When I moved from Seattle to New Orleans for college, I was excited to be in a new region of the United States, but also to be in driving distance of so many other cool cities and places. As most Tulane students are not from the south, it is exciting to be so close to new places to explore. While it’s great to stay in NOLA on the weekends, here’s some trips to take if you want to get away without going too far.

1. Memphis, Tennessee

Located five and half hours away from New Orleans, Memphis has a prominent music scene and nightlife, making it a perfect attraction for college students. Memphis is flooded with country and rock and roll influences, as well as a lot of history of musicians. Take a tour of Graceland, which was home to singer Elvis Presley, and is commonly decorated for holidays. Beale Street is also a popular destination for bars, restaurants and live entertainment. Similar to the French Quarter, Beale Street is a historic tourist attraction with people spilling out of clubs and restaurants, enjoying blues music.  Memphis is also home to the best BBQ restaurants in the country like Payne’s Bar-B-q, Central BBQ and Corky’s ribs and BBQ.

2. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Just a short three-hour drive east, Gulf Shores is a perfect spring break destination for a beach vacation. Rent a beach house on the white sand and partake in water activities or relax on the beach. Dolphin tours, deep sea fishing, and parasailing are some common activities on the beautiful ocean. As a hotspot for college students to rent houses during the spring months, many of the beaches become populated with students from all different universities, so you’ll likely have a crazy time meeting new people.

3. Atlanta, Georgia

A six hour drive away, Atlanta is home to a rich amount of American history. Home to Martin Luther King Jr., there is the Center for Civil and Human rights and the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site. Atlanta also has one of the largest aquariums in the country and great shopping centers like Ponce City Market and Buckhead. There are also a lot of free things college kids can do in the city, such as walk the Atlanta belt-line or spend the afternoon in Centennial Park. To get a fix for the arts, swing by Little Five Points for record and thrift stores.

4. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Only an hour and a half from New Orleans, Baton Rouge is the state capitol of Louisiana and the perfect distance for a day trip. Similar to New Orleans, there are large Mardi Gras celebrations and festivals, art museums, and attractions. Since Baton Rouge is also home to Louisiana State University, definitely plan to swing by an LSU football game. 

5. Austin, Texas

Despite being almost 8 hours away, Austin is definitely worth the trek across state lines. Austin’s reputation for being “quirky” definitely rings true, due to the liveliness and un-southern feel of the city. Austin is hailed the as the live music capital of the world, so almost everything here revolves around the experience of listening to great music. Come to Austin to experience Austin City Limits or SXSW festival, as well as a great nightlife scene. Sixth Street is a large entertainment district with bars and restaurants with a similar feel to Bourbon. Austin also has many parks, hot springs, and rivers that you can float down or do water activities. Austin has many murals perfect for taking pictures like the “I love you so much” mural and “Greetings from Austin.”

While living in NOLA is an amazing experience, taking advantage of all the south has to offer is how to make the most out of your time at Tulane. I definitely plan to visit these places and more during my next three years living in New Orleans.

COVER PHOTO: Two Blue Passports

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