As a former French colony, Louisiana has an extremely rich cultural, culinary and architectural heritage.
Most of the old towns, especially those located along the stream of the Mississippi River and in the huge river delta, are steeped in history and dotted with beautiful old buildings.
The biggest tourist attractions are the popular religious celebrations and music festivals (mostly in New Orleans) as well as the numerous cotton and sugar cane plantations scattered in different parts of the state.
Louisiana has a very warm and humid subtropical climate, and the state’s coast often suffers from severe tropical storms between April and November.
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At the same time, the weather here is mostly warm and sunny over the course of the year, which attracts hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers.
Louisiana is one of the greenest states in America. Significant part of the territory is covered with flooded forests, swamps and fertile river valleys, which makes the state a paradise for lovers of wildlife.
1. Oak Alley Plantation
Situated less than an hour drive west of New Orleans, Oak Alley Plantation lies near one of the sleeves in the delta of Mississippi River.
The plantation covers approximately 25 acres (10 hectares) and is one of the top tourist attractions in Louisiana.
This is an important historical place, with the main building being constructed between 1837 and 1839 in the Greek Revival style.
It is easily recognizable because of its 28 huge centuries old oak trees lining the both sides of the central alley.
2. Old Louisiana State Capitol
Constructed between 1847 and 1852, the Old Louisiana State Capitol was completed in the Gothic Revival architecture style.
It is one of the most important historical government buildings in Louisiana and served as a seat of the State House until the construction of the new government tower in 1932.
Designed to resemble a medieval-style castle, the Old Louisiana State Capitol is located on 100 North Boulevard in Baton Rouge, on the east bank of the Mississippi River.
This beautiful building was completely restored during the 1990s, and nowadays, it houses the Museum of Political History.
3. French Quarter of New Orleans
The French Quarter of New Orleans is one of the most emblematic places in Louisiana and is also the oldest neighbourhood of the city.
It is known for its old-style traditional buildings, most of which were constructed during the 18th and 19th century.
Although they call it the French Quarter, most of the old buildings and houses are actually in the Creole style, which is a mixture between Caribbean, Spanish and French features.
Being the main tourist attraction in the South of the United States, the area offers a wide choice of hotels and restaurants to choose from.
In addition, just a few minutes walk from here, the largest jazz festival in the world (the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival) takes place every year in April or Мay.
4. The Bayous in the Delta of Mississippi
Most of the coastal area of Louisiana is dominated by flooded and swampy woodlands called bayous.
This is the most typical landscape here, especially when it comes to the river delta of Mississippi.
The slow-flowing creeks and sneaking river sleeves together with the warm and wet climate in the region have formed a unique habitat of rare and sometimes dangerous species of animals.
Most of the tour agents here organize day boat trips to the quiet and secluded swampy areas west of the city of New Orleans.
This is a very good opportunity to see alligators and even cougars in their natural environment.
5. State Capitol Building
Located near the east bank of the Mississippi River, the State Capitol Building of Louisiana is one of the most iconic landmarks in the state.
It was constructed in Baton Rouge between 1930 and 1932 and was completed in the Art Deco architecture style, which was very popular in those days.
The State Capitol Building is surrounded by 30 acres (10 hectares) of wonderful gardens.
Here you can see centuries old oak trees and beautiful warm-loving flowers, including azaleas and magnolias.
Because of its cultural and historical importance, the building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
6. Saint Louis Cathedral
The Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, better known simply as St. Louis Cathedral, was constructed between 1789 and 1850.
Completed as a wonderful mixture between the French Gothic Revival, the Renaissance and the Spanish Colonial style, St. Louis Cathedral is considered one of 10 most beautiful churches in the New World.
During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the cathedral and the marble sculpture of Jesus Christ were damaged.
The then-Archbishop promised that the marble sculpture will be repaired only after the city itself is rebuilt.
After 10 very hard years in New Orleans, and after the city had largely returned to normal life, the repaired sculpture was reopened on August 23, 2015.
If you want to explore the French culinary heritage of Louisiana (the variety of seafood is awesome!), Thibodaux should definitely be on your travel bucket list.
Even being a small town, it offers quite a good choice of top rated restaurants to visit.
Not surprisingly, it is often referred to as one of the culinary capitals of Louisiana.
It lies 59 miles west of the downtown of New Orleans, in the delta of the Mississippi River, so it is a great opportunity for day trippers.
Apart from being a small culinary treasure, the town is also known for its beautiful colonial architecture as well as for being mentioned in a number of popular songs.
8. Honey Island
Within easy reach from New Orleans, one of the wildest and most exciting islands of Louisiana waits to be explored.
Honey Island (it is called like this because of the huge number of honey bees living here) lies northeast of the city.
It enjoys a growing popularity with tourists because of its flooded woodlands and swamps.
Situated in the river delta of Mississippi, this place is known for its untouched nature and rich variety of animal and plant species.
The area is considered the most preserved natural habitat in the southern United States, including along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
9. Laura Plantation
Built between 1804 and 1805, Laura Plantation is situated not far to the west from New Orleans (around 39 miles from the downtown), in the delta of the Mississippi River.
It consists of several buildings, with the main house being constructed mostly in the French Creole style.
Initially called Duparc Plantation, it covers an area of 37 acres (or around 15 hectares) and was functioning until the early 20th century.
The place is an important landmark and has been listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
10. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge
The Causeway (as they gently call the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge) is one of the most impressive infrastructure projects in the world.
As the terrain in the area of New Orleans has always been very difficult, and the concentration of swamps, rivers, creeks and lakes is very high, people used to spend hours to cover even a very short distance from one point to another in the vicinity.
This, of course, raised the question of a bridge that could easily connect the big city with the numerous smaller settlements to the north.
Finally, in the mid 20th century the project was realized. At first glance, the clearance under the bridge is only 15 ft (4.6 m) but what is more impressive is its length of almost 23.9 miles (or nearly 38.5 km)!
The bridge spanning Lake Pontchartrain was constructed in two stages. The southbound was opened in 1956, while the northbound was completed 13 years later, in 1969.
Nowadays, decades after being completed, the Causeway is still the longest continuous bridge in the world over water.
11. Holly Beach (or Cajun Riviera)
Although Louisiana has the fifth longest coastline in the United States (397 mi or 639 km), it is mostly dominated by the enormous delta of the Mississippi River, which explains why the water in some coastal areas (especially to the east) is brown and muddy.
That’s why the choice of the beachgoers looks limited, at least if you are not very well acquainted with the advantages of the state.
Some of the most attractive stretches of sand are to be found in the western part of Louisiana, not far from Texas.
The area is well-known as the Cajun Riviera with the beautiful Holly Beach being the top spot along the coast.
It is a quite tempting place as it combines soft creamy sands and emerald water.
The weather is quite good for the beach between early April and late October, with some days being perfect even in March and November.
One of the pros of the Cajun Riviera is the lesser number of visitors in comparison with Florida, California and other top destinations.
12. Morgan City Bridges
If you travel around Louisiana, don’t miss visiting the beautiful Morgan City, known for its bridges.
Spanning the Mississippi River and connecting Morgan City and Berwick, Long-Allen Bridge is one of the must visiting and recognizable old infrastructure projects in Louisiana.
Opened in 1933, the total length of the bridge is 3745.2 ft (around 1,141.5 m).
Nowadays, it is the most photographed landmark in this part of the state.
Right next to it, another bridge opened in 1975 attracts the attention of the visitors. E.J. “Lionel” Grizzaffi Bridge is the newer one but shares the same style and similar design so they coexist in a perfect harmony with each other.
13. Mardi Gras Museum
Mardi Gras is an annual Christian carnival, which usually takes place in February or March.
The celebrations begin on the Epiphany Day and finish on the day before Ash Wednesday or 47 days before Easter.
The cultural event is popular all across the United States, but the most spectacular celebrations can be seen in Louisiana, with New Orleans holding the most colorful parades.
Not surprisingly, New Orleans is the place to find the most interesting museum dedicated to the cultural event.
Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture is located in the French Quarter in the central part of the city.
Here you can see carnival costumes and decoration but you can also learn more about the tradition related to the event.
14. Atchafalaya Basin
Atchafalaya Basin is a wide swampy area, which covers approximately 1,400,000 acres (5,700 km2), although its size changes dramatically from one year to another depending on the weather conditions.
The area is located in the central part of southern Louisiana and is considered the largest flooded forest in North America.
The swampy valley separates the cities of Lafayette and Baton Rouge, so it is easily accessible from both of them.
It is home to an amazing variety of species of animals, including rare birds, mammals and reptiles.
The most dangerous predators in the area are the alligators and the cougars.
The wet valley is part of the huge river delta of Mississippi.
15. South Toledo Bend State Park
Opened to the public in 2004, South Toledo Bend State Park is a natural heaven in western Louisiana, right next to the border with Texas.
The combination between well-preserved wild nature and lovely warm weather attracts lovers of outdoor activities, including fishing, hiking, boating and camping.
Bordering the fifth largest artificial body of water in the country, the park covers an area of around 1,000 acres (4.0 km2 or 1.6 sq mi).
It is known for offering some really good hiking trails, the most popular of which is the Hippie Point Trail.
The park is a great opportunity to take a closer look to some of the most iconic local species of animals.
16. Avery Island
Avery Island is a small piece of paradise, situated 3 miles north of the Vermilion Bay.
As it is only 2 hours and a half drive east from New Orleans, this is a great choice for day trippers and nature lovers. The island is known for its rich flora and fauna.
The combination between rich soils, warm climate and high levels of humidity are perfect for most species of plants so you can expect a number of rare trees, shrubs and flowers thriving here.
The island is an important habitat of rare species of birds and other animals.
Except for its lush nature, Avery Island is well-known as the birthplace of the popular sauce Tabasco.
17. American Rose Society Gardens
Situated in the vicinity of Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana, the American Rose Center is known as one of the most diverse and beautiful flower gardens in America.
Initially, it was situated in Columbus, Ohio. However, in 1974, it moved here because of the better climate and rich soils.
With its 20 thousand rose bushes, the park is a must visit attraction.
It offers approximately 118 acres of rose gardens (the largest in the country), diversified with wonderful broadleaf and pine forests.
The walking trails and paths are often described as being the most attractive to walk in the state.
18. New Orleans Tombs
Cemeteries are usually the last place a person would like to visit and see when traveling.
When it comes to Louisiana, however, the situation is a little different.
Many of the cemetery parks here are very old and are part of the state’s cultural and historical heritage.
Due to the swampy terrain, rainy climate, frequent floods and muddy soil, many of the old cemetery parks are occupied mainly by above-ground tombs.
They are made of stone or marble, and some of them are extremely old.
Probably the most famous are the New Orleans Tombs. This place is one of the most typical examples, and in addition, it is also easily accessible.
It is advisable to contact a local travel agency that organizes such tours. They can show you the oldest and most interesting places, and in addition, you will be completely safe.
19. Audubon Park
Founded in 1871, Audubon Park is one of New Orleans’ most favorite recreational destinations.
The park covers an area of 350 acres (1.4 km²) and is located on the north bank of the Mississippi River.
As it is located right next to the historic heart of the city, you can easily combine a walk in the park with a visit to museums and historical buildings in the area.
Walking under the pleasant shade of the centuries-old oak trees is one of the most recommended experiences in New Orleans.
The short rest on a shady bench in the park while observing its beautiful fountains and small ponds is a natural way to reduce stress.
20. Myrtles Plantation
Myrtles Plantation is considered one of the most popular in Louisiana.
It is located in the vicinity of Baton Rouge, about half an hour drive north of the city.
It covers an area of about 10 acres (4 hectares), and the main tourist attraction is the historic building from 1796.
Constructed in the Creole Cottage style, it is nestled under the pleasant shade of huge centuries-old oak trees.
It has a huge traditional veranda, and the interior is completed in the elegant French colonial style.
21. Louis Armstrong Park
With an area of 32 acres (130,000 m2), Louis Armstrong Park is a relatively small but beautiful park located in the heart of New Orleans.
It was built in the 1960s in the Tremé neighborhood.
The park is named after the famous New Orleans-born jazz musician Louis Armstrong and inspires many music events and festivals.
The place is a popular tourist attraction, which offers pleasant shade and quiet alleys for walking.
Not surprisingly, one of the most important tourist attractions are the famous sculptures of jazz musicians.
If you want to learn more about the history of Louisiana, you should place the small city of Biloxi at the very top of your travel bucket list.
Established in the 17th century right next to the river delta of Mississippi, this is one of the oldest permanent European settlements in this part of the United States.
The first European settlers in the area arrived from France, establishing a thriving community which nowadays attracts a lot of visitors with its hotels, restaurants and casinos.
In addition, Biloxi has a beautiful beach, which is covered with very fine and soft white sands.
23. Saint Francisville
Saint Francisville is a small town whose population barely exceeds 1,700 residents.
Its rich history and cultural heritage, however, have definitely turned the settlement into a worth visiting place.
It is known mostly for its beautiful old plantations, all of which are very well maintained and authentic.
The most famous of them is the Butler Greenwood Plantation, built in 1810 in the Gothic Revival architecture style.
It is known for its beautiful garden and was listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Another major tourist attraction in the area of Saint Francisville is Tunica Hills Wild Management Area, which is located half an hour drive north from the town.
With its beautiful hiking trails, charming waterfalls and huge variety of species of plants and animals, it is a paradise for wildlife lovers.
It is mostly covered with subtropical rainforests and attracts hikers, hunters and campers.
24. Grand Isle
Grand Isle is a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico in southern Louisiana.
It is a paradise for lovers of nature and water sports and is known for its scenic location and long and soft white-sand beaches.
The architecture is very interesting, dominated by colorful wooden houses built on tall pillars.
Because of the frequent tropical storms hitting the region every year between April and November, this is the only inhabited of the barrier islands along the coast of Louisiana.
Natchitoches was established by French settlers in 1714, being one of the oldest permanently existing settlements in Louisiana.
As of 2010, the city has a population of only 18,323 residents, but it is a deeply recommended tourist destination.
Because of its long history, you can see a wide variety of wonderful houses, churches and public buildings.
Probably one of the most important tourist attractions in the area is the beautiful Oakland Plantation, which was built in the French Colonial Style in 1818.
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