Zydeco and a Zest for Life: 8 Great Places to Check Out During Your Louisiana Vacation

Louisiana is more than just New Orleans. Warm, naturally beautiful, and steeped in culture, this southern state has something for everyone. Here are just eight attractions you’ll want to consider, whether you’re just passing through, or looking to cover some real ground.

  1. Avery Island

This gem in Iberia Parish is the home of Tabasco sauce, but this is just a footnote if you’re a nature lover. The salt dome is also home to Jungle Gardens, a mecca of gorgeous birds and flowers.

  1. The Atchafalaya Basin

Interested in visiting the biggest swamp in the nation? Look no further than the Atchafalaya Basin, which boasts almost of million acres of natural wetlands, swamps, forests, lakes, and bayous. The crawfish-heavy area hosts festivals, paddle races, gumbo cook-offs, and plenty of events for kids.

  1. Mardi Gras

So you want to brave the enormous crowds and join in on Louisiana’s premiere event. Fat Tuesday takes place in February, but you’ll want to book a room at a Marriott somewhere in Louisiana way before the New Year. More than a million people show up every year to partake in the parades, food, music, and hedonism going down in the Big Easy.

  1. Venice

Venice, Louisiana is a fishermen’s paradise. The community has gone to great lengths to rebuild since Hurricane Katrina, but you don’t have to hunt for wildlife if you prefer not to. Nearby is the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, a scenic preserve that endangered species and other important wildlife call home.

  1. French Quarter

Hungry? You should probably take a few days to cover the French Quarter, New Orleans’ most tourist-driven neighborhood. In addition to the amazing regional fare, there are many museums, cathedrals, historic sites, and live music events. Dress up in purple, gold, and green and make sure to grab yourself a King’s cake.

  1. Chauvin Sculpture Garden

Looking for something a little unexpected? Chauvin is a small town in Terrebonne Parish where a reclusive artist named Kenny Hill once lived. He covered his property in statues and sculptures that must be seen to really be appreciated. Trust us – these aren’t simple garden gnomes.

  1. Vermilionville

If it’s authentic Louisiana culture that you want to enjoy, visit Vermilionville in Lafayette. They celebrate and preserve the unique history of Native American, Acadian (Cajun), and Creole people that have set Louisiana apart. There’s a ton of live music, including traditional zydeco, festivals, exhibits, and demonstrations.

  1. The Melrose Plantation

In Natchitoches Parish lies the Melrose, or Yucca Plantation. If you want to visit the Antebellum south, the many buildings here will more than suffice. You can take a guided tour, learn much more about Creole culture, and enjoy the stunning views, art, and architecture.

One thing is for sure: there may be similarities across the south, but Louisiana’s history, culture, and enduring tradition makes it unlike any other state. The one thing you may not be prepared for is how uniquely beautiful it is