There are plenty of towns worth a visit that are matched in regards to top-notch restaurants, historic inns, and attractions. Come see a few of our favorites, most of which are a short drive from major cities, but feel worlds away.
The town of Abita Springs was once home to a Choctaw village, which settled around the namesake springs that were thought to have medicinal properties.
The Abita Springs Trailhead Museum is located at the trailhead for a local rails-to-trails path. Exhibits focus on the town’s history as a resort, home to the Long Branch Hotel.
Built in 1881 as a butcher shop, the Abita Springs Cafe was turned into a restaurant in 1979. Today it’s known for its breakfasts, served with coffee from Abita Roasting.
Alexandria and sister city Pineville is the ninth-largest city in the state, set along the Red River in North Louisiana. It was previously the home of the Caddo people and has the area’s only international airport.
The Kent Plantation House is the oldest structure remaining in this part of the state, built in 1800. The Creole-style home was built through a Spanish land grant.
Explore the over 600,000 acres of Kisatchie National Forest, which includes waterfalls, caves, a historic sawmill, and a World War II military base.
For a taste of authentic Cajun meats, head to Quebedeaux’s Boudin & Cracklins. They serve pork cracklins, boudin balls, and Southern favorites like tamales and fried chicken.
The Diamond Grill is named for its location in a 1930s jewelry store and is the best place around for steaks, seafood, and Cajun dishes.
Spend the night at the Hotel Bentley, a 1908 hotel that reopened after being restored in 2016. It has 93 luxurious guest rooms, an in-house restaurant, and a bar.
The small town of Breaux Bridge is the heart of Cajun country and is called the “crawfish capital of the world.” It was founded in 1771 by the Acadian people on the Bayou Teche.
Located twenty minutes outside of Lafayette, the town is known for its Cajun dance halls where people can experience zydeco music. Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Marina, also nearby, offers swamp boat tours from this outpost.
Buck & Johnny’s is one of these dance halls and restaurants, set in an abandoned motors building. The menu includes favorites like boudin and beignets.
Enjoy fresh seafood at Pont Breaux’s Cajun Restaurant, another live music venue. The restaurant serves fried alligator, crawfish pies, and gumbo.
The Bayou Cabins is a funky bed and breakfast made up of 14 rustic cabins on the banks of the Bayou Teche. It’s a short walk from the Cajun dance halls and accommodations include WiFi and breakfast.
The town of Mandeville is named for Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville and is home to Lakeshore Drive, a stunning row of parks and majestic homes along Lake Pontchartrain.
Jean Baptiste Lange Creole House Museum is an example of the Creole cottages that wealthy New Orleanians retreated to on weekends. It’s been restored and turned into a museum.
The Tammany Trace is a rails-to-trails paved path that runs between Covington and Slidell over 31 miles. Mandeville is home to one of the bike rental shops, so it’s a good place to start.
Despite its small size, Mandeville has an incredible restaurant scene. At Hambone, Chef Luke Hidalgo is known for his fried boudin and chicken biscuits, set in a former cottage.
Lakehouse is an 1830s house belonging to the founder of Mandeville, now a restaurant overlooking Lake Pontchartrain serving fish tacos and barbecue shrimp.
Liz’s Where Y’at Diner is a colorful eatery with all-day breakfast, including eggs Benedict, pancakes, and biscuits. For lunch, they serve tacos and po boys.
Monroe and West Monroe are known as the home of the hit show Duck Dynasty. The small town has a street known as Antique Alley, which is lined with not only antique shops but also restaurants and boutiques.
Fans of the show can visit the Duck Commander Warehouse where the Robertson family business has a gift shop with Duck Commander calls and products.
Another essential destination is The Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, three museums in one named for one of the first independent bottlers of Coca Cola. It has exhibits on Coke memorabilia and historic bibles and manuscripts.
The Masur Museum of Art is in the former Masur family home and features works by noted Louisiana artists, including the famous “Blue Dog” series.
Set on the water, Warehouse No. 1 has been a favorite since 1980 for its coastal and Southern food. Dishes include shrimp and grits, fried oysters, and catfish.
Run by a chef featured on the Food Network, Parish Restaurant serves Louisianan cuisine and craft cocktails.
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Monroe is one of the few hotels in town with amenities like free breakfast, free Internet, and full kitchen access.
The charming town of Natchitoches is over 400 years old, set on the Cane River. It’s often known as the main filming location for the classic film Steel Magnolias and as the site of the annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival.
Learn about the history of the area at Fort St. Jean-Baptiste State Historic Site, a replica based on a fort that was established nearby in 1714.
The modern Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame celebrates the state’s rich history of athleticism and covers the town’s 3,000-year-old history from native tribes to the present.
Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant is the best place to get the traditional Natchitoches meat pie, along with Louisiana dishes like gumbo and etouffee.
Chateau Saint-Denis Hotel is a hotel named for the French explorer that settled Natchitoches and has comfortable rooms and suites with free breakfast, WiFi, and a fitness center.
Today it’s a popular stop for river cruise passengers on shore excursions that tour the many area plantations. They include the Myrtles, Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, and Butler Greenwood Plantation.
3V Tourist Courts are restored 1930s cottages that are part of the first motor court in Louisiana. The St. Francisville Inn is one of the town’s oldest accommodations with an in-house restaurant and bar.