Home United States Louisiana Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Louisiana

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Louisiana

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state capitol building louisiana

Louisiana, a state in the southern United States, is known for its rich cultural and historical heritage. With its vibrant culture, scenic beauty, and welcoming locals, Louisiana has become a top tourist destination in the South. From the lively streets of New Orleans to the tranquil bayous and swamplands, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this enchanting state. In this guide, we will explore the best tourist attractions in Louisiana, ensuring you have an unforgettable trip filled with fun and excitement.

The History and Culture of Louisiana

Louisiana’s culture is a mix of European, African, and Native American influences that dates back to the state’s early colonial days. The state’s history is rich and complex, and it is reflected in the many cultural and historical sites that can be found throughout Louisiana. One such site is the Historic New Orleans Collection, which is a museum and research center that houses artifacts and documents related to the city’s history.

Louisiana is also known for its music, which is a blend of jazz, blues, and Cajun and Creole music. The city of New Orleans is particularly famous for its jazz music, which can be heard in many of the city’s bars and music venues. Another popular aspect of Louisiana’s culture is its cuisine, which is a unique blend of French, African, and Native American influences. Visitors to Louisiana can try dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish étouffée, which are all staples of the state’s cuisine.

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New Orleans

1. New Orleans’ French Quarter

new orleans
new orleans

One of the top tourist destinations in Louisiana is the French Quarter in New Orleans. Established in the early 1700s, it is the city’s oldest neighborhood and an integral part of its culture and history. The French Quarter is known for its beautiful architecture, with buildings dating back as far as 300 years. Wrought iron balconies adorn the historic buildings, creating a charming atmosphere.

The most famous street in the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, renowned for its lively atmosphere, live music, and vibrant nightlife. Visitors can enjoy a stroll along the pedestrian-friendly Royal Street, lined with jazz clubs, antique shops, and art galleries. Decatur Street is a popular hangout for hipsters, offering a mix of trendy shops and eateries. North Rampart Street provides a more relaxed experience, with historic buildings and excellent dining options.

The French Quarter is not just a hub for entertainment; it also offers a glimpse into the city’s history. Must-visit attractions include Jackson Square, a historic park that houses the iconic St. Louis Cathedral, and the French Market, where visitors can explore local shops and sample delicious Creole and Cajun cuisine.

Additional Information:

  • The French Quarter is a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, making it easy to explore on foot.
  • Don’t forget to try the local delicacies, such as gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish étouffée, during your visit to the French Quarter.

2. National WWII Museum

national wwii museum new orleans

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the history of World War II at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. This comprehensive museum is one of the best in the world, offering a detailed and engaging exploration of the war and its impact.

The National WWII Museum features permanent exhibitions that cover a wide range of topics, from the reasons behind the war to the strategies that led to victory. Explore the exhibits at your own pace, taking in the artifacts, personal stories, and interactive displays that bring history to life.

In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the museum hosts special exhibitions throughout the year, providing visitors with a fresh perspective on different aspects of the war. Don’t miss the submarine exhibit, where you can explore the interior of a real submarine, or the Boeing exhibit, which showcases full-scale planes suspended from the ceiling.

3. Mardi Gras

mardi gras new orleans

If you want to experience the magic of Mardi Gras year-round, a visit to Mardi Gras World is a must. Mardi Gras, a world-famous festival that takes place annually in New Orleans, is a celebration of vibrant colors, elaborate costumes, and lively parades. At Mardi Gras World, you can go behind the scenes and get a glimpse into the fascinating world of float-making, costume design, and the history of this iconic festival.

The first Mardi Gras celebration took place in 1703, and since then, it has become one of the defining events of New Orleans. Every year, over one million people flock to the city to witness the spectacle of the grand floats parading through the streets and to partake in the numerous events and festivities that accompany the festival.

During your visit to Mardi Gras World, you’ll embark on a self-guided tour through a large warehouse, where you’ll witness the incredible craftsmanship that goes into creating the floats and costumes. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of Mardi Gras from knowledgeable guides and even try on some of the extravagant costumes.

Mardi Gras World is a truly immersive experience that allows you to get up close and personal with the magic of Mardi Gras. As you explore the warehouse, you’ll be transported into a world of fantasy and whimsy, surrounded by larger-than-life sculptures and intricate designs. It’s a feast for the eyes and a chance to appreciate the artistry and creativity that goes into every aspect of Mardi Gras.

Additional Information:

  • Mardi Gras World is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, just a short drive from the French Quarter.
  • The tour of Mardi Gras World typically lasts around 1 hour and includes a complimentary shuttle service from various locations in downtown New Orleans.

4. Melrose Plantation

Melrose Plantation is a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Louisiana. This historic landmark is bursting with history, charm, and beauty. From the moment you step foot on the property, you can’t help but feel a sense of excitement and wonder. The plantation itself is a stunning example of Greek Revival architecture, with its grand columns and elegant design. As you explore the grounds, you’ll be transported back in time to the antebellum era, imagining what life was like for the families who once called this place home. The lush gardens and sprawling oak trees create a picturesque backdrop that is simply breathtaking.

One of the highlights of Melrose Plantation is its rich history. This plantation has seen it all, from the days of slavery to the Civil War and beyond. It was once a thriving cotton plantation, with hundreds of slaves working the fields. Today, you can tour the main house and see firsthand the remnants of this dark period in our nation’s history. It’s a sobering experience, but one that is necessary to fully appreciate the progress we have made as a society.

5. Old State Capitol

old state capitol mansion governor new orleans

Delve into Louisiana’s fascinating history at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol. Located in Baton Rouge, this historic building served as the state capitol until 1932. Today, it has been transformed into a museum dedicated to preserving the state’s heritage.

Visiting the Old State Capitol is a journey through time. Explore two floors of exhibitions that provide insights into the state government, history, and culture. One of the highlights is the Ghost of the Castle 4D experience, which offers a unique and immersive way to learn about the building’s past.

Make sure to take in the breathtaking views of the Mississippi River from the Old State Capitol before you leave. Admission to the museum is free, making it an accessible destination for all.

6. State Capitol Building

state capitol building louisiana
The State Capitol Building is a historic building located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States, and is the home of the Louisiana State Legislature. It is also the tallest capitol building in the United States, with a height of 450 feet.

Architecture

The State Capitol Building is an impressive example of Art Deco architecture, with a distinctive tower that is topped by a gold-leafed statue of Huey P. Long, a former Louisiana governor and senator. The building features intricate stonework, murals, and sculptures that showcase the history and culture of Louisiana.

Tours

Guided tours of the State Capitol Building are available for visitors, and they cover a range of topics, including the history of the building, the legislative process, and the artwork and architecture of the building. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour of the building, which features exhibits and displays related to Louisiana history and culture.

Observation deck

One of the most popular features of the State Capitol Building is the observation deck, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area, including the Mississippi River and the downtown Baton Rouge skyline. The observation deck is open to the public and is accessible via an elevator that takes visitors to the 27th floor of the building.

Events

The State Capitol Building hosts a range of events throughout the year, including legislative sessions, public hearings, and ceremonies. The building is also a popular venue for weddings, receptions, and other special events.

7. Swamp Tours

swamp louisiana
Swamp tours are a popular attraction in Louisiana, United States, offering visitors a chance to explore the unique ecosystems and wildlife of the state’s swamps and wetlands. There are several types of swamp tours available, including airboat tours, kayak tours, and guided boat tours.

Airboat tours

Airboat tours are one of the most popular types of swamp tours, offering visitors a thrilling and exciting way to explore the swamps and wetlands. Airboats are high-speed boats that are propelled by a large fan, allowing them to navigate through shallow waters and over vegetation. Airboat tours are often led by experienced guides who provide information about the history, ecology, and wildlife of the swamp.

Kayak tours

Kayak tours are a more leisurely way to explore the swamps and wetlands, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna of the area. Kayaks are quiet and unobtrusive, allowing visitors to observe wildlife without disturbing it. Kayak tours are often led by experienced guides who provide information about the history, ecology, and wildlife of the swamp.

Guided boat tours

Guided boat tours are another popular option for exploring the swamps and wetlands of Louisiana. These tours are often led by experienced guides who provide information about the history, ecology, and wildlife of the swamp. Boat tours typically offer a more relaxed and comfortable way to explore the swamp, with seating and shelter from the elements.

Wildlife

Swamp tours offer visitors a chance to observe a range of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, snakes, birds, and fish. Visitors may also see other animals such as raccoons, otters, and deer, as well as a variety of plant life such as cypress trees and Spanish moss.

8. Laura Plantation

laura plantation louisiana

To truly understand Louisiana’s complex history, a visit to Laura Plantation is essential. Located near Vacherie, less than an hour from New Orleans, Laura Plantation provides a unique perspective on the state’s plantation life and the stories of those who lived there.

Built in the early 1800s, Laura Plantation covers expansive grounds and offers a stark contrast between the grandeur of the main house and the humble slave cabins. The plantation was once a place where African people were held captive and forced to farm sugarcane. Guided tours take visitors through the plantation, providing valuable insights into the lives of the enslaved people and the everyday realities they faced.

9. Vermilionville


Vermilionville is a living history museum and folklife park located in Lafayette, Louisiana, United States, that showcases the Acadian, Native American, and Creole cultures of the region. The museum offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the history, culture, and traditions of Louisiana.

Exhibits

Vermilionville features a range of exhibits that showcase the culture and traditions of Louisiana, including Acadian, Native American, and Creole culture. Exhibits include historic homes and buildings that have been moved to the site and restored, as well as exhibits on traditional crafts such as weaving, pottery, and woodcarving.

Interpreters

The museum is staffed by interpreters who provide visitors with a firsthand experience of the culture and traditions of Louisiana. Interpreters are dressed in period costumes and are often engaged in traditional crafts or other activities, such as cooking, music, or dancing. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the interpreters and to ask questions about the history and culture of the region.

Events

Vermilionville hosts a range of events throughout the year, including festivals, concerts, and educational programs. The museum also offers workshops and classes on traditional crafts and skills, as well as children’s programs and summer camps.

Food

One of the highlights of a visit to Vermilionville is the chance to sample traditional Cajun and Creole cuisine. The museum’s on-site restaurant, La Cuisine de Maman, serves classic dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish étouffée, as well as desserts such as bread pudding and pralines.

10. Spend a Day at the Beach in Louisiana

pontchartrain beach sunset louisiana
Louisiana is not known for its beaches, but it does have a few beautiful spots along the Gulf of Mexico that are worth visiting. Here’s how you can spend a day at the beach in Louisiana:

  1. Grand Isle Beach: Grand Isle is a barrier island located on the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s home to one of the best beaches in Louisiana. The beach features white sand, crystal-clear water, and plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.
  2. Holly Beach: Holly Beach is located in Cameron Parish, and it’s a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The beach features several miles of white sand and crystal-clear water, as well as a range of amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, and showers.
  3. Rutherford Beach: Rutherford Beach is another beautiful spot on the Gulf of Mexico, located in Cameron Parish. The beach features soft white sand and calm waters, making it a great place for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing.
  4. Elmer’s Island: Elmer’s Island is a nature reserve located on the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s home to a beautiful beach that’s perfect for swimming, fishing, and birdwatching. The beach features white sand, crystal-clear water, and plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing.
  5. Cypremort Point State Park: Cypremort Point State Park is located on a peninsula that extends into Vermilion Bay, and it’s home to a beautiful beach that’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. The beach features soft sand and calm waters, as well as a range of amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, and showers.

Other Popular Tourist Destinations in Louisiana

While New Orleans is certainly the most well-known tourist destination in Louisiana, there are many other cities and towns in the state that are worth visiting. One such city is Baton Rouge, which is the state capital. Baton Rouge is known for its historic landmarks, including the Louisiana State Capitol and the USS Kidd, which is a WWII-era destroyer that has been turned into a museum.

Another popular destination in Louisiana is Lafayette, which is located in the heart of Cajun Country. Lafayette is known for its Cajun and Creole cuisine, as well as its lively music scene. Visitors to Lafayette can explore the Acadian Cultural Center, which is a museum dedicated to Cajun and Creole culture, or take a swamp tour to see the state’s unique wildlife up close.

Best Activities and Experiences for Tourists in Louisiana

In addition to visiting the state’s cultural and historical sites, there are many other activities and experiences that tourists can enjoy in Louisiana. One such activity is taking a swamp tour, which allows visitors to see the state’s unique wildlife up close. Another popular activity is visiting one of the state’s many state parks, which offer hiking, fishing, and camping opportunities.

For those looking for a more urban experience, the city of New Orleans offers a wide range of activities, from visiting historic sites like the French Quarter to taking a food tour to sample the city’s unique cuisine. Visitors to Louisiana can also attend one of the state’s many festivals, such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival or the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival.

Food and Drink Recommendations for Tourists in Louisiana

No visit to Louisiana would be complete without trying the state’s unique cuisine. Visitors to Louisiana can try dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish étouffée, which are all staples of the state’s cuisine. Other popular dishes include po’boys, which are sandwiches filled with meat or seafood, and beignets, which are fried doughnuts covered in powdered sugar.

Louisiana is also known for its drinks, particularly its cocktails. The city of New Orleans is famous for its Sazerac cocktail, which is made with rye whiskey, absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters. Other popular cocktails in Louisiana include the Hurricane, which is made with rum and fruit juice, and the Ramos Gin Fizz, which is a creamy gin-based cocktail.

Accommodation Options for Tourists in Louisiana

Louisiana offers a wide range of accommodation options for tourists, from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts. In New Orleans, visitors can stay in historic hotels like the Hotel Monteleone, which has been in operation since 1886, or the Omni Royal Orleans, which is known for its rooftop pool and bar.

Outside of New Orleans, visitors can find a variety of lodging options, including bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals. In Lafayette, visitors can stay in the charming Blue Moon Saloon and Guesthouse, which is located in the heart of Cajun Country. In Baton Rouge, visitors can stay in the luxurious Watermark Baton Rouge, which offers stunning views of the Mississippi River.

Getting Around Louisiana as a Tourist

Louisiana is a relatively small state, and getting around is relatively easy. Visitors can rent a car to explore the state’s many destinations, or take advantage of the state’s public transportation options, which include buses and streetcars. In New Orleans, visitors can take the famous St. Charles streetcar, which runs through the city’s historic neighborhoods.

Tips for Planning Your Louisiana Trip

When planning a trip to Louisiana, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, the state can get hot and humid during the summer months, so visitors should be prepared for the weather. Second, visitors should be aware of the state’s unique culture and history, and should take advantage of the many cultural and historical sites that the state has to offer. Finally, visitors should make sure to try the state’s unique cuisine and cocktails, which are an essential part of any trip to Louisiana.