The author with her dog, Milo in front of the Snowball Factory in New Iberia, one of the best cities in Louisiana

10 Best Cities in Louisiana in 2023 (By a Local)

While most visitors think of New Orleans when they visit Louisiana, there are actually many cities in Louisiana that are worth checking out!

As a Louisiana local, I can show you all the great cities and best spots to visit in Louisiana. One example is Baton Rouge, the state’s capital and home to Louisiana State University. It’s one of the coolest cities, but just one of several amazing major cities.

Read on to learn more about the amazing cities and towns that Louisiana has to offer!

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10 Best Cities in Louisiana

New Orleans

The heart and soul of Louisiana, full of the spirit of “laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll).

A local with a pinned dollar bills on her her shirt in New Orleans
A local with dollar bills pinned to her shirt, an old New Orleans birthday tradition

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When most people picture Louisiana, they picture New Orleans: the wrought-iron balustrades, the sultry riffs of live jazz, the smell of gumbo and jambalaya wafting out to cobblestone streets, and the crowds lined up catching beads during Mardi Gras.

Although almost all visitors will spend at least some of their time in the French Quarter, there are many fabulous New Orleans neighborhoods. You’ll discover the amazing mansions of the Garden District and hours of outdoor fun awaiting you at City Park. Between the eateries, museums, and beauty of Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans can’t be missed.

Baton Rouge

Louisiana’s unpretentious and eclectic capital city full of art and history.

The Memorial Tower in Louisiana State University located in Baton Rouge
The Memorial Tower on the campus of Louisiana State University

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Baton Rouge is Louisiana’s second-largest city and is a hidden gem.

Louisiana State University has a beautiful campus full of Mission Revival architecture (think Stanford’s Campus). Sports fans will love attending a game at Tiger Stadium or just basking in its glory. Near Tiger Stadium is the habitat for LSU’s live mascot, Mike the Tiger. 

Downtown Baton Rouge is walkable and historic. One of the best things to do in Baton Rouge is to check out the Old State Capitol Museum, one of my favorite museums in the city. It’s also worth swinging by the modern state capitol building and a statue of the famous assassinated governor, Huey P. Long. 

With its museums, parks, events, and several cozy residential neighborhoods, Baton Rouge offers something that will excite any visitor.


The artsy city in the heart of “Cajun Country” with food and music that will knock your socks off.

View of a building in Vermilionville Historic Village
A historic Cajun building at Vermilionville Museum in Lafayette

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Lafayette is the biggest city in the heart of Acadiana, or Cajun Country. It is famous for its food, music, and history. 

While Downtown Lafayette certainly has some hip music venues, Lafayette is most well-known for its Zydeco (Cajun music) scene. It also has a famous free musical festival held annually in April. Called “Festival International de Louisiane,” it features bands from all over the world.

Lafayette is home to several spectacular museums. One of the most popular is the Vermilionville Living History Museum, which immerses visitors in scenes of Cajun life over the last several centuries. 

Between the unique museums, rich Cajun cuisine, and upbeat live music, every guest will enjoy their time in Lafayette.

Lake Charles

Louisiana’s Las Vegas… but with a pirate festival.

Aerial view at the Lake Charles in Louisiana
An aerial image of Lake Charles

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The largest town in southwest Louisiana, Lake Charles is a draw to tourists, Louisianians looking for a getaway, and retirees. Lake Charles is known locally for its nightlife, largely thanks to four major casinos. This makes Lake Charles a frequent adults-only destination.

Nature lovers who’d like to stay cool in their car’s AC shouldn’t miss the Creole Nature Trail. The trail begins in Lake Charles and is a 180-mile scenic driving route sometimes called “Louisiana’s Outback.”

History buffs will adore the distinct architectural style of Lake Charles’s downtown at the Charpentier Historic District. The homes are known for their gingerbread accents, turrets, and leaded glass.

Shreveport & Bossier City

Historic sister towns full of casinos, live music, museums, and festivals.

Colorful sky over Shreveport during sunset
The skyline of Shreveport

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Shreveport and Bossier City are sister cities in South Central Louisiana that combine to make up the Greater Shreveport Metropolitan Area, which is slightly larger than the state of Delaware. 

Shreveport and Bossier City are known for their five riverfront casinos and racetrack. However, there are also attractions the whole family can enjoy. There is an aquarium, Gators and Friends Petting Zoo and Adventure Park, and the Sci-Port Discovery Center.

Couples and adult travelers will enjoy the Asian Gardens, the Waterworks Museum, and the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, which once hosted a famous radio program in the vein of the Grand Ole Opry.


Home to some of the best hiking and camping opportunities in the state.

View at the entrance of Kisatchie National Forest
The entrance to Kisatchie National Forest

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Alexandria’s biggest draw for visitors and Louisiana locals alike is its proximity to Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana’s only national forest. The forest contains an area known as the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness with the 7-mile Backbone Trail, popular amongst day-hikers and backpackers alike. The Wild Azalea Trail is also popular.


A Louisiana city near the Arkansas border with the first Coca-Cola bottling plant, a large zoo, and the region’s biggest mall.

An old and rusted railroad bridge in Ouachita River
A railroad bridge over the Ouachita River near downtown Monroe (photo: Sabrina Janelle Gordon / Shutterstock)

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Monroe is the largest city in northeast Louisiana and has a sister city (West Monroe) across the Ouachita River. Monroe is considered the cultural center point of North Louisiana and has several famous museums, including the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, Masur Museum of Art, Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum, and the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum.

One fun fact about the Biedenharn Museum is that it is home to Coca-Cola’s first bottling plant. The estate is now home to a Coca-Cola museum, where you can enjoy a Coke for 5 cents.

Families and nature lovers will enjoy a trip to Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Preserve or a river cruise on the Ouachita River.   


A laid-back fishing community with a distinct Cajun culture.

An old swamp house in Houma, Louisiana
A swamp house in Houma

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Houma is not only one of the southernmost cities in the state but it’s also got one of the most authentic Cajun bayou cultures in the state. Because it is relatively cut off from other cities due to the surrounding swamplands, the culture of Houma has remained distinct and relatively unchanged over time.

Houma is a great destination for recreational fishermen interested in chartering a boat. It’s also a great springing-off point for exploring the 290-mile-long Wetlands Cultural Byway, which will guide your exploration of the smaller towns in the region. You can grab a map at the Houma Area Visitor’s Center.

New Iberia

A wonderful home base in Acadiana (Cajun Country) for exploring nearby attractions like Avery Island.

The author with her dog, Milo in front of the Snowball Factory in New Iberia, Louisiana
Me and Milo outside a distinctive snowball (shaved ice) stand in New Iberia

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New Iberia has a great location in the heart of Acadiana and is one of the closest cities to Avery Island, home of the Tabasco Factory and Jungle Gardens. In fact, staying in New Iberia will also place you within close proximity of the Rip Van Wrinkle Gardens, leaving nature lovers with no shortage of flora.

New Iberia is within half an hour of smaller local towns like St. Martinville, Breaux-Bridge, and Broussard.

New Iberia would be the perfect destination for families hoping to explore Acadiana who would like to stay closer to the small Cajun outposts and Avery Island than Lafayette allows.


One of the oldest towns in the region with a reputation for meat pies and levee bonfires on Christmas Eve.

The Minor Basilica from the outside in Natchitoches
The Minor Basilica in Natchitoches

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Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement acquired during the Louisiana Purchase, and the town’s slogan is, “Where history lives.” The mile-long French Colonial area of downtown is designated a National Historic Landmark.

There are many well-maintained plantation properties in the Cane River National Heritage Area around Natchitoches that visitors can tour. It is also a stop on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.  

The Natchitoches Meat Pie is one of Louisiana’s official foods. Natchitoches has multiple Christmas traditions, including their long standing Christmas lighting festival on the Cane River.

👉 Read Next: Where to Live in Louisiana

FAQs About Cities in Louisiana

What are the largest cities in Louisiana? 

The largest cities in Louisiana are New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Lafayette, and Lake Charles.

What are some interesting Louisiana cities to visit? 

Some interesting Louisiana cities to visit include New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Monroe, Houma, and Natchitoches.


After reading my post, I hope you’ve learned a lot about the major cities in Louisiana! But more importantly, I hope you’re inspired to start exploring! Make sure to check out my guide to things to do in New Orleans before you go.

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