The state of Louisiana is a canvas that has been masterfully painted by the graceful hands of Mother Nature. And while it seems that the Pelican State is stuck in the American psyche as a place of disasters, political corruption, and parties (wait, these may be related), Louisiana is so much more than hurricanes, incarcerated politicians, and Mardi Gras. It’s a state of farmlands stretching further than the eye can see, pathways taken over by centuries-old live oaks, and tranquil waterways that will set your mind free.
1. Live Oaks of Oak Alley, Vacherie
The live oaks of Oak Alley Plantation have grown into their own over the last 300 years. The beauty of the double-lined path of live oaks at this plantation has stolen the spotlight of many wedding-day photo sessions, works of art, and movies.
2. Kisatchie National Forest, Provencal
In the Village of Provencal in Natchitoches Parish, you’ll find a sight one might mistake for another state altogether, but the Kisatchie National Forest is 100 percent Louisiana. It’s a forest filled with mountains to climb, waterfalls to admire, and lakes to fish.
3. Lake Pontchartrain
The estuary known as Lake Pontchartrain began to take shape thousands of years ago (some estimate its age at over 4,000). Long before the French settled Louisiana, the Native Americans referred to the lake as Okwata (“Wide Water”). So, when you’re visiting the “Wide Water” and taking in the fresh air, remember that you’re standing alongside a waterway that has sustained life long before the modern conveniences of today.
4. Sugarcane Fields of South Louisiana
In the year 1751, Spanish Jesuits introduced South Louisiana to sugarcane, a crop that has ever since played a crucial role in not just the economy of Louisiana, but also its culture. Rum, anyone? Or, maybe, Steen's Cane Syrup on pancakes?
5. Red River of the South
The Red River is situated between the City of Shreveport and Bossier City. The two cities each celebrate the Red River in their own way. Shreveport is home to the Red River District while Bossier has the Louisiana Boardwalk, but both offer majestic views of the Red River of the South.
6. Hodges Gardens State Park
As the name Hodges Gardens suggests, this state park is a wonderland of flowers, flowing streams, and wildlife in a habitual state of freedom and nature. If Snow White walked amongst us, there could be no better place for her to stay than Hodges Gardens.
7. Toledo Bend
Toledo Bend-not a lake but a reservoir-is the pinnacle of waterway envy. The Toledo Bend “lake” has been an asset to locals for generations, and it is easy to see why with its crystal clear water.
8. Avery Island
There are few things Louisiana enjoys more than hot sauce, and the home of Tabasco is the salt dome known as Avery Island. But this island is much more than a source of peppers, it is a natural paradise—a sanctuary for birds and exotic plants.
9. Mississippi River
Sure, the Mississippi River is not solely claimed by Louisiana, as it reaches all the way up to the North Country. But there is no state that loves the Mississippi quite like Louisiana, as it is truly our life vein.
10. Grand Isle
Though Louisiana is not known for surfing or beaches, both can be found at Grand Isle. A barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, Grand Isle is a vacation dream with sunrises that rival the work of Claude Monet.
Whether you are a local, transplant, or vagabond passing through the state, Louisiana has a way of making a lasting impression on all who set foot in the state. The aromas, the sights, the feeling in the air—an experience awaits you in this state of wonders.