Depart London for your same day flight to New Orleans, the gateway to Louisiana. Pick up your Alamo car rental and drive on into the ‘Big Easy’. Discover a city that’s larger than life, where you can find a unique mix of 19th century French and Spanish colonial architecture, mysterious history, a lively jazz scene, distinctive culinary delights and an outrageous nightlife, all of which make New Orleans a one-of-a-kind gem. Stay 3 nights at the Wyndham New Orleans - French Quarter (or similar).
From the quiet and elegant antebellum mansions of the Garden District to the lively sounds and beats of the French Quarter, there’s a different side of New Orleans hiding around every corner. Take a stroll down Bourbon Street, with its lively atmosphere; visit a jazz bar or two along Frenchmen Street; enjoy delicious gumbo and other Creole dishes at the French Market; catch a parade or take part in the annual Mardi Gras festival, then enjoy an evening out on the Riverfront area for wonderful sunsets over the Mississippi River. Your stay in New Orleans will leave you mesmerised, so it’s no wonder visitors return time and time again.
Day 4: New Orleans – Barataria Preserve – Lafayette (approx. 182 miles)
Today, head out to the hardwood forests, swamps and marsh of the Barataria Preserve Cajun wetlands, which are perfect for a spot of alligator watching. Hire a kayak or take a boat tour to watch these large reptiles in their element. Stop by Restaurant des Familles for lunch and try the house speciality – soft shell crab before driving on to Lafayette, in the heart of the Cajun Country. Stay 2 nights at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Lafayette (or similar).
Day 5: Lafayette
You have a whole day to explore the ‘Capital of French Louisiana’. Visit the fascinating living museums of Acadian Village and Vermilionville, where you can learn about Cajun life from the 19th century and discover how the locals lived in this stunning region 250 years ago. Sample the delights of traditional Cajun dishes, and in the evening, the town will come alive with the sounds of Cajun and zydeco music filling the air, so check out the local haunts and soak up the honky-tonk tunes at the Blue Moon Saloon.
Day 6: Lafayette – Lake Charles (approx. 72 miles)
Drive westward to Lake Charles, set in ‘Louisiana’s Outback’. This quaint city is rich in history and scenery, where you can enjoy a thriving arts community, miles of hidden scenic byways and even riverboat gaming. Stay 2 nights at the Wingate by Wyndham Lake Charles Casino Area (or similar).
Day 7: Lake Charles
Today, make sure you take the time to drive along the Creole Nature Trail for up-close and breathtaking views of the wetlands and beaches, where you can search for seashells, go alligator spotting and discover some of Louisiana’s captivating natural scenery. In town, you can visit charming art galleries and a diverse range of museums that boast the largest collection of Mardi Gras costumes; take a boat tour out on the lake, enjoy a spot of golf on award-winning courses, or try your luck at the three impressive gaming casinos.
Day 8: Lake Charles – Alexandria – Natchitoches (approx. 157 miles)
Drive north via Alexandria toward Natchitoches, with a stop at Alexandria’s historic Loyd Hall Plantation or the Arna Bontemps African-American Museum along the way, showcasing a fascinating part of Louisiana’s history. Arrive into Natchitoches, your location for the next couple of nights. Stay 2 nights at the Best Western Inn Natchitoches (or similar).
Day 9: Natchitoches
Founded in 1714, Natchitoches is the oldest settlement in the state of Louisiana. This beautiful town is full of boutique shops, old Creole townhouses and great restaurants like Lasyone’s where specials include crawfish and meat pie. Be sure to book a guided tour to discover where many a popular film was set, including ‘Steel Magnolias’, take a tour of the Cane River National Heritage Area plantations, and squeeze in time to visit the new Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Day 10: Natchitoches – Shreveport-Bossier City (approx. 65 miles)
Continue to the ‘Other Side’ of Louisiana, located in the northwest corner of the state. Shreveport-Bossier is known for its Southern charm, great shopping and a vibrant collection of riverboat gaming venues, all in a beautiful riverside setting. Stay 2 nights at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Shreveport or similar).
Day 11: Shreveport-Bossier City
Known as the Hollywood of the South, Shreveport has a rich musical and film heritage. Follow the local Film History Trail and visit the Academy Award-winning Moonbot Studios. Spring and summer is a great time to visit when the Mudbug Madness Festival and Let the Good Times Roll Festival bring the town to life. You can even zip-line over alligator-infested waters. Then there are the six world-class riverboat casinos situated along the Red River which light up the sky in the evening.
Day 12: Shreveport – Monroe/West Monroe (approx. 99 miles)
Follow I-20 east to the towns of Monroe and West Monroe, which can proudly lay claim to being the launch grounds of two great American companies. Delta Airlines began here back in 1926 and local business man Joseph A Biedenharn is credited with bottling the first Coca Cola in 1894. Make sure to pay a visit to the dedicated museums that showcase where these great companies started. Stay 1 night at the Days Inn Monroe (or similar).
Day 13: Monroe/West Monroe – Natchez – Baton Rouge (approx. 187 miles)
Drive south via the old-world town of Natchez, located on the east side of the Mississippi River from Louisiana, where you can still find the opulent antebellum mansions of yesteryear. Enjoy a spot of lunch here before you journey back into Louisiana towards Baton Rouge, the capital city of this fine state. Find an abundance of attractions, from a lively music scene, fabulous dining and tax-free shopping with immediate cash back! Stay 1 night at the Hotel Indigo Baton Rouge Downtown (or similar).
Day 14: Baton Rouge – Donaldsonville – New Orleans (approx. 120 miles)
The best is saved for last, as you take your journey down to New Orleans, via Donaldsonville and the Great River Road, taking you past a stunning collection of historic antebellum homes, each depicting their unique story within the history of plantation culture. Visits to either, Houmas House, Nottoway, Oak Alley, or Laura plantations are all worthwhile. Then, it’s on to the Crescent City, for your final evening. Immerse in the frenetic energy and jazz vibe that only New Orleans delivers and savour the tastes of a po’boy sandwiches. Stay 1 night at the Wyndham New Orleans - French Quarter (or similar).
Day 15: New Orleans – London
Why not extend your tour with a steamboat trip on the Mississippi River departing from New Orleans? Or simply return your car rental to the airport before boarding your overnight flight back to London.