If you have an adventuresome streak you will find that there are many things to do just beyond New Orleans. If you take Interstate I-10 East you will come to the town of Slidell. In Slidell you will find the Bayou Country Store, Skydiving, and this is where the New Orleans canoe adventure meets. Slidell also has many fast food restaurants, sit down restaurant and shopping. Madisonville offers sailing on Lake Pontchartrain. If you continue East another ten miles past Slidell you will come to the Mississippi Visitor Welcome Center where you will find the Stennis Space Center tour. Continue to Gulfport and you will find the Ship Island boating excursion. If you take the causeway North across Lake Pontchartrain to Covington you will find the Insta-Gator Alligator Ranch, Global Wildlife Center and Sunflower Horseback riding farther to the North. Taking Interstate I-10 west you will find plantation county, Cabela’s Outfitters, Tanger Outlets Mall, and the Tiki Zip Line.
Estimated distances below are from the French Quarter
Discover the go kart racing driver inside yourself at the NOLA Motorsports Park go kart rentals! This is the only place that rents go karts in the New Orleans area but it is the only place you need to go. Stop by the NOLA Motorsports Park Go Kart track and experience the thrill of racing just inches off the ground on the largest karting track in the U.S. These are not your average Disney World go karts and this is not a Wild Woody go kart track. The NOLA go kart track is 2.2 miles of pure go kart racing fun with 11 hair raising turns and their adult go karts reach speed up to 50 mph! They rent both junior go karts with 5.5 hp engines that reach top speeds between 25-30 miles per hour and senior go karts with 9 hp engines that reach top speeds between 45-50 miles per hour. The go kart track is located just 15 miles from the French Quarter at 11075 Nicolle Boulevard in Avondale and their phone# is (504) 302-4875
Bayou Country General Store * Slidell La * 30 miles
If you are traveling to New Orleans on I-10 from the East then your journey will take you through the town of Slidell which is about 30 miles from the French Quarter. As you pass through Slidell I recommend that you stop at the Bayou Country General Store, which is just off the highway. Here you will find everything from Alligators to Zydeco which of course includes pralines, coffee, desserts, mugs, jellies, sauces, Cajun foods, mixes, Cajun spices, Tabasco Hot Sauces, aprons, linens, cookbooks, dinner wares, swamp stuff, lotions, soaps, and plenty of other stuff. You will find the Bayou Country Store at 1101 East Howze Beach Rd, Slidell.
Go on a guided canoe trip into the Swamps * Slidell La * 40 miles
Explore the New Orleans wetlands in a low impact and eco friendly way. Several times a month Canoe & Trail Adventures offers day canoe trips into the New Orleans swamps and once a month they offer a moonlight canoe trip into the swamps. It is an awesome experience to canoe into the wetlands in the daylight and even more so under a full Louisiana moon. What sounds do you hear? What can you see? What is it like to paddle through open ponds and marshes or a maze of bayous, sloughs, small slender lakes and rivers, with the moon overhead and surrounded by a symphony of night sounds? Canoe and Trail Adventures is a New Orleans canoe rental business that specializes in offering outdoor adventure trips and they have been doing just that since the 1970’s. Their guided canoe trips are into the Manchac Wetlands and the Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge. Detailed driving directions will be emailed once payment is received. All locations are within 30 to 40 miles of downtown New Orleans and you must provide your own transportation.
Skydiving in New Orleans * Slidell Airport * 40 miles
If you are interested in Skydiving while visiting New Orleans then check out Skydive N'awlins. Skydive N’awlins offers the following New Orleans Skydiving adventures. A Tandem skydive, a Tandem progression to an Instructor Assisted Freefall skydive, and an Assisted Free Fall skydive. Skydive N’awlins is located at the Slidell Municipal Airport. The knowledgeable staff of Skydive N'awlins is dedicated to bring to the community of Slidell and New Orleans the best skydiving experience possible. For more information on parachuting in New Orleans you can call Skydive N’awlin’s at 1-888-759-3487.
Lake Pontchartrain Sailing * Madisonville La. * 40 miles
You will board the S/V SPIRIT OF HOLIDAY in the beautiful historic town of Madisonville, located on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Once we cast off our lines, you are welcome to take an active part in the skippering of the vessel or just sit back and relax. Allow Captain Steve and his Mate Terry to take care of all of your needs, while sharing with you the incredible history of Lake Ponchartrain and the Northshore. Your cruise will be limited to your party, so you determine the day's itinerary; choosing from a romantic cruise up the tranquil waters of the Tchefuncte River to the more adventurous sailing on Lake Ponchartrain, or a combination of both. We encourage our guests to make a full day of it and enjoy the rich history Madisonville has to offer; from the eight homes listed on the national historic register to the Lake Ponchartrain Basin Maritime Museum. Morning, afternoon and sunset cruises available. Madisonville is about 40 miles north of the French Quarter. For more information on sailing Lake Pontchartrain call 985-237-2540.
Middendorf's Famous Thin Fried Catfish * Manchac La. * 40 miles
A 40 minute drive northwest of New Orleans Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant has been a local favorite for over 75 years. People go to Middendorf’s from all over the place because it is where the world’s best fried catfish is served up right on the bayou. The paper thin fried catfish, breaded with cornmeal and fried to perfection, is piled up on the plate accompanied with fries, tasty coleslaw and delicious hush puppies. Middendorf’s also serves a variety of Louisiana seafood and boiled crawfish and crabs when in season. Middendorf’s offers inside dinning as well as dinning on their deck overlooking Bayou Manchac, the deck is complete with boat parking. Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant is located off I-55, Exit 15 in Manchac. Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10:30AM – 9:00PM. For more information on Middendorf's call (985) 386-6666.
Stennis Space Center * Mississippi I-10 Welcome Center * 50 miles
Test a space shuttle main engine! Land the space shuttle! Go aboard the International Space Station! Do all this and more at StenniSphere, Stennis Space Center’s award winning visitor’s center. Tours of StenniSphere depart from the Launch Pad at the Mississippi Welcome Center on 1-10 at Exit 2 – just 45 miles east of New Orleans. At the welcome center there are picnic areas available and you can walk beneath an Apollo-ea Lunar Lander, view exhibits, and videos before boarding a shuttle bus at the Launch Pad to StenniSphere. StenniSphere outdoor exhibits give visitors the opportunity to see real rocket engines used in America’s space program. Get close up to a J2 engine used on the Saturn V rocket. Touch a real F1 engine, designed as a booster engine for the Saturn V vehicle for the Apollo program. After your tour you can take home a souvenir from StenniSphere’s Space Odyssey gift shop and reful in the RocKeTeria, a retro, space-themed restaurant featuring local cuisine such as po-boys and gumbo. Visitors 18 and older must have a valid photo ID in their possession. International visitors must provide a valid passport. For more information about the space center, call 800-237-1821 or 228-688-2370.
Visit an Alligator Ranch * Covington La. * 50 miles
While in New Orleans visit an Alligator Ranch. Insta-Gator Alligator Ranch & Hatchery and see thousands of alligators of various ages and sizes. See them in crystal clear water in the climate controlled environment of a working alligator farm, home to more than 2,000 gators. From protected walkways, you'll be able to see gators above and below the surface of the water; hatchlings of less than one foot to alligators that grow to over four feet in one year, as well as the older fellas. Your guided tour will give you a first-hand account of the Louisiana Alligator Industry, from hatchling to handbag. See the ultra light airplane and air boat used to harvest the eggs from the Louisiana swamp, while action film footage takes you into the wild. You'll see how the rancher locates the eggs in the marshes and cautiously removes the eggs from the nest. Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery is located at 23440 Lowe Davis Road, Covington, about 50 miles from the French Quarter. Open All Year 'Round ~ Rain or Shine Toll Free (888) 448-1560
Horseback Riding * Folsom La. * 60 miles
If you would like to spend a day horseback riding while visiting New Orleans then check out Sunflower Farm and Ranch in Folsom, La. The ranch is located about 60 miles from the French Quarter and offers some of the best horseback riding in the Southeast. So go have a day of horseback riding fun with family and friends. Explore the wooded trails, swim with your horse, canter across the pastures and then stop for a picnic, relax and ride some more. 1st timers and children are welcome! Sunflower’s friendly trail staff is available to answer all questions and assist riders whenever help is needed. Everything is included to make your horseback riding experience one of the best memories to bring home from New Orleans. Just bring your own food and drinks for your picnic. For more information on horseback riding at Sunflower Ranch call (985) 773-0425. Sunflower riding stables is located at 84080 Pierre Cemetery Road, Folsom
Cabela's Outfitter * Gonzales La. * 60 miles
If you are into hunting, fishing, or camping then a visit to Cabela’s Outfitter is a must. Cabela’s is more than just a retail store; it is an adventure you’ll always remember. As soon as you step inside, you’ll experience Cabela’s unique blend of shopping and the outdoors. From life-size wildlife dioramas to huge aquariums swimming with freshwater fish, every Cabela’s store is designed to entertain and educate you about the Great Outdoors. Cabela’s is located about 60 miles west of the French Quarter right off of I-10 at 2200 W. Cabela's Parkway Gonzales, La at 2200 W. Cabela's Parkway Gonzales, La. Cabela’s is located across the street from the Tanger Outlets Mall.
Tanger Outlets Mall * Gonzales La. * 60 miles
Welcome to Guilt-Free Shopping Tanger Style! Discover your style of shopping the nation's leading designer and brand name stores with the widest selection of today's favorite fashion trends, all in a fun, family-friendly environment. You'll love their Best Price Guarantee on everything they offer. The Tanger Outlets Mall is located about 60 miles west of the French Quarter right off of I-10 at 2410 South Tanger Boulevard Gonzales, La. The Tanger Outlets Mall is located across the street from Cabela's.
Visit Global Wildlife Center * Folsom La. * 65 miles
Enjoy a one and a half hour guided Safari Wagon tour over 900 acres of beautiful Louisiana countryside complete with 12 ponds and a lake. During the tour you’ll come face to face with bison, giraffe, zebra, camels, kangaroos, and much more! The animals roam free – It’s Africa, in Louisiana! Global Wildlife Center seeks to be a center of excellence in education; to create a perfect place in which threatened and endangered wildlife, from around the world, live and flourish in a free-roaming natural environment. Get ready for a wild adventure at the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the country! The Global Wildlife Center is about 65 miles north of the French Quarter and is home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from all over the world. Global Wildlife Center is open 7 days a week, and offers tours daily. Call for tour schedule. (985) 796-3585 Global Wildlife is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is located at 26389 Hwy 40, Folsom, LA 70437
Spend a day on Ship Island * Gulfport Mississippi * 75 miles
Add an adventuresome twist to your New Orleans vacation by taking a Ship Island excursion. Travel to this special place where the main attractions are unfrequented beaches, beautiful water and clean gulf air. Locals and visitors consistently rate the 22-mile round trip to Ship Islands as the coast’s premier waterborne experience. Relaxation, recreation and history (this island also features Fort Massachusetts) – these are offered to you on Ship Island. Ship Island is an undeveloped barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico about 11 miles off the Mississippi Coast. It is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and protected by the U.S. Park Service, this sand island offer visitors the first high quality beaches for swimming and shelling east of New Orleans. Ship Island excursions depart from the Gulfport Harbor; the cruise takes about an hour one-way. Passengers have the option of the most popular half day island visit (4.5 hours), or the all day "sun-seeker" visit (7 hours). Gulfport harbor is about 75 miles east of the French Quarter, about an hour and a half drive.
Ride the Line at Tiki ZIPLINE * Denham Springs La. * 89 miles
While in New Orleans go Zip Linning! Tiki ZipLine is a unique and adrenaline-filled adventure that supplies you with a mile of freewheeling zip line activity. Riders travel along the wire via a specially-designed harness that is safe and secure as it glides along the zipline. They have erected 11 stations with 10 connecting zip line cables. You’ll zip from stately one hundred year old live oaks through magnolia trees and over a young cypress swamp as you travel along the zip lines. One zip line is a monster 1,600 feet long. As far as we know this is the only canopy tour adventure that allows you to return within 50 yards of where you check in. This makes it as simple as a trip to the local park. But, be forewarned zip lining is not like riding the merry-go-round in the park. Tiki ZipLine is located at 33203 Hwy 1019 Denham Springs, La and their phone# is (225)-938-2288.
Crabbing around New Orleans
Crabbing:Nothing beats a Louisiana crab boil and the New Orleans area offers an abundance of places for recreational crabbing that you can get to with or without a boat. We go crabbing year round usually when the urge for a crab boil hits but we find that the crabs run better in the summer and a moving tide is a must. When we go crabbing we just pack up the truck with about a dozen drop nets, turkey necks for bait, a sharp sturdy knife for cutting the bait, a hamper to put the crabs in and plenty of snacks and drinks. We go to Lafitte, Chalmette, Delacroix Isle, Port Sulphur just to name a few places. When we find what looks like the right spot we bait up our nets and start crabbing. The limit you can catch is 12 dozen a person and on many trips we have come home with 8 – 14 dozen crabs. Next time you visit New Orleans be sure to order yourself some boiled crabs.
Crawfishing Louisiana style
Crawfishing: although its not as popular as in years past it is still enjoyed by many locals. It usually starts in early February. We get our nets and bait and head out to our favorite ditch or swamp. For bait we use melt it's from the lining of a cow's stomach...very bloody, spongy, rubbery, stinky stuff. The blood and stench attract crawfish like moths to a flame. Each time you pick a net up, you empty all those crawfish out into the bushel basket, you step on the melt in the center of the net so it oozes blood, you muddy the water with a stick, and you set the net back down in the cloudy spot. When done you head home for a delicious crawfish boil.
Honey Island Swamp
The Honey Island Swamp is a vast marshland located only about fifty miles north of New Orleans. It is considered by many to be the most pristine swampland habitat in the United States. Nearly 70,000 acres of the Honey Island Swamp is permanently protected as the Pearl River Wildlife Management area and the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge. I have explored, canoed, hunted, and fished both of these areas for the past thirty years and still never tire of the adventure that they offer. The Honey Island Swamp is also home of the legendary Honey Island Swamp monster. Those who have seen him say it is about 7 feet tall and weighs about 350 pounds, with long brown hair. There are many New Orleans swamp tours available to explore the swamps and I would recommend that while you are vacationing in New Orleans you check one out. The swamp tours provide both the Swamp Tour and the transportation to and from the city. While you are on the swamp tour boat you will see abundant wildlife, alligators and maybe my son Blake. Visit my Swamp Tour page for infomation on the many New Orleans swamp tours available.