Looking for a fun and unique adventure to embark upon? Well, you’re in luck because Louisiana is full of hidden gems that are just waiting to be explored. From the piney hills of northern Louisiana to the Cajun bayou, we’ve got some of the best underrated attractions in Louisiana that are worthy of a pilgrimage:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Port Hudson State Historic Site
For history and Civil War buffs, this underrated attraction is a must see. The site is the scene of one of the longest sieges in the history of the U.S. military. When you visit, you’ll be able to view the artillery displays and learn about the history of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, which accounted for more than 12,000 deaths over 48 days. Port Hudson State Historic Site is located at 236 Hwy. 61, Jackson, LA 70748.
2. Cypremort Point State Park
Perhaps one of the most underrated state parks in Louisiana, Cypremort Point has something for everyone. Not only is it one of the few locations near the Gulf that can be reached by car, but its location also makes it a fisherman’s paradise. Anglers can choose to fish from the pier, in the bay, or head out to the Gulf to deeper waters. The man-made beach is perfect for relaxing on a warm day, and the bay is a popular spot for waterskiing, windsurfing, and sailing. And the sunsets? Mesmerizing. Cypremort Point State Park is located at 306 Beach Ln., Cypremort Point, LA 70538.
3. Fairview-Riverside State Park
Clocking in at 99 acres, Fairview-Riverside State Park is a tiny but mighty state park that’s absolutely worthy of a pilgrimage. Set along the banks of the Tchefuncte River, the water views are the perfect setting for a picnic or a scenic stroll. The Otic House Museum, a historic home built in 1885, is also located within the park and offers tours. Fairview-Riverside State Park is located at 119 Fairview Dr., Madisonville, LA 70447.
4. Shreveport Water Works Museum
Opened in 1887 as the city’s first water plant, the Shreveport Water Works Museum is home to the McNeill Street Pumping Station, which has the rare honor of being both a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This free museum will teach you all about the history of water plants and you’ll walk away with a better insight into the water you drink at home. The Shreveport Water Works Museum is located at 142 N. Common St., Shreveport, LA 71101.
5. R.W. Norton Art Gallery
Established in 1966, this incredible art gallery houses an impressive collection that spans across more than four millennia. During the springtime, the gardens are truly a sight to see. Over 40 acres of beautifully landscaped botanical gardens featuring thousands of plants - including over 10,000 native azaleas - come alive in the spring. The R.W. Norton Art Gallery is located at 4747 Creswell Ave., Shreveport, LA 71106.
6. Chauvin Sculpture Garden
Truly one of the most bizarre and emotional attractions on the list, the Chauvin Sculpture Garden is just one of those things you have to see to believe. The sculptures are the work of Kenny Hill, a bricklayer by trade who used to live on the property. The sculptures are incredibly impressive and as you stroll through the garden, you’ll notice the religious good vs. evil theme prevalent throughout his work. The Chauvin Sculpture Garden is located at 5337 Bayouside Dr., Chauvin, LA 70344.
7. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge
If you’re looking to spend some time outdoors, look no further than Black Bayou Lake. There are five trails to choose from at this National Wildlife Refuge, all of which make for a great adventure for kids. Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located at 480 Richland Place Dr., Monroe, LA 71203.
8. USS Orleck
One of the most decorated US Navy ships since WWII, the USS Orleck is a true treasure tucked away in Lake Charles. Climb aboard this Gearing-class destroyer and learn its history, traverse the corridors, and catch a glimpse of what life on this ship was like when it was in operation. Unlike many historic locales, the USS Orleck offers a particularly unique attraction: laser tag. Gather up friends and family to play an adrenaline-inducing game on a playing field that includes the main deck as well as the blacked-out interior, which adds a whole new level of excitement. You’ll find the USS Orleck at 604 N Enterprise Blvd., Lake Charles, LA 70601.
9. National Hansen’s Disease Museum
Tucked away in the small town of Carville lies the National Hansen’s Disease Museum. You may know Hansen’s Disease by its more common name: leprosy. This museum sits on the former site of "Indian Camp," an abandoned sugar plantation that was turned into the Louisiana Leper Home in 1984. The facility, which later became the National Leprosarium, was used for research, identification, and treatment of the infectious bacterial disease; however, when it opened, there was no known medical treatment for leprosy, so the hospital was largely a quarantine site. Most of the patients who checked into the Louisiana Leper Home never left. Today, this unique museum is free to visit and you can learn all about the hospital, history, and treatment of Hansen’s Disease in America on a self-guided tour. The National Hansen’s Disease Museum is located at 5440 Point Clair Rd., Carville, LA 70721.
What’s your favorite underrated attraction in Louisiana? Do you have others to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!