Louisiana’s Mardi Gras celebrations leading up to Fat Tuesday are approaching, and while this holiday is an important part of the state’s history and culture, it’s not the only thing Louisiana has going on. If you happen to visit during the Mardi Gras season and catch a parade and try a slice of king cake, great. But there’s plenty to do in the state if Mardi Gras isn’t your thing or you happen to come during another season.
Go to the Beach
Yes, Louisiana has its own beaches. In New Orleans, there’s Pontchartrain Beach, which was once an amusement park founded the grandfather of “Mad Men” star Bryan Batt. It’s located behind Tulane University’s business park and has a one-mile stretch of white sandy beach. Grand Isle is Louisiana’s barrier island south of New Orleans known for its fishing, while Holly Beach or the “Cajun Riviera” is south of Lake Charles to the west. You can drive on the beach and catch crabs here, and nearby Rutherford Beach is known for its shells.
Visit a Plantation
Louisiana’s Plantation Country is a must-see for any history or architectural fan. See many of them along River Road, which follows the Mississippi for 70 miles between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. There’s Oak Alley with its impressive welcome of majestic oaks and slave cabins; Destrehan (the oldest plantation in the Lower Mississippi Valley); Creole-style Laura; Houmas House with beautiful gardens, a restaurant and museum; Whitney (where you’ll learn the story of slavery in the state), Evergreen, which was the site of filming for Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”; and several more. You can also spend the night at many of these plantations, so make it a weekend trip for sure.
Attend a Music Festival
New Orleans may be the birthplace of jazz and has its share of great music festivals—from Jazz Fest to French Quarter Fest—but music festivals span the state. Lafayette lays claim to Festival International de Louisiane and Festivals Acadiens et Creoles. There’s the Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge, Mudbug Madness and the State Fair in Shreveport, Acadia Music Fest in Thibodeaux, Cajun Music & Food Festival in Lake Charles and lots more.
Check Out a State Historic Site
Louisiana’s state parks truly showcase “Sportsman’s Paradise.” With 38 total state parks and historic sites, there’s something for everyone. See the ancient Indian Mounds and look for black bears at Poverty Point (a World Heritage Site); learn about the history of the Acadiens at Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site; take a hike and stay in a cabin on the water at Chicot State Park; or experience Lake Pontchartrain and camp on the beach at Fontainebleau State Park. All of Louisiana’s state parks now have “glamping” sites, so there are facilities for any type of camper.
Take a Culinary Tour
Food is one of Louisiana’s biggest selling points, so don’t miss out on the cuisine. New Orleans would be a good place to start for everything from gumbo to cocktail tours, but don’t miss out on Cajun Food Tours in Lafayette. You can also create your own Boudin Trail tour in Lake Charles or the Lafayette area. The state also has an Andouille Trail and many more culinary trails throughout each region.
Gambling is also legal and a big pastime in Louisiana, so If you’ve time to spare, you can find a full list of websites with free no-deposit bonuses where you can access to try your hand at anything from poker to slots.