Off the Beaten Path | Louisiana
Louisiana is a state filled with culture, history and amazing natural beauty. There are so many fascinating destinations and different things to do in this state. From Mardi Gras celebrations to swamp tours, visitors to Louisiana will never be short of interesting things to do and places to explore. Here are just a few notable destinations and adventures to enjoy in the great state of Louisiana.
Mardi Gras, New Orleans
New Orleans is know for the biggest and best Carnival/Marid Gras celebration in the entire United States. The Big Easy starts celebrating Carnival as early as Jan. 30 and continues the celebration right up to Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. In New Orleans you will find a different parade each night, each with amazing floats, colorful costumes and lots of fun. Visitors to New Orleans can see the Mardi Gras Indians or watch the Zulu parade.
Old Ferry Landing, Port Allen
Located across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Old Ferry Landing is an amazing spot to enjoy views of Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is a very flat city and from across the Mississippi at Old Ferry Landing visitors can enjoy unimpeded views of Baton Rouge. In addition, head out to the beautiful walkway, the same spot where the ferries carrying cars across the Mississippi from Baton Rouge have landed for many years.
Nottoway Plantation, White Castle
One of Louisiana's best historical treasures are the old plantation homes. The Nottoway Plantation was designed by Henry Howard for the John Hampton Randolph family. Visitors can take guided tours of the home, the grounds and the museum. The Nottoway Plantation, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was completed in 1859. Visitors can see the amazing number of rooms, staircases, windows and much more. One of the most notable features of the home is its semi-circular white ballroom.
Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve
This amazing park has six sites, each of which features a different aspect of Louisiana's rich culture and history. For visitors looking to explore the outdoors, the Barataria Preserve in Marrero is a great destination, where visitors can have outdoor adventures in an amazing wetland. The Chalmette Battlefield is an interesting spot where visitors can learn about the 1812 Battle of New Orleans, and in January visitors can watch the reenactments. Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve also has four visitor centers in different locations, including the French Quarter Visitor Center in New Orleans, the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice and the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux. Each visitor center highlights a different cultural and historical aspect of Louisiana.
Atchafalaya Basin Swamp Tour
Visitors to Louisiana should be sure to take a swamp tour of the Atchafalaya Basin near Lafayette. The Atchafalaya River is the largest river swamp in North America. There are many swamp tour companies that offer a great opportunity to explore this unique environment. During a tour visitors can lean about the cypress trees and many other types of indigenous plant life. Tours are also a great way to learn about the native wildlife, including alligators. The Atchafalaya River is located in the heart of Cajun Country, so visitors on swamp tours will have the opportunity to learn about the local culture.
French Market, New Orleans
For visitors wanting to combine culture and shopping, the French Market in New Orleans is the ideal destination. The market stretches for six blocks on the river side of the Lower French Quarter. It is home to over twenty retail shops, as well as performance venues, restaurants, a flea market and a farmers market. The French Market started as a Native American trading post and is now the oldest public market in the United States (it has been in the same spot since 1791). As visitors explore the market they can enjoy a wide range of food at the Farmers Market, the public art, walkways and even historical monuments.
Riverboat Cruise on the Mississippi
One enjoyable way to spend a day in Louisiana is to take a cruise on the Mississippi. There are a variety of options to choose from and many start in New Orleans. Visitors will find themselves on a classic steam boat or paddle boat, cruising the magnificent Mississippi, enjoying views of the city and harbor. For an even greater adventure, there are day-long cruises that pair a half day trip to local plantations with swamp tours or afternoon riverboat jazz cruises. For the visitors with more time, there are week long Mississippi River Cruises that travel from New Orleans to Memphis.