Between its swamps and long shoreline, Louisiana dishes up boatloads of both fresh and salt water recreation. A large portion of the land is protected by state and national parks, so Louisiana has tremendous wildlife to view and miles of flat hiking trails easy to access. An eight-month long hunting season and year-round fishing add another dimension to the things to do outdoors.

The Crescent state simply loves to have fun, epitomized by its legendary Mardi Gras festival. There are casinos that encourage you to try your luck and racetracks to bet on the ponies. The public golf courses are lush and playable all year round, while cultural excursions involving the Civil War, the plantation era and the state’s unique Cajun community provide a great balance to the sporting opportunities.

Arguably the most popular pastime in Louisiana is fishing. There are swamps, lakes, rivers, estuaries and the Gulf of Mexico teeming with species of fresh and saltwater fish. From deep-sea trips in search of marlin to world-class bass in the lakes, use a guide service like Griffin Fishing Tours or Outer Limit Charters to help you get the catch a lifetime.

Whether you fish or not, the boating in Louisiana is incredible. From Mississippi River cruises aboard classic steamers like the Creole Queen paddle wheeler to canoe adventures in the twenty miles of protected waterways in the Barataria Preserve, there are all kinds of ways to see the sights off-land. Outfitters such as Wild Sand Canoe and Tangipahoa River Kayaks will help you get right into the thick of nature.

The most unique and impressive natural areas of Louisiana are its swamps, or bayous as the locals call them. Spooky and magical, this fascinating world is filled with giant cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss, alligators and countless species of birds. Don’t miss the chance to experience this rich landscape by quiet canoe or speedy air boat. There are many guide services to choose from, such as Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours and Westwego Swamp Boat Tours. Try to go with an outfitter that has a trained naturalist on board to learn about this special biosphere.

The flat topography of Louisiana makes it ideal for long casual biking excursions. There are thousands of trails in the state, from wild single track to broad cart paths, and lots of cycling companies to rent gear and provide guides. BikeLouisiana is a great website to start planning a trip, and firms such as Cajun Cyclists will cover the logistics.

The landscape of Louisiana is also perfect for golfing, obvious in nearly all hundreds of golf courses. The regular, balmy climate allows for a trip to the greens year-round, though summers are admittedly a bit humid. The Audubon Golf Trail is a fun place to play, featuring 12 beautiful courses with huge live oaks, Spanish moss and challenging water hazards.

Less exertion is required to bet on the horses and greyhounds at one of the state’s many racetracks. The Delta Downs and Harrah’s Louisiana Downs combine horseracing with casino gambling. In fact, there are about two dozens casinos in the state where you can try your luck on table games or slot machines.