Louisiana is a state full of natural wonders and cultural treasures. Lakes, swamps, bayou life, and alligators abound in the state’s southern portion, which borders the Gulf of Mexico. Prairies and agriculture dominate the state’s northern region.
Even though New Orleans gets all the attention when people think of visiting Louisiana, the rest of the state is rich with attractions that make it a top destination. Louisiana is home to a wide variety of tourist destinations, including historical landmarks, old breweries, informative museums, and expansive plantations. Here, therefore, is a guide to the best places to visit in Louisiana that you can count on.
1. New Orleans
Located on the Mississippi River and not far from the Gulf of Mexico is the city of New Orleans. The city is famed for its vibrant nightlife, earning it the nickname “The Big Easy.” visitors from around the country come to this party destination. The city has a rich live music tradition and other performance art forms. African, European, American, and French cultures have all coexisted in New Orleans throughout its history.
New Orleans hosts the world-famous Mardi Gras festival every year in the late winter, which is celebrated with wild, costumed parades and nonstop parties.
2. Louisiana State Capitol
The Louisiana State Capitol building is a significant part of the state’s heritage. This towering structure in Baton Rouge houses Louisiana’s state government. It is the highest capitol building in the United States at 450 feet, and visitors may look out over Baton Rouge from the 27th-floor observation deck. Since there is no entry cost, this observation deck is among the best free attractions in Louisiana. Gifts can be purchased, and food can be purchased here. The estate’s stunning gardens are a fitting complement to the state capitol.
3. Jackson Square
Jackson Square, located in the center of New Orleans’ French Quarter, is one of New Orleans’ most visited attractions. The famous Louisiana Purchase took place in this park, making Louisiana a U.S. possession. The park and a statue dedicated to Andrew Jackson, a hero of the Battle of New Orleans, are named after him.
Nearly all sides of the park are lined by historic structures like the Upper and Lower Pontalba Apartments, the oldest apartment complexes in the United States, the Saint Louis Cathedral, and the Presbytere and Cabildo (which contain Louisiana State Museums). There are stores, restaurants, and art galleries on the ground floor of the flats. For over fifty years, Jackson Square has hosted an outdoor community of artists. Work by local artists is on display on the square’s iron barrier.
4. Louisiana Wetlands
It would be best if you appreciated the Louisiana wetlands while you still can because this environment is quite delicate and has had some difficulties over the years. They have been significantly depleted due to farming, mining, construction, and even the rare hurricane.
Here you can experience the authentic wildness of the south. Visitors can see anything from white-tailed deer and raccoons to the resident alligators on eco-friendly boat cruises. It’s a paradise for nature lovers, as the marsh waters are teeming with wildlife of all kinds. Without a doubt, one of Louisiana’s most stunning tourist destinations.
5. Old State Capitol
In some ways, the Old State Capitol structure is mysterious. It has the outside appearance of a castle and conceals valuables inside. There’s a museum there that aims to teach visitors about everything from art to government.
Crossing the threshold of this 19th-century structure will reveal a riot of color. At the correct time of day, a stunning stained glass window in the building’s main hall fills the space with a gentle rainbow of colors.
The suffragette struggle for women’s suffrage is only one of the many movements honored in the exhibits, including ghost tours and full-length films. It’s a great place to spend a rainy afternoon.
6. Mississippi River
The Mississippi River, which begins its journey in Minnesota and continues to the Gulf of Mexico, is a spectacular sight to witness. It is the second-largest river in all of North America. It has the same cultural significance to Louisiana as Mardi Gras and jazz do.
The river itself, as well as the land that surrounds it, offers a wide variety of activities. Take a cruise on a genuine paddle steamer, enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants along the bank that serve authentic cuisine from the South, or simply go for a stroll. Because it is nearly 2000 miles long, you cannot possibly see everything in one day.
Alexandria, Louisiana, sits on the southern banks of the Red River in central Louisiana. The Arna Bontemps African American Museum is just one of many museums in the area. The museum is housed in Arna Bontemps’s childhood home and features displays of his artwork with historical photographs and other artifacts.
There is also the Louisiana History Museum in Alexandria, which has some very informative exhibitions on the city and state’s history. The Alexandria Zoological Park is an excellent place for kids and animal lovers with a wide variety of animals in their natural environments.
8. Louis Armstrong Park
Located directly opposite the French Quarter, Louis Armstrong Park covers an expansive 32 acres in New Orleans’ Treme area. The New Orleans Municipal Auditorium, the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, and other buildings that make up the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park are all located in this park.
The grounds also include the historically significant Congo Square, which played a pivotal part in the development of African American music. The first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was held in Louis Armstrong Park, which was named after the legendary jazz performer.
9. Lafreniere Park
Lafreniere Park is the city’s largest public park in the heart of Metairie. A tiny island with a pavilion, streams, and fountains are just some of the water features found in this park. Pedestrians can explore the park’s perimeter through a two-mile walking track. Parking and stretching facilities are conveniently located at several points along the route.
There are two spacious, enclosed playgrounds that are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, and they both have seating areas where parents can take a break from watching their kids play. The park features multiple sports and multi-purpose fields, including five soccer fields and two baseball diamonds. Birds, turtles, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, and nutria are just a few of the animals that can be seen in the park.
10. Atchafalaya Basin
The Atchafalaya Basin in southwestern Louisiana is home to the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. The basin’s 260,000 acres of cypress-tupelo swamps are among its most recognizable features. Bayous, bald cypress swamps, marshes, and brackish waterways converge in the Gulf of Mexico, creating a unique ecosystem.
Only a handful of highways, notably Interstate 10, run along the tops of the levees, providing access to the sparsely populated wilderness prone to regular flooding. The Louisiana Black Bear, which is in danger of extinction, lives in the basin’s forest. Alligators, ducks, and other migratory birds are among the endangered and threatened species whose habitats are being protected by the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge.
11. New Orleans French Quarter
New Orleans French Quarter is one of the most well-known and highly recommended destinations in all of Louisiana. Head to the French Quarter if you’re looking for a romantic setting with a dash of flair. It’s a fusion of the very ancient and the cutting edge that will make your head spin. Imagine a world full of powdered wigs, fake beauty spots, and hand fans, and you won’t be far off.
In addition to breathtaking sights, you’ll be treated to an array of tasty treats. After all, we are in a French neighborhood. Experience a melting pot of cultures by sampling a cocktail in one of the many traditional, if somewhat ostentatious, chandelier-lit bars and feasting on some delicious Creole fare.
12. Tree Tunnel Louisiana
Within this Tree Tunnel, you’ll find twenty-eight trees with twisted trunks and branches that reach out toward one another above the broad path that leads to the stunning plantation home. Get there early or stay late for the best chance of a good photo without a bunch of gawking visitors in the background.
Even though the tree tunnel is picturesque, you should check out the home itself. You can witness the lavish lifestyles of the wealthy and the terrible suffering of the poor. Culture, history, and the dark side of human nature are all on display. In Louisiana, this is an absolute must.
13. Palmetto Island State Park
The Palmetto Island State Park is a beautiful addition made relatively recently. If you want to get a head start on the next day and get the most out of the time you have, you have the choice to spend the night here.
You will be spoiled for choice regarding activities you may do outside; kayaking, sailing, and cycling are all on the agenda. If all of this wasn’t enough for you, you can always kick back, relax, and take in the soothing sounds of crickets and croaking frogs as they sing their evening songs. The outdoors do not get much more authentically southern than this.
14. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is another attraction that can be found in New Orleans, and it is often regarded as one of the top destinations in Louisiana for families with young children. The aquarium displays the aquatic life of the United States with a collection of 10,000 animals representing 530 distinct species.
The Caribbean reef is one of the most exciting exhibits, and it is housed in a long tunnel with a capacity of 132,000 US gallons. It has a variety of marine species, including angelfish and tarpon. The Amazon display is no less awe-inspiring as it features an anaconda, macaws, freshwater stingrays, and piranhas.
15. The National WWII Museum
The National D-Day Museum was the city of New Orleans’ first museum, and it didn’t change its name until 2000 when it became the National WWII Museum. The role that the United States played in ensuring the victory of the Allies in World War II is the primary emphasis of this military history museum. The Sherman tank, the Enigma machine, the Norden bombsight, the Spitfire fighter plane, and the Dauntless dive bomber are some of the most popular exhibits at the museum, even though the museum brags about having an extensive collection. Visitors are interested in seeing these displays. The museum, which draws a significant number of visitors annually, is gradually developing into one of the most popular attractions in the state of Louisiana.
16. Baton Rouge
It is the state capital and the largest city in Louisiana, Baton Rouge. Both the current, functional capital building and the demolished, museum-operated previous capitol building are open to the public for tours. The USS Kidd, a decommissioned Navy warship, is also open for tours.
In addition to LSU’s Rural Life Museum, which depicts life in 19th-century Louisiana, Baton Rouge is home to the Baton Rouge Gallery and the Magnolia Mound Plantation House. The Baton Rouge Zoo and the nearby water parks Blue Bayou and Dixie Landin’ are great places to take the kids. Nearby is the expansive Atchafalaya Basin, the most extensive marsh in the United States and a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
17. Garden District New Orleans
The Garden District in New Orleans is an area rich in culture and history. The area is home to one of the most impressive collections of historic residences and mansions that can be found anywhere in the southern United States. In the past, this region served as the location for several affluent American families and their associated plantations.
Although the enormous gardens that used to surround the homes gave the neighborhood its name, many of the properties were eventually subdivided, and many of the gardens were replaced with Victorian homes. Despite this, the neighborhood still retains its name.
18. Woldenberg Riverfront Park
The core business district of New Orleans is home to the public park Woldenberg Riverfront Park. The park’s viewpoint on the Mississippi River makes it a great spot from which to see the river’s many passing ships. Picnic areas abound, and the park’s many pathways can be used for running, walking, or cycling.
The park is home to various annual events, including the French Quarter Festival’s main stages. The park plays host to several smaller concerts and street artists at certain times throughout the week.
19. Avery Island
The natural paradise and island best known for Tabasco sauce’s origin are what you’ll find on Avery Island. The Tabasco restaurant and country store are the final two sites on the self-guided 10-stop tour, including the Tabasco museum, industrial building, and barrel warehouse.
Many different kinds of flora and fauna from all over the world have made their home on this island. Exotic birds, especially egrets, were relocated to the island now known as Bird City for their safety. Various unusual flora, such as azaleas, camellias from Japan, and papyrus sedge from Egypt, make up the Jungle Gardens. Alligators and white-tailed deer can also be seen roaming the island.
20. Longue Vue House and Gardens
Longue Vue House and Gardens is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a place to go after you’ve had your fill of the French district. Every single room in the house is an absolute work of art. The word “decadent” comes to mind as the best way to characterize it.
The home is not the only focus. There is a fusion of architectural and cultural influences in these spacious and lovely gardens. There are tidy hedgerows, manicured lawns, and fountains aplenty.
21. Oak Alley Plantation
There are times when the scenery is so breathtaking that you will want to spend more than a few hours there. The Oak Alley plantation serves as a good illustration of this point. You are recommended to spend the night at this location due to the charming cottages and the breathtaking scenery.
You can relax by taking a stroll about the grounds, or you can get a proper education by paying a visit and taking a tour of the “big house.” During this in-depth tour, you will not only learn about the history of the house and gardens, but you will also gain some insight into the lifestyles of individuals who lived during time frame of when the house was built.
22. Melrose Plantation
The Melrose Plantation is an impressive structure that has a fascinating history. It goes beyond that; it’s actually a story. Both industry and slavery had a significant role in the development of the South throughout its early years.
Even though it was a difficult period, this plantation, which has been meticulously conserved, will provide you with a genuine understanding of what it was all about. There are guided tours available that describe the history of not only the house but also the people who owned it. One of whom was a formerly enslaved person who was eventually set free.
On the banks of the Vermillion River in southwestern Louisiana stands the city of Lafayette. The city sits right in the heart of Acadiana, a region home to a significant amount of Cajun and Creole heritage and culture. Acadian Village offers what is arguably the best opportunity to become completely submerged in the culture of the area. It is a rebuilt Cajun town that showcases genuine furniture and restored real homes and buildings from neighboring bayou communities. Lafayette is also home to two sports and entertainment venues known as the Cajundome and the Cajun Field.
24. Audubon Park
Uptown, New Orleans’ historic district, is home to the beautiful and well-visited Audubon Park. Both locals and tourists enjoy spending time at the park for its many recreational opportunities. It contains a jogging path 1.8 miles long and is flanked by beautiful, ancient oak trees that provide shade and a peaceful ambiance. The park offers a variety of amenities, including a lagoon, horse stables, picnic shelters, and playgrounds.
One may find several sporting facilities on the premises, such as soccer fields and tennis courts. In addition to being home to the Whitney Young Pool, the Audubon Golf Club, and the Audubon Clubhouse Cafe, Audubon Park is also home to Audubon Park.
25. Cypress Island Preserve
Over 9500 acres of cypress-tupelo swamp and hardwood woodland are protected on Cypress Island Preserve, which is located between Breaux Bridge and Lafayette. It is home to various lizards, snakes, frogs, and other amphibians. Wading bird rookery contributes to the park’s status as a prime location for birdwatchers.
The Cypress Island Visitor Center is staffed by park enthusiasts and provides access to informative exhibits and valuable park data. Picnic pavilions are conveniently located nearby, giving guests a scenic and relaxing spot to enjoy a meal. Trail walks can be taken off the levee, where they begin unless it is alligator breeding season.
26. Jean Lafitte National Park
Jean Lafitte National Park encompasses more than 40,000 acres of wetlands, providing visitors with a wide range of opportunities to engage in various activities. Take a walk along a designated trail, have a picnic, and see the wildlife that lives in the area. Be careful; the alligators won’t thank you if you feed them! We are being serious; you won’t be able to miss them because they are present in every single place.
27. Fontainebleau State Park
You may discover the Fontainebleau state park on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain’s shoreline. It once served as the location of a sizable sugar plantation and encompasses an area of around 2800 acres. In modern times, it allows people to take in some healthy oxygen while surrounded by towering oak trees and lush greenery.
You have the option of building a tent and spending the night there, as well as renting lodges and cottages. Visit the lake’s shore on hot days to cool off in the water and catch some rays.
Venice is an excellent choice if you’re seeking an outdoor experience, mainly a fishing trip. You may find Venice in southeastern Louisiana, not far from where the Mighty Mississippi meets the Gulf of Mexico. Several of the finest fishing charters in the United States set sail from this city. Charter boats and tour guides are both readily available in Venice.
Various trips are available from these businesses, and knowledgeable guides will lead you to the best spots for catching big fish. Venice has the fishing experience you are looking for, whether you want to try to catch a record-setting fish or want to spend a day on the lake and bring home some fish for the freezer.
29. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a lake owned by the city and is surrounded by protected cypress, tupelo woods, and marshes. There are many different species of animals that call the wildlife refuge their homes, such as snakes, ducks, deer, skunks, tree frogs, alligators, red-eared sliders and coyotes.
The refuge is home for a large number of migrating birds in addition to the species that already reside inside the grounds of the refuge. It is recommended that guests begin their exploration of the refuge at the visitor center, which can be found within the Black Bayou Lake Environmental Education Center and is housed in a renovated planter’s home. The center has a boat dock, theater, animal observation places, and hands-on displays that visitors can interact with.
30. Prien Lake Park
Prien Lake Park is located on the eastern side of Prien Lake, looking out over Indian Bay. The park offers various activities geared toward being enjoyed by families. The streams, fountains, and streams, as well as the green spaces and trees, provide a plethora of chances for leisure and enjoyment.
Pavilions and spots designated for picnicking are located around the park to accommodate those who prefer to bring their food and eat while there. Following your dinner at the picnic area, you may work off some of those extra calories by using the various walking and jogging routes that are available. Prien Lake Park is home to not only conventional playgrounds but also a “Sprayground,” a type of water park.
Shreveport is Louisiana’s third-largest city near the Red River. The city offers culture and recreation. The R.W. Norton Art Gallery showcases American and European art. Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium and Hirsch Memorial Coliseum host concerts and hockey games, respectively.
Shreveport is a typical US city, but the river views are spectacular if you time them correctly. Photographers should attend.
The Red River’s arched bridges and city skyline form a fantastic image, especially with a sunset. Even if you’re not a photographer, enjoy an evening stroll.
32. Mardi Gras Carnival
If you want to get a feel for the genuine joie de vivre that can be found in Louisiana, you should go to the Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans. Carnival celebrations begin on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and end on the day before Ash Wednesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday. These Carnival celebrations begin on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day). When the festival season rolls around in New Orleans, you will notice that the city’s streets are filled with individuals dressed in elaborate costumes that feature colorful feathers and capes. A variety of parades and balls are held across the city to celebrate the happiness that the festival brings.
In the northeastern corner of Louisiana lie the twin cities of Monroe and West Monroe, which serve as centers for education, the economy, and medical care. Monroe has a strong reputation among aviation enthusiasts since it was the birthplace of the legacy airline Delta Airlines. Visitors to the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum learn not only about the military career of General Claire Chennault but also about other aspects of regional, national, and international aviation and military history.
There are several one-of-a-kind boutiques, neighborhood bars, and local restaurants in the area. Families will likely find something to enjoy at either the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens or the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, both of which are frequented by people from all over the state and the country.