Best Things to do in Louisiana

The 25 Best Things to do in Louisiana

While many know Louisiana for its famous Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans and vibrant jazz scene, this swampy Southern state has a few surprises. With a rich, multi-cultural history, Louisiana is where delicious Creole and Cajun flavors, festive music, and cultural attractions combine to create one of the best places to visit in the US. 

After you’ve experienced the thrill of the historic French Quarter in New Orleans, explore Louisiana’s other destinations, such as the capital city Baton Rouge or Cajun country in Beaux Bridge. Options for outdoor adventures are endless. You can explore inviting beaches along the scenic coast or cruise along paddling trails to reach wildlife-filled bayous and swamplands. 

For a deeper look into this Southern state, head out on the road and experience the small-town charms of Louisiana and miles of Cajun country, including the picture-perfect town of Natchitoches. You can spend your extra days hopping aboard a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River or deep-sea fishing in Grand Isle. 

With so many things to see and do in the Bayou State, it’s difficult to know where to begin. So, we’ve gathered a list of our favorite activities and the best things to do in Louisiana for you. This Louisiana bucket list is full of unique adventures and includes the Bayou State’s most exciting destinations, outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and must-see sites! 

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 25 Best Things to do in Louisiana!

1. Explore the Best of the French Quarter in New Orleans

Best Things to do in Louisiana: French Quarter in New Orleans

There’s no visiting Louisiana without a stop in the iconic French Quarter, which is a National Historic District and the heart of New Orleans. With buildings that date back as far as 300 years, it’s the epicenter of sightseeing, dining, and entertainment!

Lively throughout the day and night, Bourbon Street is a year-round hotspot best known for its nightlife. Running 13 blocks through the French Quarter, this is also where you’ll find revelers throwing beads during the annual Mardi Gras festival! 

Lined with street artists and jazz musicians, Jackson Square is an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll. Admire the local artists who display their work along the cast-iron fence around the square, then snap a photo of the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral with its stained-glass windows. 

Stroll to North Rampart Street to see its historic buildings and dine at its excellent restaurants, or explore the antique shops and art galleries lining the pedestrian-friendly Royal Street. You can also visit Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park or sample locally sourced foods in the covered French Market. 


2. Spend a Day in New Orleans’ Garden District 

Best Things to do in Louisiana: New Orleans’ Garden District

One of the most popular areas in New Orleans, the city’s Garden District has a very different vibe than the French Quarter. Just a streetcar ride away, you’ll find elegant mansions, above-ground cemeteries, and leafy magnolia-shaded streets to explore. 

Take the St. Charles Streetcar from Canal Street and pass the Central Business District, which features buildings dating back to the 1820s. Arrive in the Garden District and stop at its most iconic structures, including the mustard-brown Rink (at the corner of Washington Avenue and Prytania Street) and the Garden District Bookstore upstairs. 

Next, visit the historic Lafayette Cemetery. Dating back to 1833, it’s one of the oldest cemeteries still standing in New Orleans! Stroll past the beautiful mansions and stop to see Colonel Short’s Villa (1448 Fourth Street), Toby’s Corner (2340 Prytania Street), and the Anne Rice House (1239 First Street). 

You can’t miss the bright blue Commander’s Palace on the corner of Washington and Coliseum Streets. It’s a great spot to recharge with traditional Cajun and Creole farm-to-table cuisine. The chef serves up gourmet dishes, including pecan-crusted lump crab, turtle soup au sherry, and corn-fried Gulf oysters.

If you’re up for a little shopping, add Magazine Street to your route. Stretching from Canal Street to Audubon Park, this retail street boasts a cluster of shops selling everything from clothes to pottery to jewelry. 


3. Listen to Live Jazz Music on Frenchmen Street

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Frenchmen Street

Known as a city of music and the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans boasts a long list of music venues where you can take in a live performance. It’s an experience of a lifetime and a top thing to do in the city. On any given night, you’ll find an array of both traditionalists and modern artists gracing one of the city’s many stages. 

For traditional New Orleans jazz, you can’t beat the legendary Preservation Hall in the French Quarter, which opened back in 1961. The small and intimate Spotted Cat Music Club also offers a quintessential jazz club experience and is located on Frenchmen Street. 

Also on Frenchmen Street, you can head to d.b.a for live jazz and craft beer and enjoy a variety of musical acts. Nearby, you’ll find the Blue Nile, a two-story club that is actually credited as the birthplace of the culture of live music on Frenchmen Street.

Dating back to the 1800s, Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro offers live jazz and Creole cuisine in the classic jazz lounge. Last but not least, The Maison features jazz, funk, and brass bands on its center stage in a three-story venue. 


4. Sample Louisiana’s Most Iconic Local Dishes

Unique Things to do in Louisiana: Louisiana’s Most Iconic Local Dishes

You won’t want to visit Louisiana while on a diet, as this foodie-centric state is full of tasty eats that are worth the splurge. From beignets to crawfish to jambalaya, add these top-rated local foods to your Louisiana bucket list!

Jambalaya is the state’s classic rice and meat combo. While you’ll find it served throughout the French Quarter in New Orleans, Mother’s Restaurant does it best. Po’ boys are another firm foodie favorite in Louisiana, and Parkway Bakery & Tavern serves this sandwich staple stuffed with a heaping pile of fried shrimp! 

A plate of gumbo is sure to warm your heart, with variations spanning chicken and sausage or a seafood medley. Li’l Dizzy’s and Gumbo Shop are two local favorites. When driving through Cajun country, make sure to stop and sample boudin. One of the best places to indulge in this cooked sausage is the Best Stop market in Scott.

Crawfish boils are a must for any seafood fan and are best sampled in the capital of Cajun country, Lafayette. Of course, you can finish any meal with a plate of beignets at Cafe du Monde. Open 24 hours a day in New Orleans, they’re known for serving their pillowy fried dough treats coated in powdered sugar. 


5. Go Museum Hopping in the Big Easy 

Louisiana Things to do: Museum Hopping
Image courtesy of National WWII Museum

There’s more to New Orleans than jazz clubs, tasty eats, and Mardi Gras, as the city is also home to a collection of world-class museums. From the National WWII Museum to the New Orleans Museum of Art, it’s worth taking the time to explore the cultural attractions in the Big Easy. 

For an in-depth look at World War II, head to the interactive National WWII Museum in the Warehouse District. It tells the story of the war, including why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Browse the permanent collection of artifacts, soldiers’ personal items, and an immersive submarine exhibit. 

The New Orleans Museum of Art is another must-see, featuring a five-acre sculpture garden and collection of French and American artwork. Next, stop by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, which boasts the most comprehensive collection of Southern art in the world with over 4,000 pieces from 15 states. 

If you’re a fan of music, stop by the New Orleans Jazz Museum to learn about the city’s history of jazz through interactive exhibits. For something truly unique, add the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum to your itinerary to see everything from hand-blown apothecary bottles to antique surgical instruments. 


6. Join a Riverboat Cruise on the Mississippi River

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Riverboat Cruise on the Mississippi River

The longest river in North America, the Mississippi River is a natural wonder that spans 10 states in the US. Meeting the Gulf of Mexico in southern Louisiana, it offers a variety of ways to enjoy its scenic beauty, including riverboat cruises!

Riverboat cruises are a popular way to explore the famous river. You can enjoy the sight of the city skylines pass from the comfort of a floating vessel. In New Orleans, you’ll find various paddle wheeler tours offering a fun way to explore the waterways. 

Daily cruises on the Steamboat Natchez offer an up-close look at the port city and depart from Jackson Square. It even includes live jazz and optional Creole food and beverages. There’s also an option for Sunday Brunch cruises! 

If you prefer dinner and dancing with your river cruise, hop aboard the Creole Queen. The Creole Queen also has a Historical River Cruise with views of the French Quarter that offers a history narrator that brings the city’s sites to life. 

You can also drive the Great River Road, which is a national collection of roads following the river. One of the best drives in the US, you’ll have the chance to stop by charming river towns in Louisiana along the way. 


7. Join a Honey Island Swamp Tour in Slidell

Unique Things to do in Louisiana: Honey Island Swamp Tour
Image courtesy of Honey Island Swamp Tour

A must on your Louisiana bucket list, a tour of the region’s iconic swamps offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for nature lovers. You can get up-close with the wildlife-filled landscapes on a Honey Island Swamp Tour, one of the state’s most popular swamp tours. 

An experience like no other, the small boats allow the group to go deep into the Honey Island Cypress Swamp. Along the two-hour tour, you’ll travel through one of the most pristine river swamps in the United States and see wildlife in their natural habitat. 

You’ll spend the day observing egrets, alligators, otters, herons, and more on this exciting tour at Honey Island, a protected nature preserve near New Orleans. It’s also an opportunity to hear about the importance of the swamps, wildlife, and the history of the region from knowledgeable guides. 

Sit back and marvel at the primitive beauty of one of the least altered river swamps in the country on this personalized narrated tour. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for nature photography and wildlife observation, with tours departing from Crawford Landing on West Pearl River in Slidell. 


8. Kayak the Waterways in Fontainebleau State Park 

Must do things in Louisiana: Fontainebleau State Park

If you’re looking for a relaxing outdoor adventure, head to the popular Fontainebleau State Park. Covering 2,800 acres of land on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain, this park is just 40 miles north of New Orleans and is one of the best places in Louisiana for kayaking excursions. 

For a leisurely day exploring mossy hammocks, hop in a kayak and paddle the maze of pristine streams between the giant cypress trees. There are numerous kayaking outfitters in the area, which offer guided tours and help navigate the waters. 

Along the way, you’ll learn about Fontainebleau’s past, which was once the site of a large sugar mill. Make sure to stop by the visitor center after your adventure to see historic handmade tools and furniture on display. Alternately, opt to stroll the Tammany Trace Trail that was once an old railroad line or the 1.2-mile boardwalk route with bird-watching spots.  

After an afternoon of paddling, you can walk to the pier near the visitor center and enjoy a spectacular setting for sunset viewing. There’s also a manmade beach, picnic lawns, and a seasonal water playground for the little ones. 


9. See the Largest Free-Roaming Wildlife Preserve

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Wildlife Preserve
Images courtesy of Louisiana Travel

If you’re an animal lover, you can add this activity to your itinerary. The Global Wildlife Center in Folsom is the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the United States. It’s also a fun day trip for families with kids, as the 900-acre habitat is home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from across the globe. 

You can feed and touch the wildlife during one of the educational guided tours that last around one hour and 15 minutes. The Safari Wagon tour explores 900 acres of beautiful Louisiana countryside as well as the park’s 12 ponds and lakes. 

Along the way, you can expect to see a variety of animals, including free-roaming bison, giraffes, zebras, and elands. You might even have a chance to spot red kangaroos from Australia, llamas, and Bactrian camels from Asia. Options to feed the animals are also available.

If you want a more intimate experience, the center also offers private tours for up to eight guests that go places the safari wagons cannot. With this tour option, you’ll get more one-on-one time with the animals. 


10. Go Deep-Sea Fishing at Grand Isle State Park

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Grand Isle State Park

Grand Isle State Park is one of the best places in Louisiana to enjoy the outdoors. Best known for its beaches, fishing, and birding, this barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico is connected to the mainland by a bridge just 100 miles south of New Orleans. 

The family-friendly park offers a long list of outdoor activities, including canoeing and hiking. However, it boasts excellent opportunities for deep-sea fishing, with numerous fishing charters offering the best chance to reel in a catch. 

Typically held in July, a Tarpon Rodeo attracts thousands of world-class fishermen to try for prize-worthy catches in the waters of Grand Isle. Speckled trout can be caught by surf fishers year-round, especially during spring and summer, while redfish are often found in the fall and winter. 

At Louisiana’s best-known stretch of sand, you’ll find the state’s most productive fisheries, while camping on the beach is also a popular pastime. Here you’ll have the opportunity to wake up to the sound of crashing waves, while RV sites also include barbeque grills. When it’s time to dine, you’ll find plenty of tasty local seafood spots nearby. 


11. Get a Somber Look Into the Whitney Plantation

Unique Things to do in Louisiana: Whitney Plantation

Located less than an hour from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the Whitney Plantation offers a somber and eye-opening look at slavery in the region. In addition to historic buildings and museum exhibits, you’ll find modern memorials and first-person slave narratives that give a voice to the enslaved people who worked and lived here. 

It’s the only plantation in Louisiana with a focus on slavery, offering a unique perspective on the evolution of the area’s working plantation. Take a self-guided tour of this site to gain a deeper understanding of the history of slavery on a southern Louisiana sugarcane plantation.

On the tour, you’ll learn about the lives of the people who were held here for over 100 years. Walk past the memorials honoring over 100,000 people held in slavery in Louisiana and get up-close with the original slave cabins, outbuildings, and the owner’s house. Learn about its grounds, which were home to a sugar, rice, and indigo plantation that dates back to 1752. 

Only a short drive away, Oak Alley is another notable plantation located on the banks of the Mississippi River. Here you can see a spectacular row of oaks leading to the plantation’s entrance that is more than 300 years old. 


12. Learn About Louisiana’s History in Baton Rouge

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Louisiana’s History in Baton Rouge

Sitting along the picturesque Mississippi River, Baton Rouge is Louisiana’s capital city and a popular destination for history lovers. You’ll find a variety of attractions to explore here, including the iconic State Capitol!

Start your journey at the Old State Capitol, which is a striking Gothic-Revival castle dating back to 1847. A National Historic Landmark, it looks like a medieval fortress with its stained-glass cathedral dome with an on-site museum highlighting the state’s history. Afterward, visit the Observation Deck on the 27th floor of the New State Capitol. 

Next, head to the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial. Centering around the destroyer USS Kidd, visitors can climb aboard the ship (nicknamed “Pirate of the Pacific”) to learn more about its rich history. At the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial complex, there’s also a Historic Warship & Nautical Center housing unique artifacts and a model ship collection. 

Other popular historical attractions in Baton Rouge include the Magnolia Mound Plantation, which was built in the last half of the 18th century, as well as the LSU Rural Life Museum. At this site, you can take a self-guided tour of historic buildings that showcase the lives of Louisiana’s first settlers. 


13. Cheer on LSU at Tiger Stadium

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Tiger Stadium

Based in Baton Rouge, seeing the LSU Tigers play at Tiger Stadium is one of the best local experiences in the state. College is huge in the South, particularly Louisiana, as it boasts one of the largest fan bases in the region. 

Tailgating for one of these games is a rite of passage for experiencing the local culture, featuring a sea of purple and gold cheering on the LSU Tigers. Sitting in one of the 102,000 seats at Tiger Stadium is a thrill for sports lovers and offers a chance to hear the roar of the crowds. 

If you can’t catch a game, the stadium (also known as “Death Valley”) can be seen on a guided tour. You can walk through the locker room, in the chute, and touch the “WIN” bar. However, no trip to the LSU campus is complete without a visit to Mike the Tiger’s habitat, which is the university’s mascot. 

Other attractions nearby include the Jack & Priscilla Andonie Museum, which features 13,000 LSU Tiger sports-related artifacts such as trophies, banners, and retired jerseys. Just a short walk from Tiger Stadium is the North Gates shopping district, which boasts an array of shops, bars, and restaurants for LSU fans. 


14. Explore the Largest Wetland and Swamp in the United States

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Largest Wetland and Swamp in the United States

Larger than the Florida Everglades, the Atchafalaya Basin is home to the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. Visiting this destination is one of the most unique things to do in Louisiana, as you’ll have a chance to tour the spectacular environment of hardwoods, bayous, and backwater lakes full of swamp wildlife. 

Located in the south-central part of Louisiana, the area covers around 860,000 acres and is an important habitat for more than 300 species of wildlife. It’s so unique that it’s been declared a National Heritage Neighborhood, awarded for its rich cultural and ecological features. 

Take a day trip from Lafayette or Baton Rouge to see this area. A popular way to explore the wetlands is on one of the swamp airboat tours, which launch out of the Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Marina. 

Wildlife watchers can spot some of the over 50,000 egrets, ibises, and herons that nest in the Floodway. The basin is also home to the largest nesting concentration of bald eagles in the south-central United States, as well as American alligators and 65 other species of reptiles and amphibians. 


15. Learn About Acadian Culture at Vermilionville Historic Village

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Vermilionville Historic Village

Located in Lafayette, the Vermilionville Living History & Folk Life Park is a fascinating destination for history buffs. At this must-see attraction, you’ll get fully immersed in the Acadian, American Indian, and Creole culture of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Highlights at this living history museum include 19 attractions, including seven restored homes. You’ll encounter costumed guides and historians demonstrating skills and folk crafts that have been preserved for many generations. 

Within the 23-acre site, there are restored original Acadian homes and authentic buildings that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. You’ll have the chance to explore unique exhibits that showcase the lives of Louisiana’s indigenous peoples. 

It also features rotating exhibits, which highlight the Acadian culture and language and the Civil Rights movement. After touring the exhibits, enjoy traditional food and live music at the on-site La Cuisine de Maman.

While you’re in the Bayou Vermilion District, you can also enjoy the outdoors. There are multiple recreational activities to enjoy here, including fishing, boating, and canoe and paddle trails. Some of the most popular parks nearby include Southside Park, Beaver Park, and Rotary Point. 


16. Tour the Tabasco Sauce Factory on Avery Island

Fun Things to do in Louisiana: Avery Island
Images courtesy of Jungle Gardens

Avery Island is a small, salt dome island in the coastal marshes of Iberia Parish and a popular getaway in Louisiana. While the area is a unique geological formation with beautiful nature views, its biggest claim to fame is that it’s home to the Tabasco Sauce Factory

Considered a must thing to do in Louisiana for hot sauce fans, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Tabasco factory and sample its products. Take a self-guided tour and learn more about this iconic American sauce. Afterward, stop by the gift shop and pick up a few Tabasco-related products and souvenirs. 

There’s no doubt you’ll be hungry after a tour, so stop by the on-site Tabasco Restaurant for a taste of local eats. The casual eatery serves spicy, authentic Cajun favorites and other dishes seasoned with, of course, Tabasco sauce. 

If you have extra time, add a visit to Jungle Gardens on Avery Island. Take in the serene atmosphere of the landscaped area, as the bird sanctuary offers a beautiful setting filled with azaleas, camellias, and colorful bamboo. See if you can spot the Chinese garden, which boasts a centuries-old Buddha statue! 


17. Explore Cajun Country in Breaux Bridge

Louisiana Bucket List: Cajun Country in Breaux Bridge

If you’re a foodie at heart and wondering what to do in Louisiana, add Breaux Bridge to your itinerary. Known as the “Crawfish Capital of the World,” it’s not only home to world-famous cuisine but also the gateway to authentic Cajun culture. 

Get to know Breaux Bridge by strolling the charming downtown area, which is dotted with a selection of quaint shops and cafes. There are also several antique shops in the area where you can pick up one-of-a-kind treasures, including the Breaux Bridge Antique Mall. 

Make time to stop by some of the amazing restaurants in Breaux Bridge, including Poche’s Market for Cajun fare and boudin, Glenda’s Creole Kitchen for Creole and soul food, and Crazy ‘Bout Crawfish for fried and boiled seafood. Afterward, you can enjoy live Cajun and zydeco music at hotspots such as Pont Breaux’s, Tante Marie, and La Poussiere

If you time your visit right, you can also tick the world-famous Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival off your list. It’s typically held in May every year and pays homage to Louisiana’s most famous crustacean. 


18. Paddle the Canoe Trail in Chicot State Park

Get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful setting of Chicot State Park, Louisiana’s biggest state park. You can fish, hike, and enjoy wildlife watching here, while it’s also home to the Louisiana State Arboretum as well as a variety of campsites, cabins, and lodges. 

Located in the Prairie Cajun Country between the Atchafalaya Basin swamps and central Louisiana, this park boasts some of the most beautiful ecosystems in the Bayou State. At 6,400 acres, it offers plenty of room to explore, but its eight-mile Canoe Trail is one of the most popular excursions. 

You’ll find incredible paddling opportunities at this park in addition to its other outdoor activities, offering both flat bottom boat rentals and canoe rentals. Glide along the easy-to-follow paddle trail for a leisurely day out on the water, as it’s marked by bright yellow signs. 

There are three boat launches in the park, but the north landing is recommended. Launch into the clear water and you’ll see a sign for the trail that takes you past a stunning backdrop of cypress and tupelo gum trees draped in Spanish moss. Kick back and listen to the sound of various birds soaring above as you paddle the scenic trail. 


19. Drive the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Creole Nature Trail All-American Road

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure to add to your Louisiana bucket list, plan a drive along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Dubbed “Louisiana’s Outback,” the 180-mile route showcases the natural wonders of southwest Louisiana. 

Beginning in Lake Charles and the neighboring town of Sulphur, this road trip is one of only 43 designated All-American Roads in the United States. What makes it so special is that you’ll be taken south through Louisiana’s swamplands, miles of Cajun country, and more than 26 miles of Gulf Coast beaches. 

The trail is actually a combination of pull-offs and trails that you can explore on your own, with a chance to see preserved alligator populations and up to 400 species of migratory birds. The journey is a hit with nature photographers and adventurous travelers alike. You’ll even have the chance to embark on outdoor adventures such as fishing, crabbing, and boating along the way!

Before you go into America’s “Last Great Wilderness,” head to the Adventure Point visitor center to learn more about the area. Popular stops include the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge and the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, where you can see local wildlife in their natural habitats. 


20. Explore the Outdoors in Lake Charles 

What to do in Louisiana: Lake Charles
Images courtesy of Louisiana Travel

Lake Charles is an exciting city in southwest Louisiana. It’s home to everything from nature parks to a historic district to lively casinos. Sam Houston Jones State Park is one of the best places to get outside in Lake Charles, which is the only state park in the region. 

It’s a popular spot with hikers and bird-watchers, who can discover native wildlife and beautiful flora and fauna along its five scenic trails. There’s even a historic stagecoach road! If you’re a boater or fishing enthusiast, you’ll appreciate the two boat launches with access to the Calcasieu River. 

This park is also well known for its opportunities to try disc golf, as it hosts local tournaments throughout the year. You can also pack a picnic lunch and observe the duck and geese frolicking in the ponds or see if you can spot otters and deer. If you want to stay overnight, choose from premium campsites and primitive camping areas or book a cabin. 

Other outdoor activities in Lake Charles include a trip to North Beach, Louisiana’s only white-sand inland beach. You can also join a kayak or boat tour with Lake Area Adventures to explore the local waterways. 


21. Bask in the Sunshine at Holly Beach

One of the top things to do in Louisiana is to visit the beach, especially when the weather heats up in the summer. One of the best beach destinations in the state is Holly Beach, which is often referred to as the “Cajun Riviera.” 

Located in the southwest corner of the state – about an hour south of Lake Charles and Sulphur – Holly Beach features 30 miles of golden sands that include a long, flat, and wide area for basking in the sunshine. The waters of the Gulf of Mexico warm up in the summer and offer a shallow area ideal for little ones who want to make a splash!

The landscape at this beach town features a collection of houses on stilts. Camping is allowed on the beach, while beach house vacation rentals in the area offer a chance to enjoy a beach getaway for more than just a day. 

Less than an hour away, Rutherford Beach is another hotspot for sunbathers. Located in Cameron Parish, the quiet stretch of beach is an ideal spot for shell collecting. Camping on the beach is also available. 


22. Stroll the Historic Downtown Natchitoches

Best Things to do in Louisiana: Historic Downtown Natchitoches
Images courtesy of Louisiana Travel

Natchitoches is arguably one of the most charming towns in Louisiana and is best known as the film location for Sweet Magnolias. Founded in the early 18th century as a French colony, it’s the oldest permanent settlement in the state. 

A stroll down the historic Downtown Natchitoches reveals a collection of beautiful French Creole townhouses and 33 blocks of photogenic colonial architecture, Classic Queen Anne-style mansions, and Art Deco commercial buildings. The area is so significant that it’s been designated a National Historic Landmark District. 

You can see buildings that date back to the 1700s, with the Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception Church being one of the most notable sites. Be sure to stop by the Kaffie-Frederick General Store, which has been family-run since the 19th century. 

The scenic setting is coupled with the Cane River, which flows through the town and leads to the Oakland, Magnolia, and Melrose plantations. Outdoor lovers can ride the Natchitoches to Alexandria bike route or kayak the saline Bayou Paddle Trail. 

When it’s time to dine, picking up a signature meat-filled pie from Lasyone’s is considered a must on your Louisiana bucket list. If you visit at Christmas, you’ll have the chance to see the downtown district all lit up with more than 300,000 lights!


23. Admire the Vibrant Art Scene in Shreveport

What to do in Louisiana: Art Scene in Shreveport
Images courtesy of R.W. Norton Art Gallery

Tucked away in the northwestern corner of Louisiana, Shreveport offers a mix of outdoor recreation and cultural attractions. For those who prefer to explore the art scene, you’ll find a wide variety of museums, galleries, and street art to explore. 

Start at The Agora Borealis in downtown Shreveport, where you can browse a collection of handmade local art. You can see paintings, pottery, sculptures, and more, including furniture, lighting fixtures, and jewelry. 

Another not-to-miss attraction in Shreveport is the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum. This Art Deco museum features massive frescoes and dioramas depicting life in the swamps, as well as sugarcane and rice plantations. Don’t miss the section with Native American artifacts. 

You can also opt for a visit to the R.W. Norton Art Gallery. It houses over 400 paintings of iconic American and European art, as well as a collection of rare books, tapestries, porcelain, and blown glass. It also boasts a scenic setting surrounded by lush botanical gardens. 

Alternately, a budget-friendly way of exploring the art scene in Shreveport is to drive around and see its colorful street art murals. After exploring, the family-run Herby-K’s seafood restaurant and seafood platters at Orlandeaux’s Cafe are two of the best spots to enjoy classic Louisiana cuisines in Shreveport. 


24. Explore the UNESCO-listed Poverty Point Site

Louisiana Bucket List: Poverty Point Site
Images courtesy of Louisiana Travel

One of the most important historic sites in the United States, Poverty Point is a landmark 3,400 years in the making. It’s a top thing to do in Louisiana if you love history, as this UNESCO-listed site was once an important trading hub.

American Indians built the area’s complex collection of earthen monuments hand by hand, creating a massive 72-foot-tall mound, enormous half-circles, and related earthworks. Without the use of modern instruments, these structures are considered an engineering marvel. Dating back to the time of Egyptian King Tutankhamun, this site is still largely a mystery.

Archaeologists have collected millions of artifacts here and believe it was a residential, trade, and ceremonial center. It’s now one of three archeological sites in the country with the distinction of a World Heritage Site, which makes it a must-see while exploring the state. 

At this site, visitors of all ages can enjoy guided tours to learn more about the area, as well as demonstrations and programs. There’s also a 2.6-mile hiking trail through the mounds, a museum with fascinating historic displays, and a family-friendly picnic area. 


25. Hike Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte

Cool Things to do in Louisiana: Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte

The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve offers a taste of Louisiana’s wild wetlands. With 23,000 acres of bayous, swamps, marshes, and forests, the park’s popular Barataria Preserve is home to wildlife such as alligators, deer, and over 300 species of birds. 

While adventurous travelers can explore this area by canoe or kayak, there are also boardwalk and dirt trails that wind throughout the preserve. Follow the boardwalk to the water’s edge to see Bayou des Familles, and then see the Pecan Grove with pecan orchards that are the second or third generation of the original plantings. 

Next, hike along Christmas Road, which was originally covered with shells mined from clamshells left by American Indians. Afterward, you’ll hit the Old Barataria Trail and the entrance to the picnic grounds surrounded by oak trees and the Mixed Bottomland Forest.

You can also sign up for guided walks with park rangers, which take you on the boardwalk trail through the swamp and marsh. Before your trek, stop by the visitor center to learn how the Mississippi River built Louisiana’s wetlands and other interesting facts about the region’s history. 

There you have it! 25 of the best things to do in Louisiana. What’s your favorite thing to do in The Bayou State?


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best thing to do in Louisiana with kids?

If you’re an animal lover, you can add this activity to your itinerary. The Global Wildlife Center in Folsom is the largest totally free-roaming wildlife preserve of its kind in the United States. It’s also a fun day trip for families with kids, as the 900-acre habitat is home to over 4,000 exotic, endangered, and threatened animals from across the globe.

What is the best route for a road trip in Louisiana?

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure to add to your Louisiana bucket list, plan a drive along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Dubbed “Louisiana’s Outback,” the 180-mile route showcases the natural wonders of southwest Louisiana. What makes it so special is that you’ll be taken south through Louisiana’s swamplands, miles of Cajun country, and more than 26 miles of Gulf Coast beaches.

What is the top historic landmark in Louisiana?

One of the most important historic sites in the United States, Poverty Point is a landmark 3,400 years in the making. It’s a top thing to do in Louisiana if you love history, as this UNESCO-listed site was once an important trading hub. American Indians built the area’s complex collection of earthen monuments hand by hand, creating a massive 72-foot-tall mound, enormous half-circles, and related earthworks.

What is the best state park in Louisiana?

Grand Isle State Park is one of the best places in Louisiana to enjoy the outdoors. Best known for its beaches, fishing, and birding, this barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico is connected to the mainland by a bridge just 100 miles south of New Orleans. The family-friendly park offers a long list of outdoor activities, including canoeing and hiking. It boasts excellent opportunities for deep-sea fishing, with numerous fishing charters offering the best chance to reel in a catch.

What is the best neighborhood to explore in New Orleans?

There’s no visiting Louisiana without a stop in the iconic French Quarter, which is a National Historic District and the heart of New Orleans. With buildings that date back as far as 300 years, it’s the epicenter of sightseeing, dining, and entertainment! Lively throughout the day and night, Bourbon Street is a year-round hotspot best known for its nightlife. Running 13 blocks through the French Quarter, this is also where you’ll find revelers throwing beads during the annual Mardi Gras festival!

What is the most unique thing to do in Louisiana?

The longest river in North America, the Mississippi River is a natural wonder that spans 10 states in the US. Meeting the Gulf of Mexico in southern Louisiana, it offers a variety of ways to enjoy its scenic beauty, including riverboat cruises! Riverboat cruises are a popular way to explore the famous river. You can enjoy the sight of the city skylines pass from the comfort of a floating vessel. In New Orleans, you’ll find various paddle wheeler tours offering a fun way to explore the waterways.


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