Louisiana isn’t called the Bayou State for nothing. Marshy swamps, meandering rivers, and cypress trees cover this state from the Gulf Coast to the Arkansas border. The state of Louisiana has set aside some of their most beautiful, historical, and recreational swaths of land as state parks and visiting just one is enough to remember what makes this state so special. Some like to do a state park road trip and hit all of them, but if you’re looking to just see a couple, then we’ve got the list for you. We have picked 5 state parks (yes, it was difficult to narrow down) that encompass the beauty of Louisiana and let you enjoy every aspect of this marvelous state.
#5: Fontainebleau State Park
Located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, next to the charming town of Mandeville, lies Fontainebleau State Park. Featuring a white sand beach, a long fishing pier, and old growth forests, this park is a perfect place to sit back and have a picnic while watching sailboats on the lake. Walk through the beautiful forests, stumble across pieces of history past, and learn about Louisiana’s diverse ecosystems.
- Bike the Tammany Trace: Built on the tracks of the old Illinois Central Railroad, this rail-to-trail is a fun little path that you can hike or bike over. The old railroad tracks are now asphalted road and the railroad trestles are charming little pedestrian bridges, each more unique than the last. Plan your route through the State Park or to one of the neighboring towns for lunch & ice cream for a day of adventure.
- See the ruins of the old sugar mill: Tucked into the forest, the old sugar mill stands as a reminder of the area’s interesting history. The entire state park used to be a sugar cane plantation and the sugar mill ran from 1829 until 1852. Surprisingly the ruins still stand and are a historical marker in the area.
#4: Chicot State Park
As the largest state park in Louisiana, Chicot State Park attracts quite a bit of attention. Located about an hour south of Alexandria and surrounding Lake Chicot, there are a million things to do at this lake and you’ll never get bored. Take a boat, kayak, or canoe onto the lake to cool off from the heat, or bike around the perimeter of the lake and take in the natural beauty of the area.
- Arboretum Tour: The Louisiana State Arboretum contains an iconic mature beech-magnolia forest. These picturesque groves boast a wide variety of flora and fauna, and helpful staff to help you identify the different species. Come summer, winter, spring, or fall as different species are always blooming in this Louisiana gem.
- Fish: Chicot Lake is stocked with a wide variety of fish, from Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, and Red-Ear Sunfish. This anglers’ paradise has quite the reputation for record freshwater catches and is a destination for happy fisherman.
#3: Cypremort Point State Park
This small park near the Gulf of Mexico has quite a bit to brag about. Their 100-foot fishing pier and beautiful beaches are enough to attract any visitor, but what really makes them stand out is their abundance of wildlife. From small muskrats and red fox to larger deer and black bear, many different species call this place home. Keep an eye out, there is a lot to see at this park.
- Sailing: Vermilion Bay is the perfect place to head out for a day of sailing. The bay is separated from the ocean by Marsh Island. Consistent and gentle winds could easily entice someone to spend the day exploring the shores and waters off Cypremort Point.
- Crabbing: Succulent and mildly sweet, Louisiana blue crab is a state favorite. Travelers flock from far and wide just to dine on some of the best crab in the United States. But a real Louisiana crab experience is dining on the crab you harvested at Cypremort Point State Park. Relatively inexpensive to get into (less than $10 for supplies) and easy to find, crabbing is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy!
#2: Bogue Chitto State Park
As one of Louisiana’s most recent additions to the state park system, this little local secret is just barely getting out. The hilly terrain and multitude of streams and rivers make this an excellent place to explore and hike around. Paired with a water playground and other kid-oriented activities, this is the perfect family-friendly destination.
- Tube the River: Everyone loves a lazy river on a hot day; floating on a tube as your feet dangle in the water, sun shining enough to keep you warm. Well, at Bogue Chitto State Park, you can rent tubes and spend the day floating through the Louisiana forests.
- Horseback Ride: There are 14 miles of designated horse trails that meander through the State Park. Ride on the sandy shoreline of the Bogue Chitto River and into the Cypress forest trails winding all around. You can bring your own horses to ride or contact Bogue Chitto Horse Rentals to reserve horses for your day out.
#1: Grand Isle State Park
It is no surprise that Grand Isle State Park ranks #1 on our list. As the state’s most popular beach boasting activities ranging from fishing and crabbing to birding and boating, Grand Isle really does offer a grand time.
- Saltwater Fishing: Grand Isle State Park is a great launching point for deep-sea salt-water fishing. Speckled Trout and Redfish are both caught by surf fishers regularly. Each year in July, the Tarpon Rodeo lures in thousands of fishermen to compete for the biggest catch.
- Birding: The ecologically diverse lagoons of Grand Isle host a myriad of different bird species, making this a birding enthusiasts dream. Enjoy the warm gulf weather year round, and bring a pair of binoculars to view rare birds in unspoiled nature.
With 21 state parks, Louisiana has so much to explore. It was a pretty tough decision to only pick 5 of our favorites as there are so many amazing options. From hiking and biking to birding and boating, and everything in between, Louisiana State Parks offer the ideal weekend getaway to secluded nature.
Planning a trip to one of Louisiana’s State Parks? The Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association boasts several one-of-a-kind inns, bed & breakfasts, and historic homes located in all corners of the state.