Stilt houses with long docks in the low-lying town of Grand Isle, Louisiana.

7 Delightful Towns to Visit in Louisiana

Deep in the heart of the south, lovely Louisiana, dubbed the "Pelican State," is the place where the Mississippi meets the Gulf of Mexico. Lousiana has a rich history as being a melting pot of nationalities, resulting in the unique Cajun and Creole cultures. Although the swampy state is best known for the lively city of New Orleans, its delightful small towns are worth exploring as well. Check out these seven charming communities the next time you find yourself in Louisiana.

Abita Springs

John Preble at the UCM Museum, also known as the Abita Mystery House, in Abita Springs, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, USA.

The Abita Mystery House is in Abita Springs, Louisiana, USA. Editorial credit: Malachi Jacobs /

As pretty as it is quirky, Abita Springs makes a fun day trip from the lively city of New Orleans or a vacation destination all by itself. The unique town has been revered for its mineral water since the 1800s, and the Abita Springs Hotel from that era still stands today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Abita Springs is perfect for outdoor lovers, as it has several parks filled with Longleaf pine trees and is positioned on the Tammany Trace, a 31-mile hiking and biking trail.

You can get acquainted with this cute town by visiting the Abita Springs Trailhead Museum, a small folk art museum that depicts the area's history via photographs and artifacts. Each Sunday, you can purchase locally grown produce, such as Creole tomatoes, strawberries, and satsumas, handmade jewelry and personal care items, and artwork at the Abita Springs Art and Farmers Market. If live music is your thing, catch a performance by the Abita Springs Opry, which features year-found shows.


Light trails in front of the Minor Basilica in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Light trails in front of the Minor Basilica in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Natchitoches, pronounced nack-a-tish, is the quintessential small Louisiana town, complete with Spanish moss-draped live oak trees, a historic downtown filled with quaint shops and eateries serving Cajun and Creole cuisine, blooming gardens, and plantation-era homes. The beautiful town also plays host to several exciting annual events, including the Natchitoches Historic Foundation's Fall Pilgrimage, the Natchitoches Meat Pie Festival, which celebrates the food the town is most known for, and the Natchitoches Christmas Festival. People flock to Natchitoches from all over to experience the history-rich town, which is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase.

Take in the area's natural beauty with a trip to the Briarwood Nature Preserve, a botanical and wildlife sanctuary featuring wooded trails, a reflection pool, and a scenic Louisiana iris bog. Ranger-led tours are available by appointment throughout the year. A fun way to experience the town's historic district is via a horse and carriage ride by the Cane River Carriage Company. You can also head over to the Cane River Creole National Historical Park Magnolia Plantation Unit, which is home to 20 historic buildings, including a plantation store, a gin barn, tenant quarters, and a blacksmith shop.

St. Francisville

Creole cottage-style historic home and former antebellum Myrtles Plantation, built in 1796, in St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, USA.

Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, USA. Editorial credit: Nina Alizada /

Situated about 30 miles north of the bustling city of Baton Rouge on the mighty Mississippi River, St. Francisville is another idyllic small town. Saint Francisville is in what is known as Lousiana's Hill Country and features a historic downtown overflowing with southern charm, cafes serving local delicacies such as fried catfish, etouffee, steamy cafe au lait, and boutiques. West Feliciana Parish boasts many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the area's unique wildlife, flora, and fauna. St. Francisville's Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to the largest bald cypress tree in North America, is one of those special places.

Nature lovers can also spend time at the Mary Ann Nature Preserve, a destination where a mixed pine and hardwood forest provides the perfect setting for bird and wildlife watchers. Situated in the heart of town, Parker Park offers lush greenery, colorful, sweet-scented flowers, benches, and a quaint gazebo for meeting friends and family. While you're in the area, don't miss a trip to the Audubon State Historic Site, which features the former plantation home where naturalist John James Audubon once worked as a tutor.

Grand Isle

Grand Isle, Louisiana at sunset.
Grand Isle, Louisiana, at sunset.

Pretty Grand Isle is on a narrow-barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, making it the ideal vacation spot for people who love being surrounded by water. In addition to sandy beaches, the seaside town also features the Grand Isle Birding Trail, which winds through stunning oak forests and immerses visitors in local wildlife. Grand Isle is also a mecca for fishing enthusiasts of all skill levels, as its waters are home to almost 200 species of fish and are available for anglers all year long. You can either fish from a local dock or pier or hire a professional charter fishing company to show you the ropes.

Grand Isle offers seven miles of public beaches, where visitors can sunbathe, fish from the shore, go shelling, swim or participate in water sports. Grand Isle State Park features spotless Gulf of Mexico beaches, nature trails, a 400-foot fishing pier, and camping spots for those who want to stay overnight. For the adventurous, Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge, a 230-acre barrier beachfront, awaits across the Caminada pass from Grand Isle.

Breaux Bridge

Statue near the public library building in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, USA, installed in honor of the Green Berets, skilled and motivated veterans of the U.S. Army.

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, USA. Editorial credit: Victoria Ditkovsky /

Dubbed the "Crawfish Capital of the World," Breaux Bridge is known for its rich crawfish farming and cooking history. Overflowing with Cajun culture and charm, this Louisiana town beckons to visitors from all over the country. Each May, the quaint town plays host to the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, which celebrates the small freshwater crustaceans with a variety of family-friendly activities, such as live Cajun, zydeco, and swamp pop music and dance contests. USA Today named the lively event as one of the country's top 10 food festivals.

Charming Breaux Bridge makes the ideal family vacation destination or the perfect backdrop for an exciting girls' getaway. You can take a stroll through the historic downtown district, looking for a one-of-a-kind gift or antique, or sample some local fare. If you want to see the area from a natural perspective, take a tour with Cajun Country Swamp Tours, which will acquaint you with local wildlife, history, and geography. Bayou Teche Experience, which offers paddling tours through swampy bayous in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun Country.


Intersection of Goode Street and School Street in Houma, Louisiana.

Houma, Louisiana. By Clem - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

In the state's beautiful and exciting Bayou Country, Houma celebrates its Cajun culture through its lively music, flavorful food, and natural and historic attractions. Lousiana's Bayou Country encompasses more than 2,500 square miles of storied and mysterious swamp land, much of which can be easily accessed from Houma. The welcoming town is on Lousiana's Wetlands Cultural Scenic Byway, which winds through quaint fishing, farming, and shrimping towns and villages.

Houma hosts several well-known special events and festivals throughout the year, such as Mardi Gras in February or March, the Pirates and Boots Festival in April, the Terrebonne Sportsman League Fishing Rodeo in September, and the Bayou Arts Fest in October. Take a tour through a local swamp on a comfortable covered vessel via A Cajun Man's Swamp Tours and Adventures, or dance the night away at Bayou Terrebonne Distillers. The Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum showcases the area's unique Cajun culture through a variety of exhibits, photographs, and artifacts.


Main Street in Ponchatoula, Louisiana.

Ponchatoula, Louisiana. By Polka Dots and Pastries - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Sweet Ponchatoula, which is about an hour north of New Orleans, is best known for its abundance of antique shops and for the juicy, succulent strawberries that the region produces each spring. This charming southern town calls to berry lovers every April, when it hosts the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival. The free 3-day events cater to strawberry enthusiasts with live music, carnival rides, and local food booths serving fresh pies, cakes, and other fruity treats.

Another way to experience this quaint town is by visiting Kliebert and Sons Gator Tours, a guide service that takes outdoor enthusiasts through local swamps. If you love arts and culture, don't miss a trip to the Revival Art House, which showcases the work of more than 200 local artists and offers public painting classes and special events.

Discover Louisiana's Charming Small Towns

Whether you plan on spending a few days, a week, or more in Louisiana or are just passing through, you'll find no shortage of delightful towns to explore. The state's welcoming small towns celebrate everything that makes the region unique, from guided swamp tours by family-owned businesses to eateries serving fresh seafood and local produce, as well as the annual festivals featuring Cajun and zydeco music.

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