Best Places for a Weekend Getaway in Louisiana

Louisiana is a great place to plan a weekend getaway, but knowing where to start when it comes to actually planning your trip can seem overwhelming. Should you visit Cajun Country, as everyone else seems to? Or maybe explore the deep southern routes in Plantation Country? But if you want to do outdoor activities, maybe it’d be best if you head north?

Planet Ware put together a list of the best top-rated weekend getaways you can take in Louisiana, complete with activities and attractions you’d enjoy. Here are a few of our favorites!

New Orleans

Naturally, New Orleans had to be in our top favorites! This city is one of the top vacations spots in Louisiana thanks to its neverending adventures and over 300 years of history, culture, and amazing food.

Hop on a streetcar and explore the French Quarter. You can choose from one of four streetcar lines, but the oldest is the Saint Charles Streetcar Line, which has been in operation for more than 150 years.

Once you’re in French Quarter, make sure to stop at the Vieux Carre, where you can explore Jackson Square and tour St. Louis Cathedral.

A few other adventures to add to your list include stopping at Café du Monde for their famous beignets and stopping at the French Market. The French Market is an open-air market that spans five blocks. It has specialty shops, a community flea market, home-cooked food, and music.

Plantation Country

If you prefer a quiet getaway, this is your stop. This region of Louisiana is about an hour outside New Orleans and is home to a multitude of sprawling plantations you can tour. It’s also the birthplace of Louisiana’s famous andouille, a staple in their Southern dishes.

A few of the more plantations to tour are the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, the Laura Plantation, and the Oak Alley Plantation. The Ormond Plantation, Houmas House, and Oak Alley all offer dining and lodging if you’re looking for an extra special trip!

A few other activities you can do while in Plantation Country that doesn’t involve touring these historic homes are taking a kayak, pontoon, or airboat swamp tour and learning about local wildlife, the Cajuns, and the Native Americans that originally inhabited the area, spending an afternoon taking in the Louisiana culture, or going on a food tour of the Cajun cuisine made in Plantation Country.

Toledo Bend Reservoir Weekend Getaway 

If you’re a fan of the outdoors and want to make sure you have plenty of opportunities to be outside on this getaway, your best bet is Toledo Bend Reservoir in North Toledo Bend State Park. This reservoir is home to the largest man-made lake in the south and is known as one of the top fishing spots in Louisiana. You can even take a guided fishing trip on the lake.

Activities include hiking, biking, water sports, and year-round golf. You can rent kayaks, canoes, and flat-bottom boats from the park for day-to-day use. The reservoir is also a fantastic birding location, with over 900 acres to look for native and migrating species.

If you prefer to camp, the state park has campsites on site that range from premium sites to backcountry camping. Cabins are available that sleep up to 6 people and lodging for larger families is also available.

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Five Unusual Things to do in New Orleans

In Louisiana, New Orleans is the place to go to experience a city that truly captures the essence of Louisiana’s culture and history. You’ll find jazz music at the corner of every street, epic gumbo festivals, tons of museums, haunted cemeteries, and of course, Mardi Gras.

But not everyone wants to check out the usual spots, or maybe they aren’t a fan of the crowds that usually populate local favorites. Thanks to Louisiana Travel, here is a list of unusual things to do in New Orleans.

Located in one of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhoods, you’ll find an arrangement of artist shacks and tiny homes, all built with recycled materials. If you go inside one of these shacks, you’ll find an assortment of handmade musical instruments built into the building themselves.

Their website states “The Music Box Village is a place where play, imagination, experimentation, collaboration, community and hard work come together as a whimsical village of artist-made interactive “musical houses.” Each installation is inspired by the unique musical and architectural culture of our home city of New Orleans, and represents a collaborative process between artists based here and abroad. Our one-of-a-kind art site hosts intensive artist residencies, performances, panels, and welcomes visitors for exploration and play.”

Established in 1772, this shop is named for Pierre Lafitte, a blacksmith and a brother of Jean Lafitte, a pirate, and hero of the Battle of New Orleans. The brothers used their shop to plan their many exploits. In the 1940s, the shop became a popular cafe with local artists.

Their website claims Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop to be “a gumbo of truth and French, Spanish, African, Cajun and American embellishments.”

So make sure to stop by and soak up some history when you’re in the French Quarter.

Have you ever been curious about Voodoo and its roots? If so, make sure to stop by this museum!

At the Historic Voodoo Museum, you will learn about the real history of Voodoo and experience Voodoo related artifacts and objects. The museum was founded in 1972 as a designated place for all things Voodoo to live. They claim they took “all the mysteries, the secrets, the history, and the folklores of rituals, zombies, of gris-gris, of Voodoo Queens and all that jazz, and put it all in one place at the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter.”

This warehouse-converted-art gallery features 35,000 feet of gallery space and is home to the up-and-coming artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums. Contrary to tradtional canvases, Odums paints powerful and hopeful murals on exterior and interior walls.

“Studio Be features “Ephemeral Eternal,” his first solo exhibition that includes over a dozen original murals, several room-sized installations, and reconstructed murals salvaged from #ProjectBe before the Florida Housing Development’s demolition in 2014. The studio is open to the public 4 days a week, and welcomes hundreds of visitors from near and far weekly.”

Located in the historic Tremé neighborhood, this museum is the only one of its kind in the world. Dedicated to the contributions of the city’s African Americans to New Orleans culture, the museum has become a collection of priceless artifacts from Mardi Gras Indians and jazz funerals, and has archived images of more than 500 related cultural events.

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Seven Tours You Can Take In New Orleans

What better way to get to know New Orleans than to take one of these tours? New Orleans is filled with rich culture and heavy history, so using a tour guide who is well versed with all the ins and outs of the city, coupled with a hefty knowledge of all the ‘ghosts of New Orlean’s past’, is a great way to see the sites.

Louisiana Travel put together these tours in New Orleans so you can get better acquainted with the Crescent City.

Step Back in Time: History Tours

New Orleans doesn’t have just any old history. This city has experienced it all – massive fires, cultural melting pots, a few spells, mischievous personalities, and so much more. If you know the right places to look, you’ll find that New Orlean’s past is represented all around you. Finding the perfect guide to enlighten you on the stories that are (literally) under your nose.

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans: Culinary Tours

Is it even truly New Orlean’s if there isn’t food? You can take one of many culinary tours that will take you to a few classic New Orleans restaurants and learning the history behind it. If you want a more hands-on experience, check out one of the city’s cooking schools, where you can try your hand at making jambalaya, corn and crab bisque, or barbecued shrimp.

Ride in Style: Carriage Tours

What better way to see the city than a carriage tour? Call for your carriage to pick you up from your hotel or head down to the Decatur Street side of Jackson Square and hop in! All you have to do is sit back in awe as your driver narrates stories from the French Quarter or Jackson Square.

Choose to Cruise: Riverboat Tours

Choose between the Creole Queen or the Steamboat Natchez and experience New Orleans history at it’s smoothest. Pick between a relaxing evening with dinner and a side of Jazz from the Dukes of Dixieland while cruising up the Mississippi River, or dive into history with the Chalmette Battlefield cruise, which starts at the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans and visits other historical combat sites.

Spook Yourself Silly: Ghost Tours

Get prepared to have a spookingly good time, because New Orlean’s has lots of ghosts. These nighttime adventures will take you to French Quarter locations best known for their paranormal activity. If you want to tour an actual haunted house, check out the Mystère Mansion/Haunted Mortuarya neoclassical mansion built in 1912 with nine resident ghosts.

Walk Among the Dead: Cemetery Tours

Between cowboys, African slaves, and plenty of voodoo, New Orleans definitely doesn’t have a shortage of cemeteries. On one of these tours, you can wander historic cemeteries, visit graves, and learn about voodoo, including its root in West African cultures, Catholic influences, and its modern-day practices.

Distinguishing Designs: Architecture Tours

Mixed in with New Orlean’s rich and dynamic culture, you’ll find colorful houses, plant-filled balconies, and wistful courtyards. You will see influences from French, Caribbean, and Southern American styles and architectures, resulting in a unique style known from New Orleans. On one of these tours, you’ll see structures that range from modern to the late colonial era.

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The Visitor’s Guide to Vernon Parish, Louisiana

Vernon Parish, Louisiana is a beautiful town filled with history and culture, beginning with being part of the “No Man’s Land” area, a strip of disputed territory where the border of Mexico once was. Many lives were fought for, lost, and won on the soil of Vernon Parish, adding to the celebrated rich history.

Read on to learn how you can celebrate with the locals and make the most out of your time in Vernon Parish, thanks to this list from Louisiana Travel.

See the Myths and Legends Byway

Known as Louisiana’s Wild West, Vernon parish was once home to the Coushatta and Atakapa Indians and to outlaws and gun-slingers with names like Leather Britches Smith. The Myths and Legends Byway is a section of the Louisiana Trails and Byways and follows different travelers’ journeys. To find out what life was like as a traveler on the frontier,  begin at Burr Ferry and follow the scenic backroads through Vernon and neighboring parishes.

Tour the Leesville Main Street Cultural District in Vernon Parish

One of six in Louisiana’s nationally accredited main streets, Leesville is brimming with history. Visitors can walk at their own pace throughout the well-preserved historical buildings, like the Wingate and Ferguson Houses on display. You can find local goods every Thursday and Saturday at the 3rd Market Street or head to Gallery One Eleven, a co-op of contemporary and traditional local artists that showcase west Louisiana culture.

Have fun at MayFest

This annual festival takes place the first full weekend of May and brings in food vendors, face painters, craftsmen, and artisans from Louisiana and Texas. You can find hand-blown glass, pottery, homemade candles, and many other types of crafts and trinkets. They also showcase local musicians and well-known Louisiana artists like Tab Benoit and the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”, Irma Thomas. Check out this guide to MayFest for more information.

Hike in the Kisatchie National Forest, Vernon Parish

Taking up a portion of Vernon Parish, Kisatchie National Forest actually stretches out through most of central and west Louisiana. Here you can find endangered bird species and natural areas that showoff Louisiana’s backcountry. Make sure to check out Little Cypress Recreation Area if you’re into horseback riding, off-road biking, or boating.

Dine in at the Vernon Parish Restaurants

Get your fill of quality Louisiana-style southern food like gumbo and jambalaya, along with other homestyle dinners. Check out restaurants like The Mustard Seed, BJ’s Diner, BubbaQue’s BBQ, and Wagon Master Steakhouse.

Wander the Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Cemeteries are no stranger to Louisiana, inspiring many myths and scary stories of Louisiana’s eclectic culture and the Talbert-Pierson Cemetery is no exception. It’s filled with 13 grave houses with tombs as it’s occupants that date back decades.

Learn the history at the Museum of West Louisiana.

The Museum of West Louisiana is filled with artifacts that capture the region’s history, housing everything from railroad memorabilia to Native American artifacts made from stone and clay. This museum also features a series of paintings made by World War II German Prisoners of War during their time at Fort Polk.

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Top 5 Reasons To Visit Natchitoches

Natchitoches, pronounced “Nack-a-tish”, this city in Louisiana was established in 1714, making it one of the oldest parts of the Louisiana Settlement. The region’s culture and heritage date back 3,000 years, starting with the Caddo tribe and then slowly acquiring Spanish, French, African, and Creole settlers.

This little city has a lot of history, a robust community, and gorgeous scenery. With over 30 bed and breakfasts for travelers to pick from and elaborate french architecture from colonial times, it’s clear that there’s something special about this charming town.

Cosmos Mariners shares their top five things to do when visiting Natichoches:

  • Go on an adventure in the historic district.

This 33-block National Historic Landmark Distance in Natchitoches contains a multitude of structures, homes, and historic sites. You’ll see sites like the Fort St. Jean Baptiste Historic site located on the Cane River Lake (make sure to see the exquisite replica of a french fort!) and the Herman Taylor Home, known for its role as the home in the movie Steel Magnolia. You can even choose to stay in the pink “Shelby” room overnight, or choose one of the other rooms that is named after the characters.

If you want to see some original French architecture, check out the Roque House. Located downtown on the riverbank, the home was built by a freed slave around the 1800s. While your downtown, stroll through the oldest general store, Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile.

  • Learn about Creole culture in Natchitoches

Start at the Melrose Plantation, constructed completely by descendants of freed slaves, served as home to the Metoyer family for generations. The matriarch of the family, Marie Theresa Coincoin, was a freed slave who built her empire by trapping and selling local game, making medicine, and growing tobacco.

Oakland Plantation and Magnolia Plantation Complex are both a part of Cane River Creole National Park and provide a unique insight into the daily lives of past residents. On Magnolia Plantation, pay close attention to the slave cabin area – this would have been the heart of the African AMerican community before the Civil War era.

  • Tour the Hall of Fame and History Museum.

The tour starts before you even enter the building – the modern architecture of the building is contributed to the area’s rich and dynamic culture. The uniquely designed building was named world’s top architectural project by Azure in 2013.

The Sports Hall of Fame caters a spot to Louisiana athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, Audrey Patterson, and Archie Manning. New Orleans Saints’ fans need to check out the commemorative football signed by all players from the 2010 Super Bowl.

At the Northwest Louisiana History Museum learn how the native and early French, Creole, Spanish, and African settlers contributed to the dynamic melting pot Louisiana is known for today.

  • Try Louisiana classics.

What’s the best way to dive deep into Louisiana culture? Food!

Fill up your plate (and your stomach) with meat pies and étouffée and explore the different options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with these favorite restaurants:

Maglieaux’s on the Cane

Merci Beaucoup (try their mini crawfish pies and stuffed potatoes with etouffee!)

Mariner’s Restaurant, (for fresh seafood fans)

Lasyone’s Meat Pies(the name says it all!)

French Market Express (for when you’re on the go)

  • Get festive during the Christmas season.

Natchitoches Christmas Festival of LIghts is the oldest celebration in the state. The riverbank and downtown dress up for Christmas, brightening the night sky for over 90 years. Make sure to stroll through the shops downtown and try some fresh locan gumbo or gator on a stick!

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Visit New Iberia, Louisiana

Due to Louisiana’s location on the Mississippi River, it made the city of New Iberia a perfect landing spot for those looking to settle land in the U.S. This means that a lot of the communities in Louisiana are some of the oldest communities in the U.S. Not only that, but Native Americans actually populated Louisiana’s area meaning that this land is filled with history.

First claimed by spanish settlers in 1779, the banks of the Bayou Teche hold a lot of that history. This area known as New Iberia was eventually taken over by french settlers, who were known as Acadians. They were pushed out of Nova Scotia and once they settled here they became known as Cajuns. The perfect place to learn about Louisiana’s history while also maybe taking a vacation. We are here to tell you about a few different things to do in New Iberia, Louisiana.

Things to do in New Iberia

The Bayou Teche Museum

Known as a “hidden gem”, this museum has been years in the making. Offering educational tours and self guided tours, its visitors can explore the history and preservation this museum holds. The Bayou Teche Museum is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The doors open at 10 a.m. and they close at 4 p.m.. However, they can be open at other times when an appointment is made. Students pay $3 and adults pay $5; kids under five can enter for free.

The Shadows on the Teche

The Shadows on the Teche was built in 1834 for a man named David Weeks, a sugar planter. The Shadows displays the life of four generations of the Weeks family living at the Shadows. The building is a historic sight and even still also holds all of the Weeks papers.

Not only is the house amazing, the large trees that fill the property will take your breath away. The Shadows on the Teche is open year round. Monday through Saturday, 10a.m.-4p.m. The first tour will begin at 10:15 and the last tour will begin at 3:15.

Click here for all of the admissions information.

Places to eat

Duffy’s Diner

Looking for a 50s style diner that sells the best fried chicken? Check out Duffy’s Diner. Located in New Iberia, this diner will for sure fill your hunger after checking out Main street. Their menu ranges from simple sandwiches to seafood platters. Locally owned and operated, this diner will take you back in time but won’t cost a heavy penny. Make sure to grab a milkshake to go for the ride home. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the best milkshakes in town.

Jane’s Seafood and Chinese

Opened in 1991 this seafood and Chinese restaurant delivers to the city of New Iberia with its flavor. Featured in New Iberia’s Best of the Teche, Jane’s received many accomplishments. Including first place for the best wait staff. They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays); check their website for their hours. This restaurant will please everyone with a little bit of everything. Make sure to try their chargrilled oysters, you’ll never forget them.

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