Louisiana is a state steeped in history with beautiful architecture, fantastic culture and breathtaking natural sites. We all know about the parties, wrought iron balconies and incredible cemeteries of New Orleans. Visiting the state for Mardi Gras or to listen to great jazz is an excellent idea. But, it’s not for everyone. We’re taking a look at somethings you might not think to seek out to make your trip to the Bayou State perfect for you!
Louisiana is known for being subtropical with hot, humid weather. The Mississippi River runs through the state with the Gulf of Mexico. This leads to a giant fishing industry and having an inland port city for a capital: Baton Rouge. With their famous alligators, Louisiana’s bayous are a site not to be missed. Did you know you can get a boat tour to see the setting close up? Different tours cater to different interests. Whether you love sunset views, local history, information on conservation or more, there is a tour for you. Additionally, tours vary by level of difficulty. You can do everything from rowing your own kayak to relaxing on a boat trip that includes brunch. Learn more about your options to see an alligator here. Or pick a tour from this list.
If you have ever wanted to visit a plantation but felt uncomfortable, Melrose Plantation might be right for you. The plantation was built for and by free people of color, somewhere around the year 1810. The plantation is a National Historic Landmark that contains nine historic buildings including the African House, Yucca House, Weaving Cabin, Bindery and the Big House. There are guided tours, or you can do a self-guided tour. Do your research beforehand and pick for yourself. The site has many murals by the famous self-taught folk artist Clementine Hunter who was a maid in the house. The murals tell a story of plantation life. Plan your visit.
Mike the Tiger at LSU
Animal lovers and sports fans are sure to want to visit Mike. Mike (who is actually Mike VII) lives in one of the largest and most advanced tiger habitats in the country. Across the street from the Louisiana State Univ.’s football stadium, Mike is at home in a 15,000 square foot enclosure with a waterfall, swimming hole, stream and verdant plant life. Mike has been a fixture since 1934 and used to attend games in a cage. He wasn’t forced into the cage; it was offered to him and he would go or not, depending on his whims. As of 2017, Mike no longer attends games but you can still visit him and his high-tech habitat. If you want to see Mike but can’t make the trip to Louisiana, you can watch the live camera from his enclosure here. The habitat was built in 2005 for $3.7 million. Building Mike a new home started as a grassroots movement, asking for donations at games. Eventually, you could have a brick engraved with your name for a $100 donation. It was built with a live oak and beautiful architecture. Recent additions to the enclosure feature a cooled/heated comfort rock and a rockwork tree. Read reviews and plan your visit here.
Suggesting you go to Avery Island is a bit of a cheat. Avery Island is home to the beautiful Jungle Gardens, a 170 botanical garden, that houses Bird City, a seasonal sanctuary for herons and snowy egrets, and the Tabasco Visitor Center. All three are sites worth enjoying at your own pace so, set aside a day for Avery Island. The great thing is, they all fit a season: Bird City is an excellent place to visit in the spring. Right now the mating season is in full swing, and it’s a great place to bring your binoculars for some bird watching! Jungle Gardens is open year-round, even Christmas and New Year’s Day. If the birds aren’t roosting, there are still alligators, deer and raccoons. Additionally, you may spot black bears, armadillos, otters and so much more. The Jungle and City were founded by Edward Avery McIlhenny, an arctic explorer, naturalist and conservationist, who was the son of the Tabasco sauce inventor. If the great outdoors has inclement weather, you might be interested in heading into the Tabasco Visitor Center. You can learn about the history of everyone’s favorite hot sauce, including about the founding family. You’ll see the peppers growing, the mash aging, the bottling process, a salt mine and more on this self-guided tour that ends at a gift shop that can meet all your Tabasco sauce needs! Tickets for both attractions can be bought together for a discount. Get directions.
There you have it, a few sights to see in Louisiana. Where will you go?