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LOUISIANA TRAVEL GUIDE

Bourbon Street, New Orleans New Orleans mural City Park, New Orleans

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Louisiana! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Louisiana.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons

OVERVIEW



The primary draw of Louisiana is of course New Orleans. Although many would say it's a bit dirty and rough around its edges, New Orleans is still a top ten U.S. city for travelers. New Orleans is renown for its food, live music scene, and its annual celebrations and festivals. Beyond the dining and nightlife in New Orleans, Louisiana has several fantastic museums and historic homes/plantations. Louisiana also offers several excellent zoos, animal parks, and wildlife centers. The Tammany Trace trail just north of New Orleans offers one of the best paved rail trails in the U.S.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN LOUISIANA



Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Louisiana? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Louisiana, in no particular order:

Visit the outstanding National World War II Museum in New Orleans
Walk the 13-block French Quarter historic district in New Orleans
Cycle the paved Tammany Trace Trail rail trail
Visit the Oak Alley Plantation, which is perhaps the most famous plantation in the U.S.
Attend the wild Mardi Gras event (typically held in late February or early March)
Go boating in Atchafalaya Basin
Enjoy live music on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans
Gamble in one of Bossier City's fine casinos
Tour the Laura: A Creole Plantation in Vacherie
Take a guided food or sightseeing tour in New Orleans

If I could select only one place to visit in Louisiana, I would choose New Orleans. While it's a little rough around the edges in spots, it's still one of the best cities to visit in the U.S. If you're a foodie, there's few better places to eat in the country. The live music, French colonial architecture, and museums found in the city are all great too.

For a list of 10 great attractions in each U.S. state, click here.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN LOUISIANA



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Louisiana. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Louisiana bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Northern & Central Louisiana (including Monroe, Natchitoches, and Shreveport)
Alexandria Zoological Park, Alexandria - medium-sized zoo with 500+ animals
Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, Monroe - museum complex with a historic home, several museums, and many events throughout the year
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Monroe - great birdwatching and a good chance you'll see alligators
Casinos in Bossier City - e.g. Margaritaville Resort, Horseshoe, Sam's Town, Boomtown, etc.
Chicot State Park, Ville Platte - one of LA's best state parks; excellent fishing and boat rentals; good hiking, backpacking, and MTB trails
Gator Country LA Alligator Park, Natchitoches - one of several great alligator parks in the southeast; alligator feeding shows
Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store, Natchitoches - Louisiana's oldest general store
Natchitoches - a small city with B&Bs, historic buildings, cobblestone streets, and a riverfront downtown district; don't miss the Xmas Festival
R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport - good art museum with 40 acres of botanical gardens
Sci-Port: Discovery Center, Shreveport - good science museum with a planetarium and an IMAX dome theater

Southwestern & Southcentral Louisiana (including Lafayette and Lake Charles)
Coushatta Casino Resort, Kinder - one of several great casinos in Louisiana
Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino, Lake Charles - one of several great casinos in Louisiana
Jungle Gardens, Avery Island - large botanical garden and bird sanctuary; the TABASCO® Factory Tour is also here
L'Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles, Lake Charles - one of several great casinos in Louisiana
Rip Van Winkle Gardens, New Iberia - historic home with attractive gardens
Swamp boat tours from Breaux Bridge - take a guided tour through the beautiful swamps of Louisiana
TABASCO® Visitor Center & Pepper Sauce Factory, Avery Island - self-guided tours of the famous sauce factory
Vermilionville, Lafayette - re-created living history village and folk life park

Southeastern Louisiana (including Baton Rouge; see below for New Orleans)
Abita Mystery House and the UCM Museum, Abita Springs - classic roadside attraction with folk art and other oddities
Boating in Atchafalaya Basin - awesome air-boat tours of moss-covered bald cypress swamps
Bogue Chitto State Park, Franklinton - one of Louisiana's best state parks; cypress swamps and forests; good hiking and mountain biking trails
Capitol Park Museum, Baton Rouge - Louisiana culture and history museum
Fontainebleau State Park, Mandeville - lakeshore nature park with great hiking and cycling (including the famous Tammany Trace rail trail)
Global Wildlife Center, Folsom - take a safari tour in one of the largest free-roaming wildlife preserves in the U.S.
Houmas House, Darrow - guided tours of a spectacular mansion
Laura: A Creole Plantation, Vacherie - offers some of the best plantation tours in the U.S.
Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge - beautiful art-deco capitol building
Louisiana's Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge - historic state capitol that is now a building; billed as an "architectural treasure"
LSU Rural Life Museum, Baton Rouge - museum featuring more than twenty 19th century plantation buildings
LSU Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge - one of the best college football stadiums in the U.S.
Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville - billed as "one of America's most haunted homes"
Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie - perhaps the most famous plantation in the U.S.
Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, St. Francisville - historic home and former plantation surrounded by stunning scenery
Swamp boat tours from Slidell - take a guided tour through the beautiful swamps of Louisiana
Tammany Trace Trail - Louisiana's best rail trail; an awesome 30+ mile, completely continuous and 100% paved trail
USS Kidd, Baton Rouge - tour a World War II Navy Fletcher-class destroyer
Whitney Plantation, Edgard - tour several beautiful historic buildings; provides an excellent look into the hard lives of slaves
Zip NOLA, LaPlace - excellent zip-lining over a cypress swamp

New Orleans (see above for the rest of southeastern Louisiana)
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium - supposedly the largest "insect zoo" in the U.S.
Audubon Park - a large public park with playgrounds, walking paths, stables, a zoo, and more; surrounded by ancient live oak trees
Audubon Zoo - one of the top 25 zoos in the U.S; features more than 2,000 animals
Bourbon Street - famous lively (borderline wild) district of New Orleans
French Quarter - 13-block historic district in the "heart of New Orleans"
Frenchmen Street - the place to go for live music in New Orleans
Garden District - see a great collection of historic mansions
Guided tours in New Orleans - e.g. bicycle tours, cemetery tours, food tours, gondola tours, sightseeing tours, swamp tours, etc.
Jackson Square - "one of America's great green spaces"
JAMNOLA - a top-rated "pop up" art experience
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve - beautiful nature park with trails, museums, and a battlefield
Mardi Gras World - tour large warehouses filled with Mardi Gras floats
National World War II Museum - the premier World War II museum in the U.S.; one of the finest military museums in the country
New Orleans City Park - one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - famous live music festival typically held in late April/early May
New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) - excellent art museum
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum - visit an 1820's-era apothecary
Preservation Hall - famous jazz music venue
Royal Street - elegant district with antique & boutique shops
RTA Streetcars - take a ride on one of New Orleans' famous streetcars
Saenger Theatre - a beautiful and historic live performance venue
St. Louis Cathedral - the oldest Cathedral in North America
Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden - good art museum plus nearly 100 art sculptures

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions Louisiana? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

For a list of 5-star attractions in neighboring states, click on any of these links:  AR  |  MS  |  TX

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN LOUISIANA



These towns and cities in Louisiana are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Baton Rouge - a medium-sized capital city with several excellent museums and one of the best college football stadiums in America
Natchitoches - a small city with B&Bs, historic buildings, cobblestone streets, and a riverfront downtown district; don't miss the Xmas Festival
New Orleans - the largest city in the state has great french culture, cuisine, and architecture; lots of great live music venues, especially jazz; the famous annual Mardi Gras celebrations; several excellent museums

My favorite city in Louisiana is New Orleans - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 2-3 nights there
My favorite small town in Louisiana is Natchitoches - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 1 night there

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS LOUISIANA FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Louisiana is famous or well-known for:

alligators
bayous
blues music
cajun food / cuisine
casinos
creole food / cuisine
fishing charters
French colonial buildings
gumbo
jazz music / jazz clubs
Mardi gras celebrations / museums
plantations
riverboat casinos
shrimp
swamps / swamp tours
zydeco

Click here if you'd like to explore what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN LOUISIANA



There are currently no national parks in Louisiana. However, there are several other federally-managed parks and properties in the state, including:

National Monuments
Poverty Point National Monument - features Native American archaeological sites

National Forests
Kisatchie National Forest

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks & Properties
Cane River Creole National Historical Park
El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
Vicksburg National Military Park

For more information on Louisiana's national parks, visit the Louisiana page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN LOUISIANA



Louisiana has more than 35 state parks. Many would agree that these represent Louisiana's finest state parks:

Bogue Chitto State Park, Franklinton - cypress swamps and forests; good hiking and mountain biking trails
Chicot State Park, Ville Platte - excellent fishing and boating; good hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking trails
Fontainebleau State Park, Mandeville - lakeshore nature park with great hiking and cycling (including the famous Tammany Trace rail trail)

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN LOUISIANA



I don't know of any significant waterfalls in Louisiana. There may be few extremely seasonal falls that are interesting in high-water conditions though.

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN LOUISIANA



I'm not personally aware of any scenic roads in Louisiana that are notable on a national scale. A portion of the 2,000-plus mile Great River Road is in Louisiana, and while it does offer access to several good attractions (e.g. plantation tours), it really doesn't offer that great of scenery in and of itself.

I haven't driven the Creole Nature Trail through "Louisiana's Outback" yet, but it's possible I may recommend this drive in the future.

For a list of great scenic drives in each U.S. state, click here.

BEST RAIL TRAILS IN LOUISIANA



Here is a list of some of the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in Louisiana:

Mississippi River Trail - a 60+ mile system of disconnected paved trails in and near New Orleans
Tammany Trace - this 28+ mile, 100% continuous and 100% paved trail is often rated one of the best rail trails in the U.S.; travels from Covington to Slidell in southeastern Louisiana

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Louisiana, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN LOUISIANA



There are just a few notable amusement parks in Louisiana, including:

Northern & Central Louisiana (including Monroe, Natchitoches, and Shreveport)
Splash Kingdom Waterpark, Shreveport

Southeastern Louisiana (including Baton Rouge and New Orleans)
Blue Bayou Waterpark & Dixie Landin', Baton Rouge
Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, New Orleans
Storyland, New Orleans

BEST MUSEUMS IN LOUISIANA



Louisiana has several excellent museums, especially in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The best museums in Louisiana include:

Northern & Central Louisiana (including Monroe, Natchitoches, and Shreveport)
Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, Monroe
R.W. Norton Art Gallery, Shreveport
Sci-Port: Discovery Center, Shreveport

Southwestern & Southcentral Louisiana (including Lafayette and Lake Charles)
Vermilionville Historic Village, Lafayette

Southeastern Louisiana (including Baton Rouge and New Orleans)
Capitol Park Museum, Baton Rouge
International Petroleum Museum & Exposition, Morgan City
Louisiana's Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge
LSU Rural Life Museum, Baton Rouge
National World War II Museum, New Orleans
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, New Orleans
Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie
Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans
Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, St. Francisville
Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden - good art museum plus nearly 100 art sculptures
USS Kidd, Baton Rouge
Whitney Plantation, Edgard

The best museum in New Orleans is the National World War II Museum. It's one of the premier military museums of the U.S.

BEST DAY HIKES IN LOUISIANA



Comparatively speaking, Louisiana doesn't offer all that much in terms of hiking trails. Here are some of the best hiking areas in the state:

Northern & Central Louisiana (including Monroe, Natchitoches, and Shreveport)
Backbone Trail, Kisatchie Hills Wilderness Area
Chicot State Park trails
Longleaf Vista Nature Trail, Kisatchie National Forest
Tunica Hills State Wildlife Management Area trails

Southeastern Louisiana (including Baton Rouge and New Orleans)
Bogue Chitto State Park trails
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve trails

The highpoint of Louisiana is Driskill Mountain (535'). A short hike is required to reach the top.

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN LOUISIANA



Louisiana only offers a few backpacking opportunities. Here are the only backpacking trails/areas that I'm currently aware of:

Lake Chicot Loop Trail, Chicot State Park
Wild Azalea Trail, Kisatchie National Forest

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN LOUISIANA



Louisiana offers several great outdoor adventure opportunities, including:

Canoeing/kayaking the Bogue Chitto River
Canoeing/kayaking Cane Bayou
Canoeing/kayaking Ouiska Chitto Creek
Canoeing/kayaking in the swamps near New Orleans (e.g. Atchafalaya Basin)
Cycling the Mississippi River Trail
Cycling the Tammany Trace
Helicopter tours in New Orleans
Mountain biking in Bogue Chitto State Park
Mountain biking in Lincoln Parish Park
Skydiving in Gilliam or Slidell
Tubing the Amite River
Tubing the Bogue Chitto River
Tubing the Ouiska Chitto River

LOUISIANA TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Louisiana attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN LOUISIANA



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Louisiana:

alligator
beignets
boiled crabs
boudin sausage
butter beans
cracklings
crawfish / mudbugs
crawfish or shrimp etouffee
dirty rice
fricassee
fried soft shell crab
frog legs
grillades
gumbo (e.g. chicken & sausage)
Hurricane cocktails
jumbalaya
king cakes
meat pies
muffaletta
pastalaya (jambalaya with spaghetti noodles)
po' boy
red beans and rice
Sazerac cocktails
shrimp
shrimp gumbo
snowballs

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Louisiana (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Louisiana (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY LOUISIANA INFORMATION



State Capital:
Baton Rouge

Major Airports:
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)

Largest Cities:
New Orleans (392,031), Baton Rouge (227,066), Shreveport (185,249), Metairie (144,513), Lafayette (121,524)

Primary U.S. Interstates:
I-10, I-12, I-20, I-49, I-55, I-59

State Highpoint:
Driskill Mountain (535') in northern Louisiana; a short hike is required to reach the top

Professional Sports Teams:
NBA: New Orleans Pelicans
NFL: New Orleans Saints

Funny or Unique Town/City Names:
Boutte, Cranky Corner, Dry Prong, Plain Dealing, and Wham

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.



Bourbon Street, New Orleans
Bourbon Street, New Orleans

City Park, New Orleans
City Park, New Orleans

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans
St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans

New Orleans mural
New Orleans mural


ROAD TRIP GUIDEBOOKS



In addition to the information found on my website, I personally recommend purchasing these road trip/travel-related guidebooks. Click on any book cover to read reviews and/or purchase these books on Amazon.com.

        


MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this state travel guide? If so, here are links to more of my comprehensive U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama Maryland Oregon
Arizona Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Arkansas Michigan Rhode Island
California Minnesota South Carolina
Colorado Mississippi South Dakota
Connecticut Missouri Tennessee
Delaware Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Utah
Georgia Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana New Mexico Washington DC
Iowa New York West Virginia
Kansas North Carolina Wisconsin
Kentucky North Dakota Wyoming
Louisiana Ohio  
Maine Oklahoma  

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