Top 20 Louisiana Attractions You Can't Afford To Miss

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Experience the rich cultural and historical heritage that awaits you in Louisiana. It’s one of the top tourist destinations in the south that offers lots of fun and exciting attractions for everyone.

Whether enjoying a live jazz music performance in a historical club on Bourbon Street or hearing personal tales of life on the plantations, there are lots of things to do in Louisiana that you’ll enjoy.

There are tons of Louisiana attractions to add to your itinerary when you visit the Bayou State. It’s a place filled with Southern hospitality everywhere you go! The friendly locals are welcoming to all who want to experience one of the best states in the country.

You'll be taken away by the scenic beauty and vibrant culture. We've put together a guide to the best tourist attractions in Louisiana to make the most of your trip. So get ready for an unforgettable trip.

Things To Do in Louisiana

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1: French Quarter

French Quarter

The French Quarter is the epicenter for tourists in New Orleans. Established in the early 1700s, it’s the city’s oldest neighborhood but remains a vital part of the culture, history, and entertainment.

Several streets make up the French Quarter, but the most famous is Bourbon Street. It extends for many blocks, lined with preserved historic buildings with balconies overlooking the strip.

You’ll find many of the best Creole and Cajun restaurants in the district. Be sure to check out Café du Monde, one of the most famous French cafes in New Orleans.

There are many famous attractions within the French Quarter. Jackson Square, the French Market, and St. Louis Cathedral are all must-visit places.

Everywhere you go in the French Quarter is bustling with activity in the day and night. It's always a lively atmosphere with street musicians and performers. At night, it's the central hub for nightlife with lots of bars and nightclubs to check out.

Accommodation: Where to stay in New Orleans

Address: 600 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New Orleans

2: Mardi Gras World

Mardi Gras World

Immerse yourself in the Mardi Gras experience when you take a tour at Mardi Gras World. Mardi Gras is a world-famous festival happening in New Orleans every year.

Mardi Gras World is one of the essential things to see in Louisiana to explore the traditions and history of the festival.

The first Mardi Gras occurred back in 1703 and has become a defining event for New Orleans. Over one million people celebrate the festival every year to see the magnificent floats parading through the city and the many events happening all around town.

Tour inside Mardi Gras World to see behind the scenes of the festival floats. Visitors take a self-guided tour through a large warehouse where you’ll see how to make the floats.

Photography is permitted to get shots of the creative floats of your favorite characters, imaginative creatures, and more.

You can even talk with the float builders and see a documentary about the festival’s history.

Address: 1380 Port of New Orleans Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130

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3: Vermillionville Historic Village

Vermillionville Historic Village

Louisiana is a melting pot of cultures, even long before European settlement. Learn about the diverse cultures at Vermillionville Historic Village. It highlights the influence of Native American, Acadian, and Creole cultures who lived in the region.

Vermillionville Historic Village is a living museum in Lafayette that takes visitors back in time. As soon as you arrive, you’re transported to a historical era.

The village covers 23-acres with reconstructed homes and buildings dating back to the 18th Century. Take a stroll through the village to see how life was like during the time.

A few of the landmarks in the village are La Chapelle des Attakapas, the L’École schoolhouse, and Maison des Cultures.

Visitors can walk inside the buildings that host actors dressed in traditional clothing and talk about their way of life.

There are also farm animals that walk around the village for an authentic recreation of the era.

The village includes a restaurant and hosts live music nights.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Lafayette

Address: 300 Fisher Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508

Also Read: Best Things To Do in Lafayette

4: Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Dreamstime/Robert Hardholt

Louisiana has five national parks – one of the most popular is the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park. It welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to explore a well-preserved natural region in the state.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park is established on the Mississippi River Delta and includes the surrounding landscape. Its name derives from a pirate and holds lots of modern treasures worth exploring for anyone visiting Louisiana.

Stop by the park headquarters before venturing into the park. You can find maps, trail information, and tours. There are many different tours available in the national park, including nature walks and boat tours.

Guided nature walks take groups on a trail through the region to see the diverse plants, wildlife sightings and learn about the history.

The boat tours cruise through the park's swamps to explore the wetland region along the riverbanks. Keep your eyes open for a chance to see alligators!

Address: 6588 Barataria Blvd, Marrero, LA 70072

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5: Honey Island Swamp Tour

Honey Island Swamp Tour

Join one of the exciting tour operators on a journey through one of Louisiana’s largest swamps. Honey Island Swamp Tours are among the top things to do in Louisiana that’s fun for the entire family.

For decades, companies have operated tours through the Honey Island Swamp for close encounters with wildlife and spectacular views of the enchanting wetlands. You never know what you’ll find lurking in the waters, so be sure to bring your camera!

Guests can take a private boat tour or ride in a passenger boat designed for large groups. You'll navigate the swamp with an expert captain who narrates the trip. You'll learn about the swamps, hear exciting stories, and learn about local myths.

You’ll get up close to lots of wildlife. It’s common to see alligators, turtles, snakes, birds, and more. Tours run daily and last for a couple of hours.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Slidell

Address: 41490 Crawford Landing Rd, Slidell, LA 70461

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6: Louisiana's Old State Capitol

Louisiana's Old State Capitol

State capitol buildings are always must-visit attractions when visiting a new destination. The Old State Capitol is one of the more impressive sights to see in Louisiana. There aren't too many other castles in the state, so you don't want to miss it.

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol is located in the capital, Baton Rouge. It was active until 1932 before replaced by the new capitol building. The former home of the Louisiana State Legislature is now a museum dedicated to the state’s history.

The best part about visiting the capitol building is that it's free to the public. Visitors can tour two floors to see exhibitions about the state government, history and even attend events. One of the recent additions is the Ghost of the Castle 4D experience.

Take in the sights of the beautiful building with the backdrop of the Mississippi River before leaving.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Baton Rouge

Address: 100 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70801

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Baton Rouge

7: R. W. Norton Art Gallery

R. W. Norton Art Gallery

For fans of culture and the arts, a visit to Louisiana would not be complete without a visit to the R.W. Norton Art Gallery.

This gallery is a hidden gem in Shreveport. It’s one of the top free things to do in Louisiana, where you get to enjoy art along with nature.

The gallery has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and more. Its permanent collection focuses on American and European art.

Be sure to check the calendar to see the temporary exhibitions that go on display. It’s beautifully arranged for a pleasant viewing experience of world-class artwork.

A trip to Norton Art Gallery also includes access to the gardens. The manicured landscape surrounds the building to give it picturesque scenery.

It’s full of flora and decorative features. One of the best times to visit the garden is during the spring. There are thousands of colorful flowers that bloom during the season.

Norton Gallery is a place to take the whole family. You’ll enjoy an afternoon of art and a tranquil garden.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Shreveport

Address: 4747 Creswell Ave, Shreveport, LA 71106

8: USS Kidd and Veterans Memorial

USS Kidd and Veterans Memorial
Flickr/Isaac Wedin

A trip to the USS Kidd and Veterans Memorial is a special moment to remember lives lost fighting for freedom in America. It’s a rare chance to tour inside an authentic battleship to see how life was at sea while learning about its history.

USS Kidd is a decommissioned battleship located in Baton Rouge, docked in the Mississippi River. It was built in 1943 and used during the World War era. Much of the ship remains in its original condition for an accurate view of life on the ship.

The ship is one of the main attractions in Louisiana, focusing on naval history. One of the main highlights is the Louisiana Veterans Hall of Honor. There are exhibitions dedicated to WWI, a P-40 aircraft, models of ships, and replicas of weapons.

You’ll be blown away at the artifacts in the museum, and seeing the scale of the ship is an experience in itself.

Address: 305 S River Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70802

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Also Read: Best Battleship Museums In the USA

9: Laura Plantation: Louisiana’s Creole Heritage Site

Laura Plantation: Louisiana’s Creole Heritage Site

Louisiana is famous for its preserved plantations that give insight into former life in the state. While deciding on which of the plantations to visit, Laura Plantation is one of the best places to visit in Louisiana. It's a place to learn about the state's dark history and culture that's still evident today.

Laura Plantation is located less than an hour from New Orleans. It was built in the early 1800s with vast plantation grounds expanding for 37 acres.

It’s one of the best plantations, thanks to the preserved buildings on the property. You can see the big contrast between the big house and the slave cabins.

The plantation held African people captive to farm sugarcane on the plantation. The site offers guided tours that take visitors on a walkthrough of the plantation to see how they were treated and their livelihood.

Address: 2247 LA-18, Vacherie, LA 70090

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10: Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge

Go for a scenic drive on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge. It’s a surreal driving along either side of the parallel bridges that cross Lake Pontchartrain. It’s the longest continuous bridge in the world over water.

The Causeway is an impressive architectural achievement. It was built in 1955 to span nearly 24-miles long between New Orleans and Mandeville. It has approximately 9500 pilings hoisting it up from the lake.

While the bridge's primary purpose is commuting, it's grown to be one of the top Louisiana tourist attractions. There are moments during the drive where all you can see is the bridge surrounded by a large body of water. It appears as though you're driving into the water on the horizon.

The drive across the bridge takes less than half an hour. It makes for a good sightseeing roundtrip where you’ll get to check off the landmark bridge from your bucket list.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Metairie

Address: N Causeway Blvd, Metairie, LA 70002

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11: National WWII Museum

National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is one of the complete museums about the war. It's a destination to learn the detailed history of WWII and the military. You'll dive into the behind-the-scenes of the war and see some cool exhibits that the entire family can enjoy.

It’s easy to spend an entire day wandering between the multiple buildings of the museum. It has permanent exhibitions explaining everything from the reason behind joining the war and how it was won. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum hosts special exhibitions throughout the year.

Visitors can enjoy a range of different exhibitions. The submarine exhibit is popular with engaging, interactive features.

Be sure to look up when you enter the Boeing exhibit to see full-scale planes. You can learn a brief history of the World War in the 4D movie theater.

Address: 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130

12: Melrose Plantation

Melrose Plantation
Flickr/Michael McCarthy

Visit the Melrose Plantation for a different perspective of a Louisiana Plantation. Unlike most other plantations in the state, it was built by free blacks and became the largest of its kind in the US. The plantation provides guided tours to learn interesting facts about the site.

Melrose Plantation covers six acres. It was owned by the Metoyer family, who developed and farmed the property.

The plantation preserved the original buildings, including the colonial-style Big House, a French Creole cottage, the Yucca House, and several others. The main crops farmed on the property were cotton and pecans.

The site is recognized as a National Historic Landmark. It offers a contrasting view of life on the Melrose Plantation versus plantations that held African people captive.

One of the best times to visit the attraction is during its events and festivals. It’s known for its local arts and crafts fair.

Address: 3533 LA-119, Melrose, LA 71452

13: Sci-Port Discovery Center

Sci-Port Discovery Center

There is never a dull moment at the Sci-Port Discovery Center. Even kids will be excited to explore the large facility. It is a place for fun and education, but the line is blurred between the two.

Sci-Port Discovery Center is located in Shreveport. The massive space features more than 200 interactive exhibitions for adults and kids.

The exhibits range from real-life activities to hands-on activities designed to stretch your imagination. There are plenty of things to discover in the science center.

Check the program schedule when you arrive. It hosts many live experiment demonstrations that you can see along with your admission.

It also includes an IMAX Dome Theater where you'll see cool, science-themed films. There is also a planetarium and a Children's Museum.

The center is a place for all ages, with lots of wonders awaiting you at every exhibit.

Address: 820 Clyde Fant Pkwy, Shreveport, LA 71101

14: Rosedown Plantation and Gardens

Rosedown Plantation and Gardens
Dreamstime/Anne Donnarumma

Built in 1835, the Rosedown Plantation and Gardens is one of the best-preserved plantations in Louisiana. From the house to the vast grounds, it renders how plantation life was like in the 19th Century. Guests can take tours of the grounds and house to take a peek inside the history.

Rosedown Plantation covers over 370 acres. The grounds are one of the main areas to check out. It has a gorgeous garden full of colorful flora and decorative features like statues and a gazebo.

European gardens inspire the layout and design. It’s a popular place for photoshoots, so bring your camera.

What’s unique about visiting Rosedown Plantation is touring inside the main house. A lot of furniture and decorations are original to give an accurate view of the period's lifestyle.

Guided tours provide lots of historical context about the plantation. You'll even get to see a live reenactment on the grounds.

Accommodation: Where to stay in St Francisville

Address: 12501 LA-10, St Francisville, LA 70775

15: St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church

St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Visit the charming town of St. Martinville when you visit Louisiana to see one of the oldest churches in the state. St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church is a beautiful sight to see – it’s a landmark in town that you’ll instantly recognize.

The church was built in 1840 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s still active and frequently hosts mass. It’s open to the public to explore inside when service isn’t in session.

Take a moment to appreciate the church’s architecture. It has a beautiful Romanesque design in an all-white exterior. There is a statue and monument adjacent to the main building.

The interior of the church is just as impressive. It’s a maintained site that showcases decorative artwork, grotto, and vintage pews.

It’s hard to imagine that the church is such a historical site, but the continuous work makes it a must-see tourist site for many generations to come.

Address: 133 S Main St, St Martinville, LA 70582

Also Read: Most Beautiful Churches in America

16: Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall

You can’t visit New Orleans without experience authentic jazz music. Head down to the French Quarter, where you’ll find one of the most famous music venues, Preservation Hall. For more than 50 years, it’s entertained visitors with the best jazz music in town.

Preservation Hall is established in a historic Creole townhouse that was used as an art gallery. The intimate space still exhibits art on the walls, with the main stage for guests to gather around and enjoy a show.

The venue has a house band but also welcomes multiple bands to the stage every night. You'll get an authentic taste of the local music scene. A lot of the music played at the venue is the essence of the spirit of New Orleans.

Get there early to get a good seat in front of the stage. It’s a lively atmosphere where you’ll always have a great time.

Address: 726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116

17: Mike the Tiger’s Habitat

Mike the Tiger’s Habitat
Dreamstime/Anne Donnarumma

Every year, approximately 100,000 tourists go to see the namesake of the LSU Tigers. Mike the Tiger is the living mascot of the Louisiana State University. He’s a key piece to the historic university and inspires intense school pride.

The LSU main campus is located in Baton Rouge. The habitat facility is situated on the campus near Tiger Stadium. The university takes so much pride in its mascot that it built one of the largest Tiger facilities in the US.

The upgraded facility provides a huge area for Mike the Tiger to roam around. Visitors can stand in the viewing area to see Mike the Tiger play in the environment that recreates his natural habitat – it includes a waterfall, plants, rocks, and more.

One of the exciting parts about visiting the habitat is learning about Mike the Tiger. You can talk with the staff who know everything about Mike the Tiger and his essential role at the university.

Address: 16 N Stadium Dr, Baton Rouge, LA 70802

18: Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino

Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino

Can’t decide what to do in Louisiana for vacation? Spend a couple of days at the Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel for a vacation full of fun, entertainment, and relaxation.

Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino is located in the Gulf Coast region, one of the favorite tourist spots in Louisiana. There are many hotels to choose between, but none compare to what the Golden Nugget has to offer.

It’s the newest resort in the Gulf Coast that welcomes guests to its multi-million-dollar property.

Guests will enjoy their stay in luxury hotel rooms featuring upgraded technology and modern amenities. You’ll have everything you need and more. Many rooms offer scenic views of Lake Charles.

Golden Nugget has one of the top casinos in Louisiana. The updated casino has all-new slot machines, a poker room, and all of your favorite table games. Other activities include a golf course, an outdoor pool, and nearly a dozen restaurants and bars.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Lake Charles

Address: 2550 Golden Nugget Blvd, Lake Charles, LA 70601

19: Jungle Gardens

Jungle Gardens
Dreamstime/Anne Donnarumma

The gorgeous Jungle Gardens is a tranquil escape in Louisiana. It’s one of the highlight attractions on Avery Island for seeing diverse wildlife and flora. There are several ways to experience the garden.

Jungle Gardens is a large botanical garden covering 170 acres. It also includes a bird sanctuary. It opened to the public in 1935. Visitors can spot lots of wildlife – everything from alligators to butterflies.

The colorful flowers and trees provide the perfect backdrop to any photo. Explore the special features of the garden. It’s home to a historic Buddha statue over 900 years old and a designated Chinese garden.

There is a loop path winding through the garden. Visitors can go for a scenic drive, a leisure stroll, or ride on the bike paths. Either way, you choose to tour through the garden, you’ll have beautiful scenery to enjoy the entire trip.

Address: Louisiana 329 &, Main Rd, Avery Island, LA 70513

20: Audubon Zoo

Audubon Zoo

Audubon Park in New Orleans is one of the best places to go in Louisiana. It’s home to the Audubon Zoo, one of the many tourist attractions within the park.

Bring the entire family for a day of fun exploring the zoo to see your favorite animals from around the world.

Audubon Zoo exhibits 2,000 animals from lots of different species. Animals come from different parts of the world and live in exhibits the recreate natural habitats.

The top exhibits are the Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle, which have won awards for their design. Other exhibits include Asian wildlife and reptiles.

Each exhibit has ideal viewing to see the animals. Some of the favorite animals to see are leopards, jaguars, alligators, giraffes, and tigers. Be sure to have lots of water as you walk around the zoo.

Before heading to the next exhibit, stop by one of the restaurants or shops in the zoo for souvenirs.

Address: 6500 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70118

21: LARC's Acadian Village

LARC's Acadian Village
Flickr/Louisiana Travel

Acadian Village is a recreated village from the 1800s. It’s an authentic glimpse at the Acadian livelihood. There are always activities happening at the park that make it enjoyable for all ages.

Acadian Village is located in Lafayette. It's a small village consisting of a handful of replica buildings. Take a walk through the village to see the general store, homes, blacksmith shops, church, and more.

Use your phone to access the audio tour available at each building to learn more about it!

Check the calendar when you arrive to see what events are happening. It’s a popular place to host public events like live music performances or private events like weddings and photoshoots.

The holiday season is one of the favorite times to visit. The entire village gets decorated with Christmas lights in a beautiful display.

Revenues from Acadian Village support LARC, a local disability nonprofit organization.

Address: 200 Greenleaf Dr, Lafayette, LA 70506

22: Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen Street
Flickr/Michael Gaylard

Many people consider Frenchmen Street the “Local’s Bourbon Street.” Bourbon Street is often packed with tourists, but a quick trip to Frenchmen Street gives an authentic local experience.

You can reach Frenchmen Street by riding on the streetcar or a short walk from French Quarter. It’s not a surprise that it has much of the same atmosphere as Bourbon Street.

It’s famous for music venues where you can always find live entertainment. Check out Snug Harbor, Café Negril, or Favela Chic for a great jazz music show.

The central hub of Frenchmen Street is only two blocks, but it makes good use of the space. There are tons of restaurants, bars, and shops within the space, and the streets are always lively during the daytime or nighttime.

Frenchmen Street is a charming part of town filled with historic Creole architecture to preserve its cultural heritage.

Address: Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

23: Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation
Flickr/gabe popa

The historic Oak Alley Plantation is a moving experience for all who visit it. It’s one of the top things to do in Louisiana to immerse into the plantation life of the past.

You’ll learn all about how enslaved peoples lived while witnessing the contrasting lifestyle of the plantation owners.

Oak Alley Plantation was built in 1837 near Vacherie. Sugarcane was the main crop harvested on the property, which used enslaved people for labor. It’s now a National Historic Landmark detailing the lives of all who lived there.

Guests will be a part of a guided tour of the plantation. You'll walk the grounds to see the namesake oak trees towering over the walking path that are hundreds of years old.

The stunning pillars of the main house showcase impressive architecture and the slave cabins reveal how the laborer lived.

The main house is used as a bed and breakfast inn and is featured in numerous films.

Address: 3645 LA-18, Vacherie, LA 70090

24: Musical Legends Park

Musical Legends Park
Dreamstime/Lawrence Weslowski Jr

The vibrant atmosphere of the Musical Legends Park will be one of the best that you’ve experienced during your trip. The park pays tribute to the talented musicians who helped solidify New Orleans as the Jazz Music Capital of America.

It ranks among the best places to go in Louisiana for great music, food, and drinks.

Musical Legends Park is a highlight attraction on Bourbon Street, where many of the music legends played. Their presence is forever engrained into New Orleans thanks to the life-sized bronze statues erected in the park. You can see the likes of Fats Domino, Ronnie Kole, Pete Fountain, and more.

Café Beignet is located within the park and a go-to restaurant. It’s famous for beignets, a staple in New Orleans cuisine. Stick around to hear the live bands playing at the café. You can grab a seat to enjoy a meal, drinks, and incredible music.

Accommodation: Where to stay in New Orleans

Address: 311 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130

25: Zoosiana


Broussard is home to Zoosiana, one of the favorite Louisiana attractions for kids to enjoy. Visit the zoo to encounter exotic wild animals from around the world. Kids have lots of things to do in the zoo to make it a fun day in the park.

Zoosiana has over 1,000 animals representing 125 different species. It has everything, including mammals, reptiles, and birds. Some of the favorite animals are the white tiger, lions, giraffes, alligators, and talking birds!

Go for a scenic train ride around the zoo for a broad overview of the park or walk along the boardwalk paths to see the animals up close. It also hosts live animal shows.

There are several park features to enrich the experience for kids. It has a petting zoo and a playground. One of the highlights is a fun mining activity where kids can find fossils and gems.

Zoosiana is one of Louisiana’s hidden gems that you don’t want to miss.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Broussard

Address: 5601 Hwy 90 E, Broussard, LA 70518

Plan your trip to Louisiana soon!

Join the millions of travelers who visit Louisiana every year. It’s a year-round destination where you’ll always have great weather for visiting these popular Louisiana attractions. Some of the busiest times to visit Louisiana are during the Mardi Gras celebrations in March or the summertime vacation rush.

Louisiana is a place with vibrant cities, each showcasing its unique characteristics. New Orleans is a top destination for hanging out in the French Quarter. Others prefer to explore the capital of Baton Rouge. There are always things to do in Louisiana, no matter how long your trip is. But guaranteed by the end of it, you’ll be looking forward to coming back.

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