The streams and swamps of Louisiana's bayou are a landscape unlike any other. Legendary pirate Jean Lafitte allegedly once hid in the inlets and bays of Louisiana’s Outback, and as you cruise through the region, you'll see signs marking popular alligator crossings, along with loads of other creatures native to the marshy wetlands. It's a route filled with unique beauty, including beaches, gardens and swamps, so take time to stop and smell the roses (or magnolias) as you experience the Creole Nature Trail!
Known for its awesome beachcombing opportunities and charming ramshackle bungalows, Holly Beach is a quaint spot to stop on your trip. Camping on this beach is free, so make sure to bring your RV or a tent. Just be careful when driving, since your vehicle could get stuck in the soft sand. The beach is relatively isolated, so you may find yourselves to be the only ones on this hidden treasure!
Located right on the intracoastal canal, Intracoastal Park is a great place for crabbing, fishing and relaxing. The park hosts a fishing pier, two boat launches, picnic tables and campsite for both tents and RVs. Campsites run $12 per night, and include water, electric and dump stations. If fishing isn't your forte, stroll along the beautiful waterside walkway.
A museum preserving the rich culture of southwest Louisiana, the Brimstone Museum is a great place to stop and learn about Southern culture. The museum's permanent exhibit is a testament to the area's booming sulfur industry, which was most prominent in (where else?) Sulphur, La. The second building hosts a variety of changing exhibits, including traveling art exhibits, cultural expositions and programs for all ages.
Named after the Texas folk hero who traveled across Louisiana, Sam Houston Jones State Park is an idyllic place where you can reconnect with nature. Here you'll find tree-lined lagoons, more than 200 species of birds to observe and extensive hiking trails. There is also a boat ramp, so you can take your boat right into the bayou to get up close and personal with the lush wildlife abounding in the park (boat rentals are available as well). If you can't get enough, you can stay overnight in one of their cabins, tent sites or RV hookups.
With more than 40 blocks of buildings to discover, the Charpentier Historic District is a testament to the carpenter architects whose designs are iconic to the city of Lake Charles. As you walk along the streets, you will see extravagant mansions, art galleries, a cafe and even a Mardi Gras museum. The Imperial Calcasieu Museum is home to the largest display of Mardi Gras costumes in the world, so get your beads ready! Make sure to stop and grab a map at the visitor center before you start your exploration, so you won't miss a single thing!
Located in the Charpentier Historic District of Lake Charles, the Imperial Calcasieu Museum is a great rainy-day activity. The museum is home to art and artifacts dating from the early 1800s until today. Visitors can explore a turn-of-the-century kitchen, pharmacy and barbershop, as well as learn about the region's Civil War history and waterways. As mentioned above, the museum is even home to the world's largest collection of Mardi Gras costumes (and yes, you can try some of them on yourself)! As you exit, check out the majestic Sallier Oak tree, which is more than 300 years old.
The grand culmination of your trip, Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point will help you experience Creole culture as well as learn more about Louisiana’s bayous. The museum will show you the best places to spot alligators, look at other bayou wildlife, test out traditional Cajun cooking and even play along with a Cajun band. After this visit, your newly gained Louisiana knowledge will propel you as you keep traveling southward.
Check out the alligators of the Louisiana swamps firsthand with Champagnes Swamp Tours! The boat tours take you deep into the heart of Louisiana's swamps and bayous, and a knowledgeable guide will point out the greenery and wildlife along the way. The company also offers custom photography and bird-watching tours, so take your pick! Tours are $20 per person, and you must call ahead to make a reservation.
With more than 86,000 acres of wildlife to explore, the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge is a great place to discover all the wonderful creatures Louisiana offers. In addition to observing, you can catch some creatures of you own on their fishing pier. The refuge is known for amazing crabbing, shrimping and fishing, so make sure to bring your supplies! You'll also be able to witness some of Louisiana's typical bayou creatures, including alligators and rabbits. It's a fun outdoor adventure for all!
From bayous full of alligators to rich Creole culture, you will get the true tour of what Louisiana has to offer on this road trip. So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, get your Mardi Gras masks ready and start your trip to the Pelican State's unique bayou landscapes!