When grooving down Bourbon Street one sticky March evening, soaking in the wafting strings of big band jazz and second-line funk leaking from open bar doors and windows, one might be tempted to believe they’d found the Mecca of the Delta. And that could be right!
But it would be a disservice to the region and the great state in which it resides, Louisiana, to look only as far as the beignet-scented narrow streets of New Orleans.
Indeed, the state contains a depth and mystery that set it apart from others in the region and Union.
From the bayous chock full of snakes, gators, gar, and giant catfish, to the purple and gold-drenched 100,000 seats full of passionate college football fans in Baton Rouge, it contains multitudes of cultures, topography, and history.
A true melting pot of America, Louisiana holds the histories of Native American, French Canadian, Creole, and West African cultures. Naturally, there is a wealth to see and experience; thankfully, much of it is preserved in its state parks system.
Below are some must-visit destinations in “The Bayou State”:
Grand Isle State Park: While it’s better known for its bayous and swamps and the buzzy, joyous romp of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana is also home to some of the most prime beachfront in the continental U.S. At Grand Isle State Park, visitors can enjoy just that! A gateway to the Gulf of Mexico and a popular launching point for deep-sea fishing expeditions, this site is a popular destination for fishing, swimming, boating, or simply relaxing on warm water beaches. Bird enthusiasts will especially love this park for its diversity and abundance of species. This spot shouldn’t be missed!
Lake Bruin State Park: For more fun in the sun and water, visitors flock here near St. Joseph, LA. The park offers more than 3,000 acres of water surface, and visitors can enjoy them all through fishing, swimming, and water sports. Originally founded as a fish hatchery with only 53 acres in 1928, it has become one of Louisiana’s most popular destinations with its easy-access boat docks and abundant largemouth bass popular. In addition to the angler community, Lake Bruin is a favorite for jet skiers, pleasure boaters, and water skiers. It even has a water playground for the kids.
Sam Houston Jones State Park: Originally named for the legendary Texas roustabout Sam Houston, the name now belongs to the state’s 46th Governor Sam Houston Jones who has been integral in making this park a reality. It covers more than 1,000 acres of pristine Louisiana backcountry, and its caretakers have taken great pains to preserve it. For this reason, the site is a popular spot for bird and plant lovers. Lagoons filled with hardwoods and pine combine to create a truly unique and magical, almost mythical, wonderland. The abundant waterways make it a natural place for watersports but hiking trails and overnight camping are also popular activities. At certain times of the year, watchers can spot more than 200 species of birds in the park and surrounding area. Sam Houston Jones is truly a gem of the state park system!