Panoramic view of Lake Clara Meer, with Piedmont Park Aquatic Center illuminated at dusk and Midtown Atlanta skyline in the background
Vadim Fedotov/

Road trip from New Orleans to Atlanta

Published by Dianne Titos on November 27 2023

If you are looking for an unforgettable drive that encompasses the best of American South's charm, culture and soulful music, then look no further than this road trip from New Orleans to Atlanta, where Southern hospitality meets a colorful urban attitude.

The 510-mile road trip from New Orleans to Atlanta will take 8 hours to drive. Highlights en route are Biloxi, Mobile, Columbus, Jackson, Meridian, Birmingham, Gulf Islands Waterpark, Cheaha State Park, Dunn's Falls Park and Talladega Superspeedway.

This amazing drive from New Orleans to Atlanta will be full of adventure and incredible experiences around every corner. Read on to learn more about our recommended routes, top highlights, places to stay, and the best seasons to make the journey.

How far is Atlanta from New Orleans, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip routes between New Orleans and Atlanta
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Columbus Route510 miles8 hours
Birmingham Route570 miles8 hours and 40 minutes

The Columbus Route from New Orleans to Atlanta covers approximately 510 miles and takes around 8 hours without detours or extra stops you might plan on making.

Alternatively, the slightly longer Birmingham Route spans about 570 miles, with an estimated travel time of 8 hours and 40 minutes.

Although you can complete both routes in a day, we recommend traveling 2-3 days. This way, you'll have enough time to truly experience the incredible highlights and destinations along the way.

Best road trip route from New Orleans to Atlanta

Both the Columbus Route and Birmingham Route from New Orleans to Atlanta offer unique and unforgettable experiences, with different vibes and types of destinations.

The Columbus Route starts with stunning views on both sides across the lakes as you leave New Orleans. As you travel through Mississippi, the suburbs skirting the shores of the Gulf offer breathtaking beaches perfect for a relaxing break.

Colorful umbrellas and lounge chairs by the sea in Biloxi Beach near Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
Biloxi Beach is one of the highlights of the Columbus Route - and of the Gulf Coast itself.
Paula Stephens/

Then, the scenery becomes full of lush green forests, giving you a beautiful backdrop. A slight detour introduces you to local historic civil rights sites, filling your journey with a touch of history before you arrive in the bustling city of Columbus, Georgia.

On the other hand, the Birmingham Route takes you through the heart of the American South. Heading north out of New Orleans, the highway weaves through small, historically significant towns linked to the civil rights movement, all the way to Jackson.

The route is lined with trees as it passes through natural areas full of wildlife, leading to Birmingham with its green, urban spaces and fun nightlife. As you near the capital of Georgia, scenic forests stretch as far as the eye can see before you reach the impressive skyscrapers of Atlanta.

How to drive from New Orleans to Atlanta

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between New Orleans and Atlanta. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

Columbus Route

Starting in beautiful New Orleans, take Interstate 10 (I-10) across Lake Pontchartrain. From here, you'll hug the coast and arrive in the city of Biloxi and have the chance to make a detour to Gulfport.

After your visit to sun-filled Biloxi, head back en route and continue driving east and you will soon reach Mobile. Once you've gotten your fill of Mobile's exciting historical landmarks and food scene, head back on route to I-65 northeast past Conecuh National Forest.

Driving past Evergreen, Greenville and the lush countryside of Alabama until you reach Montgomery, the capital city of the state. From here, drive east to arrive in Columbus, Georgia.

Poignant statues stand in the gardens of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery
Montgomery is a deeply historical place. Be sure to visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
DiAnna Paulk/

After spending some time in Columbus, get on I-85 northeast to your destination of Atlanta.

Birmingham Route

Begin your drive in historical New Orleans and follow I-55 north. You will drive through small charming towns such as McComb, Hazlehurst and Crystal Springs.

Soon, you'll arrive in Jackson. Once you have explored the city, head east and drive through Bienville National Forest. Drive further through the rural heartland of Mississippi until you get to Meridian. After Meridian, head east on I-20 into Alabama.

Make your first stop in Alabama in the musical city of Birmingham. Once you reach this lovely city, you'll enjoy some of the most beautiful architecture, food, and museums in the American South.

After Birmingham, follow I-20 east through Talladega National Forest and into Georgia. After you arrive, continue driving to your destination of Atlanta.

Best places to stop between New Orleans and Atlanta

There are plenty of amazing stops and highlights along the way on a road trip to Atlanta from New Orleans. You can truly experience all the amazing highlights in one of these incredible destinations below.

Learn about the roots of Mardi Gras in Mobile

Mobile, Alabama, is an ideal overnight stop on the Columbus Route, located just about 2 hours into the drive. Mobile is famous for hosting the oldest organized Carnival or Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States, a tradition that predates New Orleans' famous festivities, with the first celebration dating back to 1703.

When you're here, you can immerse yourself in this rich cultural history and enjoy the lively atmosphere and world-famous food scene that Mobile has to offer.

Close up shot of a row of antique canons at a historic fort in Mobile, Alabama, with the city skyline behind
Mobile, Alabama, manages to seamlessly weave a tapestry of historic and modern elements.
Sean Pavone/

Two must-see attractions in Mobile are the USS ALABAMA Battleship Memorial Park and the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico. The USS Alabama and the GulfQuest are perfect places to learn more about US maritime history.

For your stay in Mobile, we highly recommend the Fort Condé Inn. This unique historic hotel, nestled in the private enclave of Fort Conde Village, is a collection of elegant homes dating back to the early 19th century.

The Fort Condé Inn (Hall-Ford House), built in 1836, is Mobile's second oldest house, with original heart pine flooring and custom-milled stairways that reflect its architectural heritage.

The features a heated, salt-water swimming pool, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration. Once you have rested and ready to head out, an outstanding breakfast to help you start your day of traveling.

Located within walking distance to the city center, the Fort Condé Inn offers easy access to Mobile's main attractions. The Condé-Charlotte Museum is just a 2-minute walk away, and the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum is a mere 7-minute walk.

Explore the musical heritage of Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama, is an excellent choice for an overnight stop on the Birmingham Route from New Orleans to Atlanta, approximately 5 hours into your journey. Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, Birmingham is beloved for its lush, rolling hills and woodland-covered neighborhoods that offer a scenic escape just minutes from downtown.

The city's diversity and rich history, particularly its pivotal role in the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s, make it a fascinating destination with much to learn during your stay. With such a rich background, it isn't surprising that Birmingham contributed prominently to the history of jazz in America.

Close up view of the John A. Hand Building in Birmingham, Alabama, set against the blue sky
Birmingham is a city full of history, with some great architecture including the John A Hand Building.

While in Birmingham, we recommend paying a visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which houses an extraordinary collection of vintage motorcycles and racing cars. Afterwards, spend some time outdoors at the beautiful Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

For your accommodation, we suggest the Valley Hotel Homewood Birmingham Curio Collection by Hilton. Located in downtown Homewood, an area known for its upscale retailers and casual dining options, the hotel offers a serene escape from the bustling city center.

The Valley Hotel's prime location is ideal for exploring Birmingham, providing a peaceful stay away from crowds and traffic. Each morning, you can enjoy an American breakfast, and the Terrace Bar offers craft cocktails, cozy fireside seating, and stunning views of downtown Homewood.

Nearby attractions include Vulcan Park and Museum, just a 3-minute drive away, where you can learn about Birmingham's industrial history. Additionally, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are a mere 5-minute drive, offering a perfect spot to relax and appreciate nature.

Where to stay when you reach Atlanta

Atlanta is a city known for its iconic skyline and lush green spaces despite being a busy urban city. This beautiful city is the birthplace of the world-famous beverage, Coca-Cola.

Key attractions include the Georgia Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world, and the Martin Luther King Jr National Historical Park, which offers a deep dive into the American civil rights movement.

When visiting Atlanta, The Candler Hotel Atlanta, Curio Collection by Hilton, is an excellent choice for accommodation. Perfectly located on the iconic Peachtree Street, this boutique-style hotel is housed in the historic Candler Building, one of Atlanta's landmark sites.

Here, you can indulge in the culinary delights of the full-service restaurant By George, located in the former Central Bank & Trust banking hall. The renowned chef Hugh Acheson leads the restaurant.

An exclusive feature of The Candler Hotel is the historic tour of the building, conducted free of charge by the hotel director, Jerome. This tour gives you an insider's view of the building's full history and its hidden gems.

Close up shot of the ornate and historic classical facade of the Candler Building in Atlanta
What could be better than staying in one of Atlanta's most historic buildings? At The Candler Hotel, you can do just that!
Fotoluminate LLC/

Things to see on a road trip from New Orleans to Atlanta

Both of our curated routes on a road trip from New Orleans to Atlanta are full of endless fun and excitement, plus cultural and historic treasures. To make your planning easy, we have picked some of our favorite places to visit on each.

Columbus Route

  1. Honey Island Swamp Tours - Explore the pristine Honey Island Swamp in a unique way with guided tours that offer close encounters with the region's diverse wildlife, including alligators, in their natural habitat.
  2. Davis Bayous Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore - This area provides a serene escape, with opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing in a beautiful coastal setting.
  3. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park - Located in Mobile, this park features the historic USS Alabama Battleship, a World War II-era ship, offering an immersive experience into naval history with tours and exhibits.
  4. Hank Williams Museum - Situated in Montgomery, this museum celebrates the life and legacy of country music legend Hank Williams, displaying an extensive collection of his memorabilia.
  5. Chattahoochee River Walk - This picturesque pathway in Columbus, Georgia, offers scenic views along the Chattahoochee River, perfect for walking, biking, or simply enjoying the tranquil surroundings.
  6. Infinity Science Center - A dynamic educational facility that provides interactive exhibits and displays about space, earth science, and the exploration of the universe.
  7. Gulf Islands Waterpark - An exciting family destination in Gulfport, featuring a variety of water slides, wave pools, and attractions for a fun-filled day.
  8. Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge - This refuge near the Gulf Coast offers a haven for wildlife and a peaceful retreat for nature lovers, with trails and bird watching opportunities.
  9. GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico - Located in Mobile, this museum offers a journey through maritime history and culture of the Gulf of Mexico with interactive exhibits and educational programs.
  10. National Civil War Naval Museum - This museum in Columbus showcases naval history during the American Civil War, featuring two original warships and various artifacts.
  11. Little White House Historic Site - The historic retreat of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia, where he sought relief from polio and shaped some of his New Deal policies.
  12. Delta Flight Museum - Located in Atlanta, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of Delta Air Lines with vintage aircraft, flight simulators, and aviation exhibits.
  13. National Infantry Museum - This museum in Columbus, Georgia, honors the legacy and valor of the U.S. Army Infantry with immersive exhibits, artifacts, and a giant screen theater.
  14. Bay St Louis Beach - A charming and tranquil beach in Mississippi, perfect for a leisurely day by the Gulf of Mexico with its soft sands and calm waters.
  15. Ocean Adventure Marine Park - A captivating marine park offering interactive experiences with marine life, educational programs, and fun activities for the whole family.
The sandy shores of Bay St Louis, Mississippi on a clear blue sky day
Ocean lovers will feel right at home on the sandy shores of Bay St Louis Beach, Mississippi.
Sam Brandon/

Birmingham Route

  1. Global Wildlife Center - A unique wildlife preserve where visitors can interact with and feed a variety of free-roaming exotic animals in a natural environment.
  2. Mississippi Museum of Art - This museum showcases a rich collection of art, focusing on Mississippi's artistic heritage and featuring works from various periods and styles.
  3. Bonita Lakes Park - A scenic park in Meridian, Mississippi, offering serene lakes, walking trails, and a tranquil setting for outdoor recreation.
  4. Dunn's Falls Park - Home to a beautiful 65-foot waterfall, this park in Enterprise offers picnic areas, hiking trails, and a glimpse into the area's historic past with a restored watermill.
  5. Paul W Bryant Museum - Located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, this museum highlights the history of the University of Alabama football with exhibits on Coach Bryant and the Crimson Tide.
  6. Alabama Iron and Steel Museum - Situated at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, this museum exhibits the history of iron-making in Alabama, featuring artifacts and demonstrations.
  7. Oak Mountain State Park - Alabama's largest state park, offering a diverse range of activities like hiking, biking, fishing, and bird-watching in a picturesque setting.
  8. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute - An engaging museum in Birmingham, Alabama, that offers an in-depth look at the Civil Rights Movement in America through powerful exhibits and stories.
  9. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum - This world-renowned museum in Birmingham features an extensive collection of vintage motorcycles and racing cars, with a focus on the preservation of motorsports history.
  10. Talladega Superspeedway - A legendary NASCAR race track in Alabama known for its high speeds and exciting racing events, offering tours and race experiences for fans.
  11. Berman Museum - Located in Anniston, Alabama, this museum displays a diverse collection of art and historical artifacts from around the world, including weapons and rare documents.
  12. Cheaha State Park - Alabama's highest point, offering breathtaking views, hiking trails, and camping opportunities amidst the beauty of the Talladega National Forest.
  13. West Georgia Museum of Tallapoosa - This museum in Georgia delves into the local history, featuring exhibits on Native American culture, the gold rush, and regional artifacts.
  14. Pine Mountain Gold Museum - Situated in Villa Rica, Georgia, this museum offers insights into the gold mining history of the area with a mine tour, gold panning, and interactive exhibits.
View from a high point with a tree looking over misty green forest with sun rising over the horizon
Beautiful Cheaha State Park might just swing you towards choosing the Birmingham Route for this trip.
Sharon Davies Photography/

Best time to go on a road trip from New Orleans to Atlanta

A road trip from New Orleans can be undertaken at any time of the year, with your destination being home to a myriad of both indoor and outdoor attractions. That being said, each season offers something special.

In spring, Atlanta's temperatures range from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, creating a perfect backdrop for exploring outdoor attractions like the Martin Luther King Jr National Historical Park.

The Columbus Route during spring is mild, with occasional rain showers, making for pleasant driving conditions. If you're traveling during this time, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery is the perfect event to experience.

Summer in Atlanta sees temperatures soaring to the high 80s and even 90s, ideal for air-conditioned indoor attractions, such as a visit to the Georgia Aquarium. During this season, New Orleans is quieter, offering a more relaxed start to your journey.

Fall brings cooler temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit to Atlanta, perfect for attending events like Music Midtown and the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival.

Close up view of the menu board inside Fat Matt's Rib Shack, a BBQ Restaurant in Atlanta, with patrons in the foreground
If you can't schedule your trip to coincide with the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival, your next best option is Fat Matt's Rib Shack, which is an Atlanta institution

The Columbus Route in fall is excellent for scenic drives, with events like the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, a city that's just a short detour away from Mobile.

Winter in Atlanta is mild, with temperatures ranging from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The city and the routes getting to it rarely see snow, making it perfect for a winter visit.