Vibrant, colourful and a melting pot of cultures, Louisiana’s eventful past has shaped its identity and personality. A former colony of Spain and France, Louisiana was named after King Louis XIV and was a purchased territory of the United States before it became the 18th US state in 1812.
The birthplace of jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Wynton Marsalis, New Orleans lives up to its moniker as the world’s jazz capital. From all-night-long festivities in New Orleans’ French Quarter to the ancient Poverty Point World Heritage site built over 3,000 years ago and alligator-filled bayous, Louisiana is a state that is bursting with sights to see. These 20 Louisiana landmarks will get you started.
- 20 Louisiana Landmarks
- Historic Landmarks in Louisiana
- Natural Landmarks in Louisiana
20 Louisiana Landmarks
Historic Landmarks in Louisiana
1- The French Quarter
The heart and soul of New Orleans, both during the day and night, the French Quarter is full of jazz clubs, historic bars, Cajun eateries and shops.
It also has beautiful architecture and is home to several famous Louisiana landmarks, such as St Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, Gallier House, Preservation Hall and Bourbon Street.
These historic attractions draw millions of visitors each year, who revel in soaking up the melting pot of Creole, Bayou and Cajun cultures.
Wandering around the French Quarter’s streets past charming historic buildings that house speakeasy bars, fortune tellers and restaurants, you’ll be able to tick off several New Orleans landmarks.
Jackson Square, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803, lies in the French Quarter on Decatur Street.
The St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in North America, also sits in the French Quarter right across from Jackson Square.
The historical monuments within the French Quarter set it apart from any other landmarks in Louisiana and it’s during the annual Mardi Gras festival that the French Quarter is at its liveliest.
The French Quarter can be found in New Orleans, LA 70116.
Also read: 20 Things To Do In New Orleans At Night
2- Old Louisiana State Capitol
When passing by the Old Louisiana State Capitol, you’ll be struck by its Gothic Revival facade, which is as spectacular on the interior as it is on the exterior.
Flanked by two massive towers by the main gate and a crenellated roof, the structure, which resembles a medieval castle, sits on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge.
This former State Capitol now houses a political history museum, displaying artifacts and documents that retell Louisiana’s history over the centuries.
Visiting the Old Louisiana State Capitol is free.
Old Louisiana State Capitol is at 100 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70801.
3- Gallier House
This well-maintained 19th-century house in New Orleans’ French Quarter is an example of a typical upper-middle-class residence that would have been prevalent throughout the French Quarter during that time.
A National Historic Landmark, the Gallier House and its furniture are kept and preserved just as they were during the 1800s, allowing visitors to get an idea of what life was like for wealthy New Orleanians more than 150 years ago.
This fantastic Louisiana landmark hosts lectures and events every month.
Visit during the festive season to see the Gallier House decked out in Christmas decorations.
Gallier House is at 1132 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116.
4- Louisiana State Museum
A collection of nine individual museums spread throughout the state, the Louisiana State Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and art that preserve and display Louisiana’s history, culture, and traditions and the people who call it home.
The museum collection is a treasure trove of Louisiana’s history, and they provide insights into the state’s past before it became part of the Union.
With museums located throughout the state’s biggest cities, there’s sure to be a Louisiana State Museum wherever you are in the Bayou State.
5- Louisiana State Capitol
Completed in 1931, Louisiana’s State Capitol building is as architecturally unique and visually striking as the old state capitol building was.
The tallest State Capitol building in the United States at 460 feet (140 m), the Louisiana State Capitol is the state’s seat of power, housing the Louisiana State Legislature’s chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as the Governor’s office.
You can tour the facility and venture to the building’s observation deck on the 27th floor to admire the view of Baton Rouge and the gardens below.
Rivalled architecturally only by Rome’s St. Peter’s Cathedral (according to former governor Huey P. Long), the State Capitol is certainly an impressive Louisiana landmark.
Louisiana State Capitol is at 900 North Third Street Baton Rouge, LA 70802.
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6- Poverty Point World Heritage Site
UNESCO World Heritage Site Poverty Point is a landmark in Louisiana that is more than 3,400 years old.
It proves that technologically advanced civilisations roamed northern Louisiana thousands of years ago.
What appears to be little more than earth mounds dotting today’s landscape were once the trading hubs for the Poverty Point People, whose empire stretched across the Mississippi Delta and South to the Gulf of Mexico.
This historic Louisiana landmark is older than the Mayan Temples and was abandoned around 1100 BC, so little is known about this lost civilisation or why they built the mounds and circles.
Poverty Point still baffles archaeologists and historians but the experts do agree that the Poverty Point is a significant archaeological site in North America.
Poverty Point World Heritage Site is at 6859 LA-577, Pioneer, LA 71266.
7- Tabasco Factory and Museum
Tabasco is the state’s most famous export and has been produced, bottled and shipped from Avery Island since 1868, making the Tabasco Factory a historic landmark in Louisiana.
Visitors to the Tabasco Factory and Museum can go on a self-guided tour of the facility to learn about the company’s humble beginnings, where the sauce is made and how the product became renowned worldwide.
Tours of the factory and museum take in 10 different areas of the facility, including the Pepper Greenhouse, Barrel Warehouse, Salt Mine Diorama and there’s a film about the brand’s history.
Combine a visit to the Tabasco Factory and Museum with a visit to Jungle Gardens next door to make a day of it.
Tabasco Factory and Museum is at 32 Wisteria Rd, Avery Island, LA 70513.
8- USS Kidd
Visitors can climb aboard a decommissioned WWII warship at the USS Kidd and Veterans Memorial in Baton Rouge.
The vessel has starred in various films and television shows since the ship was docked in Baton Rouge in 1982.
A National Historic Landmark, the USS Kidd is the only Fletcher-class ship to have been restored and preserved as it was back in 1945, complete with loaded torpedo tubes.
You can see artifacts and displays about the ship and its role in WWII in the museum, including a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC.
USS Kidd is at 305 S River Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70802.
9- National WWII Museum
Once known as the National D-Day Museum, the National WWII Museum has exhibits that commemorate the second world war.
The museum is a landmark in Louisiana for history buffs that combines education and entertainment with interactive, hands-on displays to create an engaging museum experience.
Each exhibit focuses on a different part of the war to create an encompassing journey through the 20th century’s most pivotal event.
National WWII Museum is at 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130.
10- Natchez Steamboat
Another famous landmark in Louisiana is the Natchez Steamboat, which started cruising the Mississippi in 1975.
The fastest steamboat on the Mississippi offers dining and entertainment options while ferrying visitors on a two-hour voyage on the river.
The Natchez is decked out to capture the feeling of the romantic paddleboats of the past, with original steam engines that date back to 1925.
It has a genuine copper and steel steam whistle, a copper bell smelted from 250 silver dollars and a 32-note steam calliope modelled after the music makers of that era.
Natchez Steamboat is at 400 Toulouse St, New Orleans, LA 70130.
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Natural Landmarks in Louisiana
11- Jungle Gardens
Jungle Gardens is a 170-acre (69 ha) bird sanctuary and botanical garden on Avery Island.
Open daily, the park can be freely explored by guests or on a guided tour to learn more about the park’s different fauna and flora.
The park’s tropical gardens are lovely to stroll through, but the park’s bird sanctuary steals the show, offering bird tours.
Great blue herons, ibises and various other migratory birds can all be seen at the Jungle Gardens, making it an attractive natural landmark in Louisiana that’s enjoyable for the entire family.
Jungle Gardens is at Louisiana 329 Main Rd, Avery Island, LA 70513.
12- Fontainebleau State Park
Fontainebleau State Park is on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and a former site of an 1829 sugar plantation owned by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville.
Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, the great-grandson of one of the founders of New Orleans, became the Louisiana State Senate President in 1822 and 1823.
Today, this 2,800-acre (1,133 ha) park is popular with hikers, sunbathers and nature lovers looking to enjoy the great Louisiana outdoors.
Over 400 bird and animal species live in the park, and there are hiking trails and a gorgeous lakefront beach.
With its rustic sugar mill ruins and waterfront location, Fontainebleau Park is a Louisiana treasure guaranteed to amaze you with its beauty.
Fontainebleau State Park is at 62883 LA-1089, Mandeville, LA 70448.
13- Creole Nature Trail
The 26-mile (42 km) Creole Nature Trail is a stretch of pristine Gulf beaches and Bayou marshland with pathways that run past lakes and three wildlife refuges, offering bird watching and fishing.
The trail’s journey begins at the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point.
At this Louisiana landmark, you can learn more about the area’s rich fauna and flora and the region’s historical significance.
The Creole Nature Trail is easy to navigate and a fun experience for families.
Creole Nature Trail is at 1205 N Lakeshore Dr, Lake Charles, LA 70601.
14- Fort Jackson
Fort Jackson, a nearly 200-year-old fortress on the Mississippi River in south-eastern Louisiana, saw a bloody Civil War battle with the Union Navy.
Confederate troops occupied the fort but could not stop the Union’s advances, resulting in New Orleans’ surrendering and the Union assuming control of the lower Mississippi River.
While Fort Jackson is steeped in history, the surrounding nature steals the show.
Surrounded by lush greenery and the mighty Mississippi River, the scenic views from the fort and its grounds are spectacular, to say the least, plus the site’s historical significance makes it an excellent landmark in Louisiana for history buffs.
Fort Jackson is at 38039 LA-23, Buras, LA 70041.
15- Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
Atchafalaya Basin is the largest freshwater swampland in the United States, stretching for almost 150 miles (241 km) along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
Over 65 different reptile species call the basin home, with many other animals, including black bears, foxes and beavers.
The National Heritage Area protects 14 parishes along the Atchafalaya River, preserving the region’s culture, music and traditions.
So much more than a natural landmark, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Site is one of Louisiana’s treasures.
Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is at 1908 Atchafalaya River Hwy, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517.
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16- Cypress Island Preserve
Surrounded by Lake Martin and within a lush cypress-tupelo preserve, the Cypress Island Preserve wows visitors with its wildlife and scenic vistas.
The area’s largest tract of preserved hardwood forest, Cypress Island Preserve, is open to the public year-round.
The island’s 2.5-mile (4 km) hiking trail is suitable for most people and the preserve’s picnic pavilion, visitor centre and boardwalk complete the scene.
Cypress Island Preserve is at 1264 Prairie Hwy, St Martinville, LA 70582.
17- Lake Chicot in Chicot State Park
Chico State Park is a 6,000-acre (2,428 ha) protected wildlife reserve with fun outdoor activities to enjoy just outside Ville Platte.
Surrounded by rolling hills, lush woodland and a man-made lake, Chicot State Park is a haven for hiking, fishing and swimming.
Lake Chicot is the centrepiece, with boathouses and boat rental facilities that allow you to enjoy the lake.
The lake is home to plentiful largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and red-ear sunfish for anglers to try and catch, while the park’s abundant child-friendly areas will keep the little ones busy.
Chicot State Park is at 3469 Chicot Park Rd, Ville Platte, LA 70586.
18- Audubon Park
Audubon Park, located in historic uptown New Orleans, is a popular area for fun recreation, picnics, and simply enjoying a lovely day out.
People have been enjoying this urban sanctuary with its old oak trees, relaxing 1.8-mile (2.9 km) trail, a lake, picnic areas and playgrounds for more than a century.
Tennis courts, equestrian stables, soccer fields, the Whitney Young Pool, the Audubon Clubhouse Café, and the Audubon Golf Club are all attractions at Audubon Park.
The park even has a 57-acre (23 ha) zoo that makes it an ideal landmark in Louisiana to visit whenever you’ve had enough of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Audubon Park is at 6500 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70118.
19- Sydney And Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
Situated on a beautiful 10-acre lot just outside New Orleans, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden blends art and nature to create a fantastic outdoor attraction.
The garden’s 100 unique sculptures, surrounded by lovely flowers, oaks and pines, are the perfect setting to stroll around aimlessly.
This romantic setting is sure to brighten your day and is the ideal Louisiana landmark to escape from frenetic city life.
Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is at 1 Collins Diboll Cir, New Orleans, LA 70124.
20- Honey Island Swamp
Honey Island Swamp and its popular swamp tours allow visitors to get up close and personal with Louisiana’s growing alligator population in their natural habitat.
Located in Slidell, the Honey Island Swamp draws crowds from far and wide looking to enjoy the island’s rich and diverse wildlife.
Encompassing 70,000 acres of swampy marshland, half of which is protected, the Honey Island Swamp has many more animals to marvel at apart from gators.
Book a swamp tour to learn more about the rich fauna and flora in the Louisiana swamp.
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