There are so many reasons to love Louisiana, from its fantastic food and jazz to moss-draped swamps and bayous, stunning mansions and more. No matter what type of getaway you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it among these great options.
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Avery Island is a place that’s family to many people around the world, as its name is on every bottle of Tabasco sauce. Just 3 miles inland from Vermillion Bay, the city is home to the Tabasco headquarters and factory. The factory is open for public tours, so you can see how the iconic hot sauce is made. Avery Island also is home to the 170-acre Jungle Gardens, a beautiful nature reserve home to thousands of birds and indigenous plants, as well as wildlife like alligator, deer and raccoon.
Baton Rouge is a gorgeous city with an almost overwhelming number of things to see and do. It’s filled with grand old mansions, including the historic Magnolia Mound Plantation House. The French Creole home was built in the late 18th century and later expanded into a gracious plantation home with architectural influences of early settlers from France and the West Indies. Guides donning period costumes point out slave cabins and beautiful gardens. The city also offers riverboat casino gambling, a zoo, and a number of impressive museums.
This small town in the heart of Cajun Country is considered by many to be the Crawfish Capital of the World. It sits along the Bayou Teche, which winds past the historic downtown where you’ll discover multiple gourmet Cajun restaurants, boutiques and antique shops. Breaux Bridge also hosts a thriving music and folk art scene, while its annual crawfish festival is the biggest attraction of the year. Hosted on the first weekend of May, the festival celebrates the humble mudbug and draws a host of Cajun food lovers who come to enjoy the crawfish, as well as the region’s popular Cajun and Zydeco musicians, crawfish races, crawfish eating contests, and more.
Toledo Bend State Park
Toledo Bend Reservoir is nestled along the border of Texas and Louisiana, offering an abundance of recreational opportunities. In fact, the destination is nationally recognized for its bass fishing tournaments. In addition to enjoying all types of water-related activities, at North Toledo Bend State Park you can picnic, hike or just relax in the heart of nature, while South Toledo Bend State Park offers a scenic, waterfront view from numerous vantage points as well as hiking, biking, birding, and camping.
Grand Isle is a small town and the state’s only inhabited barrier island. This remote oasis is ideal for a nature lover’s weekend escape, boasting 7 miles of sandy white beaches as well as the Butterfly Dome, which is filled with native butterflies and plants. A birding/nature trail features five bird watching locations that offer the chance to spot the brown pelican, Louisiana’s official bird, as well as herons, sandpipers, grospeaks and some 100 species of songbirds. At Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge, you can try your luck at multiple outstanding fishing spots while enjoying views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Many people from around the world come to Louisiana just for the opportunity to experience New Orleans. While it’s renowned for its year-round party atmosphere, history buffs will love strolling the cobbled streets of the French Quarter, gazing up at the magnificent architecture that includes grand Antebellum mansions boasting balconies laced with intricate ironwork. Of course, you also can enjoy the city’s renowned jazz scene along with its famously delectable cuisine with everything from red beans and dirty rice to gumbo, crawfish boils and the famous signature beignets at Cafe du Monde.
Sometimes referred to as The End of the World, Venice is a must-experience. Frequently used as a starting point for offshore fishing, the destination is home to some of the finest fishing adventures in the area. By basing yourself here, you’ll also have easy access to Breton National Wildlife Refuge in the Chandeleur Islands, which provides crucial habitat and nesting grounds for 23 species of shore birds and sea birds, including a large tern colony and brown pelicans. While Venice was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, much has been done in recent years to rebuild the community and the city is starting to thrive once again.
Lots of travelers to this state come hoping for a swamp experience, and there are arguably few better places than Slidell. The city is home to Honey Island, a 250-square-mile swamp that’s considered to be one of the least altered and most unspoiled swamps in America. By taking the Original Honey Island Swamp Tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see alligators, turtles, beaver, mink, boar, owls, waterfowl, and plenty of moss-draped trees. If you’re concerned about the gators, you may want to know the locals say it’s not the toothy creatures you should be afraid of, but the Honey Island Swamp Monster — the area’s own version of Bigfoot.
Natchitoches is a must-visit for history enthusiasts, with a 33-city-block area designated as a National Historic Landmark. Here you can walk cobblestone streets to gaze at store facades with wrought iron decor and grand homes in Art Deco, Victorian, French Creole, Queen Anne, Federal and Spanish Revival styles, lending the area an Old World feel. Fans of the film “Steel Magnolias,” may recognize the many shooting locations among the homes that overlook Crane River Lake. The Crane River Creole Historic Park hosts preserved plantation buildings, including slave cabins.
Monroe offers the ideal blend of a rich cultural scene, the opportunity for a host of outdoor adventures, and outstanding cuisine paired with locally crafted beer and wine. Visitors can look forward to everything from golfing and exploring wildlife refuges and swamps on scenic hiking trails to checking out a military museum, beautiful gardens and multiple art galleries. The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens is a must-visit, hosting an indoor/outdoor Coke Museum that offers 5-cent Coke along with early Coca-Cola memorabilia, as well as the elegant home of Joseph Biedenharn, the first bottler of Coca-Cola and the stunningly manicured gardens with fountains, terraces, statues, year-round blooms and more.