Great Places To Visit in Louisiana
Louisiana, nestled in the Deep South of the United States, is a state steeped in a rich cocktail of Acadian, French, and Spanish cultures. Its captivating Cajun and Creole heritage manifests in a diverse blend of music, food, and languages that you can best experience in cities like Lafayette and Baton Rouge, the state capital. And who could ever forget the renowned New Orleans with its stunning French Quarter, remarkable Mardi Gras festivities, and a myriad of other attractions?
Oak Alley Plantation
Nestled on the southeastern side of Louisiana, along the Mississippi River, is the Oak Alley Plantation. This historic site is a spectacle of nature and architecture, featuring a striking Greek Revival mansion and a spectacular double row of oak trees that form a majestic canopy leading to the property. Despite its enchanting beauty, the plantation bears a grim history of enslaved people laboring in sugarcane fields.
The History Behind Oak Alley Plantation
The Oak Alley Plantation, named after its scenic 240-meter oak-lined pathway, was a sugar plantation in the early 18th century. The plantation offers a tour around the National Historic Landmark, where visitors can learn about the plantation’s history and the life of its enslaved workers.
Grand Isle State Park
On the eastern end of the barrier island of the same name, you’ll find the stunning Grand Isle State Park. The park is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, featuring wind-swept dunes, hidden lagoons, and secluded shorelines.
Outdoor Activities at Grand Isle State Park
Visitors can indulge in a plethora of outdoor activities. The park is a popular spot for birdwatching, thanks to the variety of bird species that inhabit the area. It’s also a top-rated location for fishing in the United States, offering visitors a chance to catch a variety of fish species. Besides, the park offers boat tours, swimming, sunbathing, and canoeing.
A ride on the Steamboat Natchez offers a unique way to explore the beauty of New Orleans. The steamboat cruise along the Mississippi River provides an opportunity to experience the city’s heritage and hospitality.
The Journey Aboard Steamboat Natchez
The first Natchez steamboat was built back in 1823 to transport goods and people up and down the Mississippi River. The current model, often referred to as Natchez IX, features white steel sides and decks based on earlier designs, and a striking red paddle at the stern. Besides the incredible views from the deck, guests can learn fascinating facts about the boat and the city. The steamboat also offers cruises with Creole dinner and jazz music.
Located close to the Oak Alley Plantation, the Laura Plantation is another significant historical site in Louisiana. This plantation is part of the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail and was formerly known as the Duparc Plantation.
Exploring Laura Plantation
The Laura Plantation, established in 1804, was a thriving sugarcane plantation in the 19th century. Visitors can explore the recently restored Creole-style main house and several slave cabins and outbuildings. The plantation offers a peek into the past, with informative tours explaining the lives of its former residents and the role of the plantation in the region.
Old State Capitol
Located in Baton Rouge, overlooking the Mississippi River, is the Old State Capitol, a historic governmental building that resembles a castle. The National Historic Landmark, built between 1847 and 1852, features a Gothic Revival style architecture with crenelations, towers, and a stunning facade.
Inside the Old State Capitol
The interior of the Old State Capitol is as impressive as its exterior. It features a grand spiral staircase and a stained glass dome surrounded by elegant halls and galleries. Today, it hosts the Museum of Political History, offering various educational and interactive exhibits on the state’s history, culture, and heritage.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Named after the famous French pirate Jean Lafitte, the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is a collection of six sites scattered across southern Louisiana. The park, established in 1978, aims to protect and promote the state’s cultural, historical, and natural resources.
The Six Sites of Jean Lafitte
The six sites of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve include the French Quarter, Barataria Reserve, and Chalmette Battlefield, where Lafitte fought. The park also features the Acadian Cultural Centers in Lafayette, Eunice, and Thibodaux, offering a glimpse into the people and places that formed the state’s culture and identity.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
Located in the beautiful Garden District of New Orleans, Lafayette Cemetery No 1 is known for its atmospheric tombs, mausoleums, and grounds. The cemetery, established in 1833, houses several family plots from the era of deadly yellow fever outbreaks in New Orleans.
A Walk Through Lafayette Cemetery No 1
A walk through this cemetery is like stepping back in time. Its mausoleums, now worn and weathered, stand among lush greenery, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The cemetery has featured in numerous films and music videos over the years and continues to attract visitors interested in its architectural, social, and historical significance.
Natchitoches, the oldest settlement in Louisiana, is a small city located in the northwest of the state. Founded as a French outpost in 1714, the city boasts French and Spanish colonial-era architecture and a well-preserved historic center reminiscent of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
A stroll around Natchitoches offers sights of historic plantations and the Fort Saint Jean Baptiste. The city also houses quaint bed-and-breakfasts, boutique shops, cozy cafes, and excellent restaurants.
The Whitney Plantation, located 70 kilometers upriver from New Orleans, is the only museum in Louisiana dedicated exclusively to the lives of enslaved people. The plantation features a sprawling property with barns, a blacksmith shop, slave quarters, and a French Creole main house built in 1803.
Understanding the Legacy of Slavery at Whitney Plantation
The plantation provides an insightful look into the legacy of slavery and the painful past of the people who lived there. Parts of Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained were filmed here to provide an authentic look and feel. The Whitney Plantation is an essential visit for understanding the region’s history and heritage.
Jackson Square (New Orleans)
Jackson Square, located in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, is a National Historic Landmark known for its historical significance. The square is surrounded by the beautiful Pontalba Buildings and the magnificent Saint Louis Cathedral.
The Significance of Jackson Square
Jackson Square is named after Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, whose statue stands at the center of the square. The square is always bustling with street artists, music performers, and visitors enjoying the cafes, shops, and restaurants in the surrounding buildings.
Avery Island, located 50 kilometers south of Lafayette, is famous for being the birthplace of Tabasco sauce. The island, surrounded by bayous, marshes, and swamps, is a vast salt dome offering a serene and secluded setting.
Experience Avery Island
Visitors can explore the island’s wilderness, visit the bird sanctuary, walk through the Jungle Garden, and tour the Tabasco factory. The factory tour includes a visit to its museum and a chance to sample the fiery hot sauce.
Mardi Gras, a colorful and lively carnival, takes place throughout Louisiana every February or early March. The festivities, running for two weeks, culminate on Fat Tuesday, the largest and last day of the carnival. The event features parades, balls, and costumed celebrations.
Celebrating Mardi Gras
Although Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans can be wild, there are many family-friendly versions of the festivities throughout other cities and communities in the Cajun country. The vibrant Mardi Gras is a must-experience event when visiting Louisiana.
PLAN A TRIP TO LOUISIANA
Unveiling the magic of Louisiana offers a journey through a diverse blend of history, culture, and nature. Its captivating Cajun and Creole heritage, stunning landscapes, and vibrant festivities make Louisiana one of the best places to visit in the South Central United States. These are just a few of the great places to visit in Louisiana.