This content was produced in partnership with Louisiana Travel.
When you think of Louisiana as a travel destination, what likely first comes to mind is a trip to New Orleans (a.k.a. “N’awlins,” “NOLA,” or “The Big Easy”). You immediately conjure up the sounds of a jazz ensemble on Bourbon Street that sets your foot to tapping, or mouth-watering thoughts of beignets at Café Du Monde. Maybe you recall a trip where you soaked in the luxury at a gorgeous French Colonial rental or at the Ritz-Carlton in the French Quarter. No doubt, one can visit New Orleans many times and yet always have something new and exciting to invigorate their senses.
But when a different kind of “wild” is what you are craving, Southern Louisiana is one of the top destinations in the United States—and many would say the world—to retreat, to explore, to rejuvenate … and to be utterly captivated. While more than twenty state parks dot the Pelican State, each with their own unique beauty and appeal, there are three in the heart of South Louisiana that form a perfect triangular road trip with water and wildlife galore.
Let’s start with Fontainebleau—an exquisite property whose moss-laden ancient oak trees practically embrace visitors with their majestic and graceful boughs. Photo courtesy of Harlee Q. Smith
This almost 3,000-acre park is enveloped on three sides by water—Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Cane, and Bayou Castine—providing an ideal habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including 400 different species of birds. Several nicely-appointed cabins are situated directly over Lake Pontchartrain with spectacular views of the water, all the way to the horizon. When combined with the familiar cries of seagulls and the softly lapping water beneath your cottage, you will think you are on the Gulf Coast itself.
Photo courtesy of Harlee Q. Smith
If a more remote or laid-back experience is on your itinerary, consider glamping—now available at several of Louisiana’s state parks (including Fontainebleau) in partnership with Tentrr. This is a ready-to-go camping adventure with far more “glamour” than a sleeping bag on the ground.
In order to get to the next stop of your South Louisiana Trifecta, consider taking the scenic route via the twenty-six-mile Causeway Bridge over Lake Pontchartrain—the world’s longest bridge over a body of water. You will soon be entering the heart of Cajun Country where you are sure to be welcomed by friendly locals. After twisting and turning down the levee road, you will arrive at the secluded and beautiful Lake Fausse Pointe State Park. Here you can also enjoy the glamping option, or a waterfront cabin, or traditional RV or tent camping. Photo courtesy of Harlee Q. Smith
Visitors at Lake Fausse Pointe can immerse themselves in nature, both on land and on water. There are three hiking trails and easy access to a series of waterways by boat, canoe, or kayak.
While still in this part of the “Bayou State,” there are numerous guided boat / swamp tours available on the Atchafalaya Basin and Lake Martin. A local favorite (and less-commercialized and more-personalized) experience can be had with an authentic Cajun lady and expert boat captain—Wendy Thibodeaux of Louisiana Tours.
Photo courtesy of Harlee Q. Smith
Wearing her signature yellow hat, Wendy will get you up close and personal with the flora and fauna native to Lake Martin: bountiful and magnificent cypress trees draped with Spanish moss, over 200 species of birds (including egrets, herons, ospreys, and black-bellied whistling ducks) … oh … and alligators! As Wendy describes it, Lake Martin most definitely is “an enchanting place,” and it certainly should be included in your South Louisiana adventures.
Moving along to the South of South Louisiana, the next stop is Grand Isle. Located at the southernmost tip of Louisiana to which one can travel by car and flanked by the Gulf of Mexico and two bays, this quaint Louisiana town is the state’s only inhabited barrier island. It is renowned for its world-class fishing—most notably the annual (and international) Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo, as well as the Speckled Trout Rodeo and Redfish Rodeo, amongst others. Furthermore, Grand Isle is a must-see destination for birdwatchers (a.k.a. “twitchers” or “birders”). Generally held every April, the annual Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration corresponds with peak bird migration, offering lectures, bird-tagging, walking tours, and boat tours. One can expect to see well over 100 different species of birds during this unique three-day event.
With so much to see and do in Grand Isle, an overnight stay (or two, or five!) is most definitely in order. The glamping option at Grand Isle State Park is like no other. Fall asleep to the sounds of the waves lapping on the beach no more than a couple hundred (depending upon the tide) totally unobstructed feet from your tent’s porch.Photo courtesy of Alicia Kowalske/Tentrr
After waking to a breathtaking sunrise, grab your fishing gear and either wade out into the warm Gulf waters, or walk just a few hundred yards down to the pier. With minimal skill and a touch of luck, you can be grilling your catch at your tent while enjoying an equally breathtaking sunset.Photo courtesy of Harlee Q. Smith
This South Louisiana Trifecta is certain to entertain, educate, and enchant. And there are numerous locations throughout this stunning state where you can equally Feed Your Soul. Check out recommendations at LouisianaTravel.com, and perhaps create your own personal “trifecta.” But no matter where you go or what you do, as they say in Louisiana, “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!” (Let the good times roll!)