10 Best Places to Visit in Louisiana

#Louisiana is a truly unique State with a strong identity. The complicated history of Louisiana has led it to become a cultural melting pot with a diverse range of offerings for any traveler. Its geography also provides an additional layer of intrigue that cements Louisiana as a must-visit for many tourists around the world.

While Louisiana is a pretty state, it's like New York where the highlight is the one city.

Best Places to Visit in Louisiana

Below is a range of activities to assist you in ensuring you get the most out of your visit to Louisiana:

1. Bourbon Street

Louisiana and, in particular, New Orleans is known for being the birthplace of jazz. The rich history of jazz in New Orleans is still proudly maintained to this day and you will struggle to wander through the city without hearing sultry sounds being performed live. For those with a keen interest in jazz music, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival cannot be missed.

The festival, which takes place each year between May and June, constantly brings in a crowd of close to half a million jazz fans. All of the top jazz performers flock to perform at such a celebrated event and there is no better place to experience this type of music than on the streets from which it was born.

For the more casual music fan, there are regular live performances at bars and restaurants throughout New Orleans. Fritzel's European Jazz Bar hosts a live band most evenings and is in an ideal spot in the heart of the famous Bourbon Street. Visitors can start off a night out here with live music, before exploring the night-life in the famous New Orleans French quarter.

2. Lafayette

Venture further from the major cities and you are more than likely to come across the marsh and swamp lands that are commonplace in Louisiana. These great expanses of wetlands are home to a host of diverse wildlife and provide the perfect day-trip for any nature lover.

To properly enjoy the swamps in style there are several airboat tours that allow you to zip around the area and explore even the most inaccessible parts of the bayou. Once you're out on the water it won't be long before you encounter some incredible nature and the high population of alligators in these parts mean they are often the star attraction.

However, if feeding gators sounds a little extreme for your taste, there is plenty of other nature out there for you to enjoy. Bird-watchers love exploring the bayou as they are able to spot species that simply can't be found elsewhere given the unique geography of the area.

3. Audubon Zoo

Now, let's explore what you can do with your family in New Orleans. If you are taking your kids with you, you should definitely consider visiting the Audubon Zoo. This gorgeous zoo is home to over 2000 animals, and it sprawls over 58 acres. If you want, you can make a whole day out of it, but if you are only looking for more exotic animals, it can be a lovely afternoon.

Among other animals, you will find Gorillas, Orangutans, white alligator with blue eyes, green anaconda, Malayan tiger, Asian elephant, giraffe.

A terrific swap exhibit showcases the animals usually found in Louisiana in as natural habitat as possible. Hence, if you are new to Louisiana, you will get a good idea of what wildlife here is like.

4. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Audubon Aquarium of the Americans is run by Aubodon Nature Institute, just like the Audubon Zoo. And also, like Audubon Zoo, it is a terrific place to take your kids. If it is rainy outside and you would like to enjoy your family vacation, Audubon Aquarium is the place to visit. The aquarium houses over 10,000 animals, gathered into different exhibits for you to enjoy. Our favorites are the Caribbean reef exhibit and the Gulf of Mexico exhibit.

5. National WWII Museum

New Orleans is also home to America's official National WWII Museum. The museum itself has become hard to miss thanks to the 150-feet Bollinger Canopy of Peace that covers the site and has become a key fixture of the New Orleans skyline.

Once inside, the museum boasts a number of eye-catching exhibits including a large atrium where a number of war-time aircraft are suspended from the ceiling. Beyond this, you can also find full-size boats and submarines from the war as well as informative galleries and artifacts.

If you are looking for a bit more substance out of your visit to New Orleans, visit the National WWII Museum. Few museums in the US do such an excellent job at depicting the US involvement in WWII, as does the museum in New Orleans. From war tech used in the period to period weapons and clothing that soldiers wore.

Set aside the three hours necessary to watch the 4D film Beyond All Boundaries, shown in the Solomon Victory Theater. There is even a wargaming convention held yearly called "Heat of the Battle." All in all, there is a ton to do and explore here, especially if you are a WWII buff. But don't worry. The museum houses a restaurant, so you can freely spend your whole day here.

6. Jackson Square

The region is also known for its hearty and unique cooking. Any trip to Louisiana would be incomplete without sampling a delicious bowl of gumbo or some sweet beignets. Muriels in Jackson Square is just one of many local restaurants that do a great job of incorporating the historic creole cuisine into its contemporary dishes.

If you’re looking for a lighter snack earlier in the day, be sure to check out a location of the popular Cafe du Monde and try some of the sweet treats that made them famous.

7. Destrehan Plantation

Due to Louisiana's colonial and antebellum past, a number of former plantations still stand today. While the history behind these grand estates is desperately sad, visiting these sites is an eye-opening, important stop for those visiting Louisiana.

The plantations that remain provide guided tours for guests, allowing them to learn the important history surrounding these buildings. While there are several plantations throughout the state, for those spending time in New Orleans, the Destrehan Plantation may be a good choice. Just 20 miles from the city, the Destrehan Plantation is the oldest documented plantation in the lower Mississippi valley.

Today, you are able to tour the grounds and learn from historic demonstrations provided by the costumed guides to give you a greater understanding of life in the 1800s.

8. Lake Pontchartrain

New Orleans is home to one of the largest lakes in the world. Lake Pontchartrain is actually an estuary connected to the Gulf of Mexico, but the pride of New Orleans. A causeway that crosses the lake (technically, the longest bridge in the world), offers to the anxious explorers Mandeville and the North Shore where they will find quiet communities for the love of boating, fishing and life in the lake.

9. St. Louis Cathedral

Another must-see for New Orleans visitors is St. Louis Cathedral, which stands tall and proud. In fact, it has done so for over 500 years, as the initial church was built in 1718. It should come as little surprise that this is the oldest cathedral in the U.S. and, as far as we are concerned, one of the most beautiful.

Whether or not you are religious, you should treat yourself by visiting this gorgeous building. The sheer craftsmanship involved in it is bound to leave you speechless. And, conveniently, it is right next to Jackson square.

10. Mardi Gras World

While the origins of Mardi Gras can be traced all the way back to medieval Europe, New Orleans has very much become its home since their first parade back in 1857. Nowadays, Mardi Gras celebrations are bigger and bolder than ever, with the best part being you can watch all the action unfold for free.

There are sure to be floats and beads galore as the annual parade worms its way through the French Quarter of New Orleans. The party atmosphere is unparalleled and Americans flock to Louisiana each spring just to be a part of the festivities.

Kalyan Panja