New Orleans offers many free festivals and historic sites to explore, but there are also plenty of off-the-beaten-path places worth visiting just outside of the city limits. Many surrounding attractions are perfect for a day trip, located just a short drive from our French Quarter neighborhood.

Read on for 7 unique museums near New Orleans worth the trip!

The exhibits aren't the only art on display at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi. The facility was designed by reknowned architect Frank Gehry. (Photo courtesy Thomas Hawk, via Flickr)

The exhibits aren’t the only art on display at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi. The facility was designed by reknowned architect Frank Gehry. (Photo by Thomas Hawk, via Flickr)

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art

386 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, MS
Approximate driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

The work of the “Mad Potter of Biloxi” is on display at this art museum on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. George Edgar Ohr, who was active from 1883 to 1910, developed an innovative style of ceramics that led art critics to recognize him as an early leader in the American modernist movement. Located on the beach in Biloxi, this museum is perfect for a day trip from New Orleans.

Whitney Plantation

5099 Louisiana Highway 18, Wallace, LA
Approximate driving time: 1 hour

While there are numerous plantations within a short drive from Bienville House, Whitney Plantation is notable for being the first plantation museum that focuses specifically on the experience of slavery. The museum offers guided tours (which are required to view the exhibits) and shares first-person slave narratives to help visitors gain a better understanding of what Louisiana’s enslaved people endured.

Wedell-Williams Aviation & Cypress Sawmill Museum

118 Cotten Road, Patterson, LA
Approximate driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

This unique attraction in the tiny town of Patterson, Louisiana actually offers two museums in one. The Wedell-Williams Aviation Collection celebrates the Golden Age of Aviation, with airplanes and memorabilia from two of Louisiana’s aviation pioneers. Next door, the Cypress Sawmill Collection explores the history of the cypress lumber industry in Louisiana.

Admission to both exhibits is free, but check your calendar before you make the drive, as the museum is closed on Sundays, Mondays, and state holidays.

A drilling rig know as “Mr. Charlie” is the star of the show at the International Petroleum Museum & Exposition in Morgan City, LA. (Photo courtesy Mike Towber, via Flickr)

A drilling rig know as “Mr. Charlie” is the star of the show at the International Petroleum Museum & Exposition in Morgan City, LA. (Photo by Mike Towber, via Flickr)

International Petroleum Museum & Exposition

111 First Street, Morgan City, LA
Approximate driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

If you’ve ever wanted to see firsthand how an offshore oil rig works, without having to switch careers, The Rig Museum in Morgan City has the solution. The star of this museum is “Mr. Charlie”, the first transportable, submersible drilling rig which led the way for Louisiana’s offshore oil industry. Located on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, the Rig Museum offers tours Monday through Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Abita Mystery House

22275 LA-36, Abita Springs, LA
Approximate driving time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

If you’re a fan of the strange and unusual, you must make a side trip from New Orleans across Lake Ponchartrain to the Abita Mystery House. The exhibits range from folk art to vintage arcade machines to hybrid taxidermy animals. This quirky roadside attraction is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except for major holidays, and admission is $3 per person for ages 3 and up.

Kentwood Historical and Cultural Arts Museum

204 Avenue E, Kentwood, LA
Approximate driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

The small town of Kentwood’s biggest claim to fame is being the hometown of pop star Britney Spears. The Kentwood Historical and Cultural Arts Museum pays tribute to the diva with exhibits featuring a recreation of Britney’s childhood bedroom and a miniature replica of the pop star’s stage from the “Dream within a Dream” tour. This unassuming museum is located inside a residential house, and you must ring the front doorbell to enter. Admission is free, but the hours of operation can be sporadic, with the museum typically closing by 3:00 p.m. We suggest you call the museum at 985-229-4656 before making the drive to confirm that it will be open.

The National Hansen’s Disease Museum

5396 Point Clair Rd, Carville, LA
Approximate driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Leprosy may be thought of as a disease from ancient times, but it still exists and there’s a museum near New Orleans where you can learn about the disease’s history. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a bacterial disease that primarily affects the skin but can lead to nerve damage and loss of limbs if untreated. From the late 19th through early 20th century, the only leprosy hospital in the United States operated alongside the banks of the Mississippi River. Medical developments in the 1940s brought about modern treatments and understanding of the malady.

This former “leper colony” now houses more than 4,000 square feet of exhibits on the history of the hospital and the disease. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (closed on federal holidays), and admission is free. The museum is now located on a National Guard military base, so be prepared to stop at the entrance gate and show ID.

Plan your New Orleans vacation.

Bienville House is currently closed for renovations until February 1, 2018, but our sister property, Hotel Monteleone, is available for reservations during this time.

Both Bienville House and Hotel Monteleone are located in the heart of the French Quarter, New Orleans’ most historic neighborhood. Learn more about the history of Hotel Monteleone, which dates back to 1886.