Top 10 Best Things to Do in Louisiana

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Even the name Louisiana evokes a feeling of sultry summer nights with cicadas chirping nearby, and the laughter of friends and family over a table groaning ... read more...

  1. The French Quarter is New Orleans' oldest and most famous neighborhood. Its beautiful buildings date back as far as 300 years, many with wrought iron balconies that extend over the tourist-filled sidewalks below. Visitors flock to the French Quarter for sightseeing, shopping, dining, and entertainment. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, it was in this pleasant park that the famed Louisiana Purchase took place. Fitting of such a monumental moment in history, its lovely landscaped lawns are lined by fetching facades, with the phenomenal Pontalba Buildings and the spectacular Saint Louis Cathedral overlooking its charming confines.

    The most popular place to visit in the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, which is alive year-round with throngs of tourists and live music. North Rampart Street is less crowded but has many historic buildings and good restaurants, while Decatur Street is a popular hangout for hipsters. Jazz clubs line the pedestrian-friendly Royal Street, which is also known for its antique shops and art galleries. Louis Armstrong Park is another popular tourist attraction, home to the historic Congo Square, where the city's African-American community once socialized before gaining freedom. The park covers 31 acres and includes trails, fountains, and a huge statue of jazz legend Louis Armstrong.

    Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States


    Price: $312 per person
    10:00 AM - 17:00 PM

    TripAdvisor Review: ‎22,586 reviews

  2. One of the most important and impressive historic sites in Louisiana, Oak Alley Plantation can be found in the southeast of the state. Set in a stunningly scenic spot on the banks of the Mississippi River, it is particularly known for the charming canopy of trees that welcome you to the property.

    It’s after this 240-meter-long pretty path that the plantation is named; the double row of oak trees was planted sometime in the early 18th century. At the end of these terrific towering trees is a magnificent mansion showcasing some delightful Greek Revival Architecture, with a colossal colonnade and wraparound porch looking out over the gardens. This astounding antebellum architecture and lovely landscaping mask a painful past, with enslaved people having toiled on the plantation for decades producing sugarcane. The exterior features a free-standing colonnade of 28 Doric columns on all four sides that correspond to the 28 oak trees in the alley. Oak trees such as these are a common feature of antebellum mansions of the Mississippi River Valley. Visitors to Oak Alley can learn all about this and more by taking a tour around the National Historic Landmark.

    Location: Vacherie, Louisiana, United States
    1 225-265-2151
    $20 per person
    8:30 AM - 17:00 PM
    TripAdvisor Review:
    ‎3,501 reviews

  3. Known for its attractive and atmospheric tombs, mausoleums, and grounds, Lafayette Cemetery No 1 can be found in the gorgeous Garden District of New Orleans. Not to be confused with the second such named cemetery that is unkempt and unmaintained, it is a very popular and picturesque place, with lots of fantastic photos to be had of its striking statues and crumbling crypts.

    Opened in 1833 in what was then a suburb of the city, its plots were quickly filled in the following decades. Some sections contain entire families, as deadly yellow fever outbreaks struck New Orleans. Many of its mausoleums date to this era; their decadent designs now look wonderfully worn and weathered among the lush undergrowth and greenery. A place of great architectural, social, and historical importance, it has been featured in numerous films and music videos over the years. In addition, author Anne Rice famously emerged out of a coffin in the Lafayette Cemetery No 1 when promoting her novel Memnoch the Devil in 1995. The World Monuments Fund placed Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 on its "Watch" list in 1996 due to the dilapidated state of some tombs, and it did so again in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina damaged much of the cemetery.

    Location: 1427 Washington Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
    1 504-658-3781
    Free Admission
    : 7:00 AM. - 14:30 PM
    TripAdvisor Review: ‎
    2,853 reviews

  4. Set just 70 kilometers upriver from New Orleans is the Whitney Plantation, the only museum in Louisiana to focus exclusively on the lives of enslaved people. This is in stark contrast to most other plantation tours, which focus on the ‘big house’ and the slave-owning families. Whitney Plantation educates the public about the history and legacies of slavery in the United States. Visitors to the museum will learn about the history of slavery through a combination of exhibits, an hour and 15-minute tour, and conversations with the staff.

    Generations of Africans and their descendants were enslaved here to establish and maintain indigo, rice, and sugar crops. Visitors learn about this history through tours, exhibits, memorials, and artwork. Fascinating to explore, the sprawling property has barns, a blacksmith shop, and slave quarters to wander around, as well as a fantastic French Creole-raised-style main house that was built in 1803. Through exciting exhibits and a moving memorial, visitors learn about the legacy of slavery and the painful past of the people who lived on the plantation. Whitney Plantation is so well-preserved that parts of Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained were shot on the property to give it an authentic look and feel.

    Location: 5099 LA-18, Edgard, Louisiana 70049, USA

    Tel: 1 225-265-3300

    Price: $45 to $71 per person

    Hours: 10:00 AM - 15:00 PM
    TripAdvisor Review
    : ‎1,734 reviews

  5. Louisiana has five national parks – one of the most popular is the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park. It welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to explore a well-preserved natural region in the state. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park is established on the Mississippi River Delta and includes the surrounding landscape. Its name derives from a pirate and holds lots of modern treasures worth exploring for anyone visiting Louisiana.

    The Barataria Preserve
    in Marrero interprets the natural and cultural history of the region. The preserve has trails and canoe tours through bottomland hardwood forests, swamps, and marsh. An Education Center provides curriculum-based programming for school groups and a visitor center with a film and exhibits. Stop by the park headquarters before venturing into the park. You can find maps, trail information, and tours. There are many different tours available in the national park, including nature walks and boat tours. Guided nature walks take groups on a trail through the region to see the diverse plants, and wildlife sightings and learn about the history. The boat tours cruise through the park's swamps to explore the wetland region along the riverbanks. Keep your eyes open for a chance to see alligators!

    Location: Marrero, Louisiana 70072, United States


    Tel: 1 504-589-3882

    Price: Free Admission

    Hours: All Park Hours

    TripAdvisor Review: ‎984 reviews

  6. Sporting a delightful and distinctive design, the Old State Capitol looks more like a castle than a historic governmental building. The Gothic-Revival-style Old State Capitol makes a dramatic impression on visitors passing by and is equally impressive on the inside. Two huge towers flank the main entrance, and the roof is crenelated. The building, which resembles an old castle, is set on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge.

    Built between 1847 and 1852, the National Historic Landmark boasts a gorgeous Gothic Revival style: crenelations and towers are spied alongside a fantastic facade. Inside is just as striking, with a spectacular spiral staircase and stained glass dome lying at the center of many elegant halls and galleries. After the state’s seat of government was moved to the current capitol building in 1932, ‘Louisiana Castle,’ as it is also known, was used by various veterans’ organizations for several decades. This historic landmark building now houses a political history museum, which includes artifacts, documents, and interactive exhibits that explore the state's long history. Nowadays, it hosts the marvelous Museum of Political History, which has various educational and interactive exhibits on the history, culture, and heritage of the state.

    Location: 100 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
    1 225-342-0500
    Free Admission
    Hours: 10:00 AM - 16:00 PM
    TripAdvisor Review:
    708 reviews

  7. Located on 170 acres of land on Avery Island, Jungle Gardens is a semi-tropical botanical garden and bird sanctuary created by the son of the man who invented Tabasco sauce. The gardens include a number of walking paths and are planted with a wide variety of flowers, including azaleas, bamboo, Japanese camellias, and hydrangeas.

    Other highlights include a 900-year-old Buddha statue set in an Asian Garden and Bird City, a sanctuary that provides roosts for thousands of snowy egrets and other types of birds. The gardens are open 7 days a week but are closed on major holidays. Turning onto the gravel path into Jungle Gardens, the scenery looks like something out of a film. The majestic oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss, form a canopy over the road. Some of the trees are so ancient and massive, that they appear to be resting their branches on the ground. Take a moment to observe the surroundings, and you’ll likely spot a deer grazing on the grass or a lazy alligator sunning on the banks of the bayou. In these lush surroundings away from the rest of the world, time feels like it’s standing still.

    Location: Louisiana 329 &, Main Rd, Avery Island, Louisiana, United States


    Tel: 1 337-369-6243

    Price: $9.5 to $12.5 per person

    Hours: 10:00 AM - 17:00 PM

    TripAdvisor Review: ‎668 reviews

  8. Nestled away in the northwest of the state is the small city of Natchitoches, which is most known for its handsome historic district. Full of beautiful old buildings with lots of arresting architecture and plantations on show, it is the oldest settlement in the whole of Louisiana. The Natchitoches, LA Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Natchitoches Parish. This is the heart of the Cane River Louisiana Creole community, free people of color of mixed-race descent who settled here in the antebellum period. Their descendants continue to be Catholic and many are still French-speaking.

    Founded as a French outpost all the way back in 1714, the city lies on the banks of the charming Cane River and is named after the indigenous Natchitoches people. Due to its origins, it boasts lots of lovely French and Spanish colonial-era architecture. Its well-preserved historic center is very reminiscent of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Strolling peacefully around the scenic city really is a treat, with its standout sights being the fabulous Fort Saint Jean Baptiste and its numerous historic plantations. Besides this, it also has lots of quaint B&Bs and boutiques dotted about, with cozy cafes and excellent restaurants also on offer.

    Location: Louisiana, United States

    Price: Free Admission

    TripAdvisor Review: 366 reviews

  9. Lying at the eastern tip of the beautiful barrier island of the same name is the gorgeous Grand Isle State Park, which is sure to delight nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Set at the spot where the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico meets Barataria Bay and the bayous of the Mississippi, it has a range of exquisite outdoor activities for you to enjoy.

    As it is home to wind-swept dunes, idyllic lagoons, and a secluded shoreline, the park is a great place to go birdwatching, with many different species on show. It is, however, most well-known for its fabulous fishing. An observation tower and fishing pier stand over the eastern end of the park, and the 2.5-mile Fiddlers Loop Nature Trail circles the perimeter of a pair of ponds where birds gather. Crabbing from a dock is also a popular pastime. Although it has been pulverized by numerous hurricanes in recent years and affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Grand Isle State Park retains its beauty and charm. On top of taking boat tours, there is some superb sunbathing and swimming on offer, with canoeing also a popular pastime.

    Location: 108 Admiral Craik Dr, Grand Isle, Louisiana, USA


    Tel: 1 985-787-2559

    Price: $3 per person

    Hours: 10:00 AM - 17:00 PM

    TripAdvisor Review: 211 reviews

  10. Every February or early March, the colorful and chaotic carnival of Mardi Gras is held throughout the whole of Louisiana. The most famous place to experience the mesmerizing mayhem is in New Orleans, where parades, balls, and costumed celebrations take place over the course of two weeks. This colorful event is a huge undertaking with a parade, balls, and street celebrations like none other.

    The event draws huge crowds who come to join in the celebrations and watch more than 1,000 floats go by on dozens of parade routes. To see the floats up close, tourists can visit Mardis Gras World, where you can watch artists and craftsmen build them. Nearly half of the celebration's floats, costumes, and props are created in this workshop. For even more information on this famous fiesta, stop by the Mardis Gras Museum, one of the top attractions in Lake Charles, in the southwestern part of the state. Although the celebrations in New Orleans can certainly get quite wild, lots of fun, festive yet family-friendly versions take place throughout other cities and communities in the Cajun country. Not to be missed out on, the magnificent Mardi Gras really is one of the best times of year to visit Louisiana.

    Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States


    Price: Free Admission

    Date: Easter − 47 days

    TripAdvisor Review: ‎127 reviews

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