LOUISIANA HOLDS so much beauty: bald cypress moss, dense forest, abundant bayous, hidden lakes, and white pelicans. Here are my favorite state parks in Louisiana.
Fontainebleau State Park
This plantation, a large sugar mill in 1829, is located near Mandeville and has become a popular location for bird watching and kayaking. An old railway was converted into the 27-mile-long Tammany trail, for hiking and biking. New waterfront cabins have a perfect view of the sunset. Swamp tours are offered in nearby bayous.
Grand Isle State Park
Grand Isle State Park is home to Louisiana’s top beachfront destination. Thanks to Louisiana’s warm weather, this park is one of the only beach locations in America that is accessible year-round for campers to fall asleep to the sound of waves from the Gulf of Mexico. Be aware that the rip current does still occur here and every so often the stingrays and jellyfish show up. The nearby city of Grand Isle offers kayaking, fishing equipment, and plenty of seafood restaurants.
Lake Claiborne State Park
Lake Claiborne State Park is one of Louisiana’s finest fishing locations and is part of Louisiana’s 6,400 acres water system. The lake is equipped with a boat dock so you can enjoy water activities like water skiing and tubing. You can also enjoy a round of disc golf or relax on the beach. Cabins, RV sites, and tent sites are available near the water’s edge. And if you get tired of the lake views, head into nearby Homer to see century old antebellum architecture.
Sam Houston Jones State Park
Sam Houston Jones State Park is located in the southeastern part of Louisiana near Lake Charles and home to over 200 species of bird. This park is known for its classic Louisiana tree-filled lagoons and swampy waterholes. A historical stagecoach road turned into hiking trails will take you along the marshy wildlife-filled swamplands — where you can see alligators from afar.
North Toledo Bend State Park
North Toledo Bend State Park, near Louisiana’s oldest city of Natchitoches, is known for its fishing, with the grand prize the ‘lunker’ (a 10-pound sea bass). Besides fishing, biking, hiking, and swimming at the park’s pool are all available. You can learn about the Civil War at historic state- commemorated sites near the cities of Mansfield and Rebel; or visit the Los Adaes State Historic Site which features the remains of a Spanish fort.
Chicot State Park
Chicot State Park is situated between the hills of central Louisiana and the Prairie Cajun Country — and is home to the Louisiana State Arboretum, housing Louisiana’s indigenous plant species. Learn about Cajun history, language, music, and architecture by visiting the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center-Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve in Eunice.
From the French phrase meaning “high road,” Chemin-A-Haut is a park known for its bayous. It is located near northwest Louisiana cities, Monroe and West Monroe. Families enjoy this park for kid activities such as the wading pool, large swimming pool, and horseback riding.