More Than 200 Free Things To Do In Louisiana


Alexandria/Rapides Parish

Learn about the “Louisiana Maneuvers.” At the onset of World War II, a massive national troops training effort involving a half million soldiers was based in this area of the state. The Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum at Camp Beauregard, a current military base, tells the story. An interesting related photo opportunity is the historic Hotel Bentley in downtown Alexandria, which served as the temporary quarters for military leaders including George Patton, Omar Bradley, Dwight Eisenhower and Henry Kissinger.

Admire the Red River which separates the twin cities of Alexandria and Pineville. It has served for centuries as a key water artery connecting Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma and its Red River tributaries to the Mississippi River.

Visit the home of Arna Bontemps. The story of this acclaimed children’s book author of the Harlem Renaissance era is told in a humble home near downtown Alexandria.

Learn about historic sawmill towns at the Tioga Heritage Museum. Offerings also include a miniature train exhibit, a full-size engine and coal car and a display on boats of the Civil War.

See how Louisiana fisheries are replenished at the Booker Fowler Fish Hatchery, via 10,000 gallons of aquaria and an educational theater.


Baton Rouge

Dance downtown at Live After Five, the capital city's premier live music event. Hosted by the Downtown Business Association, it takes place every spring and fall with different genres of music.

Spend a “Sunday in the Park,” a series of concerts held in Lafayette Park at the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge. The concerts are held from noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoons in the spring and fall.

Enjoy great music and interesting décor at Boudreaux and Thibodeaux’s on Third Street. It offers a Cajun style night club experience and there’s never a cover charge.

See where Governor Huey Long rose to power. The Old State Capitol offers a unique opportunity to see Long’s story in the site’s political museum. Worth noting are the building’s stained glass ceilings – they are as colorful as Louisiana politics.

Travel to the top of the tallest state capitol in the United States. Tours at the Louisiana State Capitol take you to the Observation Deck on the 27th floor for a bird’s-eye view of downtown Baton Rouge and commerce on the Mississippi River.

Get close to Mike the Tiger, the mascot for Louisiana State University. His large, newly renovated habitat allows him to run around and swim in the sun.

See LSU’s Native American mounds. The two earthen mounds near the school’s football stadium date back an estimated 5,000 years and are among the oldest Native American sites in the Western Hemisphere.

Visit multiple museums focusing on art, science, history and culture. The Old Arsenal Museum explores Baton Rouge’s colonial and military history. On the first Sunday of each month, the LSU Museum of Art, the Louisiana Art and Science Museum and Capitol Park Museum waive admission fees for their exhibits and interactive areas once monthly

Guide yourself through local history and art by stopping at the Baton Rouge Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Third Street office for a map of the downtown historical landmarks and the Art Walking Tour.

See one of the most comprehensive Louisiana history archives at the Louisiana State Library downtown. The Louisiana Room collection includes rare books, documents and photography on a variety of Louisiana subjects.

Experience Louisiana cooking demonstrations among the produce vendors booths at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market on Fifth and Main streets.

Enjoy Baton Rouge’s style of rhythm and blues music at the Baton Rouge Blues Festival. It’s held every spring downtown at Repentance Park.

See a variety of Louisiana plants and trees at the Cohn Memorial Arboretum, north of Baton Rouge near the town of Baker.

Celebrate the Christmas season plus local art and artists at downtown Baton Rouge’s FestForAll. A great family event, it offers children’s activities and the lighting of the city Christmas tree.

Learn about world cultures and sample their cuisine at the International Heritage Celebration, held each fall downtown.

Enjoy galleries of African-American art at Southern University Museum of Art. The museum offers eight total galleries of notable works.

Taste authentic Italian cuisine at the Baton Rouge Italian Festival, where locals of Italian descent share their heritage and traditions.

Visit what is said to be America’s smallest church. The Chapel of the Madonna in nearby Bayou Goula in Iberville Parish is eight feet square in size.

Play a round of disc golf at the 18-basket course at Highland Road Park in south Baton Rouge.


Bienville Parish

Scale Driskill Mountain. Located five miles south of the community of Bryceland, it is the highest elevation in the state of Louisiana. It is a delirium-inducing altitude of 535 feet above sea level.

See where two of America’s most notorious gangsters were killed. There is a marker on Louisiana Highway 514 near the town of Gibsland where Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed by law enforcement in 1934.


Chalmette/St. Bernard Parish

Historic Biking Adventure. Chalmette is the site of the Battle of New Orleans of 1815, and the battlepark’s Tour Loop Road and Military Cemetary Road are both popular places for biking.

Tour the Chalmette Battlefield. It was here where General Andrew Jackson led his troops to victory against the British in the greatest American land battle victory of the War of 1812.  

Celebrate Spanish Culture at Islenos Museum & Village. The museum is dedicated to preserving the culture of the Isleños, Canary Islanders who came to St. Bernard in the 1780s.

Travel the San Bernardo Scenic Byway. This 25-mile stretch along Louisiana Highway 46 in St. Bernard Parish transports you back almost 200 years. Along this scenic route, discover unique cultures, historical sites, and scenic beauty and century old fishing villages.  

Enjoy a St. Bernard Parish Festival. The most popular community gatherings are the Crawfish Festival, Art in April Festival and the Battle of New Orleans Commemoration.

Meander through Sebastopol Plantation. Located on 30 acres of land, Sebastopol is the only St. Bernard private residence on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visit the St. Bernard Seafood & Farmers Market. This weekly market offers fresh produce and locally caught seafood, baked goods, handmade artisan crafts, live entertainment, children’s activities and much more.

Birding Adventures in St. Bernard Parish. America’s Wetland Birding Trail spots include the Chalmette Battlefield, St. Bernard State Park and Breton Sound Marina. St. Bernard’s variety of waterways and woodlands attract a broad spectrum of bird species.

Tour the St. Bernard Parish Seafood Trail. See the local seafood industry as you travel the St. Bernard Seafood Trail from the Seafood & Farmers Market in Historic Old Arabi down to the fishing villages of Yscloskey & Delacroix.

Discover the Old Arabi Historic District. Recognized by the National Register of Historic Sites, the Old Arabi Historic District offers visitors plenty to see including the Old Jail, LeBeau Plantation, the St. Bernard Voice building, the Maumus Center and the Domino Sugar Refinery.

Stroll through the St. Bernard Cemetery. As one of the oldest burials grounds in the state, the St. Bernard Cemetery has served as a final resting place since 1787. The first Church built on this site was constructed in 1785, making St. Bernard the first Catholic Parish below New Orleans.


Crowley/Acadia Parish

Attend the International Rice Festival in Crowley. One of Louisiana’s oldest and largest agricultural festivals, it calls attention to the importance of rice and emphasizes its place in the world’s economy.

Visit four Crowley museums. The Rice Interpretive Center, the J. D. Miller Music Recording Studio, Ford Automotive Museum and the History of Crowley Museum are all under one roof.


Donaldsonville/Ascension Parish

Stroll a public park. Local favorites include Crescent City Park and Louisiana Square in Donaldsonville, Jambalaya Park and Veterans Memorial Park in Gonzales, and Oak Grove Park in Prairieville. Jambalaya Park also offers free concerts in the spring.

Hear the story of Gonzales’ founding father. The Tee Joe Gonzales Home Museum focuses on his story and that of other early Ascension Parish settlers.

See historic Cajun cottages and live alligators at the Cajun Village in Sorrento. The alligators’ habitat is a natural swamp setting.

Take a walking tour in a historic “river town.” Downtown Donaldsonville has a self-guided tour of notable homes and businesses that includes a scenic overlook on the Mississippi River.

Enjoy local festivals, including Sorrento’s Boucherie Festival, Gonzales’ Jambalaya Festival and Donaldsonville’s Sunshine and Juneteenth festivals.


Houma/Terrebonne Parish

Admire the flora and fauna of Bayou Terrebonne, one of Louisiana’s largest bayous, as it winds through downtown Houma. There also a self-guided town walking tour.

Catch the big monthly concert at downtown Houma’s Live After Five celebration.

Watch coastal and migratory birds at the Pointe-Aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area near Montegut. Among flocks found are brown pelicans, Louisiana’s state bird.

Hike a nature trail teeming with swamp and marsh mammals and reptiles in the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge.

Enjoy a 360° view of coastal marsh while touring the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium facility in Cocodrie.

See multiple-medium religious-themed art at the Chauvin Sculpture Garden.

Learn about saving Louisiana’s coasts from erosion as you dance to Louisiana music at blues musician Tab Benoit’s Voice of the Wetlands Festival in October.


Kisatchie National Forest

See Louisiana’s most drastic topographic changes through Kisatchie’s scenic vista overlooks. There are overlooks in all of Kisatchie’s districts, covering over 600,000 acres in seven central and northern Louisiana parishes.

Enjoy the scent of fresh pine as you hike the Carolyn Dormon Nature Trail in southern Natchitoches Parish. It is part of over 100 miles of multi-purpose trails in Kisatchie.

Get a glimpse of what Kisatchie’s pines looked like centuries ago at the I-49 Louisiana Welcome Center north of Alexandria. A 248-year old pine trunk is part of its exhibits.


Lafayette

Experience Downtown Alive! For nearly three decades, Downtown Alive! has united community and culture to create a weekly tradition and celebration in Downtown Lafayette every Fall and Spring. It offers great entertainment in the form of free, family-friendly, smoke free, outdoor concerts.

Have Lunch with Bach. There's no better way to welcome spring and fall than by enjoying a delicious lunch while listening to Lafayette's Bach Lunch, the city’s free lunchtime concert series.

Dance at Rhythms on the River. Join us in the town square of River Ranch every Thursday evening for free live music.

Help preserve Cajun culture by enjoying the Festivals Acadiens et Creoles. Held annually the second weekend of October, it offers three days of food, arts and crafts and live music on multiple stages.

Celebrate French heritage and influence in multiple world countries at Festival International de Louisiane. Held annually the last full week of April. This free, five day event combines the best in music, visual arts, theater, dance, and cuisine from Louisiana and other world Francophone nations.

Catch a movie and a history lesson at Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center. The Acadian Cultural Center, a unit of the National Park Service, depicts the story of the Acadians who settled the prairies, bayous & marshes of south Louisiana via exhibits and a theater.

Get active at Girard Park, which offers tennis, basketball, disc golf and picnic areas and a pond to stroll around.

See a 500-year old oak tree at St. John Cathedral. It’s on the grounds of the National Register church built in 1916.

See a university with its own critter-filled swamp. Cypress Lake, a student recreation area in the middle of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is a two-acre swamp filled with native alligators, turtles, birds and fish.


Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana

Admire the 375 year old Sallier Oak Tree. Located at the Imperial Calcasieu Museum, this tree has withstood many hurricanes and is the sought after spot for the avid photographer.

Step back in time through traditional Southern homes. Explore the more than 40 blocks of Victorian homes and massive mansions in the Charpentier Historic District located in downtown Lake Charles.

Peek on into the Cottage Shops. Located in mid-town Lake Charles, unique locally owned boutique shops set in old cottage homes and Louisiana Market offers free samples of specialty, seasoned Community coffee.

Parade around at Mardi Gras. King cake, beads, music, and family friendly fun is what can be experienced at the 2nd largest Mardi Gras in Louisiana.

Learn to Cajun dance at the Lake Charles chapter of the Cajun French Music Association’s Main Building. It begins at 7 p.m. every third Thursday of the month.

Learn to play Cajun music and speak Cajun French at Kershaw’s Cajun Village. Free jam sessions and French lessons occur on the first Friday of every month from 6-10 p.m.

Dance to the rhythm of Zydeco. May heats up every Friday at Downtown at Sundown music series with hot bands from all over Louisiana.

Glide along the Lakefront Promenade. Located behind the Civic Center, walk the cobblestone pathway along the lake and view the cityscape of Lake Charles, or bring the family to run in the PPG Spray ground or climb on in to the Millennium Park opening in late fall.

Picnic at Prien Lake Park. This 29-acre park features walking paths, canoe and boat launches, kids playground and Spray Ground water park. Dine at numerous picnic areas, listen to live shows at the amphitheater and two pavilions, or relax and take in the view of the beautiful plaza fountains and lake.

Fun in the Sun at the “Brown Sugar” Beaches. Fishing, relaxing, shelling, birding or crabbing can be found along the 26 mile stretch of Gulf of Mexico Beaches. Spend the day crabbing near a waterway tossing a string with meat tied to one end and catch fresh blue crabs for a dinner feast.

Drive into Louisiana’s Outback. Located along the Creole Nature Trail All American Road, this 180 mile trail is a rare opportunity to view Louisiana’s fertile prairies, lush marshes and abundant wildlife with over 400 species of birds for those avid birders, and alligators that outnumber people 10-1. Make sure to pick up a free GPS Ranger at the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau to experience a self-guided tour.

Follow the trail at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. Venture through the marsh land and spot an alligator at the observation tower along the 1.5 mile Wetland Walkway.

Explore nature’s wonders at Cameron Prairie Wildlife Refuge. Engage in Cajun history and culture at the Visitors Center and drive along the 3 mile Pintail Wildlife Drive to view the migrating waterfowl.

Be a tourist at National Tourism Week. Free coffee and cake are complimentary at the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. The week begins with Children’s Day including pizza, games, and face painting and continues with Restaurant Day where local restaurants set up booths and give free dishes out to the public to give a taste of Southwest Louisiana.

Light Up the Lake for Christmas. Everyone can delight in a holiday parade, games, a lighted boat parade, a gingerbread house contest and glittering fireworks display over shimmering Lake Charles.

Christmas Under the Oaks. Celebrate the holidays with a 100% chance of snow under the oak trees at Heritage Square in Sulphur. Enjoy the atmosphere of live music, a parade, Holiday House Christmas Market, and the Spectacle of Lights.

Dive in the Cajun Culture. Rotating art exhibits are offered at many galleries in Southwest Louisiana including 1911 Historic City Hall with its beautiful clock tower and newly landscaped property.

Immerse into the Black Heritage Gallery. Located in Historic Central Arts & Humanities Center, view exhibits and educational activities representing the contributions of African Americans to Southwest Louisiana.

Discover the history of Sulphur. Brimstone Museum is housed in the Old Southern Pacific Railway Depot, and was established to commemorate the development of the Frasch process of mining sulfur at the turn of the century.

Jump on a train into the Dequincy Railroad Museum. Family friendly fun with a steam engine, passenger car and caboose on display and library located upstairs. Also adjacent to the museum is a playground with rides, picnic tables and a pavilion.

Catch-A-Concert. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic and soak in the sunset over the lake as the Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra plays musical favorites from the past each Monday night in June at the Lake Charles Civic Center Arcade Pavilion.

Let the wine flow. Wine enthusiasts will love the quaint outlet, The Wine Store. Every Thursday between 5 -7 p.m. the owners do a wine tasting and are constantly rotating stock when new bottles come in.


Leesville

Dance in the streets at Mayfest, located in downtown Leesville in early May. Live music, demonstrating artists, vendors, and children's activities provide fun for the entire family.

Watch a Soap Box Derby race downtown in October. Between races at the Lulu Street Racers Annual Soap Box Derby, you can browse a classic car, truck and motorcycle show.


Minden/Webster Parish

Experience Louisiana’s German heritage at the Germantown Colony State Museum. The colony just outside Minden is one of three colonies founded in the United States in the early 19th century by the Utopian Movement of the Harmonist Society which originated in Germany. Tour original buildings and see how the earliest settlers lived in 1835.

See up to 600 species of birds at Lake Bistineau State Park. It offers a satisfying blend of wildlife watching, beautiful vistas and outstanding recreational facilities.

Set up camp at Caney Lake, located in the 600,000 acre Kisatchie National Forest just 10 minutes north of Minden. It provides more than 350 acres of water recreation and hiking trails.

Learn about regional history and traditions at Minden’s Dorcheat Museum. Its exhibits focus on the life and culture of Webster Parish along Bayou Dorcheat corridor in north Louisiana.


Monroe/West Monroe

Experience the Beauty of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. This beautiful cypress-studded lake has a visitor center, live exhibits, nature trail, pier, observation deck, arboretum, photo blind, fishing and hunting opportunities.

See the Masur Museum of Art. A permanent collection of paintings, print and sculpture, as well as exhibits from artists and museums from around the country. The museum is located in a unique 1920s Tudor building made of limestone.

Stroll Monroe-West Monroe’s Downtown Gallery Crawl. Discover the works of talented artists as you "crawl" from one historic architectural jewel to the next with fine art, music, and local cuisine set against a hip, downtown backdrop overlooking the Ouachita River.

Free Cookie Friday at Tummy Yummy Creations. Located in Antique Alley in Downtown West Monroe, Tummy Yummy offers your choice of a sweet treat every Friday.

High-flying adventure at the Chennault Aviation & Military Museum. This museum tells the story of war hero Gen. Claire Chennault, his Flying Tigers and many more local heroes. You will also see exhibits on Selman Field, a navigation school, and the beginnings of Delta Airlines.

Window shop on famed Antique Alley. Alongside the Ouachita River, this unique shopping district has everything from home decor, jewelry, clothing, European and American antiques, art and more.

Music at Enoch’s Irish Pub and Café. This Irish pub with a Louisiana attitude is a local favorite and offers live music throughout the week and no cover. Also founded the NELA Celtic Festival.

Attend the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Festival. Celebrate the Celtic heritage each October in Monroe’s Forsythe Park with live music, storytellers, dancing and more.

See prehistoric Native American mounds. Louisiana’s Ancient Mounds Trail is focused in northeast Louisiana, and mounds on the trail are viewable from public highways. Downloadable driving maps are available through the Louisiana Division of Archaeology’s website.


Natchitoches

Pause for a snapshot with the founder of the Louisiana Purchase’s oldest city.  There is a bronze bust of Chevalier Louis Antoine Juchereau de St. Denis on the south end of Front Street downtown. He founded Natchitoches in 1714.

See Louisiana’s biggest Christmas celebration. The entire town is adorned with holiday lighting nightly throughout December, with free concerts and fireworks shows every weekend.

See sights from the blockbuster movie “Steel Magnolias.” The 1989 blockbuster was filmed at several homes and historic structures and sites in the Natchitoches Downtown Historic District, and you can see them via a self-guided walking tour. Walking tours also visit notable district structures, gardens and American Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in the Louisiana Purchase.

Visit antebellum plantation complexes in the Cane River Creole National Historic Park. Both Oakland and Magnolia plantations are open daily.

Window shop in one of the oldest stores in the state. Kaffie Frederick’s General Mercantile has been selling general merchandise and hardware on Front Street since 1863, and the same cash register has rung up sales there since 1910.

See indigenous Louisiana freshwater fish at the Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium.

See an example of Romanesque architecture at the Old Courthouse downtown. It was built in 1898.

Spend time at St. Augustine Catholic Church, part of the Cane River Creole National Heritage Area. The church is said to be the oldest Catholic church formed by free people of color in America.


New Iberia/Iberia Parish

Take a photo of the Conrad Rice Mill in New Iberia. It is the oldest continuously operating rice mill in America.

Enjoy a downtown stroll. Self-guided tour maps for historic downtown New Iberia are available at the local welcome center.

View 240 different bird species at Spanish Lake in New Iberia, Rip’s Rookery on Jefferson Island and Jungle Gardens on Avery Island.

Browse through art galleries yearlong and during the spring and fall “artwalks” in downtown New Iberia.

Take a stroll through New Iberia City Park and on the Bayou Teche Boardwalk.

View dragon boat races at the Acadiana Dragon Boat Festival in March.

Enjoy fais-do-do’s at the World Championship Gumbo Cook-Off on the second weekend of October in New Iberia, as well as Spanish and Louisiana music at El Festival Espanol de Nueva Iberia in November.

View equine events at SugArena in New Iberia.

Attend Iberia Cultural Resources Association’s concerts in December and February at the St. Peters Catholic Church in New Iberia, and in April and July in New Iberia City Park.

Learn about Iberia Parish history at the Jeanerette Museum’s lectures held year long.


New Orleans

Get jazzed. Stroll along Bourbon or Frenchmen, where jazz pours out onto the street or duck into a few clubs for the full experience.

Dive deeper into our musical heritage. After you’ve heard your fair share of jazz, learn about its roots at the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park (916 N. Peters Street).

Browse art throughout the city. It seems like you can find art in every corner of New Orleans — the galleries on Julia and Royal Streets, the Mid-City and Bywater art markets, Jackson Square vendors and so much more.

Experience Our Parks. Walk among the centuries-old oaks of City Park, picnic in picturesque Audubon Park or enjoy views of the Mississippi River at Woldenberg Park.

Take in a free festival. Through free summer festivals such as Vieux-To-Do and Satchmo Summerfest, explore the history of New Orleans and understand the culture of this unique city. A notable free spring festival is the French Quarter Festival.

Immerse yourself in New Orleans history. Stop by The Historic New Orleans Collection at 533 Royal Street for a crash course on the city’s history that spans almost 300 years.

Enjoy the neighborhood. Spend an hour people-watching at a coffee shop in the Faubourg Marigny, voted one of America's 10 Great Neighborhoods.

Bike along the levee. Rent a bike and go for a ride along the levee while taking in the sights and sounds of the mighty Mississippi River.

Oysters at Le Bon Temps Roule. Head Uptown to this Magazine Street club on Fridays for free oysters as you listen to the funk sounds of Joe Krown.

Shop for mansions on St. Charles Avenue. Come on! You don’t have to be in the market to appreciate these jewels on the Avenue.

View the architecture of the French Quarter. I spy wrought-iron balconies, a cornstalk fence, a hidden courtyard.

Get in touch with nature at Jean Lafitte National Park. Just 30 minutes from downtown New Orleans and you can immerse yourself in Louisiana’s rich ecological treasures — swamps, forests and marsh land.

Catch a free summer show at Tipitina’s. This uptown venue pays homage to the jazz legend Professor Longhair with free shows on Fridays during the summer months.

Go see Fulton Street. Stroll through the Fulton Street promenade, home to outdoor cafes, one-of-a-kind shopping, Harrah's Hotel and open-air concerts and festivals.

Celebrate the ambiance of The Roosevelt. The $145 million historic restoration added 504 rooms to New Orleans' hotel inventory, along with 60,000 square feet of event and meeting space.

Hang your business card at the Old Absinthe House. Leave your mark on New Orleans by adding your business card to the wall at one of Bourbon Street’s oldest bars.

Spend Saturday morning at the Farmers Market. Learn a bit about the famous New Orleans cuisine with free cooking demonstrations at the Crescent City Farmers Market.

Check out the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, with its multi-million dollar renovation, is a premier venue for major conventions and sporting events, including hosting 7 of the 10 Super Bowls played in New Orleans.

Cross the world’s longest continuous span over water. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, connecting the New Orleans suburb of Metairie to the city of Mandeville is 24 miles long.

Watch a paddlewheel ship navigate the Mississippi. The Steamboat Natchez’s daily departure on evening river tours is viewable from a wharf near Jackson Square.

Haunt our “Cities of the Dead.” Visit our famous above-ground tombs at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District or St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 on Basin Street, believed to be final resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Knock three times on her crypt and make a wish.

Take Yourself on a Literary Tour. See where Tennessee Williams (722 Toulouse), William Faulkner (624 Pirate’s Alley), Truman Capote (711 Royal), Thornton Wilder (623 Bourbon), Walker Percy (1820 Milan) and Anne Rice (1239 First) lived.

Jam at Wednesday at the Square. During the spring and summer months, the Young Leadership Council hosts free concerts in Lafayette Square featuring some of the hottest local acts.

Ride the River. The free Canal Street ferry offers some of the best views of the New Orleans skyline and drops you in historic Algiers.

Be Moved by Our Spectacular Churches. The large Catholic population of New Orleans gave rise to breathtaking churches such as St. Louis Cathedral, St. Augustine and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Discover the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Located amid the beauty of City Park, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden features one of the most impressive collections of contemporary sculpture in America.

Be a “Voluntourist.” Though New Orleans is thriving, there are parts of the city that could still use some help following Hurricane Katrina. Just a few hours of volunteering can leave a lasting impact on New Orleans.

Walk and Talk. Network with thousands of your fellow colleagues in the world's most walkable city.


Plaquemine/Iberville Parish

Discover the Plaquemine Historic District, with 120 buildings on the National Register of Historic Sites. Most of the homes are made of virgin cypress, built during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Visit the Iberville Museum for a look at local history. The site once housed the former Iberville Parish Courthouse of 1848 and then Plaquemine City Hall.

Enjoy a public park. Highlights of Iberville Parish’s 20 public parks are Plaquemine City Park, which has a water spray park and a skateboard park; and the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park for a panoramic view of downtown Plaquemine. The latter park also hosts a free admission Fourth of July celebration including a boat parade and holiday lighting displays in December.


Ruston/Lincoln Parish

Explore 200 years of military history at the Louisiana Military Museum in Ruston. Exhibits include weapons, uniforms and rare photography.

Tour the oldest dogtrot style structure in the region at the Autrey House Museum in Ruston.

Learn about one of college football’s greatest coaches at the Eddie Robinson Museum at Grambling State University. During his 56-year tenure at the school, Robinson logged 408 wins and sent more than 200 players to the American and National football leagues.


Shreveport/Bossier City

Sample local flavor at the Shreveport Farmers' Market in Festival Plaza. It offers nearly 180 vendors selling locally-sourced meats, vegetables and produce, bonsai trees and homemade desserts, live music and cooking demonstrations.

Walk Among Historic Warbirds at the 8th Air Force Museum. See vintage aircraft like the venerable B-17 and B-24 bombers and the P-51 Mustang of World War II. You can also see Cold War heroes such as the B-52D and B-52G Stratofortress.

Explore 40 acres of paths and gardens at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery. Not only is Shreveport’s R.W. Norton Art Gallery home to a fascinating and expansive collection of art, the gallery is surrounded by 40 landscaped acres featuring scenic walking paths, sculpture gardens, and over 15,000 azalea bushes.

Walk in the footsteps of stars along the Shreveport-Bossier Film Trail. Visit key filming locations for film and television projects like True Blood, W., Mr. Brooks, Soul Men, and Mad Money. Locales range from art galleries to historic cemeteries.

Visit the “Once in a Millennium Moon” Mega Mural in downtown Shreveport. On two sides of the AT&T building at Cotton and Marshall streets, the nation's largest public arts mural covers 25,000 square feet.

Connect with your wild side at Chimp Haven’s Chimpanzee Discovery Days. Visitors can observe the 130-plus chimpanzees of Chimp Haven in their forested habitats and tour the sanctuary using the groomed trails, with views of two five-acre habitats from across a barrier moat.

Get Your Fingers Dusty in Shreveport’s Antique District. Shreveport’s “Antique District” is an L-shaped area beginning in the 100 Block of King’s Highway and heading West to Line Avenue. Peruse nearly 100,000 vinyl records at Campus Collectibles and browse through 80,000 vintage postcards at Timeline Antiques, and more.

Get Crafty at the Texas Avenue Makers’ Fair. Held twice each spring and fall, the Texas Avenue Makers’ Fair features handmade apparel, furniture, food, art, candles, and unusual live music performances, ranging from Appalachian dulcimer to house techno and everything in between.

Hop Aboard the T-N-T Express Thursday Night Trolley Tour. It rolls through downtown Shreveport every third Thursday of the month, taking visitors to downtown art, cultural, and science attractions including museums, galleries and historical sites. A guide offers interesting tidbits about Shreveport’s history.

Get a “rounded” perspective on art at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum. Opened in 1939, it is an unusual, rotunda-style circular building noted for its architecture, which combines Neoclassical and Modern design. Also noteworthy are the Italian frescos, rotating exhibits, murals, and 18 unbelievably intricate beeswax dioramas.

Play outside at the Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park. This 160-acre nature park features a pavilion exhibit hall where classes are regularly taught by staff naturalists, a “Birds of Prey” exhibit featuring live owls, bald eagles, and other birds undergoing rehabilitation, and a network of walking trails which includes one wheelchair-accessible nature trail.

Look and Learn at Meadows Museum of Art. The museum at Centenary College is charged with the collection, conservation, preservation and interpretation of visual art works of museum quality. Not only can visitors see great art here, they can also learn about them during free, educational events like gallery talks, lectures, and convocations

Play a round of disc golf at the course on Clyde Fant Parkway near downtown Shreveport.

Take your picture with The King. Elvis Presley got his start on the “Louisiana Hayride” radio show concert at Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium, and statues immortalize both The King and Shreveport native James Burton, who was a longtime member of Presley’s touring band.

Learn about more than northwest Louisiana’s oil boom at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Museum in Oil City. The site has oil derricks and equipment related to the industry, but also exhibits on Captain Henry Shreve’s clearing of the Red River “Log Jam” in the 19th Century and on the Caddo Native American tribe of the region.

Explore fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing at the Red River Wildlife Refuge near Bossier City. Its new visitor center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and on most weekends.

Catch a movie under the stars at Movies & Moonbeams Outdoor Cinema. The weekly outdoor cinema series features family-friendly movies in parks and public spaces throughout Shreveport and Bossier City.

Visit the grave sites of music legends Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter and Johnny Horton. Ledbetter, a pioneer of American blues music, is buried in the town of Mooringsport. Horton, a rockabilly genre pioneer, is buried in Bossier City.


St. Charles Parish

Learn about space in the St. Charles Parish Planetarium. It’s housed in the West Regional Library in the town of Luling.

Drive across an engineering marvel - the Bonnet Carre Spillway. It drains the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain during high water periods and can be crossed by driving Interstate 10 or U.S. Highway 61 west of New Orleans.


St. Francisville/West Feliciana Parish

Cross the longest cable-stayed span bridge in the Western Hemisphere. The 2.4-mile John James Audubon Bridge over the Mississippi River connects the cities of St. Francisville and New Roads.

Enjoy one of Louisiana’s most walkable downtown areas. The neighborhood on and around Ferdinand Street is dotted with quaint historic homes, churches and antique stores.

Explore one of America’s most infamous penal institutions through the public museum at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Exhibits tell the prison’s history, what life there is like and about success stories, like the facility’s thriving agricultural operations.

Pack a bike for the Audubon State Historic Site Loop. Free maps at the local tourist center chart the 29-mile loop among historic plantations and notable sites.


St. Landry Parish

Dance, eat at Music & Market. Enjoy zydeco, Cajun music and more at Music & Market held Friday evenings in the fall and spring at the Opelousas Farmers Market. Local farmers offer samples of fresh produce.

Saturday morning Cajun jams. Bring your instruments or just tape your toes at the Cajun music jam sessions every Saturday morning at Savoy Music Center in Eunice. The center is the home of “Acadian” accordions, used by squeezebox players around the world.

Learn about the history of Cajun music at the Cajun Music Hall of Fame in Eunice. Exhibits include items ranging from vintage accordions and other musical instruments to a Model A electric generator used to power microphones at rural country dances.

Learn how to cook Cajun food. The Prairie Acadian Cultural Center offers free cooking demonstrations led by locals every weekend.


St. Martin Parish

Louisiana’s most beautiful sunset is at the public boat launch on Lake Martin just south of Breaux Bridge. Be sure to pack your camera.

The gateway to America’s last wilderness is the Atchafalaya Welcome Center on Interstate 10 near Henderson. Exhibits tell the story of the Atchafalaya River Basin, south Louisiana’s 830,000-acre riverswamp ecosystem through over a dozen Louisiana parishes.

Imagery of the epic poem “Evangeline” is in downtown St. Martinville at the Evangeline Oak. It is here where Evangeline and Gabriel are said to have reunited after separation through the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia. A statue of Evangeline is found nearby at St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church’s square.

Learn the Native American legend of how Bayou Teche was formed. It’s written on a marble marker in the bayou-front park in downtown Breaux Bridge.

Enjoy a scenic drive on Louisiana Highway 31 between St. Martinville and New Iberia. The winding route through sugarcane farms is lined with beautiful live oak trees.


St. Mary Parish

Learn about the role Louisiana played in the early days of aviation at the Louisiana State Museum in Patterson. Exhibits focus on the careers of Jimmie Wedell and Harry Williams, who shifted their livelihood from a small air carrier company to setting speed records in the planes they built. The museum also has a large permanent exhibit on the history of cypress harvesting in Louisiana.

Take a bike ride along Louisiana Highway 182 in St. Mary Parish. It’s part of the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway, which winds among sugar cane fields and mills, plantation homes and small Cajun communities.

Learn about the region’s first inhabitants, the Chitimacha Tribe, at their tribal museum in Charenton. Exhibits include ornate handmade baskets and crafts, and very recordings of the tribe’s native language.

Enjoy a bird’s eye view of lower Atchafalaya River on the “Great Wall,” a 21-foot flood control structure in Morgan City and Berwick.


St. Tammany Parish/Tangipahoa Parish/Louisiana Northshore

Run or bike on the Tammany Trace. It is a 31-mile paved multi-purpose trail connecting the cities of Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell.

Gaze in art galleries in downtown Covington. The little town has become somewhat of a colony in recent years for various medium artists, many of whom have public galleries.

Catch air and show off your kickflip at the public skateboarding complex just south of downtown Hammond.

See an odd assortment of wheeled vehicles at the Louisiana Bicycle Festival, held the Saturday before Father’s Day in Abita Springs.


Thibodaux/Lafourche Parish

See shrimping vessels along the Scenic Bayou Drive, the routes of Louisiana highways 1 and 308 along Bayou Lafourche.

Collect interesting shells and driftwood on the Louisiana gulf coast at Fourchon Beach.

Enjoy family-time at municipal parks like Peltier Park in Thibodaux, Bayouside Park in Lockport, and Oakridge Park in Golden Meadow.

Learn about the Cajuns who settled in the swamps and along the bayous of southeast Louisiana at the Jean Lafitte Wetlands Acadian Center in Thibodaux.

Play music like a Cajun at the Wetlands Acadian Center’s Monday night open jam session.

Visit a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s home. Chief Justice E.D. White’s home is in Thibodaux and is open to the public.

Pay tribute to the first American casualty of World War II at a memorial on the grounds of the Bayou Lafourche Area Welcome Center.

See Native American crafts and displays on the history and culture of Louisiana’s Houma tribe at the United Houma Nations Center.


Toledo Bend Country

Enjoy challenging biking at the mountain biking trail at Cypress Bend Resort and the trail along the Toledo Bend Forest Scenic Byway. The latter is great to explore by car as well.

Visit an authentic sawmill town’s general store. The Old Mill Store is in Fisher, one of the last remaining examples of a town built around the region’s booming timber industry in the 19th Century. The town celebrates its heritage each year with the Fisher Sawmill Days festival.

See the only known international boundary marker inside the continental U.S. The highlight inside a small public park west of Logansport in DeSoto Parish is a granite pole marking the 1840 border between what was then the United States of Louisiana and the Republic of Texas. It is the last remaining of about 50 markers placed up and down the Sabine River in the 1840s identifying the national border.

See Spanish culture in Louisiana at the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta. This fall celebration of the little town’s culinary delight features locals dressed in Spanish-influenced period clothing, tamale cook offs (and sampling) and live entertainment.

See a Civil War battle re-enacted. Every April, the Battle of Pleasant Hill is re-enacted in a field just outside Pleasant Hill. A pond is loaded with charges that shoot off, mimicking cannon ball blasts.

Drive part of an American historic artery. Louisiana Highway 6 through Sabine Parish is part of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historical Trail, the colonial route that linked the Natchez Trace to San Antonio and on to Mexico.

See water transformed to electricity at Toledo Bend Reservoir’s hydroelectric dam west of Anacoco.

Spend time in Louisiana’s historically-disputed “no man’s land.” The town of Florien’s Freestate Festival pays tribute to the region’s status as a neutral territory (due to colonial border disputes between Spain and France) in the early 19th Century leading up to Louisiana’s statehood.

Visit the grave of The Alamo’s only alleged survivor. Moses Rose, who according to legend fled the mission just prior to the 1836 massacre, is buried in a small cemetery outside of Logansport.


Vacherie/St. James Parish

Admire the 300-year old oaks that comprise the gateway to Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie. The quarter-mile of oaks actually predate the sugarcane plantation’s home by decades.

See the epicenter of Louisiana’s Christmas Eve bonfire tradition. The largest concentration of fires on the Mississippi River celebrating the arrival of Papa Noel are located in and around the towns of Gramercy, Lutcher and Paulina.


Vermilion Parish

The Acadian Museum in Erath honors Cajun culture in south Louisiana and its collection includes rare photography, art and artifacts.

Downtown Abbeville offers walking tours that are guided by local volunteers.

Le Musee de Kaplan in Kaplan focuses on life in the early 1900s in this small Cajun town.

Sounds on the Square is a free music concert series held in the spring and fall in downtown Abbeville’s Magdalen Square.


Vidalia/Concordia Parish

Learn about three famous Concordia Parish cousins at the Delta Music Museum. Singers Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley, and evangelist Jimmy Swaggert.