Do your next vacation plans involve a cruise leaving from New Orleans? Have you ever thought about exploring Louisiana in a little more detail?
The Pelican State is an amazing place to visit, full of magic, mystery, and wonder. New Orleans is, understandably, the main draw for most visitors, but there are extraordinary things to see and do right the way across this excellent corner of the country.
From the bayou to the Big Easy, the Mississippi River to the prairies of central Louisiana, there’s so much to explore, and so much to do. Wherever you end up, the people are warm, welcoming, and full of Southern hospitality, and the local cuisine is up there with the best in the US.
So if you are packing your bags for a pre-cruise visit to Louisiana, here are some of the best places to go and things to see.
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
Voodoo holds a significant place in the history and culture of New Orleans, and this excellent museum is a great spot to explore the weird and wonderful traditions that make the Big Easy such a magical, vibrant, and exciting place to visit.
The Voodoo Museum takes you on a fascinating, at times unsettling journey through the history and practices of voodoo in the city, from its birth in slave communities in the 1700s to the traditions that still percolate throughout many parts of New Orleans today.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter of New Orleans is without a doubt the most touristy spot in the city, but it is also the liveliest, loudest, most beautiful, and most interesting district, full to the brim with jazz, stunning architecture, amazing history, delicious food, and overall good times.
Grab a hurricane and stroll down Bourbon Street, dip in and out of tiny jazz bars on Frenchman Street, try a muffuletta, a po’boy, or a bowl of gumbo, or just wander around and drink in the gorgeous historic buildings and charming ambiance.
While actually the remains of a pre-Civil War fort, Fort Proctor looks like something out of British myth and legend, some ancient, ruined fortress slowly sinking into a misty, mysterious lake.
Originally built to protect the waterways leading to New Orleans, Fort Proctor was actually never used, having been damaged by a hurricane just before the onset of hostilities, and then falling into disrepair before another use could be found for it. These days it is a wonderfully atmospheric spot to visit, accessible only by kayak or small boat.
Honey Island Swamp
Visiting Louisiana without exploring its famously deep, dark, and dank swamps would be a huge missed opportunity, and Honey Island is one of the most interesting to discover. Supposedly the home of the Honey Island Swamp Monster, the result of a surprising romantic liaison between a chimpanzee that escaped from a local zoo, and native swamp alligators.
Jump on a kayak and take a guided tour with a local Cajun. You’ll get a little cryptozoology, a lot of discussion of wildlife and ecosystems, and a fascinating insight into a now sadly disappearing culture and way of life.
This vast expanse of water is one of the defining features of Louisiana, a truly enormous estuary that covers over 630 square miles. You can visit the towns and settlements that surround the lake, each of which has its own charm, or get a closer look by jumping in your car and crossing the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest bridge (stretching continuously over water) in the world!