Day Trip Through Cajun Country with Beyond the Bayou
For a true taste of the Gulf, let our friends from Beyond the Bayou lead you on a tour of Cajun culture – where warm hospitality, flavorful eats and wildlife abound. Below, they’ve mapped out a quick bayou country getaway to weave into your next trip to New Orleans.
This easy one-day road trip is loosely based on itineraries available through Beyond the Bayou, who offer sustainable swamp tours, as well as two- and four-day Cajun country adventures departing directly from New Orleans.
Leave New Orleans after breakfast and head towards Baton Rouge on Interstate 10. As the Big Easy shrinks in your rearview mirror, follow Highway 310 across the storied Mississippi River, passing bountiful local farms until you reach your first destination, the Whitney Plantation. (We recommend taking the scenic River Road if you have the time; although this route takes a bit longer as you wind along the Mississippi River, the waterside views are worth it.)Established in 1752, the Whitney Plantation underwent an $8 million renovation that took 15 years to complete, reopening in 2014 as a public museum. It’s one of the only plantation museums in the U.S. dedicated to telling the story of what life was like for the enslaved people who worked on plantations like this one across the South. It’s a beautiful property, and such an essential educational experience for anyone interested in the history of Louisiana. The New Yorker magazine once wrote, “The Whitney Plantation is not a place designed to make people feel guilt, or to make people feel shame. It is a site of memory, a place that exists to further the necessary dialogue about race in America.”
For lunch, there’s a perfect little spot located just a quick drive upriver. B&C Seafood in Vacherie is known for its amazing gumbo and Southern specialties crafted with freshly caught seafood. Snack on alligator bites and frog legs, or enjoy a huge soft-shell crab po’ boy. Owner Tommy Breaux is a well-known entrepreneur in the area, and if you’re lucky, he’ll entertain you with one of his fishing stories while you chow down on Cajun and Creole dishes.
After lunch, it’s time to explore one of Louisiana’s most beautiful swamps. Hop back in the car and head north for about 45 minutes to Maurepas. Beyond the Bayou leads small group tours, relying on their highly knowledgeable guides’ instincts and naturalist skills, rather than baiting alligators and other wildlife, which is sadly a common practice among other area operators. Depending on the day and the time of year, you may see wild boar, great blue herons, osprey, owls, snakes, turtles — and, of course, gators! Slowly creep through narrow passageways surrounded by cypress and willow trees draped with Spanish moss, and feel the rush of the wind on your face as the captain safely cruises wide stretches of the river at 30 miles per hour — though, make sure you book this part in advance.
After your tour, head back to New Orleans for dinner, and if you still have energy after all that bayou cruising and excitement, a memorable night on the town in Crescent City.