The author, Meg O'Connor, outside the Old State Capitol Museum in Baton Rouge, one of the best places to visit in Louisiana

17 Best Places to Visit in Louisiana in 2023 (By a Local)

This guide is for you if you are looking for some great places to visit in Louisiana! 

As a local, I’ve explored all corners of Louisiana, from the big cities in Louisiana to more offbeat locations like Avery Island, home of the Tabasco Hot Sauce Factory.

From bustling Bourbon Street in the French Quarter to the quietest banks of the Mississippi River, I’ll tell you about all the places in Louisiana you need to see.

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17 Best Places to Visit in Louisiana

New Orleans

The famous “Big Easy,” known for its food, music, and amazing architecture.

The Old Jax Brewery building from the outside
Old Jax Brewery building in Downtown New Orleans

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New Orleans (especially the French Quarter) is the main destination in Louisiana for everyone from families to honeymooners to bachelorette parties. From the bustling French Quarter to the refined Garden District, there’s no shortage of things to see in New Orleans

History buffs will love the world-famous National WWII Museum, while party animals might gravitate more to local Mardi Gras celebrations every winter. Anyone with a flair for the macabre will appreciate the eerie cemeteries and Voodoo history. And of course, the restaurants in New Orleans can’t be beat. 

The French Quarter is visually distinct with its Creole architecture and landmarks like Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and Preservation Hall. The French Quarter is probably best known for its main party thoroughfare, Bourbon Street. But the area is also full of so much history, music, and art that everyone will find something to love.

Baton Rouge

The eclectic Louisiana capital city is chock full of museums and historic buildings.

The author, Meg outside the Old State Capitol Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Me outside the Old State Capitol Museum in downtown Baton Rouge

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Despite now living outside New Orleans, I lived in Baton Rouge (Louisiana’s capital city) for several years while attending grad school. In my opinion, it’s one of the most underrated destinations in all of Louisiana and is a true gem that shouldn’t be missed.

Located in south-central Louisiana on the banks of the Mississippi, Baton Rouge is full of great restaurants, historic buildings, and amazing museums. Some of my personal favorite museums include the Old State Capitol Museum downtown and the LSU Rural Life Museum. The modern State Capitol is also imposing and is a National Historic Landmark.

Baton Rouge is also home to the beautiful Louisiana State University, where visitors can see stunning Mission Revival architecture, quads full of live oaks, the imposing Tiger Stadium, and Mike, the live tiger, and mascot near the stadium.

For more, check out my guide to what to do in Baton Rouge.


The region of Cajun settlements in South Louisiana, full of culture and charm.

View of the Evangeline Oak Tree in Louisiana
The Evangeline Oak Tree in St. Martinville, Louisiana, inspired by Wadsworth’s poem

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Acadiana is the name of the region in southwestern Louisiana where the Cajun (Acadian) people settled after being forced out of Canada in the 18th Century. The area has its own distinct Cajun culture, history, and even dialect (Cajun French). Even the way Mardi Gras is celebrated is markedly different from New Orleans.

The region has many small Louisiana towns, each with a vibrant culture, like Breaux Bridge, the crawfish capital of Louisiana. The town hosts the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. 

Literature buffs might enjoy a visit to the Evangeline Oak Tree in St. Martinville, named for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem about two Acadian lovers. Nearby, the Longfellow Evangeline House also celebrates Longfellow’s legacy.


A vibrant Cajun city known for its distinct culture, food, and music.

View of the entrance to Downtown Lafayette
The entrance to Lafayette’s downtown area

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Lafayette is the biggest town in Acadiana and is even home to the Acadian Cultural Center. It serves as a fantastic home base for any visitor or family exploring the Acadiana Region

Lafayette may be of particular interest to those interested in the history and culture of the Cajun people since their settlement in the region. There are several museums, including the sprawling living history museum Vermillionville that immerse visitors in the Cajun tradition. Vermilionville Museum also has an amazing restaurant onsite and frequent live jam sessions with traditional Cajun music on the weekend.

Music buffs will find a mix of both hip music and traditional Zydeco music on the streets of Lafayette, including at famous venues like the Blue Moon Saloon downtown.

Avery Island

Family-friendly home of the Tabasco Factory and Jungle Gardens.

The author outside the Tabasco Country Store on Avery Island
Me outside the Tabasco gift shop on Avery Island

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Avery Island, another location in Acadiana, is one of the top Louisiana attractions for visitors. It is home to the Tabasco Hot Sauce Factory and its sprawling grounds. The factory can be toured by guests, and you can also visit the eclectic gift shop (with free samples of different Tabasco flavors).

Adjacent to the factory is the Jungle Gardens, a 170-acre botanic garden that was created by the son of Tabasco’s founder, Edmund Mcllhenny. These gardens on Avery Island can be explored by car or foot and feature many distinct areas, including a Chinese garden with an ancient Buddha statue and a bird sanctuary named “Bird City.”


One of the southernmost cities in Louisiana and a real hidden gem on da bayou.

View of the Marsh River in Houma, Louisiana
Marsh River in Houma

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Houma is a small city in southeastern Louisiana that truly encapsulates the spirit of the Bayou. Despite its location fairly far away from Lafayette and much of Acadiana, traditional Cajun culture is alive and well in Houma. Historians attribute this to the fact that the swampland isolates Houma from outside influences. 

Many of Houma’s residents still make a living off fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The downtown area is a historic district, and visitors can take walking tours. An annual music festival is held in Houma in October. Families and other visitors looking to experience a community that largely still lives off the land will enjoy a trip to Houma.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Beautiful National Park Service site with boardwalks and trails leading through jungle-like swampland.

View of a boardwalk in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
A boardwalk in Jean Lafitte Park

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Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is operated by the National Park Service and is located about thirty minutes outside New Orleans. It is one of the best places in southern Louisiana to experience wildlife and hiking trails (though keep in mind that the “hiking” is over entirely flat terrain). 

Jean Lafitte Park is a great place to spend a fall, winter, or spring afternoon if you or your family would love to spot local wildlife. You might see a gator, a nutria, or a spider as big as your hand. Stick to the boardwalks instead of the primitive trails, especially in the warmer months if you do not want to see a spider as big as your hand. 

There is a small interpretive center where you and your family can learn more about the ecosystem of South Louisiana. 

Bogue Chitto State Park

A hidden gem for hiking in South Louisiana.

View of a rope at the Bogue Chitto State Park
A tucked-away spot by the Bogue Chitto River

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Bogue Chitto State Park is far less well-known than Jean Lafitte National Park because it is a little further off the beaten path (about an hour and a half from New Orleans instead of 30 minutes). You’ll need a car to get to the park, but in my opinion, it offers the best hiking loop in South Louisiana.

Bogue Chitto has a bluffy landscape with some mild, rolling hills. While the trails get swampy after rain and buggy in the summer, all other times lend themselves to an extremely pleasant hike in shaded, subtropical woods. There are also cabins for rent at the park, a playground and splash pad area for kids, horseback riding, and a large rocky beach along the Bogue Chitto River. 

Grand Isle

A famous beach and fishing community that has stood the test of time.

View of a fence on a beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana
 A beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana

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Grand Isle is a town located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. It is one of the southernmost destinations in Louisiana and has a population of only 1,000 people. Grand Isle is predominantly a fishing community. 

Grand Isle State Park is the only state-owned beach on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. It is the only spot in Louisiana with some opportunities for surfing. Grand Isle also contains a birding trail and an annual bird festival. The community was made famous by Kate Chopin’s book The Awakening.

While Grand Isle is a relatively quiet and out-of-the-way destination, it is well worth a trip for birding enthusiasts, literature buffs who like Kate Chopin, or recreational fishermen who want to rake in the authentic South Louisiana fishing culture.

Honey Island Swamp

Famous for swamp tours and wildlife.

View at the Honey Island Swamp in Louisiana
Cypress trees in Honey Island Swamp

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Honey Island Swamp on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain is one of the least altered stretches of swampland in the United States. It is considered by many to be one of the most pristine swamps in the United States. 

Honey Island Swamp offers visitors the chance to see many native plants and animals, including alligators, snapping turtles, alligator gar, egrets, the brown pelican, nutria, and even the Louisiana black bear.

The swamp is known for the Honey Island Swamp Tours that take visitors into the swamp on a boat. Although the tours leave from Slidell on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, the company offers transportation from various New Orleans hotels. Visiting Honey Island Swamp is one of the best New Orleans day trips.

Families that want an authentic experience in nature and would like the chance to spot exotic flora and fauna should definitely consider touring the Honey Island Swamp. 

👉 Book this Honey Island Swamp Tour with transportation from New Orleans to visit the swamp and make a stop at a Cajun town you can only reach by boat.

Manchac Swamp

An eerie and historically-rich swamp.

An abandoned house at the Manchac Swamp
Abandoned bayou house in Louisiana

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Like Honey Island Swamp, Manchac Swamp is another beautiful and untarnished slice of nature that can be toured via swamp tour. Manchac Swamp is known locally for its intriguing history and even has a reputation for being haunted.

The legend is about Julia Brown, a voodoo priestess who lived on the swamp in the 20th Century. She supposedly used to tell the townspeople that when she died, she was going to take the whole town with her. 

According to the legend, on the day of Brown’s funeral, a massive hurricane swept through the town, wreaking havoc and destruction. The story has left Manchac Swamp with a reputation for being Louisiana’s haunted cypress swamp.

There are swamp tours that depart from Downtown New Orleans and head to Manchac Swamp. You can take this kayak tour of Manchac Swamp with transportation from New Orleans included. There are also several camping areas along the banks of the swamp for those who would like to brave a night alongside the haunted swamp.

Manchac Swamp is a great destination for anyone who would like to experience the untarnished nature of a Louisiana cypress swamp but who would also like a little myth and lore thrown into the experience.  

The Atchafalaya Basin

The expansive unkempt natural area surrounding the Acadiana Region of Louisiana.

View of people on a boat in Atchafalaya Basin
Bald cypress and Spanish moss typical of the Atchafalaya Basin

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The Atchafalaya Basin is yet another beautiful Louisiana swamp. It is located in Acadiana in southwestern Louisiana. It differs from the Honey Island and Manchac Swamps because of both the ecosystem and the cultural region in which it is located.

The Atchafalaya River is, in addition to the Mississippi River, the other large river that ends its course in South Louisiana. Whereas the Mississippi Delta is located south of New Orleans, the Atchafalaya Delta is located in the western part of the coastline.

Unlike the Mississippi, which has been slowly declining over time, the Atchafalaya has been actively growing its basin. This makes the Atchafalaya River Basin a very rich and active ecosystem. The basin is also 70% forest and only 30% swampland.

The Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge was established to protect the rare plants and animals of the basin.

The Northshore

A family-friendly collection of towns on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

A bluegrass concert at the Marsolan Feed & Seed Store Inc
A casual bluegrass concert at a feed store in Covington

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The Louisiana Northshore is located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, just across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge from New Orleans. It includes an assemblage of mostly small towns, including Mandeville, Covington, Abita Springs, and Slidell. 

Slidell is best known as the departure point for Honey Island Swamp Tours. Mandeville is home to both the Lake Pontchartrain Lakeshore and Fontainebleau State Park, a fantastic locale for a low-key day hike. 

Covington is a fantastic home base for kayaking adventures on the Bogue Falaya River, which remains quite cool even in the hot summer months. Abita Springs is home to a famous brewery and the Abita Mystery House, an offbeat museum.

Get the best deal on a car rental through Discover Cars and head across the lake from New Orleans to fit in some extra nature adventures.

Fontainebleau State Park

A lovely hiking loop with a beach on Lake Pontchartrain.

View of a boardwalk in Fontainebleau State Park
A boardwalk through a marsh at Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville

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Fontainebleau State Park is located in Mandeville on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The park has a beach on the lake, a campground and glamping sites, a 4.8-mile hiking trail, and even the ruins of an old sugar mill. 

Fontainebleau is bordered on three sides by water: Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Cane, and Bayou Castine. There are cabins that can be rented jutting out onto the water on stilts. 

Fontainebleau State Park is a fantastic destination (either a day trip or overnight camping or glamping stay) for any family that might want to splash around in Lake Pontchartrain, spot some birds, or go for a leisurely 5-mile hike on impeccably well-kept trails.


Once a home for people with leprosy, Carville offers the chance to drive around the site with a free audio guide.

View of the cafeteria bell at Carville
Carville’s cafeteria bell from when the site was a hospital for patients with leprosy
Tombstones at a cemetery in Carville
The cemetery and crematorium (no longer used) at Carville

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Carville is a site located on the River Road of the Mississippi River about 30 minutes downstream of Baton Rouge. Today, Carville is a Louisiana National Guard facility, but historically the grounds were used as a home for patients with leprosy (and before that as a plantation). 

There are several great reasons to check out Carville as a family, couple, or solo traveler if you have a car and find yourself near Baton Rouge.

First, visiting Carville is free (you just need to show your ID at the National Guard security booth at the entrance to the facility). Second, there’s a free audio guide so that you can self-tour the facility by car, and there’s a free exhibit to stop at towards the beginning of the driving tour. You’ll learn about a truly fascinating and underrepresented slice of history and society.

Although you are required to stay in your car for most of the self-guided tour, you’re allowed to get out and explore the cemetery located at the back of the old leprosy hospital grounds. This was a very touching tribute to the experience of generations of patients at Carville. It’s a truly unique and eye-opening experience to get while visiting Louisiana. 

👉 Pro Tip: If you visit Carville, be sure to find an opportunity to pull your car over and climb up the levee of the River Road leading to the site. This is one of the best ways to see the Mississippi River.

Chalmette Battlefield

War of 1812 battlefield and cemetery owned by the National Park Service.

Cannons at the Chalmette National Battlefield
A cannon at Chalmette National Battlefield

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Chalmette Battlefield in Chalmette is the location of the pivotal Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. Many know of this battle from the old song “The Battle of New Orleans,” first recorded in 1959 (my Mom sang this song to me when I was a kid, for instance). If you don’t know it, have a listen and head down to Chalmette Battlefield to soak up the history.

The Battlefield includes the actual field, a walking path, an interpretive center, and a national cemetery established in 1864. 

One little-known fascinating grave in the cemetery is that of Rosetta Wakeman, a woman who disguised herself as a man to join the army and was stationed at nearby Jackson Barracks before passing away in 1865. She is buried in Chalmette National Cemetery under the name Lyons Wakeman.

Chalmette National Battlefield is a great destination for both history buffs and families looking to open their eyes to the history of the region. Live reenactments occasionally happen onsite. Call ahead if you would like to either seek out or avoid a reenactment.   

👉 Pro Tip: JazzLand (an old Six Flags Amusement Park) was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina but never demolished. The old roller coasters can still be seen on the horizon as you drive on Interstate 10 from Slidell to Chalmette.

The Whitney Plantation

An incredible plantation museum with a singular focus on the experience of enslaved people.

Exterior of a slave house at the Whitney Plantation
A slave house displayed at the Whitney Plantation

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The Whitney Plantation is located in Wallace on the River Road of the Mississippi River, a little over 45 minutes from New Orleans. There are tours that take visitors from New Orleans to the plantation museum. The Whitney is the only plantation in Louisiana (and one of the few museums in the country) dedicated entirely to the experience of enslaved people.

The Whitney Plantation Museum is a solemn experience, depicting the horrors of plantation life for those who were enslaved on the property. But I wouldn’t recommend a trip to Louisiana without this life-changing experience. The Whitney Museum is appropriate for couples, solo travelers, and families with older children.

FAQs about Places to Travel in Louisiana

What are the most popular places to visit in Louisiana? 

The most popular places to visit in Louisiana are the cities of New Orleans (especially Bourbon Street and the French Quarter), Baton Rouge, and Lafayette. There are also smaller destinations that can’t be missed, like Avery Island, home of the Tabasco Factory.

What is the best time of year to visit Louisiana?

The best time to visit Louisiana is winter or spring (particularly during the months of December – April). Visitors should avoid traveling to Louisiana during hurricane season, which lasts from the beginning of June through the end of November. The New Orleans French Quarter also gets very busy during Mardi Gras.

Where is there to travel in Louisiana besides New Orleans?

There are many other wonderful cities like Baton Rouge and Lafayette. There are also several historical sites outside New Orleans that are worth a visit, like Carville, Chalmette Battlefield, and the Whitney Plantation. Nature lovers will enjoy a swamp tour outside the city in places like Honey Island Swamp or the Jungle Gardens on Avery Island.


I hope that after reading this guide, you have some ideas about the best places to visit in Louisiana!

There are so many great sites in the Pelican State that you may very well need more than one trip. And, if you decide to stay for longer, check out my guide to the best places to live in Louisiana.

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One Comment

  1. Ms. Meg : GREAT ARTICLE of the Best of Louisiana!
    Don’t forget the North Part of the State!
    Elvis Presley Didn’t & so many more Keep it UP.
    Largest Mardi Gras Krewe is there! CE NTAUR!
    Have Dinner at Earnest!

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