Family Vacation Ideas Within a 7 Hour Drive from Lafayette

If you are looking to take a vacation within driving distance of Lafayette, Louisiana, we have you covered! There is also a terrific list of road trips within driving distance of New Orleans over here as well.

Family Vacation Ideas Within a 7 Hour Drive from Lafayette

Family vacations are everything! But traveling by air with children is not always the most joyous of situations when you have to deal with long airport wait times, security check points, and delays. Sometimes throwing everything in the car and hitting the road is the best way to go.

We all know and love the beautiful water and white sand beaches along Florida’s Emerald Coast. On any given Saturday or Sunday during the summer, I-10 is bumper to bumper with families in packed cars driving to their favorite beach rental in Pensacola or along scenic 30A.

But what are some other family friendly vacation spots that are within a 7 hour drive from Lafayette?

1. San Antonio, Texas –  415 miles (approximately 6.5 hours depending on how many times you stop at Buc-ee’s!)


San Antonio has some beautiful resorts that are a destination on their own. My top three family friendly choices are the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country, Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch. All offer superior pools, water slides, lazy rivers, family activities and nightly s’mores roasts by the fire pit.

Spend one day at the Natural Bridge Caverns and Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. Visitors drive their own vehicles through the Wildlife Ranch savannah and are able to feed the animals along the way. The zebras are extra friendly! The human maze and gem mining station are fun extras that are offered along with the cavern tour.

Visit Sea World for an up close look at marine life including the famous orca whales. Feeding the sea lions (for an extra charge) and the lunch with Shamu were highlights for my family. I highly recommend scheduling one or two of the behind the scenes animal encounters in advance to make the experience memorable. 

Visit the Riverwalk and the Alamo Mission (free!) in the same day.

2. Fairhope, Alabama – 275 miles (4.5 hours)

Downtown Fairhope is a charming, small southern jewel. Tucked away on the other side of Mobile, Fairhope’s quaint character does not seem to fit the rest of the state of Alabama. Shop, dine and explore one of the many celebrations, art walks or festivals that occur throughout the year.

The Grand Hotel by Marriott is the premier resort and suits the character of the old fashion town. It is situated on Mobile Bay with lovely swimming pools, playgrounds and summer activities for the kids to enjoy. Adults can partake in the spa, golf, tennis and spectacular bay views. Adults and children in our group enjoyed the on-site brunch. We visited in the fall when the pumpkin decorations were out and the fire in the lobby was just right. This is a place to slow down and relax to enjoy your family. Southern hospitality at its best.

The Dining Room at Grand Hotel

3. Galveston, Texas – 255 miles (4 hours and close enough for a weekend trip)

Galveston gets bonus points from me because during November, December and part of January, Disney Cruise Line sails out of the Port of Galveston making this a convenient option to hop aboard the Disney Wonder for a magical sailing.

Galveston as a destination offers some family attractions. It is on the Gulf Coast of Texas and has beach access (but don’t expect the white sand and clear water of the Emerald Coast). Moody Gardens is the most popular attraction with an aquarium, water park, rainforest attraction, 3D theater and paddle wheel boat. The Moody Gardens Hotel is the most convenient option when visiting the theme park.

The San Luis is another worthy resort. It is across the street from the beach and close to the Pleasure Pier where you will find rides and midway games on an actual wooden pier that juts out over the Gulf.

4. Grapevine, Texas – 415 Miles (6.5 hours)

Grapevine is a little town that offers big fun!

The Grapevine Vintage Railroad hosts various themed train rides that take place throughout the year. Day out with Thomas and The Polar Express are two popular railroad events that take place on the vintage coaches.

Legoland Discovery Center will keep your Lego lover entertained for hours. It has an outdoor splash area, ride, 4D movie, hands on sections, factory tour  and more.

Great Wolf Lodge is the wildly popular resort in Grapevine. This is a hotel with an indoor and outdoor water park built in along with other attractions such as the popular MagiQuest and an arcade. Recent visitor Anne recommends purchasing the Wolf Pass which includes a list of activities to keep the kids busy all day for one price.

The Gaylord Texan is a Texas sized resort with a beautiful sun filled atrium lobby. Christmas time is a great time to visit to enjoy larger than life decorations and events such as the ice carving exhibit, indoor snow tubing, gingerbread decorating, and story time with Mrs. Claus. Purchase the pass that includes all of the activities to get the best value and visit during the week if possible as weekends, especially those closer to Christmas, tend to be the most crowded. Couple this with The Polar Express event at the Vintage Railroad for a spectacular holiday visit! Bonus points here because this is a fun spot to capture your holiday card photo!

5. Broken Bow, Oklahoma and Beavers Bend State Park – 365 Miles (5.5 hours)

For a change of scenery from our Louisiana flatlands, go northwest to experience the forests and winding roads of the mountains. There is lodging available in the state park or in surrounding areas including cabin or house rentals near Broken Bow Lake. Hike, fish, boat, kayak, bike and explore the outdoors. This is a great option for a family on a budget.

6. Lake Hamilton, Arkansas – 385 miles (6 hours)

Lake Hamilton is one of the popular lakes near Hot Springs. Rent a home on the lake and drive to Hot Springs one day to see historic Bathhouse Row and visit Hot Springs National Park. VRBO is a reliable way to search for a lake house on Lake Hamilton. Choose a house with a nice porch to enjoy the scenery and a pool so that the kids can swim. Boat rentals and accessories such as tubes are readily available to rent and use during your stay. This is a very slow paced, relaxing vacation and even large homes are reasonably priced which makes it a great option to vacation with friends and extended family.

Marissa Prejean
Marissa is the proud mom of three blue-eyed boys. She graduated from Loyola University New Orleans and spent her early career years in public accounting and pharmaceutical sales. She traded in her full-time corporate gig to stay home with her boys until the baby started school full time. Never expecting to work again, Marissa’s love for family vacations planted the seed to turn her hobby into a vacation planning service. Thanks to this world full of internet overwhelm and automated processes, old fashioned customer service served her well. She quickly grew her company, Castles and Cruises Travel Company, into a full service travel agency specializing in Disney and family travel. You will also find her chauffeuring children, volunteering at school, playing tennis, shopping a good sale, and drinking lots of coffee!