New Iberia/Avery Island, LA
Distance from New Orleans: 135 miles West; 2.25-hour drive
Why it made our list: Avery Island is where Tabasco is made, which makes for a fun day of exploration, with its Jungle Gardens, bayous, wildlife (gators! egrets!), pepper fields, and hot sauce production factory tour. There’s no place to stay or eat (besides samples) on Avery Island, so that’s where New Iberia comes in. Check into one of the adorable B&Bs that are either conveniently located Downtown or overlook sugar cane fields, Lake Peigneur or the Bayou Teche. Get your inner Cajun on with boudin and cracklins from Billeaud's Too or Cajun Boudin Cracklins, check out soul food at Brenda's Dine In & Take Out, and go upscale at Des Amis or Clementine (which also has live music.)
Pro tip: If you’re around during the week (M-F), check out the historic Lejeune’s Bakery in the nearby town of Jeanerette, which has been making exclusively French bread and ginger cakes since 1884.