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Exploring the bayou by canoe in Lake Charles, Louisiana
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Louisiana Road Trips: Travel Through the Land of Unforgettable Places

Discover off-the-beaten-path attractions and authentic experiences you’ll have to see to believe in cities and towns all across the Bayou State.

It’s hard to put into words what makes Louisiana so special. From the artsy streets of New Orleans and the historic buildings of Baton Rouge to the rousing dancehalls of Lafayette and Creole comforts of Lake Charles, every corner of the Pelican State offers one-of-a-kind wonders to travelers seeking authentic experiences full of quirky charm. You’ll find yourself surrounded by some of the most uniquely beautiful landscapes the USA has to offer as you travel through Louisiana’s signature swamps and marshlands. You’ll also delight your palate as you taste a delectable blend of Creole, Cajun and Acadian dishes.

As you meet colorful locals and learn about deep cultural roots, you never know what you’ll discover next in Louisiana. Will you explore a hidden playground made of musical instruments? Will you take an exhilarating airboat ride to the heart of the bayou to spot alligators and black bears? Will you come face-to-face with a musical legend? Expect delightful surprises around every turn as you take an unforgettable road trip through this jewel of the Southeastern USA.

Must-See Spots

A second line parade marches through the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana
Stephen Young/

French Quarter

The beating heart of New Orleans is the French Quarter, a magnificent historic district packed to the brim with live music and colorful Victorian architecture. Take part in colorful cultural celebrations just about every day of the year, from the revelry of Mardi Gras to the holiday spectacular of Celebration in the Oaks. See New Orleans’ storied streets from a unique perspective when you march alongside a brass band in a traditional second line parade.

Savoring a beignet at Café du Monde in New Orleans, Louisiana
Zack Smith Photography/

Café Du Monde

New Orleans’ cuisine is world-famous, and perhaps no spot is better recognized than Café du Monde. Stop by this unique haunt to chow down on beignets, traditional pastries piled high with delectable mountains of powdered sugar. Savor a mug of chicory coffee and take in views of legendary Jackson Square. If seafood is more your thing, you’ll find plenty of award-winning, locally owned stops for gumbo and etouffee in neighborhoods like Marigny and the Garden District.

Biking past colorful murals in downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana

Downtown Lake Charles

Just east of the border of Louisiana and Texas, the waterfront playground of Lake Charles offers cosmopolitan thrills in a small-town setting. Hop on a bike to explore the downtown streets, where you’ll hear live bands entertaining in Cajun restaurants and see colorful murals decorating historic buildings. Pick up a souvenir in a local boutique, then venture just outside the city center to take advantage of Lake Charles’ incredible gaming scene at luxury casino resorts.

Aerial view of kayakers at Sam Houston Jones State Park near Lake Charles, Louisiana

Creole Nature Trail

What’s a road trip without a view? Cruise beautiful beaches and paddle lakes and marshlands along the Creole Nature Trail, a nationally designated scenic byway spanning 290 kilometers of picturesque South Louisiana. Lake Charles makes the perfect gateway for a journey through this untouched wilderness. Whet your appetite for adventure with paddling excursions on Prien Lake or the Calcasieu River, then get ready to enjoy fishing, seashell collecting and animal-spotting in the untouched wilderness.

Enjoying a stroll through Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Visit Baton Rouge

Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center

Discover why Louisiana is nicknamed “the Sportsman’s Paradise” as you wander scenic boardwalks, see native wildlife in a state-of-the-art nature center and learn more about efforts to conserve the state’s swamps. Enjoy guided hikes or take a self-guided tour of educational exhibits. Think you’ll have to travel to a remote corner of the state to see this natural paradise? Think again: The serene trails of Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center are conveniently located in the capital city of Baton Rouge.

A guide leads visitors on a historic walking tour of Natchitoches, Louisiana

Cane River National Heritage Area Trail

Step back in time and encounter Louisiana history at heritage sites in and around the town of Natchitoches. Head to the Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site to explore a faithful replica of an 18th century military fort, then visit Oakland Plantation to see original Creole buildings and learn the stories of the enslaved workers who built them. Guided walking tours, departing from the Natchitoches Visitor Center, show you around these landmarks and more.

A meat pie in Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival

Celebrate a Louisiana culinary tradition on the scenic shores of the Natchitoches Riverbank. This cozy town is known for its meat pies, delectable fried pockets of seasoned meat and peppers. Visit during the annual Meat Pie Festival to taste them yourself and enjoy live music, cooking contests and fireworks shows. Book a stay at a bed-and-breakfast inn in the charming Landmark District and plan to spend a few days enjoying the local restaurants and boutique shops along historic Front Street.

Taking in views of the Mississippi River from the Riverfront Plaza in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Jordan Hefler

Baton Rouge Riverfront

Take in the mighty Mississippi River in Louisiana's capital city. The scenic Riverfront Plaza provides easy access to an observation deck and a number of trails, where you can savor the area's natural beauty while running or biking. Snap a selfie in front of the Sing the River Sculpture and spend some time enjoying the art, science and history museums that overlook the river. On a beautiful day in Baton Rouge, the riverfront is the place to be.

A performer in an intricate costume during the Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette, Louisiana
Lafayette Travel

Festival International de Louisiane

Two-step your way to the town of Lafayette to delight in world-class exhibitions of Zydeco music and savor tantalizing Cajun and Creole cuisine. For five days each spring, downtown Lafayette plays host to the Festival International de Louisiane. It’s a celebration of all things Louisiana, paying homage to the diverse cultural influences of the region. If you miss the Festival International, never fear: Local events take place in Lafayette’s streets nearly every week of the year.

Taking an exhilarating airboat ride through the Atchafalaya Swap near Lafayette, Louisiana
Lafayette Travel

Atchafalaya Basin

Venture out into the majestic swamps of South Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin, where the biodiversity of the cypress tree-lined landscape is like nowhere else in the world. Head to Lafayette and hop aboard a swamp tour boat for a chance to spot critters, like American alligators and black bears, that call these wetlands home. For a more fast-paced tour, take to the water on an airboat, a vessel designed to travel to the furthest reaches of the swamp.