The Getaway
Louisiana's Coolest Small Towns You Need to Visit
Positioned on the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana is a melting pot of history, jazz, and cajun music, art, architecture, and nature. With a blend of French, African, and American cultures, the cuisine is a major attraction to the area. And with many fascinating towns on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, there's always something new to see in Louisiana.

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01 Go al fresco in Lake Charles

Southwestern Louisiana is famous for its outdoor lifestyle, and Lake Charles is at the center of the action. Take the Creole Nature Trail to explore 180 miles of coastal wetlands and wildlife, or play volleyball at South Beach. Try paddleboarding or kayaking and enjoy a breezy walk on North Beach. Later, sample cajun cuisine in downtown Lake Charles or choose patio dining with incredible views across the water.

02 Celebrate cajun in Lafayette

Lafayette is a melting pot of festivals, cooking, and rich history. If you love zydeco music, you'll find music all over Lafayette. Learn about the Acadians at the Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center, and stop by Vermilionville's folklife museum and historic village. And no visit to Lafayette is complete without dining out on cajun and creole cuisine and listening to a few jam sessions.

03 Enjoy the Red River in Bossier City

Bossier City offers everything from horse racing to retail therapy. You'll find outlet shopping at the Louisiana Boardwalk and excellent restaurants all over town. The Aquarium in Bossier city is popular and full of ocean caves, reefs, and marine creatures. The Barksdale Global Power Museum is ideal for military history fans. And on the Red River, you can enjoy fishing, tubing, boating, and other aquatic sports.

04 Get back to nature in Houma

Houma is only 88 miles from New Orleans, but it's a world away from the city lights. The town and surrounding area are known as Louisiana's Bayou area, full of eerie swamps and wetlands. If you enjoy birdwatching, this is one place in Louisiana you should definitely visit. On the Wetlands Cultural Byway, take a Cajun Man's Swamp Cruise to see nature at its best. Back in Houma, you'll find crawfish, oysters, and other delicious food in the bars and restaurants and a vibrant dance scene in town.

05 Discover French culture in Natchitoches

Natchitoches is the original French colonial town in Louisiana and one of the best places to experience the heritage and history of the area. It was established in 1714 and still feels very European today. Take a walking tour to learn about the town, its history, and what it was like before the French arrived—looking for something unique to eat? Try the famous Natchitoches Meat Pie for some delicious southern creole cuisine.

06 Soak up the history in Gretna

Gretna is one of the most historical areas in Louisiana. The town dates from the early 1800s and has preserved many features of that era to enjoy today. For example, you can visit the David Crocket Firehouse or check out the Red Caboose, otherwise known as the Southern Pacific Freight Depot, and the Illinois Central Caboose Museum. You'll also find excellent places to eat in and around Gretna.

07 Check out the antiques in Denham Springs

Denham Springs is a short drive from Baton Rouge, making it ideal for a day visit. It's famous for its Antiques Village with interesting stores full of collectible items—perfect for browsing. Whether you're furnishing a home or looking for inspiration or something unique, you'll find it in the antique area of Denham Springs. You can also go river rafting and tubing or chill out in a bar or restaurant in this interesting town.

08 Go swimming at Grand Isle

You'll find Grand Isle, where Barataria Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico. About 100 miles from New Orleans, the town has a relaxed beach vibe and an entirely different atmosphere. You'll love warm ocean swimming here, and in summer, fishing contests fill the local restaurants with fresh delicacies. Fishing charters and canoeing are also popular in Grand Isle.

09 Visit Eunice, the prairie capital of Louisiana

Rice fields surround Eunice, so it feels like there's a lot of open space—just like a prairie. But most people come to Eunice for the music, as there's a terrific, top-notch scene in town. You'll find a morning jam and Saturday concerts in a 1920s art deco hall. There are plenty of great places to eat, of course, where you can sample local specialties like Boudin sausage.

10 Discover antebellum styles in Jeanerette

Jeanerette is called Sugar City because it's full of sweetness and charm. This small town is full of beautiful antebellum-style architecture, making it perfect for wandering around and exploring. The food is fantastic, with a decadent French, African, and Cajun flair. In addition, you'll find music and food festivals throughout the year in Jeanerette, showcasing the very best of Louisiana.

11 Find food and art in Covington

You'll find a little bit of everything in Covington. There are quirky local stores, interesting art galleries, and charming hiking trails to explore. The Bogue Falaya and Tchefuncte rivers snake around the town, giving it a beautiful landscape for relaxing and a haven for wildlife. Covington also offers lots of great restaurants to try, from seafood and oysters to creole.

12 Chill out in Thibodaux

The small town of Thibodaux was initially established by the French and has a laid-back charm reflective of Louisiana life. Cypress swamps and bayous surround the town, so there's lots of wildlife here, including birds. The Acadian Culture Center has details on nature in the area. You'll also find great places to eat, especially cajun-style cooking. With lots of antebellum architecture, Thibodaux is a beautiful place to explore.

Trees along the Bayou L'Ours swamp - Kraemer LA mbell/ Getty Images

13 Dance the night away in Opelousas

Opelousas is a town full of history, with several monuments and buildings that tell a story. Take a guided tour and hear about the town's role in the Civil War, or explore the antique shops and restaurants serving local cuisine. Opelousas really comes to life at night with a vibrant dance scene. You'll find dance clubs, bars, and music festivals that make Opelousas a fantastic small town to party in.

14 Taste the crawfish in Breaux Bridge

Breaux Bridge is known as the Crawfish Capital of the World, and it's the perfect place to enjoy a food sampling tour or visit one of the many restaurants. The annual crawfish festival is a big attraction, with crawfish prepared in every possible way, with a parade, live music, and contests. Breaux Bridge also offers swamp tours so you can watch native wildlife and birds in nearby marshes and lowland areas, plus exciting kayaking opportunities on Lake Martin.

15 Explore historic plantations in St. Francisville

St Francisville lies along the Mississippi River and is famous for being "two miles long and two yards wide." The town is also home to seven historic plantation houses to explore, including Myrtles Plantation, considered one of the most haunted hotels in America. St Francisville is also popular with hunters, cyclists, and hikers. However, one of the best times to visit is the fourth Thursday of each month when Parker Park comes alive with Vibes in the Ville. People bring a blanket or lawn chair and listen to a band, enjoying the music and relaxing in the family-friendly environment.

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