantations pepper the region just outside of New Orleans, serving as architectural reminders of the Antebellum South. While there are several to choose from, like Houma House, Oak Alley, and Destrehan Plantation, our top picks are as follows:
Laura Plantation: This plantation about an hour outside New Orleans is a little different than the vast and sprawling plantations elsewhere in the state. Because it was a Creole plantation where mixed cultures lived and work, Laura Plantation has a completely different architecture. You can also connect to the past more closely and realistically at Laura, where examples of slave homes and banana tree farms abound. If you crave the classic plantation style, Oak Alley Plantation is right next door.
Photo courtesy Nottoway Plantation on Facebook
Nottoway Plantation: Nottoway isn’t just a plantation – it’s a resort. Drive about an hour and a half outside New Orleans, and you’ll have access to beautiful architecture and elegant furnishings, plus vacation-worthy amenities like tennis courts, a spa, an on-site restaurant, and live entertainment. Stay in the main mansion or choose from guest houses and cottages, some of which even have a private pool.
Visit a Museum that Honors Two Louisiana Pastimes
At first glance, aviation and lumber seem like an odd combination to appear in the same museum. But the Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum in Patterson is actually a fitting combination. The dual focus is a nod to two components of Louisiana history: Jimmie Wedell and Harry P. Williams formed an air service together in Patterson during the golden age of aviation in the 1920s, and Patterson – about an hour and a half drive from New Orleans – was once home to the largest cypress sawmill in the world.
Top 5 Road Trip Tips
Even a short road trip benefits from a little bit of planning and a little bit of packing. Here are 5 tips to help make your next road trip even better:
1. Plan for high-traffic areas. Are you planning on leaving New Orleans at 5 p.m. on a Friday? Probably not a great idea if you can help it. Instead, try avoiding peak rush hour times if possible, and always remember to plan ahead for the next town — for example, even if you leave New Orleans a little early at 3, you’ll be hitting Biloxi just as traffic starts to peak.
2. Consider joining AAA or another roadside assistance group. Louisiana roads have a real knack for banging up cars, from rock chips to flat tires. Joining a roadside assistance group like AAA ensures you’ll get free help and free towing in the event of anything that brings your car to a halt. These programs are typically pretty affordable — usually about $100 annually — and also include great member discounts on hotels.
3. Have cash and change handy. Don’t forget about toll money! Carry small bills and plenty of quarters in your car so that you can easily pay tolls on the way to your destination and on the way back. Spare change is also helpful in case you can’t get cell phone service: believe it or not, pay phones still exist — but you’ll need coins to get them to work.
4. Have your documents in order. License? Check. Registration? Check. Proof of insurance? Check. If you’ve decided to rent a car, make sure to keep any documents and receipts with you in the front glove compartment.
5. Bring a spare key. This simple little hack can help you avoid a major headache.
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads…” Sure, this is a famous line from the beloved classic, Back to the Future, but it’s also true of our latest Movies in the Sky presentation. You won’t need roads (except for the ones you take to get to the Bella Ridge third floor parking garage), but you will want to bring a blanket and chair to get extra comfy. Get all the details below!
Movies in the Sky: “Back to the Future” Outdoor Screening at Bella Ridge
This free outdoor movie event has not one but two purposes: first and foremost, have fun. Second, raise money for the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, a group that supports artistic endeavors in River Ridge and throughout Jefferson Parish. Head to the third-floor parking garage at Bella Ridge Apartments with your pals plus a blanket and chair, if desired. No need to bring popcorn, though: you can purchase it along with other concessions like Domino’s Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery Ice Cream, candy, and soft drinks. All of these items will be available for cash purchase during the event with proceeds benefitting JPAS. Remember, the movie is still free, but this is a great opportunity to support a local nonprofit (and enjoy tasty food at the same time).
For more information about the event, call 1-THINK-BELLA (1-844-652-3552). Great Scott, we hope to see you there!
Spicy salsa, cool sour cream, and a variety of textures and flavors all join up for perhaps the most perfect food in existence: the taco. Whether it’s Taco Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo, or just a regular Saturday night, here are cinco places in Metairie, Kenner, and River Ridge to get your taco on.
Mexican cuisine at Carreta’s Grill. (Photo via Carreta’s Grill on Facebook)
Places for Tacos in Metairie, Kenner, and River Ridge
With locations in Metairie and Harahan, Carreta’s serves up its own take on traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. The guacamole dip is creamy and cool, while the chipotle shrimp are a smoky mix of grilled shrimp and chipotle sauce. Try the Baja-style tacos with fried Mahi Mahi — they’re topped with cabbage for extra crunch. With lunch specials served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., this is an ideal place for a midday indulgence.
Hanging piñatas create a fiesta-like atmosphere at this Metairie spot on Severn Avenue (they also have Harahan and New Orleans locations). The tacos are delicioso, but save room for dessert: the flauta dulce is a mix of flavors and textures made from a deep-fried tortilla filled with cheesecake and bananas and served with a strawberry dipping sauce.
Tacos El Gordo
On Williams Boulevard in Kenner, this restaurant features a drive-through so you can enjoy your food at home! Make sure to order the guacamole — it’s incredibly fresh and authentic, topped with delectable crumbles of cotija cheese. The house-made sauces and horchata drinks are other standouts, but you really can’t go wrong anywhere on the menu.
The barbacoa tacos with diced onions are like a trip to the Yucatan; you can also venture off the beaten path with meat choices like tongue! This place is a hidden gem just off the I-10 service road, so keep your eyes peeled. And if you drive past it the first time? No worries: it’s open 24 hours. Bonus: they also serve pupusas.
Izzo’s Illegal Burrito
So, it’s a regional chain… but Izzo’s still hits the spot. Easily located on Veteran’s Boulevard, Izzo’s serves up reliably good tacos made to order just the way you like them: choose your tortilla, meat, and toppings as you go.
We have some exciting news to share! J Turner Research conducted an assessment of the 5 best properties for positive online reputation in each state in the nation — and guess who received 4 out of 5 of the top apartments in Louisiana?
Natchez Landing was named the top property for online reputation in the entire state of Louisiana. Brewster Commons, Bella Ridge, and Pelican Bay were close behind.
That’s right, 1st Lake Properties received the humbling distinction of having 4 of the top 5 properties in Louisiana known for their strong reputation. Featured on the Multifamily Executive website, this list goes into great detail about the factors needed to be among the top management companies. Using ORA (Online Reputation Assessment) Power Rankings, researchers assigned a score from 1-100 for all properties in the nation, cross-checking against multiple review sites to create an industry benchmark for a property’s overall good standings.
As a whole, property management companies and individual apartment communities in Louisiana received an average score of 58. However, our 1st Lake Properties featured in this list went well above and beyond the statewide benchmark. Here’s how our top properties stacked up:
1st Lake Properties Top Louisiana List of Best Apartment Reputations
- Natchez Landing in Metairie received a whopping ORA score of 92, earning the top spot for all properties in Louisiana
- Brewster Commons at River Chase in Covington received an ORA score of 90
- Bella Ridge in River Ridge received an ORA score of 88
- Pelican Bay in Kenner received an ORA score of 87
Four the the top five properties in Louisiana are part of the 1st Lake family!
There’s never a bad reason to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, but with Earth Day (April 22) in mind, we’re counting up our favorite outdoor spaces in Metairie and River Ridge. Pack your picnic gear or maybe just a football to toss around — here’s your chance to soak up the sun!
Shady trees, a paved walkway, and water features are all part of Lafreniere Park in Metairie. (Photo courtesy ExperienceJefferson.com)
Top 5: Places for Outside Activities in Metairie and River Ridge
Lafreniere Park — We profiled this sprawling park not long ago, taking note of its picnic areas, landscaped greens, hills, running trails, and so much more. This is one of the best spaces in the heart of the city to enjoy peaceful greenery all around, whether you opt for a jog along the running trail or a birding excursion on the park’s Marsh Island. 3000 Downs Blvd., Metairie
Longue Vue House and Gardens. (Photo via NewOrleansOnline.com)
Longue Vue House & Gardens — Though it technically falls under a New Orleans address, Longue Vue House & Gardens is located just off Metairie Road. The landscaped gardens feature fragrant blooms like Confederate jasmine and Mexican primrose, all first landscaped by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a prominent female landscape architect, in the 1930s. The gardens, inspired by the Alhambra in Spain, also feature large fountains and walkways, all anchored by a historic mansion built in the classic Revival architecture style. Tickets are $12 for adults and include access to both the mansion and grounds. 7 Bamboo Rd., New Orleans
The pool at Bella Ridge, complete with in-water tanning ledges!
Bella Ridge Pool — OK, we’re a little biased here. But we spent so much time planning and perfecting the pool at Bella Ridge that we truly believe it’s an outdoor space worth adding to your list. Contact us today about how you can become a Bella Ridge resident and enjoy the pool all through the season! It features thoughtful details like tanning ledges and lush landscaping that transport you to luxury resorts, all right outside your door. 1101 Dickory Dr., River Ridge
Cleary Playground — Tucked away in a quiet part of Metairie, this small, clean playground features open fields and playtime equipment ideal for kids (or kids at heart). Picnic tables and shaded areas are perfect for adults — pack a snack and get going! 3700 Civic St., Metairie
KOA Campgrounds — If you’re really ready to immerse yourself in nature, you can visit the KOA Campground in River Ridge. It’s the official campground for New Orleans West and features campsites for both RVs and tent camping. No pets are allowed, so be sure to find a petsitter for your pup (and send them to these dog parks while you’re gone!). 11129 Jefferson Hwy., River Ridge