1. Creole Nature Trail
The Creole Nature Trail will lead you through 26 miles of natural Gulf beaches, endless marshlands, swamps, bayous, and all the best of Louisiana’s natural landscapes. Visitors have the opportunity to see dozens of alligators, more than 400 species of birds, plus the opportunities for fishing and crabbing. Experience Cajun culture at its finest on this wonderful 180-mile All-American Road.
2. Atchafalaya Basin
The nation’s largest river swamp contains nearly a million acres of bottomland hardwoods, bald cypress swamps, bayous, and backwater lakes. More than 20 million pounds of crawfish is annually harvested from the basin, and its home to scores of alligators, nutria, turtles, and birds as well as black bears, turkeys, deer and many others. There are several tour companies that would love to take you on a tour, so you can learn more about one of Louisana’s most iconic natural landscapes.
3. Poverty Point
Built between 1650 and 700 BC by a group of Native Americans, Poverty Point at its height was a massive community and trading hub, but not much else is known about its original inhabitants. Archaeologists have had to piece together the lives of early Poverty Point inhabitants by the artifacts left behind—arrow heads, clay pots, dice, cups and more. Not only is it a National Historic Landmark, but in 2014 it was designed the highest honor of all—a World Heritage Site.
4. North & South Toledo Bend State Parks
At 185,000 the Toledo Bend Reservoir is the fifth largest man-made body of water in the country. The reservoir is known for its world class fishing, and both the North and South Toledo Bend State Parks are perfect for launching your boat or fishing from the piers. Both parks have several trails and playgrounds perfect for an afternoon with the family, and both offer cabins so you can stay for a weekend.
5. Lake Martin
Part of the Cypress Island Nature Preserve, Lake Martin is home to one of the largest rookeries for several different species of water birds including egrets, anhingas, herons, and spoonbills. It’s also home to tons of alligators, turtles, snakes, and all the usual swamp creatures. You can hike the trails around the lake, or drive down Rookery Road for phenomenal views of this natural paradise.
6. Kisatchie National Forest
Scattered across seven parishes, Louisiana’s only national forest spans 604,000 acres. With several hiking trails to explore and tons of primitive campsites, it’s the perfect place for anyone looking traverse the rolling hills of northern and central Louisiana.
7. Avery Island
Louisiana’s favorite salt dome is best known as the home of that famous little red bottle, Tabasco sauce. You can take a tour of the factory and learn how Tabasco is made, and then afterwards be sure to take a stroll through the Jungle Gardens and Bird City—it’s a photographer’s paradise.
8. French Quarter
With antique stores, boutiques, restaurants, and bars…there’s something for everyone in the Vieux Carré. Architecture enthusiasts will love the blending of Spanish and French styles, food enthusiasts can enjoy one of the many delicious restaurants serving mouth watering Cajun and Creole fare, and anyone looking to shop for unique items will certainly find them in New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood. Oh, and there may be a bar or two you can grab a cold one.
9. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Located in Monroe, this 5,300-acre refuge is home to tons to endangered wildlife, resident wildlife, and waterfowl. Bottomland hardwood forests, cypress swamps and a 1,600-acre lake provides recreational opportunities including hiking, fishing and kayaking. The pier is a wonderful place to take in the scenery or spend some time fishing.
10. Grand Isle
A visit to Grand Isle is always a memorable experience. Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island is perfect for fishermen, birdwatchers, and nature enthusiasts. The annual Tarpon Rodeo brings thousands of tourists every summer, and the state park is a paradise for bird waters. Spend some time on one of the seven miles of beaches, and enjoy the beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. The Grand Isle State Park also allows visitors to camp right on the beach, so bring your tent and enjoy staring up at the stars while falling asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore.
Let us know in the comments below what other places you think should be added to the list!