Situated deep in the south, Louisiana is best known for its fascinating Cajun and Creole culture. Often, a lot of people associate Louisiana with the never-ending party atmosphere of New Orleans. However, the state makes for a great family-friendly destination. From museums to art galleries, stunning lakes, and historic buildings, there are a lot of other things to do and see as well.
The intoxicating combination of music, languages, and cuisines can best be explored in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. But, on the other hand, the Stunning French Quarter and the Mardi Gras celebrations are two attractions you shouldn’t miss getting a glimpse of when in the state.
Typically, the things to do in Louisiana revolve around exploring the diverse mix of culture, history, and heritage. Also, don’t forget the state’s lovely landscapes. The famous Mississippi River lines the eastern boundary, crafting an amazing delta that holds marvelous beaches, bayous, and barrier islands which is home to enormous alligators and cozy old plantations. Recently, Louisiana has added another category of attraction into its toolkit, Louisiana sportsbooks. Many people from across the US, especially people from states where gambling isn’t legal, come here to indulge in this exciting pastime.
With the perfect mix of history, nature, and culture, here are Louisiana’s best attractions.
1. Atchafalaya Basin
The largest wetland and swamp in the United States, Atchafalaya Basin, is situated in the heart of the southern part of the state. It spreads across a massive area of 860,000 acres and acts as a habitat for over 300 species of wildlife and 100 species of marine life.
Thanks to its rich cultural and ecological heritage, the place was declared a National Heritage Area. Atchafalaya Basin is typically easier to access from the small town that lies between the cities of Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Once you reach these towns, you can jump onboard swamp boat tours, which is a great way to closely explore the wetlands and wildlife.
2. Oak Alley Plantation
Next up, we have an important and striking historic site in Louisiana—the Oak Alley Plantation. Located southeast of the state, the spot is famous for the scenic views it offers, resting on the banks of the Mississippi River. The 240-meter-long path lined by a canopy of trees that welcome you to this place makes a perfect background for some fantastic pictures. In fact, the plantation was named after this beautiful path lined by oak trees that were planted sometime in the early 18th century.
At the end of these towering trees are a stunning mansion that highlights delightful Greek Revival architecture, a wraparound porch overlooking the gardens, and a colossal colonnade. Nevertheless, all these beautiful architectures mask a painful past of enslaved people toiling on the plantation for decades cultivating sugarcane.
You can learn all of Oak Valley’s history when you are here. There is also an excellent restaurant here where you can enjoy delicious meals.
3. Chauvin Sculpture Garden
If you are into art, particularly folk art, then the Chauvin Sculpture Garden is a spot you must check out. Situated on the banks of Bayou Petit, the place has an incredible display of modern folk art. It was Kenny Hill, a bricklayer, and artist who created the stunning sculptures on the property, starting in the early 1980s.
Later in 2000, he moved out of the land, and since then, the place has been open to the public. Here, you can explore over 100 concrete sculptures of biblical characters, celestial figures, cowboys, and soldiers, alongside some of Hill’s whimsical and bizarre artwork. Nevertheless, the feature that stands out the most is the 45-ft-tall lighthouse that was built using 7,000 bricks and has several figures hanging on the side.
4. Mardi Gras
If there is the best time to be in Louisiana, well, it is between February or early March, when the colorful and chaotic festival of Mardi Gras takes place in the state. Of course, it goes without saying that New Orleans is the ideal place to experience the fascinating mayhem—you will get to see everything from parades to balls and costumed celebrations happening over the course of two weeks.
For foreigners, Mardi Gras appears to be two weeks full of festivities that are held before Lent. However, locals-only celebrate the “Fat Tuesday” with pomp and show as it is the last and the largest day of the carnival. In fact, it is on this day when you will be able to witness revelers in colors costumes on the streets alongside amazing floats and lengthy parades.
If you are looking to celebrate Mardi Gras in the quiet with your family, you will be easily able to find family-friendly versions of the festival happening across the state, especially in specific communities.