When visitors think of Louisiana, New Orleans often comes to mind first. However, Louisiana’s heart and soul lies in towns and small cities. Here are the state’s most beautiful places off the beaten trail.
Breaux Bridge is a small city in the heart of Cajun Country near Lafayette, Louisiana. Known as the ‘Crawfish Capital of the World,’ the city hosts the annual Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival. Acadian settlers, descendants of French colonists who traveled from Canada and made a home in Louisiana, founded Breaux Bridge. Nearly 30 percent of the population speaks French, reflecting the area’s Acadian roots.
Covington is a small city nestled at the fork of Tchefuncte River and Bogue Falaya River, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Covington residents have taken great care to preserve the historic downtown streets, which are today lined with boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
Natchitoches is the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase area. The small city was established by French colonists in 1714 and named after the Natchitoches Native American tribe. Originally built along the Red River, Natchitoches suffered an economic downturn when the river changed its course. Today, the revitalized city is one of the most popular destinations in Louisiana. It is home to the Natchitoches meat pie and the oldest general store in Louisiana.
Located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, Grand Isle is a small fishing town that has proved resilient despite being battered by hurricanes throughout the years. The tiny town is the setting for The Awakeningby Kate Chopin who spent her summers in Grande Isle for many years. The island is full of beautiful beaches, protected as part of Grand Isle State Park.
St. Francisville is a small town located within the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. It was established in the early 1800s, and much of the original architecture remains intact. St. Francisville is home to seven historic plantations, all of which are open to the public.
Founded by French explorers in the early 1700s, the small city of St. Martinville is considered the birthplace of Cajun culture. Over the years, more settlers came both from France and Quebec. Today, more than 18 percent of the population speaks French or Louisiana Creole French. St. Martinville’s primary crops are sugar cane and crawfish.
Located along Bayou Lafourche in southern Louisiana, Thibodaux was founded by French settlers in the 1700s. The small city is known for Cajun culture and food specialties such as jambalaya and boudin. Thibodaux is also home to the beautiful St. Joseph Co-Cathedral, a landmark for the area.
Labadieville is a small town in southern Louisiana, named after a French pioneer. The town has a multicultural history, as French, Spanish, and some German explorers originally settled the area. Labadieville is the site of the historic St. Philomena Catholic Church.
Near Lafayette, Louisiana, Henderson is a small town with a large Cajun population. About 37 percent of the population speaks French, including Cajun French, and 13 percent of the population is of Vietnamese descent. Henderson provides some of Louisiana’s best fishing opportunities and is known for delicious seafood.
Opelousas is Louisiana’s third oldest city and calls itself ‘the spice capital of the world’ since famous Creole and Cajun seasonings such as Tony’s Chacheres are produced here. The city is named after the Appalousa Native American tribe and is home to a strong Cajun tradition. Nearly 10 percent of the small city’s population speaks French.
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