Located in the Southwestern United States, the states of Louisiana and Texas might be geographical neighbors but their influences, history and landscapes are so different that you'll almost feel like you've traveled between countries when you journey from New Orleans to Austin.
The 695-mile road trip from New Orleans to Austin, Texas, takes 10 hours 45 minutes to drive. Explore Louisiana's wetlands then swing inland to visit Shreveport and Dallas or travel through Lafayette, the Atchafalaya Basin, coastal Galveston and Houston.
The changing landscapes, contrasting cultures and exquisite southern cuisine are calling out to be explored on a road trip, so keep on reading to find out the best way to explore these two fantastic states.
How far is Austin, Texas from New Orleans, and how long will the road trip take?
|The Houston Route||560 miles||9 hours 45 minutes|
|The Dallas Route||695 miles||10 hours 45 minutes|
It takes around 10 hours and 45 minutes to drive the 695 miles from New Orleans to Austin if you start out by heading north and visit Dallas along the way.
Alternatively, travel via Houston and stop off at Galveston on the coast and you'll spend roughly 9 hours and 45 minutes on the road. This 560-mile route is the perfect way to dip your toes into the ocean as you travel across sunny Texas.
Both routes are best enjoyed over 3 to 4 days, considering the number of places you might want to stop along the way.
Best road trip route from New Orleans to Austin
We've put together two really different options for your road trip to Austin from New Orleans. They're both fabulous ways to experience Louisiana and the Lone Star State, but keep on reading to find out which one might suit you and your fellow travelers best.
The Dallas Route takes you on a cultural and historical journey between New Orleans and Austin. Along the way you can delve into the region's past at the Houmas House Plantation or the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, and take a Cajun Pride Swamp Tour.
For even more variety, this route takes you to attractions including Alexandria Zoo, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the quirky stalls of the Silos at Magnolia.
If you want to include a city stop in Houston, then our alternative route will probably appeal. Slightly shorter at 560 miles, the Houston Route will also appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, since you'll be able to admire the region's natural beauty at Atchafalaya Basin and the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, plus Monument Hill and Bastrop State Parks.
History lovers will also enjoy this road trip, since it visits Vemilionville Historic Village and San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site.
How to drive from New Orleans to Austin
The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between New Orleans and Austin, Texas. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.
The Dallas Route
Begin your journey from New Orleans by heading northwest on Interstate 10 (I-10). You'll get a view out across Lake Pontchartrain once you've left the city - stop at Cajun Pride Swamp Tours for a more up-close experience of the bayou.
Continuing along I-10, journey north through Lake Maurepas and the Maurepas Swamp, taking in the serene Louisiana wetlands. You'll pass the historic Houmas House Plantation and LSU Rural Life Museum, where you can delve into the region's past. For outdoor attractions, cool down at the Blue Bayou Water Park or visit Mike the Tiger's Habitat.
Turn onto the highway heading northwest out of Baton Rouge, which joins up with I-49 taking you past Alexandria. The picturesque city of Natchitoches is just a short detour off the interstate as you make your way towards Shreveport.
After visiting Shreveport's Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, you'll cross into Texas. From here, I-20 will take you all the way to Dallas, but if time allows you can detour via US-259 to visit Kilgore College East Texas Oil Museum.
From Dallas your route turns south on I-35. With several attractions on this last stretch of the route, including the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum or the famous Silos at Magnolia in Waco, make sure to allow plenty of time rather than rushing straight through to your final destination, Austin.
The Houston Route
This route also heads west out of New Orleans on I-10 as far as Baton Rouge. From here, stay on I-10 to continue heading west in the direction of Lafayette.
Along the way, journey to the heart of the Atchafalaya Basin and visit Vermilionville Historic Village before making a stop at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu in Lake Charles.
Detour coastwards to explore Sabine National Wildlife Refuge and Holly Beach before returning to the interstate and crossing into Texas at Orange.
A few miles after Beaumont, turn onto TX-124 and you'll soon get your first view of the Gulf of Mexico. Continue along the coast along the Bolivar Peninsula, then hop onto the free ferry service which will take you on the short journey to Galveston.
There's plenty to see in Galveston, as well as the chance to relax on the beach, so allow some time in the city before moving on towards Houston via I-45.
From Houston, rejoin I-10 to continue heading west. Before you arrive in Austin, you'll have the chance to visit San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, or detour south to visit Kreische Brewery and Monument Hill State Park or The Dinosaur Park - depending on what you're in the mood for at the end of your road trip.
Best places to stop between New Orleans and Austin, Texas
As we've already mentioned, driving straight through from New Orleans to Austin is a missed opportunity, and we highly recommend making at least one overnight stop along the way.
Of course, if time allows then you can easily turn this short journey into a longer road trip that's overflowing with adventure.
Go museum-hopping in Dallas
Dallas is the perfect place to spend the final night of your road trip from New Orleans. It's around 4 hours away from Austin, so you'll still have plenty of time to stop and explore before you reach the city the following day.
Famous for its vibrant art and music scene, Dallas makes for a great cultural stop on this route. As well as visiting Dallas Art Museum, make sure to include a trip to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The exhibition here tells the story of President John F Kennedy, who was assassinated nearby.
Dallas also has a fabulous food culture - Dallas and nearby Fort Worth are said to be the popcorn capital of America! That all adds up to a fabulous stay in the city - time your trip well and you'll be able to stop in and see the Dallas Cowboys in action too.
You can expect a warm welcome when you check in at The Joule, which is known for its exceptional service. It's beautifully decorated, with stylish design features throughout, which makes for a really memorable stay.
Take advantage of the hotel's central location to head out and explore so more of the city's sights. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are the perfect place for a stroll if you want to escape the city hustle or head up the iconic Reunion Tower for a fabulous view across Dallas.
A refreshing stop in Galveston
With its sandy beaches, first-rate restaurants and historic architecture, there's plenty to see and do in Galveston if you're traveling on the Houston Route.
Located around two-thirds of the way along the Houston Route, Galveston works particularly well as a second stop if you're taking a 3-day road trip to Austin.
Nestled in The Strand, Galveston's historic downtown district, you'll find an array of quaint shops, fabulous restaurants and stunning 19th-century architecture. It's the perfect place to unwind at the end of a busy day on the road.
Jumping back into the 21st century, the impressive pyramids of Moody Gardens contain a rainforest aquarium and discovery center, as well as a whole host of outdoor attractions. If you're in the mood for more fun and thrills before you carry on to Austin, you can also visit the Schlitterbahn, one of the best water parks in the US.
If you're looking for some historic charm and splashes of luxury, then George Manor is the ideal place to stay while you're in Galveston. This gorgeous property has large rooms, beautiful outdoor space and fabulous food.
The George Manor is located in the historic heart of Galveston, so you'll feel like you've been transported to another era as you relax during your stay here. As an added bonus, it's within walking distance of many of Galveston's attractions, with several beaches within a mile of the property.
As a quirky bonus fact, the inventor of condensed milk, Gail Borden, lived in Galveston. So perhaps while you're here, you could raise a glass of milk (condensed, of course) to him!
Where to stay when you reach Austin
There's no debating the fact that Austin is an awesome road trip destination, whether you're heading to Austin to immerse yourself in its legendary live music scene, or to soak up the history and culture at attractions like the Texas State Capitol and Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library and Museum.
If you're ready to cool down at the end of your sunny Texas trip, you can even swim and enjoy watersports at Shoal Beach, on the banks of the Colorado River, or relax in the inviting blue water at the natural Barton Springs Pool.
Close to the beach you'll find Hotel ZaZa Austin. Its rooftop terrace offers amazing views of the city, which you can enjoy from the dazzling outdoor pool too.
With its smart interiors and splashes of perfectly curated color, it's a stylish and comfortable place to stay, that puts you in the ideal location to head out and enjoy all that Austin has to offer.
Things to see on a road trip from New Orleans to Austin
It might only be a short road trip, but you'll find so much to see and do as you travel from New Orleans to Austin that you could easily keep yourself busy for a week or more once you hit the road.
The Dallas Route
- Blue Bayou Water Park - Enjoy a day of thrilling water rides and attractions suitable for the whole family at Blue Bayou Water Park.
- Mike The Tiger's Habitat - Visit Mike the Tiger's Habitat at LSU, a lush and spacious home for the university's live Bengal tiger mascot.
- Alexandria Zoo - Experience a world of wild wonders at Alexandria Zoo, housing a diverse collection of global fauna, from alligators to zebras.
- Natchitoches - Wander around the charming historic district of Natchitoches, Louisiana's oldest town, with preserved architecture and a popular annual Christmas Festival.
- Shreveport - Explore Shreveport, a vibrant city on the Red River, known for its bustling riverfront entertainment and cultural offerings.
- Louisiana State Exhibit Museum - Marvel at the diverse exhibits at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, offering insight into the state's history, culture, and natural wonders.
- Kilgore College East Texas Oil Museum - Delve into the captivating history of the oil industry at the East Texas Oil Museum, detailing the boomtown era vividly.
- Splash Kingdom Paradise Island - Spend a day filled with water-filled excitement at Splash Kingdom Paradise Island, featuring a variety of thrilling water slides and pools.
- Dallas Museum of Art - Immerse in the vast collection of over 24,000 works spanning 5,000 years of creativity at the Dallas Museum of Art.
- The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza - Visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, a poignant exhibition dedicated to the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.
- Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum - Discover the storied history of Texas's legendary law enforcement agency at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum.
- The Munster Mansion - Explore the replica of The Munster Mansion from the classic 1960s television show, an attraction full of nostalgia and fun.
- Silos at Magnolia - Shop and dine at the Silos at Magnolia, a market complex known for its rustic-chic decor, gourmet food trucks, and iconic bakery.
- Dr Pepper Museum - Learn about the history of America's oldest major soft drink at the Dr Pepper Museum, located in the original 1906 bottling plant.
- Czech Heritage Museum - Visit the Czech Heritage Museum to appreciate the rich history and cultural influence of Czech immigrants in Texas.
The Houston Route
- Atchafalaya Basin - Experience the largest wetland in the US at the Atchafalaya Basin, featuring a rich tapestry of bayous, swamps, and biodiversity.
- Vermilionville Historic Village - Step back into the 18th and 19th centuries at Vermilionville Historic Village, showcasing Acadian, Native American, and Creole cultures.
- Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu - Discover the vibrant history of Louisiana's most famous festival at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, filled with lavish costumes and traditions.
- Lake Charles - Explore Lake Charles, a city offering a blend of culture, nature, and entertainment, from casinos to lush parks and Creole cuisine.
- Sabine National Wildlife Refuge - Discover the habitats of migratory birds and various wildlife in the marshes of Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, a haven for nature lovers.
- Holly Beach - Relax on the sandy shores of Holly Beach, known as the 'Cajun Riviera,' for a laid-back day of sunbathing and shell-collecting.
- Giant Fire Hydrant - Admire the quirky 24-foot tall Dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant located at the Fire Museum of Texas, a fun photo opportunity for all.
- 1982 Bishop's Palace, Galveston - Tour the 1982 Bishop's Palace in Galveston, an ornate Victorian mansion showcasing intricate woodwork, stained glass, and period furnishings.
- Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier - Enjoy the ocean views, rides, and games at the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, a family-friendly amusement park jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico.
- National Museum of Funeral History, Houston - Visit the unique National Museum of Funeral History, home to exhibits about funeral traditions, famous funerals, and the history of embalming.
- Art Car Museum - Explore the eccentric world of decorated vehicles at the Art Car Museum in Houston, showcasing cars transformed into works of art.
- Sam Houston Park - Stroll through Sam Houston Park, an urban oasis that houses some of the oldest buildings in Houston, offering a glimpse into the city's past.
- San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site - Discover the birthplace of Texas independence at San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, featuring exhibits on the Texas Revolution and the region's history.
- Kreische Brewery and Monument Hill State Park - Visit Kreische Brewery and Monument Hill State Park, a historical site with a 19th-century brewery and a memorial to the Texan heroes of the 1842 Dawson Massacre.
- The Gas Station - Check out The Gas Station from the classic horror movie 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', now a BBQ joint serving food and horror memorabilia.
- The Dinosaur Park - Experience a prehistoric adventure at The Dinosaur Park, featuring life-size dinosaur statues, fossil digs, and a gift shop.
- Cajun Pride Swamp Tours - Experience the thrill of Louisiana's natural beauty on a Cajun Pride Swamp Tour, gliding through scenic waterways teeming with wildlife.
- Lake Maurepas and Maurepas Swamp - Immerse yourself in the thriving natural landscape of Lake Maurepas and the surrounding swamp, filled with cypress trees, Spanish moss, and a plethora of water creatures.
- Houmas House Plantation - Discover the grandeur of the Old South at Houmas House Plantation, featuring magnificent gardens and a glimpse into 19th-century plantation life.
Best time to go on a road trip from New Orleans to Austin
Austin is a fabulous year-round destination, but if you're taking a road trip from New Orleans then your experience will vary significantly depending on the time of year you're traveling.
In winter, temperatures can reach as high as 65 degrees Fahrenheit even in December or January. While enjoying these mild temperatures, check out the Dickens on the Strand festival in Galveston, a holiday street festival that introduces a taste of 19th-century Victorian London into the Texas winter.
However, parts of Northern Texas can sometimes experience sub-zero temperatures and icy road conditions. There's also a risk of sudden freezing rain storms, which although rare, makes for significant disruption if you're unlucky enough to encounter one.
On the flip side, summer is a great time for beach stops in Galveston, but the heat in Houston and Dallas can be overwhelming as temperatures regularly jump past 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to pack extra water if you're out on the interstate in summer too, in case you get held up.
With these in mind, we'd recommend making this road trip in spring or fall. You'll most likely experience more comfortable travel conditions in these seasons, plus there are some great events that you can visit if the timing of your trip aligns.
Held in April each year, Main Street Forth Worth Arts Festival is the largest 4-day visual arts festival in the Southwest United States. If you're traveling in the fall, you can catch the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Whether you decide to travel is spring or fall, the road trip from New Orleans to Austin offers up a blend of nature, history, music and art - there really is something for every traveler to enjoy when you set out on this adventure.