The Best Vacation Destinations in Louisiana

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and complete a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Back in the Bayou, Louisiana has a lot to offer travelers looking for an urban or an off-the-beaten-path adventure. 

Creole culture runs deep in Louisiana, and it’s unique to this part of the United States: tracing roots back to the early French and Spanish settlements on the land, and blending with African and Caribbean influences brought by trade. There are still major traces of these cultures throughout the region even today, from the mouthwatering Cajun food to the Creole dialect still spoken in areas of the state.

When we say Louisiana is a 🔥 destination, we mean it! Temperatures in Louisiana run very, very hot. Much of the state sits on swamp-like lands, or even swamp-lands themselves. Plan accordingly when organizing your visit to this section of the Deep South. Fall and winter are milder months, with things warming up pretty quickly in the spring and summer.

From the Cajun Coast to back-country bliss, here are 11 of the top things to do in Louisiana as you plan your next trip down to this part of the Deep South.

1. New Orleans

Any trip to Louisiana should at least include a stopover in New Orleans. The bus options from nearby cities make The Big Easy a (big) easy destination to travel to. This vibrant city, known for its elaborate street festivals like Mardi Gras where booze and beads are bountiful, is a place to get your party on! 

Take a stroll through Bourbon Street for some of the hottest bars, or stop through Pat O’Brien’s and sample one of the famous NOLA Hurricanes. 

If you’re not into partying, the soul of New Orleans goes much further and deeper than the bartender’s pour. Stroll through the famous French Quarter and sample some of the Cajun and Creole-inspired meals, or join this delectable cocktails & brunch crawl through the Quarter. Grab a cafe au lait at Café du Monde, and sample some of the sweet beignets that are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

If you’re on a romantic vacation with your better half, wander through the Garden District to pose for pics in front of beautiful, enormous homes worth drooling over.

Book your trip:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

2. Steamboat Natchez

Explore New Orleans from a different angle by hopping aboard the iconic Steamboat Natchez. The first of its kind, the steamboat was built in the early 1800s to transport people and food, and now you can be one of those people as you take in the surrounding beauty of the French Quarter from the decks of this unique Louisiana experience.

Cruise along the Mississippi River while taking in the historical surroundings of the Cajun city by day, by night, or with a drink in your hand. You can even opt to take a jazz cruise or a dinner cruise for added luxury! 

Plus, all of the cruise options below offer a reserve now & pay later option and free cancellation. But why would you cancel when you can enjoy cruise views with booze and blues? 🎷

Book your cruise:

3. Baton Rouge

When the fun has run dry in New Orleans, travel by bus to the capital city of Louisiana, Baton Rouge. Though it doesn’t have New Orleans’ fame, don’t be fooled – there are lots of things to do in Baton Rouge. 

Home to the LSU Tigers and Tiger Stadium, this capital-meets-college-city has a vibrant sports scene, excellent food, and a historical hub of things to explore. Take a tour of Louisiana’s Old State Capitol or head over to Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center for an outdoor adventure. Whichever way you swing it, there is always something to do in Baton Rouge.

Book your trip:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

4. Lafayette

jc.winkler on Flickr

A short day trip away from nearby Baton Rouge, Lafayette is the central hub of Cajun Country. Be sure to come hungry, as this city in Louisiana is known to bring the best Cajun cooking to the table. 

Next to the world-class cuisine, you can experience some of the most amazing world-class festivals, and a vibrant music scene that always has live events on the calendar for visitors and locals alike. 

If you are looking for a way to wrap up your trip with a true blast to the past, make sure to stop by Acadian Village, where you can experience some of what Cajun village life looked like in the 1800s.

Book your trip:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

5. Avery Island

Mark Gunn on Flickr

Did someone say spicy? Creole and Cajun foods famously add a bit of a 🌶️ to the taste buds, and as the popular Cajun Seasoning blend out of Louisiana states, it is “slap ya mama” hot! Another popular spicy favorite out of the region makes its home on Avery Island. Avery Island is a salt dome (basically, a huge island on top of solid rock salt), where Tabasco makes its famous pepper sauce. Like Beyoncé, you too can get hot sauce in your bag! 

You can tour the Tabasco Factory and test your taste buds for the top of the line spice levels! Or, explore the island’s jungle gardens, lush with Spanish moss on live oaks and marshes filled with wildlife.

Book your trip:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

While there aren’t hotels available in the Avery Island dome, there are plenty close by in New Iberia. 

6. Shreveport

Play your cards right and you can (literally) hit the jackpot on your next Louisiana vacation. Shreveport is an exciting riverside city near the Texas border where you can test your luck at one of the many Riverboat Casinos along the Red River. But you can bet there are many things to do in Shreveport beyond betting! 

Head over for a meal at Orlandeaux’s Café, the oldest continuously owned and operated African-American restaurant in America. You can get a meal “Just the Way You Like It” as fans of the establishment have been doing since 1921! A trip to Louisiana is not a trip at all unless you gobble some spicy gumbo or your heartiest helping of the many fresh seafood dishes that the state has to offer.

Book your trip:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

7. Lake Charles

A hub of all things creative in Louisiana, Lake Charles is a southwest Louisiana city on a lake called, you guessed it, Lake Charles. 

Start your visit by wandering through the Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center, where you can explore various traveling exhibitions and artists from the local scene. After checking out the Imperial Calcasieu Museum (you guessed it, another visual arts center) head outside the beautiful, 200-year-old Sallier Oak Tree. 

If you’re less interested in the arts and cultural scene, you can also roll the 🎲 at one of Lake Charles’ sizable casinos.

Book your trip:

Bus & train prices are based on the average cost of a one-way ticket for the respective route available on Wanderu over a 30-day period. 

8. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

While you may not find the fabled silver and gold treasures of the pirate Jean Lafitte in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, you certainly will find treasures of the mind and heart on this historic land. 

These wild Louisiana wetlands are just outside of New Orleans, and you can get up close and personal with some beasts of the bayou.🐊  We recommend taking a Bayou Tour through the park to learn the local legends and spot wildlife from a pontoon boat on the river.

You can also get an in-depth walk-through of history at the various educational facilities on the grounds. Take a tour through time on swamp boats that ​​drift slowly past a 2000-year-old Indian burial mound, a Cajun cemetery and fishing village.

9. Natchitoches

​​Natchitoches, pronounced “Nack-a-tish,” is a picture-perfect small town known for its elaborate Christmas lights displays every December. Turn your trip to see the lights into a literal Hallmark movie at one of Natchitoches’ bed & breakfasts — the town is recognized as the Bed & Breakfast capital of Louisiana!

This city in Louisiana is also the state’s original French colony and the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. You can get a taste of French culture as you trek through the French Creole-style townhomes to view the Minor Basilica, draped in gorgeous stained-glass windows. 

Wander along the Cane River as you seek out some of the plantations, or even make memorable moments in the Cane River Creole National Historic Park.

10. Mandeville

If you’re looking for a bit of outdoor adventure, head over to Lake Pontchartrain where you can explore the small-town charms of Mandeville. As one of the oldest cities in the state, Mandeville has its share of historic sites, and many gorgeous buildings dot Lakeshore Drive.

In Fontainebleau State Park, you can see some of the most beautiful marshy and lakeside scenery, spend some time splashing in the warm waters of the lake, and camp or fish among the native wildlife. 

When you take the bus or drive to Mandeville, you’ll even travel across the longest bridge in the world, the 24-mile Lake Pontchartrain Causeway!

11. Grand Isle

Lauren Sullivan on Flickr

Hidden along the Gulf of Mexico, Grand Isle is a remote paradise nestled along Louisiana’s expansive shoreline. You can opt outside with various sporting activities at your fingertips, and dive into the wondrous water sports that the area offers. 

Take some time to travel along the many trails, and be sure to bring your binoculars since the birding options in this isle are extraordinary! If you are looking for a bit more adrenaline, check out the Wake Side Cable Park where you can jump along obstacles and partake in some adventurous water sports.

With beautiful scenery, delicious dining options, unique historical landmarks, and some of the friendliest people in the United States, it is no surprise that Louisiana should top your list of travel destinations for this year. 

With options ranging from fun for the whole family to romantic escapes, and even solo-tripping adventure options – there is truly a world to explore in each corner of Louisiana. 

And luckily, you don’t need to be a casino high roller to afford your trip. Wanderu is the ace up your sleeve for budget travel, and we can help you find all the best bus and train deals to these Louisiana hotspots, plus destinations in Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and more.

Travel Safely

At Wanderu, we want to make sure you are equipped with all the information you need to plan a safe trip. Please visit our COVID-19 Travel Guide for the latest tips & advisories.

Like what you read?
Spread the word:

About the author