We all need a getaway now and again, but full-blown vacations are a big commitment. Cue our friend, the Day Trip. Compared to vacations, Day Trips require little to no planning, are much easier on the wallet, and are a far smaller time commitment. So, next time you find yourself feeling cooped up at home, consider spending a day away. There are plenty of great day trip spots in the New Orleans area. In fact, Fodor’s has named the town of St. Francisville one of the 20 Best Day Trips in the country. For a small town, there is a big list of things to do, and #FrayLife is here with our recommended itinerary, all planned out for you.
It takes just under 2 hours to drive to St. Francisville from the city. Grab your coffee and mountain bike, or hiking shoes, and hit the road early, so you can have breakfast at Birdman Coffee & Books. This little spot has all the small town charm you’d expect, a full menu of custom coffee drinks, and, if you’re lucky, you might be able to get a homemade cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven.
After you’ve filled up, spend some time walking around the quaint downtown historic district. You’ll see plaques all over giving brief accounts of the buildings, many of which date as far back as the late 1700s. If you’re a history buff, stop by the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum to learn all about the area’s roots.
Once you’ve explored the town a bit, it’s time to hop back in the car and put on your hiking or mountain biking shoes. Get ready to tackle The Beast. Head over to the West Feliciana Sports Park complex, where you will find the trailhead. If mountain biking, the difficulty is advanced, and it’s no picnic for hikers either. The Beast trail features a 6-mile loop of climbing and descending hills, as well as 16 bridges, all through beautiful forest. It’s hard to find any sort of elevation change in these parts, which is why The Beast is considered one of the best trails in Southern Louisiana.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, drive back into town for lunch at Café Petra Greek & Lebanese restaurant, named best in town by Trip Advisor. You’ll find all your classic Mediterranean favorites like Hummus and Shwarma, as well as some Southern-inspired dishes like Okra Moussaka and Cajun Shrimp Soup.
Following lunch, get back in the car for a short drive to Afton Villa Gardens. Explore over 20 acres of formal gardens and pleasure grounds, including the famous ruins garden. The original mansion that once stood on the grounds burnt down in 1963, but gardens were incorporated into the ruins and retain the house’s original footprint. The resulting park is hauntingly beautiful and full of Southern Gothic mystery.
Once you’ve enjoyed the gardens at Afton Villa, it’s time for dinner with a view! A quick drive brings you to The Bluffs on Thompson Creek. Make sure to arrive at sunset for a classic Louisiana meal with spectacular views of the Bluffs golf course, Thompson creek, and the surrounding scenery. Dine as the sun goes down, and by moonrise you’ll be ready for something a little more sinister…
After dinner, you’re bound for an Evening Mystery Tour at The Myrtles Plantation. Tours leave at 6:00, 7:00, and 8:00, and reservations are recommended. Known as one of America’s most haunted homes, the mansion, built in 1796, has a rich history, and is a living representation of the Antebellum South. On your tour you’ll learn the legend of slave girl Chloe, as well as the numerous other ghosts spotted around the property, and other strange happenings. If you’ve had your fill of the bizarre after the tour, head back to New Orleans (there aren’t any ghosts there, right?), or, spend the night at the Myrtles, which also operates as a Bed & Breakfast. You just might have some supernatural encounters of your own!
If you’re not quiet ready to head out on your next adventure and would like to stay local then we’ve got you covered. NOLA is full of little gems waiting to be explored, so take a hike in the city’s best kept secrets.
View More Articles By Katie Baer