Beautiful and Relaxing Beaches in Driving Distance of the Big Easy
Although much of the water surrounding New Orleans is swampland, that doesn't mean you can't go swimming (if you're up for a drive)! Here are some beaches within driving distance of the Big Easy.
The colorful festivities and culture of New Orleans attract many thousand of visitors. Joining the party is one thing, but cooling off in the heat of the day is a must. Whether you're visiting the Big Easy or are a local, finding a place to hit the water isn't the easiest - but there are a few beaches within four hours of New Orleans.
If you're looking for a day of splashing in the waves, the further east you head, the more beaches you will find. Here is a list of those beaches - listed in order of closest to farthest from New Orleans.
Gulfport Beach, MS
Gulfport Beach is a public beach in Gulfport, MS. You will often find twigs or branches washed up here and there, but after all, this was where Hurricane Katrina hit hardest. The smooth sand feels nice between your toes, and you can walk about 100 ft out into the water before it hits your chest. There is such an abundance of beach area that it is easy to find a spot and make a little private section for yourself.
It's nice to see how this small town, devastated by Katrina, has started to restore the beaches. Unfortunately, finding concessions within walking distance to Gulfport Beach isn't possible, so bring a cooler!
This beach offers a peaceful day of relaxation and enjoying the waves and is only a short drive (1.5 hours) from New Orleans. If you're aching for a day at the beach, this is the closest one from the Big Easy.
3215 W Beach Blvd, Gulfport MS 39501
Biloxi Beach, MS
This beach is also 1.5 hours from New Orleans. Featuring excellent restaurants, getting a bite to eat after a long day in the sun is simple and convenient. There are plenty of beach chairs, and a few firepits are scattered for beach bonfires (these are nice to have while watching the beautiful sunsets).
Typically there are no large crowds on Biloxi Beach, so finding a private little spot for your belongings is easy. Close to a few casinos, hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants, this beach is the closest one to Louisiana, so if you're just dying to find a beach during your stay in New Orleans, Biloxi Beach will do. If anything, you can stop, take in the sunset, and take some pictures of the sand dunes! Depending on the season, this beach stays rather clean, but remember that is is located on the Gulf of Mexico where many hurricanes have caused environmental chaos.
There are many access points along this beach with parking lots dispersed here and there.
2200 Beach Blvd
Biloxi, MS 39531
Dauhpin Island, AL
You won't find another beach like Dauphin Island, Alabama. Just 2.5 hours from New Orleans, this island in Alabama is a perfect spot to get a taste if nature. Crossing over the long bridge to this island will feel like you're entering a peaceful sanctuary and leaving behind any tension.
The sands and cool tides from the Gulf of Mexico make up this wonderful beach. A beautiful, green park lines the sandy shores, making your experience more than just another day at the beach. And if you are looking to cool down without going in the water, this amazing park offers the opportunity to surround yourself with nature as you go birding or take a stroll in the park.
Dauphin Island is worth the drive from New Orleans if you're looking for a relaxing day to walk around and soak up the sun.
3125 Dauphin Island Pkwy Mobile, Alabama
Gulf Shores Public Beach, AL
A little further down the coast, you will find the beautiful little city of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Gulf Shores is an excellent place for family and feels very safe compared to other popular cities in the area like Panama City Beach. Plus, the soft white sand and emerald sparkling waters create a beautiful atmosphere - even on overcast days! This makes for a wonderful place to snap a few photos. Gulf Shores is also the home of the Hangout Fest every summer; a hot festival with the best music around.
The public beach has multiple access points and between the months of March and September, there are lifeguards on duty. West 6th Street, Lagoon Pass, and Gulf Place are the most highly recommended beaches of this public beach. Also, Gulf Shores is placed on the "Cleanest Beaches in America Top 25" list!
To get an overview of what each of this beach has to offer, check out the "Know Your Beach" list below.
1054 W Beach Blvd
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
This is the list of spots with public beach access to the Gulf Shores Public Beach. If you are searching for specific amenities, like showers or free parking, this is an easy guide.
James Lee Park and Public Beach, Destin, FL
About a 4-hour drive will take you to a more popular beach featuring in-town nightlife and surf shops. Here, the beaches stay clean and attract a friendly crowd looking for fun in the sun.
There are 12 beaches within the city limits of Destin, FL. The James Lee Park and Public Beach is a great beach for family fun, exercise, and a bay of sunbathing.
The nearby park makes for a fun day - perfect for going for a walk to escape the sun and cool off in the shade of the trees. This park holds multiple pavilions, picnic tables, dune walkovers, playgrounds, and restrooms with changing tables. With a park this close to the beach, you can enjoy more than just the beach and making the 4-hour drive worth while.
Both the beach and park are free with a parking lot large enough for 166 cars.
3510 Scenic Hwy 98
Destin, FL 32541
Ft. Walton Beach, FL
Fort Walton Beach is a 4-hour drive from the festive city of New Orleans. Known as the "Treasure of the Emerald Coast," this beach is known for its beauty, cleanliness, and smooth white sands. These waters are popular for beach-goers and fishing year-round. Spring break kicks of summer of activity on this beach and many vacationers enjoy taking a day (or more) to settle themselves on the sand.
Fort Walton has many attractions, restaurants, and resorts/hotels available close to the beach. With multiple entrances and a wide span or beach, you will find a comfortable place to spread out a towel and soak up some sun. There is also a wonderful pier near the hotels that is the perfect place to watch the sunset.
Destin Public Beach, FL
Destin beaches are excellent for vacationers who want a clean environment with lots to do nearby. This 4+ hour drive from New Orleans is a long one, but the beautiful coastal views will keep you occupied along the way.
Destin is a popular vacation spot for spring break and summer, but if you're looking to enjoy the beauty of this beach in peace, visiting during the winter months is a good option. Destin is a family oriented and there are many things to do right on the beach. Hang gliding, jet skiing, banana boating, and parasailing are just a few of the activities you will find along the shoreline.
Being so close to New Orleans, Destin is a great getaway spot if you need some time alone or with your significant other. With twelve entrance locations, access to this beach is as easy as driving near the ocean. These are the access points:
Norriego Point Public Beach Access
O’Steen Public Beach Access
Calhoun Public Beach Access
June White Decker Public Beach Park
Silver Shells Beach Public Beach Accesses
Henderson Beach State Park (Fee required.)
Shirah Street Public Beach Access
Shore at Crystal Beach Public Access & Park
Crystal Beach Drive Public Beach Access
Barracuda Street Public Beach Access
Pompano Street Public Beach Access
James Lee Park Public Beach
Destin offers so much to do that you may want to consider staying at local hotel or motel for a night so you can enjoy two full days exploring the town and the beautiful beach.
Because there are so many fun things to do in New Orleans, a day at the beach may not be at the top of your list. However, if you have the urge to see a beautiful sunset while viewing the sparkling water of the Emerald Coast, these beaches are just a short trip away.
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