Best Places to Visit in Louisiana, New Orleans

New Orleans is considered one of the most unique cities in Louisiana and the United States. The community was established in the southern region of the state along the banks of the Mississippi River in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company. The group named the new location La Nouvelle-Orleans for the Duke of Orleans who served at the pleasure of Louis XV. While the city is famous for Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, there are a number of off the beaten path activities and locations, which are some of the best places to visit in Louisiana.

Best Places to Visit in Louisiana

1. Bayou St. John

St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, one of the best places to visit in Louisiana

A kayak tour along the historic bayou enables guests to familiarize themselves with the community while determining some of the best places to visit in Louisiana. The journey passes through a number of neighborhoods, through City Park and St. Louis Cemetery No. 3. Along with being a great way to sneak in some exercise, tour participants witness the amazing scenery of cypress forests, swamp and wetlands while learning the fascinating history of the city.

2. Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

While touring the New Orleans Museum of Art remains a pleasant destination to view fine works of art, venturing to City Park is another option. Amongst the fragrant magnolia trees, moss-covered oaks and massive pines are more than 57 sculptures crafted by artists from around the world. The park encompasses 1,300 acres and remains one of the best places to visit in Louisiana for recreation. The destination also features a 13-acre Botanical Garden, miles of biking and hiking paths, an 18-hole golf course and the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Visitors also have the chance to rent one of many types of bikes in order to better explore the park. Big Lake offers boat rentals and gondola tours.

3. Southern Food and Beverage Museum

Southern Food and Beverage Museum exponents

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is one of the best places to visit in Louisiana to learn more about local cuisine. The facility also features La Galerie d’Absinthe and the Museum of the American Cocktail. Discover how the African-American, Caribbean, French and German cultures played a major role in influencing the beverages and foods found throughout the city today. Exhibits also depict the farmers, fishermen, food processors, chefs and businesses associated with the local food industry. On Mondays and Thursdays, the facility offers demonstration lunches and regularly hosts camps and workshops evolving around food.

4. Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots

Horse race taking place at the Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots

If horse racing and gambling appeals to your senses, you will find the Fair Grounds a mere 10 minutes from downtown. Look over the day’s selection of equine athletes and place a bet. Enjoy the thrill and excitement as the horses exit the starting gate and cheer for your favorite to win. For anyone preferring to try their luck playing slot machines, the track has more than 600 gaming machines in play. The location additionally offers the chance to play Wheel of Fortune games.

5. Insta-Gator Alligator Ranch & Hatchery

kids holding baby gators at the Insta-Gator Alligator Ranch & Hatchery

The alligator population within the state stays steady at approximately two million reptiles. Eggs are produced and hatched on farms and ranches along with being harvested from the wild. Once the animals reach a length of four to five feet, they are returned to the wild. Approximately 300,000 adults alligators are hunted and harvested each year for their meat and skin, which undergoes tanning for manufacturing many types of items.

Insta-Gator Alligator Ranch & Hatchery is one of the best places to visit in Louisiana to come face to face with the common reptile and learn more about conservation practices. The facility raises more than 2,000 gators at any one time and provides guests with the rare chance to touch and hold a hatchling in the climate-controlled environment. Discover how we care for adult breeding pairs and see them in crystal-clear water pools.

6. Celebration Distillation

Inside the Celebration Distillation, Louisiana

The facility began in 1995 and became the first distiller in the United States to produce rum. Today, Celebration Distillation manufactures a variety of rums using locally-sourced sugar cane. The process continues by aging the rum in oak casks similar to what is used to create sherries and whiskeys. Six days a week guests are welcome to tour the facility, learn about the rum-making process and taste the varied flavors.

7. Longue Vue House and Gardens

Longue Vue House in Louisiana, New Orleans

The historic estate is situated on the western edge of New Orleans. The expansive home sits on eight acres, which includes a series of impressive gardens growing camellia, irises, roses and other plants native to the state. The property also features an interactive Discovery Garden for children.

The home is now a world-class museum. Longue Vue welcomes guests seven days a week, year round and remains devoted to providing educational opportunities and playing host to varied events.

8. Haunted New Orleans

Lalaurie Mansion, a hunted house in Louisiana, New Orleans

Fans of the paranormal find New Orleans one of the best places to visit in Louisiana when wanting to experience a haunting. With nearly 300 years of history, the city plays host to a number of locations reported to be haunted by spirits dating back before the Civil War era.

Venture to the Lalaurie Mansion and hear the macabre tale of the mistress who regularly abused slaves. Investigators report the Bourbon Orleans Hotel serves as home to deceased malaria victims and individuals mourning unrequited love. The Hotel Provincial once served as a hospital for the wounded during the Civil War. Mysterious blood stains come and go along with scenes of hospital wards. The St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is reputed to be the most haunted and harbors the grave of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. Perhaps catch a glimpse of pirate Jean Lafitte in his Blacksmith Shop enjoying an ale.

Final Thoughts

Only by exploring the city itself will you decide which are the best places to visit in Louisiana. Choose a location off the beaten path or one of the popular touristy locations. Maybe tour a number of historic plantations. Venture to the French Quarter and see the beautifully landscaped town square. However, make a point of stopping at the Cafe du Monde for a cup of coffee and a French donut. Join the party on Bourbon Street, or perhaps get a comprehensive view of the area by carriage ride.

Let us know how you chose to spend your time and share your own suggestions if you feel we’ve missed something!

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