NOLA Motorsports Park (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
Your family is totally over the cheesy family photos and constant group tours. What do you do? You’re in luck because adventure awaits just beyond the city limits of New Orleans for those who seek it. Take your family off the beaten path with these three adventurous outings.
Cruise the Louisiana Swamp
If you’re interested in things that go bump in the night, Pearl River Eco Tours hosts a tour of Honey Island Swamp that begins at 7:30 p.m., guided by locals who are well-versed in swamp hotspots.Tour boats are small, with a capacity of 22, and lit with spotlights for easy viewing of night creatures from snakes and alligators to night birds and nutria (rat-like creatures with orange teeth, unique to Louisiana swamps). The tour takes place only 30 miles from New Orleans, but it feels much farther away when you venture into the lair of the legendary Honey Island Swamp monster. Tickets are $39 for adults and $29 for children under 12.
Cajun Encounters offers a seasonal dusk tour that occupies the brighter segment of Daylight Savings Time. Departure is 3:30 p.m. with hotel pickup available. The tour kicks off at 5 p.m., with a return time of 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $52 for adults and $32.50 for children under 12.
Need for Speed
Stop by NOLA Motorsports Park in nearby Avondale for a high-speed, adrenaline-pumping family outing. Toss the video games and kart race in-person on 40 acres of track with 80+ circuits. Last one across the finish line is a rotten egg!
If driving a Lamborghini Gallardo or a Ferrari Italia is your speed, hop over to the racetrack. The track is beginning to host Grand Prix events, but is still open to aspiring racers. Start with a class to learn the fundamentals, then get behind the wheel. As intimidating as the dream machines can be, you’ll have a professional racing instructor playing wing-man in the seat next to you. Check the site’s calendar for days the track is available for a spin on its 2.75-mile, 16-turn track. Three laps with the Lamborghini runs $279, the Ferrari is $329, and many other cars are available. Insurance starts at $39.
Travel Back in Time
A tour of Laura Plantation in Vacherie brings to life the antebellum South. The tour focuses as much on the life experiences of the slaves in “The Row” as those of the Creole sugarcane plantation owners in the main house. The spirit of the tour is guided by “Memories of the Old Plantation Home” by Laura Locoul Gore, the plantation’s namesake. Proceeds are used to restore the buildings onsite. Lonely Planet named the tour one of the best history tours in the United States and you will not be disappointed. Tickets are $20 for adults, $6 for children aged 6–17, and free for children 5 and under.