Weekly Crescent City Farmers Market is held at LaSalle's Landing, kenner, louisiana

7 Oldest Founded Towns to Visit in Louisiana

Louisiana was founded in 1812, making it the 18th oldest founded state, and it has since become a melting pot for French, African, American, and French-Canadian cultures. The area is well-known for its breathtaking landscape, historic sites, and impressive architecture, not to mention scrumptious Cajun dishes and hopping jazz music.

When planning a trip to Louisiana, consider the spots steeped in history, boasting rich stories of the past, unique sites to explore, and a culture that travels decades back in time. In order of when they were founded, learn all about the oldest-founded towns in Louisiana and what makes them worth the visit.

Baton Rouge

Drone aerial photo Louisiana State University college campus
Drone aerial photo Louisiana State University college campus in Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, founded in 1699, rests on the shores of the Mississippi River, making it the ideal spot for a vacation chock full of water sports and activities. Centrally located, the city features more than access to the river's reflective water, such as exciting events like Mardi Gras, the 400 shops and restaurants lining the downtown streets, and the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center. 

Louisiana's oldest town and the state capital, Baton Rouge documents over 300 years of a rich and enticing history, which visitors can learn all about at locations such as the Old State Capitol, the Old Governor’s Mansion, and Memorial Hall. Be sure to indulge in the arts and culture scene as well, exploring spots like Baton Rouge Gallery, LSU Museum of Art, and Shaw Center for the Arts.


Historic Building, Natchitoches, Louisiana
Historic Building, Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches is the oldest European settlement in the state of Louisiana, established in 1714. The town sits along the Cane River, housing Cane River Creole National Historical Park and the Cane River Heritage Trail Scenic Byway, an excellent stop for outdoor adventurists and history lovers alike. Wander the 65 historic structures and gaze up at the towering oak trees in the area, which marries the beauty of nature with the marvel of man-made constructions. Discover the diverse history of the state, which documents Creole culture, slavery, agriculture, religion, architecture, and more.

Dive further into the area's history by visiting the National Historic Landmark District, containing over 50 buildings dating back to the 1700s. Some of the best unique historical locations include the French Creole townhouses, the breathtaking stained glass of the Minor Basilica, and the 19th-century Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile store. Having played a large role in the cotton trade, there are also a number of historical plantations scattered throughout the town. 

New Orleans

Beautiful architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana
Beautiful architecture of the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is arguably one of the most popular locations to visit in Louisiana, housing a rich culture and lively city atmosphere alongside its unique history, dating back to 1718 when it was founded by French colonists. The area features a collision of Caribbean, Spanish, French, and African cultures, which present themselves through the diverse selection of cuisine, music, and art scattered throughout the city. The streetcar tours, such as St. Charles Avenue, Canal Street, or Riverfront, are one of the best ways to traverse the streets and learn all about the area's history.

Enjoy a night out in the city core, explore the swampy areas, and be sure to visit some of the top historical sites, including over 20 historic districts, the mansions on St. Charles Avenue, and the 18th-century St. Louis Cathedral.


Lafayette is a small City in the State of Louisiana
Lafayette is a small City in the State of Louisiana

Lafayette was originally founded in 1821 as Vermilionville after the Vermilion River it sits on, but was later renamed. Today, Vermilionville still stands as a historic village, featuring costumed actors who truly embody the state's past, offering guided tours and showcasing artisan tasks and creations. Savory cuisine is plentiful in the city, with options ranging from Cajun to French to Creole, so visitors can try something new each day.

The Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center is the ideal location for art and history lovers, with a constant rotation of films, exhibits, and events that document the stories of the state. The Alexandre Mouton House, also known as the Lafayette Museum, houses furnishings that date back to the 1800s. Another unique spot is the Acadian Village, which recreates 19th-century settler life, featuring carefully designed buildings lining a bayou. 


A church in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana against a clear sky
A church in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana against a clear sky

Nestled amongst the banks of the Red River and within the Ark-La-Tex tri-state region, bordering Texas and Arkansas, Shreveport's history dates back to 1836 when it was founded by Shreve Town Company. The city is well known for its lively culture, featuring riverboat casinos, off-Broadway shows at the Strand Theatre, and thrilling horse races, not to mention postcard-worthy Cajun eats. Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is one of the best places to delve into the town's musical history, while Shreveport Aquarium focuses on sea life and the town's history on the water. There are a number of museums ideal for learning about the state's history, including the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, the Louisiana State Oil & Gas Museum, and the Vivian Railroad Station Museum.


Replicated 1930's small town gas station in Heritage Park
Replicated 1930's small town gas station in Heritage Park

One of the most charming cities in Louisiana, Kenner is a popular hub amongst travelers as it houses the Louis Armstrong International Airport, but it also sits along the scenic Lake Pontchartrain and boasts a rich history, dating back to 1855. The city boasts a 16-block historic district that lines the Mississippi River, earning the title "Rivertown." The Heritage Park is a quaint and attractive spot for a picnic or afternoon stroll, while the old Hardware Store and St. Mary's Church feel like they are straight out of the 19th-century. The town's Italian heritage especially presents itself through its warm and inviting cuisine, as well as the annual Italian Heritage Festival in Rivertown. Enjoy a game of slots at the Treasure Chest Casino, or spend an afternoon wandering the scenic 30-acre lakefront.

Lake Charles

Aerial drone image of Lake Charles Louisiana
Aerial drone image of Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Charles is one of the most underrated cities in Louisiana, founded in 1861 by Charles Sallier. As the town's name implies, it sits along the sparkling Lake Charles, boasting picturesque views, a serene landscape, and breathtaking sunsets. It is a family-friendly outdoor lover's dream, housing a plethora of parks and nature reserves such as the Sam Houston Jones State Park, ideal for hiking, camping, and exploring. Casinos and live music line the downtown streets, alongside unique boutiques and eateries. For a taste of history, visit Imperial Calcasieu Museum, where Charles Sallier built his home way back when. DeQuincy Railroad Museum is another unique spot, home to a 1900s railroad depot, while the Historic Charpentier District shares insight into the architecture of the 19th-century. 

Visit These Old Louisiana Towns

The great thing about old towns is that they are steeped in history and these Louisiana towns are no different. Whether you stop by in time for Mardi Gras and immerse yourself in the historical culture of the area, wander the historical buildings scattered throughout the state, or indulge in cuisine that dates back decades, there is something worth saying about the unique ways that history presents itself in Louisiana. 

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