It may be Louisiana’s eclectic history that makes it so special. Once a French colony, then a Spanish protectorate, and now a U.S. state, Louisiana draws from many worldwide influences. Extending into the Gulf of Mexico, and home to swamps filled with alligators and other fun wildlife, Louisiana’s natural surroundings are as varied as its people.
You can go deep-sea fishing off the coast, or pay a visit to the Attakapaw swamp. Watch the sunrise over Lake Martin, where cypress trees draped in moss serve as excellent photographic subjects. You can walk the dazzling streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter, gorging on French baked goods and tasty rum. And, of course, you can party in the city until dawn. Whatever the case, Louisiana is a hub for culture vultures and fun seekers alike.
Places to Visit in New Orleans
- New Orleans
- Lake Martin
- Breaux Bridge
- Saint Bernard
- St. Matinville
- The Wetlands
Unique Things to See and Do in Louisiana
- Take a walking tour and learn the sordid history of Storyville in New Orleans
- Spend time in New Orleans’ opulent Garden District, and the French Quarter
- Go deep-sea fishing off the coast
- Eat your way through all of Louisiana’s traditional foods
- Watch the sunrise at Lake Martin
- Visit a swamp, and learn about the wildlife there (like alligators and crocodiles)
- Kayak in the Louisiana Wetlands
Louisiana’s culture has been greatly influenced by its French, Spanish, and African ancestry. Everywhere you turn, there’s some reminder of this influence: in the architecture, the music, the food, and the lifestyles of the locals. Disregarding the typical conservative ways of the Deep South, Louisiana embraces fun loving adventure seekers (and definitely debauchery). The state gave birth to jazz music, and even a few other genres that don’t really fit anywhere else in the world (think “swamp pop”). All you have to do is stroll through the French Quarter in New Orleans and observe the fancy ironwork architecture and meticulous courtyard gardens to realize you’re somewhere very, very special.
To get a perfect introduction to Louisiana culture, start out in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The French established this famous area in 1718, thanks to its valuable position on the Mississippi River. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and the attractions here range from the party atmosphere at Bourbon Street to the bohemian area of Royal Street. Much of the architecture is actually Spanish, with balconies decorated in ironwork, courtyard gardens aplenty, and beautiful fountains scattered all over the place.
Jackson Square is the most famous landmark, dedicated to Andrew Jackson – the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. From here it’s easy to reach the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere, and Louisiana State Museums. Nearby you’ll also find the Pontalba Apartments, the oldest apartment buildings in the United States. This is also where all the artists and buskers hang out.
The next priority, exploring Louisiana’s food scene, is a MUST do. Drawing on its Creole and Cajun influences, Louisiana is world-renown for its epic foodie scene. Be sure to taste foods such as etoufee, boudin, cracklin’, and gumbo. If you don’t know what those dishes are, you’re in for a treat. Eating a sweet potato beignet is another must-do, seeing as how it’s the state’s most famous dish. Top your beignet off with duck debris, foie gras fondue, and chicory coffee ganache. New Orleans is a great place to start, and is home to some traditional restaurants that have been operating for decades. Café du Monde is the place to go for beignets and café au lait.
Did you know…?
Louisiana has the tallest state capitol building in the United States, at 450 feet tall and 34 floors.
Did you ALSO know…?
Mamou is the Cajun music capital of the world. If you want to experience real Cajun music, you must go to Fred’s Lounge.
Getting Around Louisiana
Louisiana is a fairly easy state to get around. There are several airports to fly into, and a Greyhound bus service is available for inter-city travel. Otherwise, a rental car is a great idea for covering long distances.
In New Orleans and the other cities you’ll find public buses and plenty of taxicabs. New Orleans also has a cheap streetcar that runs up and down St. Charles Avenue. There is even a fast ferry from Canal Street to take you across the Mississippi River to Algiers.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Louisiana
The best time of year to visit Louisiana is when the temperature is most mild, in early spring or late fall. Late fall tends to be the best option, because then you can avoid hurricane season. However, the famous Mardi Gras celebration takes place in spring.
If you want to avoid hurricane season but still soak up the local atmosphere, there are also many festivals taking place in Louisiana between Halloween and Christmas/New Year. New Year’s Eve is especially a fun time to visit!
Ready to plan your visit to Louisiana? Check out these popular guides and trips.