As the weather improves and people begin venturing out more, it’s natural to feel a desire to indulge a bit of wanderlust with short (and safe) weekend road trips. Fortunately for those who live in Louisiana and Alabama, there are a variety of easily drivable options, from beach getaways to foodie favorites to areas of historical significance and more. Here, the editors of The Scout Guide New Orleans, The Scout Guide Baton Rouge, and The Scout Guide Mobile Bay share the must-see attractions in their areas in the ultimate regional road trip guide.
If you’re looking to decompress, Mobile Bay, Alabama, is an ideal place to slow down, surround yourself with family and friends, and enjoy the impressive water views. Whether you’re gathering on the wharf or enjoying sunset rides (complete with refreshments), with multiple beaches and waterways a short drive away, the opportunity to unwind is never far off. Looking for a place to stay? Jamie Conger and Katie McNeil, co-editors of The Scout Guide Mobile Bay, both recommend three options. For an opulent resort complete with multiple pools, an 18-hole golf course, and a luxe spa, book your stay at The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa (One Grand Boulevard, Point Clear). For more intimate alternatives, The Fairhope Inn and Restaurant (63 South Church Street, Fairhope), located in the heart of downtown Fairhope, and The Bay House & Bungalows (107 South Mobile Street, Fairhope), perched on the bluff overlooking Mobile Bay, are both excellent options.
As the birthplace of the original Mardi Gras celebration back in 1703, the Carnival Museum (355 Government Street, Mobile) is worth exploring for a few fun and educational hours. If you’re interested in an immersive history lesson, experience The USS Alabama “Mighty A”, a WWII battleship anchored at Battleship Memorial Park. For a real life treasure hunt, head a bit out of town to Charles Phillips Antiques and Architecturals (4505 Laurendine Road, Theodore). With eight warehouses loaded with antiques and treasures from all over the world, it’s well worth the trek. In town, Chapel Farm Collection (19130 Scenic Highway 98, Fairhope) is the perfect spot to pick up an eclectic mix of gifts, jewelry, art, and antiques. And if your wardrobe is needing a little love, pop into contemporary boutique The Holiday (4513 Old Shell Road, Mobile).
To take in some truly beautiful scenery before the end of the day, head to the Point Clear Boardwalk, with a starting point at the Grand Hotel. Stroll under beautiful moss-draped oak trees on the boardwalk, while admiring some of the oldest homes in Mobile Bay. Insider secret: It’s also a superb spot to watch the sunset. After exploring, dip into The Dew Drop Inn (1808 Old Shell Road, Mobile) for Southern staples done right. Enjoy great scenery and a laid back vibe at The Hope Farm (915 Nichols Avenue, Fairhope), a great place to gather for a glass of wine or share a farm-to-table plate. For a show-stopping meal, visit The Noble South (203 Dauphin Street, Mobile) to enjoy chef Chris Rainosek’s thoughtfully prepared, farm-to-table locally sourced dishes.
One of Louisiana’s oldest cities, Baton Rouge is filled with rich history and charming southern attractions. From breweries to historic sites and some of the best shopping and dining the south has to offer, the city has something for everyone at every age. For out-of-towners, The Scout Guide Baton Rouge editor Kaleigh Porcelli recommends two spots to stay: Watermark (150 Third Street), a historic building located in the heart of downtown with beautiful views of the mighty Mississippi River, and the St. Francisville Inn (5720 Commerce Street, St. Francisville) for a more quaint, southern experience. Insider tip: This spot attracts visitors from all over the country, so be sure to book your dinning and/or overnight reservations far in advance.
In terms of attractions, Houmas House & Gardens (40136 Highway 942, Darrow), located in Darrow, Louisiana, on the outskirts of Baton Rouge, is truly something to see and experience. Kaleigh recommends making a reservation for brunch and exploring the beautiful grounds afterward. To enjoy more flora and fauna in the city limits while taking in some live local music, check out Beauvoir Park (2834 Greenwood Drive). Pack a picnic and enjoy live music in this rustic outdoor park. Shows are typically Thursday to Sunday, but be sure to check the schedule ahead of time online. For a little retail therapy, some of Kaleigh’s favorite places can be found along Corporate Boulevard. For stylish women’s clothing and accessories, Aria never disappoints. For men’s clothing, Carriages carries everything from fine suits to sportswear. The Queen Bee is a petite paperie and gift shop that feels like a little slice of France. For the little ones, Mini Macarons has a large variety of novelty gifts, toys, and precious children’s clothing.
For your morning coffee or pre-dinner cocktail, visit Reve Coffee Lab, a drink destination that has you covered all day long. If you’re traveling with the younger set, Istrouma Brewing offers a family-friendly environment that’s unlike anything you’ll experience in south Louisiana. When traveling sans kids, visit Mid City Beer Garden. To enjoy the best outdoor patio in the city, speciality cocktails and amazing food, visit BLDG5. For a delicious Italian meal, Kaleigh’s favorite spot is family-owned and family-friendly DiGiulio Brothers. Finish off our visit with a sweet treat from Gourmet Girls.
Complete your tour of southern gems in the Big Easy, where Taylor Morgan, editor of The Scout Guide New Orleans, reports that the famous culture and creativity of the city is alive and well, even in the midst of a pandemic. There are plentiful outdoor dining options, as well as art, architecture, culture, history, and space to comfortably and safely move around. While there are a variety of places to rest your head, locals are flocking to newly opened The Chloe, where you can watch the streetcar rumble by with a cocktail on the front lawn or take a dip in the pool. The historic mansion-turned-hotel boasts 14 rooms, a restaurant, bar, pool, and patio, and was created by local lifestyle group LeBlanc + Smith with interior designer Sara Ruffin Costello. Another solid option is The Windsor Court, perfect for those seeking the ultimate in pampering. Depending on the type of vacation you’re looking for, sometimes a visit to New Orleans is complete without even leaving this hotel. To make your way around town, Taylor recommends hiring a KreweCar to take you to and from the airport and then anywhere you want to go in the city.
With a focus on outdoor living, Taylor suggests picking up crawfish from Bevi’s and heading to City Park for a picnic complete with beignets from Cafe du Monde’s second location. After you’ve indulged, stroll through the newly expanded Sculpture Garden or take in the flora and fauna in the Botanical Gardens. Get to know the history and wonderful insider stories in the French Quarter when you hire Know NOLA Tours for a walking tour. For an environmental twist, book a Mississippi River Eco Tour through Delta Tours. Take in the city’s architecture, and perhaps find a porch concert, with a bike ride tour through Flambeaux Tours.
If you’re in need of a little retail therapy, you’re in luck. Shopping options are endless in NOLA. Taylor recommends heading straight to Magazine Street where you can shop six miles of local businesses. Gallery highlights include Cole Pratt and Kevin Gillentine. For an eye towards sustainable living and gift giving, Sotre is Taylor’s favorite destination for finds at every price point. Discover stunning pieces to add to your wardrobe at SOSUSU. Exceptionally talented local interior designers Tara Shaw, Melissa Rufty, and Shaun Smith are all preparing to open their newly renovated spaces this spring, so be sure to check Instagram for more information on scheduled openings. And for the kids, Pippen Lane and Peony are treasure troves of delights.
Eating and drinking your way through NOLA is time well spent, and Taylor recommends starting your day (or indulging in an afternoon pick-me-up) at CR Coffee Shop (three locations) or Backatown Coffee Parlour. If your significant other isn’t into shopping, send them to Cavan’s patio to sip and people watch. For a cocktail, aforementioned The Chloe, Columns, Bouligny Tavern, or Barrel Proof are Taylor’s go-tos. For raw oysters and beer, her favorites are Pascal Manale’s and Cooter Browns. For classic cuisine, excellent service, and a great location with real local flavor, visit La Petite Grocery. If you’re in search of something a bit funkier, head to its sister restaurant Justine, a French Quarter brasserie with high-end design, Instagrammable cocktails, and a playlist you’ll want to add to your own repertoire. For classic New Orleans brunch, Arnaud’s and Brennan’s continue to keep the tradition alive. For a more casual brunch, Taylor loves Sylvain and Bearcat.
For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Mobile Bay, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, follow The Scout Guide Mobile Bay on Instagram here, follow The Scout Guide Baton Rouge on Instagram here, and follow The Scout Guide New Orleans on Instagram here.