Lesser Known and Affordable Getaways in TX and LA [Plus FREE Road Trip Conversation Card!]

We all know what the cities in our states have to offer. There are plenty of things to do in Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans for a getaway weekend with or without the kids.

Lesser Known and Affordable Getaways in TX and LA

For example: You know you can always count on Café du Monde to be ready with beignets and café au lait anytime you’re in the Quarter. And you know that you can always catch a Rangers/Astros/Cowboys/Texans/Mavs/Stars game (depending on the season) and stop by the Cheesecake Factory for a late night post-game dessert when it’s over.

But cities can get pricey. And even if money isn’t an issue, cities are noisy. Sometimes you aren’t looking for non-stop action, you’d rather go somewhere that’s a little less predictable, a little slower paced even.

So, in case that’s you, we’ve come up with 6 lesser-known getaways in Texas and Louisiana that you might find helpful. You know, the kind of place the locals might take for granted, but also the kind of place where tourists go, “Wow, who knew?!”

We’ve included things you’ll want to check out, places to stay, and local places to eat. Maybe you’ll find a place in your state that you might not know much about, or maybe you’ll go visit the state next door and find a new area you never even knew existed.

Fingers crossed it’ll be a great time for you and your spouse to spend together—or a fun adventure for the family.

[BONUS!] We’ve included a Road Trip Conversation card as a free download at the end of this post! It has great questions to discuss with your spouse and/or kids on your getaway. Because, you know, quality time and stuff like that.


[Southwest Louisiana] Acadiana – for the Culture Seekers, Music Lovers, Wildlife Watchers, and Foodies

Lesser Known and Affordable Getaways in Texas and Louisiana

The Jungle Garden trees are great for climbing.

From MarriageRoots Writer Jaime Turner: Last Memorial Day weekend we took our kids down to Lafayette, Louisiana for the weekend. We were both born and raised in Louisiana. Even though we are in Louisiana visiting family often, we thought it would be fun to explore Louisiana with our children as “tourists” for the weekend to get back to our roots.

Things to Do:

Vermilionville Living History and Folk Life Park in Lafayette
A dear friend of mine had told me to visit the Acadian Village at Vermilionville. I’ll be honest, I thought I would enjoy it somewhat, but I never expected my children to love it as much as they did. We spent all day there. Acadian village is “a living history museum on a 23-acre site on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion with 19 attractions, including seven restored original homes with more than 13 artisans that provide demonstrations.” We enjoyed walking through all of the homes in the village, meeting all of the people there portraying Acadian life, hearing lots of French, enjoying locals having a old time jam playing Cajun folk songs, and even riding the “school” boat down the bayou. One of our favorites was meeting Mr. Merlin Fontenot, a 90-year-old who played fiddle and interacted lovingly with my kids.

Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory Tour at Avery Island
Pro Tip: The tour is inexpensive, but the factory only runs Mondays through Thursdays, so if you want to see the bottling process in action, go during the week.

Jungle Gardens at Avery Island
It is a 170-acre bird sanctuary and botanical garden. You can drive through and/or walk through. They have the fabulous south Louisiana huge oak trees that will make you swoon. You will also be able to see different types of birds, and we saw some alligators when we were there.

Jefferson Island & the Rip Van Winkle House
Jefferson Island holds some amazing history, and a tour of the Rip Van Winkle house is inexpensive. The “island” is really one of 5 salt mines. In 1980, a drilling rig pierced one of the salt mines and flooded the whole area right behind the mansion. You can still see the chimney sticking up out of the water. Experience the trees, the peacocks that roam the land around the house, and enjoy the gardens as you walk around the house.

Where to stay:

Freetown Artist Loft in Downtown Lafayette
A newly-renovated 1000-sq. ft. loft over an artist’s studio in an area of Lafayette that is filled with history and within walking distance to several fun spots.

Poolside Bendel Executive Studio in Lafayette
A studio apartment in a well-maintained condo in Lafayette with a pool right outside your door.

Where to Eat:

Social Southern Table and Bar in Lafayette
It came recommended to me by a friend and it did not disappoint. It is a fresh, farm-to-table restaurant. Great atmosphere and great service.

Borden’s Ice Cream Store in Lafayette
The atmosphere is like an old-time soda fountain. It is a fun little place to stop for an afternoon treat.
Pro Tip: Try the Banana Royale!

French Press for Brunch in Lafayette
Their French toast is to die for!

Olde Tyme Grocery in Lafayette
The best po’boys in town.
Pro tip: They’re closed on Sundays.


[Northeast Louisiana] Poverty Point Reservoir State Park – for the Fishermen, Golfers, Bird Watchers, and History Buffs

Lesser Known and Affordable Getaways in Texas and Louisiana

Fish right off the deck of your waterfront cabin in the State Park.

Louisiana isn’t called the “Sportsman’s Paradise” for nothing. Even some Louisiana residents might not realize the gem that’s sitting a few miles north of Delhi on I-20. Situated in between Monroe and Vicksburg, Mississippi, is the 2,700-acre Poverty Point Reservoir State Park where you can spot everything from pelicans, blue herons, cormorants, ducks, to even the occasional eagle or black bear.

Things to Do:

Poverty Point Reservoir State Park in Delhi
Poverty Point State Park Reservoir includes a beach area for swimming and a splash pad for kids, a fishing area if you don’t have a boat, boat slips if you do have one, and a nature trail that winds around an offshoot of the Bayou Macon. And the fishing is top notch.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget your fishing license.

Black Bear Golf Club in Delhi
Adjacent to the Reservoir and on the Audubon Trail, the Black Bear Golf Club has been voted the best public course in Louisiana every year since 2010.

Poverty Point in Pioneer
A little bit north of the Reservoir, lies Poverty Point, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the US Dept. of the Interior. Poverty Point is one of the most important archaeological sites in North America. It is open daily and guided tours are given Wednesday through Sunday.

National Military Park in Vicksburg, MS
Want to continue brushing up on your history? About 30 minutes east of Delhi just over the state line is the National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg was the location of a pivotal battle for the Mississippi River during the Civil War. Admission fee is priced per car.

Where to Stay:

Poverty Point Reservoir State Park Waterfront Cabins
These state park cabins are no joke. They’re built on the water and you can literally fish off your deck.
Pro Tip: Reserve your cabin early. They tend to book up quickly. There are campsites available if the cabins are full.

Black Bear Lodge at the Golf Club
If the cabins are full and the campsites aren’t for you, the Black Bear Lodge has a 17-room hotel with rooms overlooking the golf course. It also has a swimming pool and tennis court.

Where to Eat:

E.W. Thompson Drug Co. in Delhi
The oldest pharmacy in Louisiana, E.W. Thompson has a grill and a fun old-time soda fountain.


[Southeast Louisiana] St. Francisville, Louisiana – for the Architecture Buffs, History Gurus, Cyclists, Hikers, and those with Green Thumbs

Lesser Known and Affordable Getaways in TX and LA

Swoon over the historic architecture

St. Francisville is a gorgeous Louisiana town whose mossy oaks and antebellum homes remind visitors of the beautiful sides of the state’s history and landscape.

Things to Do:

Tour a Plantation Home (or two) in St. Francisville
Rosedown, The Myrtles, Catalpa, Cottage, Oakley, Greenwood, Hemingbough—you could make an entire trip out of visiting the homes. St. Francisville boasts having more plantations open for tours than any other city in Louisiana and possibly the South. Choose one or two to check out closely while you’re in town, but be sure to drive by or walk around all of them. Each one is unique.

Clark Creek Hiking in Woodville, MS
Waterfalls? Hills? In South Louisiana? Well, technically, it’s Mississippi, but it’s right over the state line from St. Francisville.
Pro Tip: Bring water and shoes that are good for hiking but can also get wet.

Afton Villa Gardens in St. Francisville
The plantation burned in 1963, but the gardens remain and have been restored and cared for since 2 women decided to make it their mission in 1972. It now includes over 20 acres of gardens.

Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum in Angola
When in Rome, right? And since Angola is right outside of St. Francisville, check out the museum for the largest maximum-security prison in the nation.

Biking Trails in West Feliciana Parish
The St. Francisville area is filled with winding and hilly back roads, many of which go right by some of the beautiful plantation homes. If you’re into cycling, try The Hills of West Feliciana route or the St. Francisville to Rosedown State Historic Site route.

Where to Stay:

3-V Motor Court in St. Francisville
Travel back in time to this fun restored motor court that is adjacent to the Magnolia Café. Prices are crazy reasonable, and each cabin includes a full or queen-sized bed, free wifi, and some even come with a carport.

Lake Rosemound Inn B&B in St. Francisville
A local inn, Lake Rosemound is also a great place to stay for families. They have a clubhouse with darts, a pool table, and a help-yourself ice cream bar. Breakfast is included, too.

Where to Eat:

Magnolia Café in St. Francisville
The muffaletto will change your life. Plus, there’s usually live music on Friday nights.

Francis Smokehouse in St. Francisville
House-made boudin and po’boys and fried chicken and…well, need we say more?


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[West Texas] Marfa, Texas – for the Artists, Hipsters, Stargazers, Celebrity Spotters, and People Watchers

Lesser Known and Affordable Getaways in Texas and Louisiana

Yes, those are real Prada bags. No, you cannot buy one. Yes, this is in the middle of nowhere Texas.

If you don’t know much about West Texas, you’d be shocked to know that a small town called Marfa (population <2,000) is considered to be quite a tourist destination and a hub for minimalist art. Seriously? Yeah, seriously. All the Hipsters are leaving NYC, Austin, and Nashville for Marfa. Okay, well, maybe not all, but quite a few actually. They’re doing cool stuff in the westernmost part of Texas, and celebrities pilgrimage out to Marfa to check their stuff out.

Things to Do:

Art Galleries in Marfa
Marfa is home to several art galleries, so take this list and stroll at your leisure. Once you’ve had your fill of art galleries, look up Prada Marfa—an art replica of an actual Prada store (handbags and all) on the outskirts of town. You can’t shop there, but it makes a darn good picture.
Pro Tip: Much of the town shuts down on Monday and Tuesday, so call ahead to be sure places are open.

Marfa Lights 
No one really knows where these unexplained Marfa lights originated, but they can be seen dancing on the horizon at night. There’s a viewing area outside of town where you can try to catch them during your visit.

Fort Davis in Jeff Davis County
About 20 minutes outside of Marfa is Fort Davis, one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars’ frontier military post.

McDonald Observatory
The University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory is just about 30 minutes outside of Marfa. The have daily tours and solar viewings, as well as twilight and evening stargazing programs several times a week. Tickets should be purchased online in advance.

Where to Stay:

El Cosmico in Marfa
Only in Marfa would you have the option to stay in an architecturally-designed campground with modernized trailers, yurts, teepees, tents, or campsites.

Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa
Not quite as one-with-the-Earth as El Cosmico? Try the Thunderbird with its minimalistic chic approach.

Where to Eat:

Food Shark Marfa
The food truck park to end all food truck parks.

Comida Futura in Marfa
Make new friends at their communal tables while you’re munching on protein and vegetables served cafeteria-style. But save room for pie!


[Central Texas] Round Top & Brenham, Texas – for the Antique-ers, the Gardeners, the Animal Lovers, and the Die Hard Blue Bell Fans

Lesser Known and Affordable Getaways in Texas and Louisiana

Get your antiquing on in Round Top.

Less than 2 hours west of Houston sits 2 towns: Brenham, known as the home of Blue Bell, and Round Top, known as the home of all things antique. Located only 25 minutes apart, there’s much to do between the 2 central Texas towns and our list just scratches the surface.

Things to Do:

Shopping in Round Top
Well-known for their twice-yearly Round Top Antiques Fair held in the spring and the fall, there’s still plenty of antique and junking to be done in Round Top year round, including the Junk Gypsies World Headquarters.
Pro Tip: Most shops are only open on the weekend, so plan accordingly.

Blue Bell Country Store, Ice Cream Parlor, and Visitor Center in Brenham
You can’t tour a Blue Bell production facility, but you can visit their country store and learn about their history. Plus, you can get some Blue Bell goodness in their ice cream parlor and purchase branded items from their store.

Chappell Hill Lavender Farm in Brenham
Three thousand lavender plants spread out over rolling acres in the Texas countryside. The farm is open to the public for strolling, picnics, and even cutting your own lavender in the fall. They also have a gift shop.

Peeka Ranch Alpacas in Burton
Fifteen minutes outside of Brenham is the Peeka Ranch alpaca farm. There, you can not only pet and feed some of their 100 alpacas, but enjoy their 60-acre farm and purchase gifts made from alpaca wool.

Jersey Barnyard in LaGrange
Take a guided tour of this 50-year old Texas dairy farm. On the tour, you’ll get to feed the farm animals, bottle feed a baby calf (for an additional fee), take a tractor hayride down to the dairy, and even get a shot at milking a Jersey cow. Bring an ice chest and pick up some raw cow’s milk and free range eggs to take home with you.

Where to Stay:

Night Bird Ranch in Round Top
A unique, motel-style BnB located on 70 acres in the country. Night Bird has 5 rooms with private baths, shaded front porch views, and even a dance hall on site for events.

The Nest outside Brenham
The Nest is a restored 1940’s motor court lodge that’s professionally decorated. The 3-room cottage includes a bedroom with a queen bed, cable tv and dvds, a bathroom with shower and robes, and a kitchenette with a breakfast of pastries and fruit. This place is adorable.

Where to Eat:

Royers in Round Top
They’re known for their mouth-watering pies.
Pro Tip: Don’t go at lunchtime on a weekend; it’s crazy busy. Go in between lunch and dinner and have pie as an afternoon snack.

Home Sweet Farm Market & Biergarten in Brenham
In Downtown Brenham, they usually have live music on weekend nights. Check the calendar to see what’s going on.


[Texas Panhandle] The Canyons – for the Hikers, Bikers, Americana-Lovers, and Granola Types

Lesser Known and Affordable Getaways in Texas and Louisiana

If your idea of vacation is exhausting your body, the canyons are for you.

“It’s beautiful in its own right.” That’s what most West Texans say when defending their part of the state. There are a lot of plains, after all. But despite a lot of flat, there is also the second largest canyon in the United States and the sunsets—oh the West Texas sunsets. If your family is the outdoors-y type, a road trip to the Texas Panhandle is a great way to experience a different terrain than the eastern part of the state, and maybe even see a few tumbleweeds, too.

Things to Do:

Palo Duro Canyon in Canyon
Known as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the United States, running 120 miles long and over 20 miles wide. If you have kids with you, there’s a Junior Ranger program for them to participate in while they’re on site.
Pro Tip: Summers get extremely hot in West Texas, but nights can get cool. Pack plenty of water for your adventures. Check the website for burn bans before you plan to keep warm by fire.

Caprock Canyon in Quitaque
About 1.5 hour from Palo Duro is a better-kept secret known as Caprock Canyon. While there’s still plenty of hiking, biking, and camping to be done at Caprock, it is also home to the official bison herd of Texas. The bison are available to view from platforms throughout the 15,000-acre state park.

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo
When you need a break from Mother Nature, head to Amarillo. Situated outside the city, Cadillac Ranch is Americana at its finest. In 1974, artists from San Francisco buried 10 Cadillacs in West Texas farmland. In 1997, those Caddys were moved 2 miles down the road where they sit today. Visitors are encouraged to visit the Cadillac Stonehenge site and bring spray paint to add their own mark to the collection of graffiti on the cars.

Historic Route 66 & Shopping in Amarillo
Over one mile of antiques and collectibles, craft and specialty shops, music venues, and places to eat in buildings that once housed theatres, cafes and drug stores on historic Route 66 in Amarillo.

Where to Stay:

If you’re into camping, reserve your campsite at Palo Duro or Caprock. If not, check out the Dala Horse Inn, a rustic retreat near Palo Duro. It has enough room for the family, a big screen TV, and an outdoor grilling area.

Where to Eat:

Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo
We just can’t leave it off the list. Like Cadillac Ranch, it’s Americana galore. And if you eat the entire 72 oz. steak meal, you eat for free.

The 806 Coffee + Lounge in Amarillo
Coffee shops are Americana, too, right?

 

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Posts that are usually written by committee. It takes a village, you know. There's no "I" in team. Together Everyone Achieves More. We're no Lone Ranger Christians over here. (Insert any other teamwork cliche you can think of.)

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