Louisiana is a state where you can spot gators in swamps, catch crawfish in bayous, and reel in speckled trout or redfish from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a state where you can hang out in a jungle garden, chill in houseboats that have their own hot tubs and wet bars, bicycle between breweries, go horseback riding in a national forest, search for shells on white sand beaches, and…wait for it…watch gator eggs hatch in the palm of your hand. Here’s just some of the awesome adventures you can have in the Louisiana outdoors.
1. Exploring the jungle on a pepper plantation salt dome
Fun fact: Every single drop of Tabasco sauce comes from
The area is also a bird sanctuary covered with exotic flora from all over the world. To explore the
There’s a self-guided tour (which includes a combination of driving and walking), or you can make a reservation for a guided bird tour any day of the week. Look out for snowy white egrets, little blue herons, roseate spoonbills, and pintails.
2. Renting a houseboat
Like camping, but cooler — several companies up and down the Atchafalaya River Basin provide
In Hendersonville, just a few minutes off I-10 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, five houseboats (La Bon Temps Bateau, Henderson Lady, Midnight Sky, Atchafalaya Queen, and Allon Dancer Colinda) await at Houseboat Adventures at Cypress Cove Landing. These are the best kind of houseboats — think front stoops, porch swings, and full-size barbecues.
Head farther south down the basin to the Morgan City area for more options. The Summer Time is docked in the Avoca Island Cutoff and guarantees a hell of a party. It sleeps ten and has a covered upper deck with wet bar, hot tub, and Green Egg grill. Kayaks are included, making it easy to get to Gros’ Marina, which hosts live zydeco music every weekend. Also included are a couple of fishing poles that can be taken out in the kayaks or in the pontoon for rent, or just used to cast off the back of the boat.
Nearby are a couple of other houseboats at
3. Hatching a baby alligator…in your hand
The bayous and swamps of Louisiana are full of alligators, and there are various tours that bring people to see them. For something really intimate, book a time between mid-August and early September to hold a gator egg in the palm of your hand while it hatches. If there’s nothing hatching during your originally scheduled visit,
Located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Insta-Gator Ranch also offers tours of its gator barns (where touching the residents is permitted, with supervision) and gives an overview of the history of the alligator industry. It’s a real circle-of-life type of thing: You can purchase gator leather wallets, belts, and other accessories here (something to keep in mind before bringing the kids).
4. Collecting shells at the beach
Louisiana isn’t as well-known for its beaches as some of its Gulf neighbors, but that’s to your advantage — the southwest corner of Louisiana has some
From conch shells to cockles, the bounty of seashells left behind at low tide makes for a perfect activity for kids, or for a solitary mission for some sweet souvenirs. Pro tip: Picnicking on Holly and Rutherford Beaches is always a good time.
5. Biking and brewing
Beer is the ideal accompaniment to a relaxing bike ride on a sunny day (not too many, of course). Pedaling down the
The trail begins at the Covington Trailhead, right across the street from
For wine enthusiasts,
6. Horseback riding through the woods
There are a lot of swamps, bayous, and other wetlands in the state, but there’s only one (totally awesome) national forest. That’d be
Beginners are welcome, and basic training is included in the price of the ride, though kids under eight aren’t allowed to ride on the forest trails (they can explore the ranch, instead).
7. Catching a fishing rodeo
No, this is not the “rodeo” you’re thinking of — no horses, no lassos, no cowboys. A
You can’t swing a large, line-caught fish between April and October without finding a fishing rodeo somewhere on the Louisiana coast. There’s even one in New Orleans proper: the City Park Big Bass Fishing Rodeo, the oldest freshwater fish rodeo in the country (celebrating 71 years in 2018). Then there’s the Grand Isle International Tarpon Rodeo, one of the most celebrated fishing rodeos in the country.
It’s easy enough to register to compete, but well-wishers and community members have a sweet time of it too, with local music, food, awards, shopping, and games galore. Another awesome adventure in the Louisiana great outdoors you’ve mostly likely never heard of.