Live oaks draped in Spanish moss line the gently winding roads of Louisiana’s River Parishes, one of the state’s most storied and beautiful regions. This 30-mile stretch along the Mississippi River, just west of New Orleans, is filled with history, lore, and engaging experiences for all ages to enjoy.
Sample delectable Cajun and Creole cuisine as you make your way through the heart of Andouille country. The staple ingredient in gumbo, red beans and rice, and jambalaya. Stay the night in a cozy bed and breakfast. Spot gators and egrets on a swamp tour. Take a drive on the Great River Road where fields of sugar cane blow gently in the wind. With live music, tasty local food, and spirited community events, Louisiana’s River Parishes serve up authentic culture with enduring charm.
Louisiana is known for its French heritage, but settlers from Germany, Spain, and Italy, as well as African slaves and indigenous people, each contributed to the Louisiana River Parishes’ distinct identity. Eighteenth century European settlers found the area promising thanks to fertile soil bayous and swamps teeming with natural resources.
The Louisiana River Parishes would become a key location for growing sugar cane, with many plantations springing up here during the Antebellum Period. Stop at Destrehan Plantation, the closest Louisiana plantation museum to New Orleans, and experience the “Unheard Voices” tour, which highlights how marginalized people, including slave and economically unwealthy Cajuns, lived. It also tells the story of the famous 1811 Slave Revolt, the largest insurrection of its kind in the U.S.
Meander along River Road and its byways to see a variety of architectural styles, including Raised French Creole, Greek Revival, Victorian Renaissance, and Steamboat Gothic. Along with sugar cane, and Perique tobacco, one of the rarest blends of tobacco in the world. It’s planted and harvested in only one area of the Louisiana River Parishes, where the soil contributes to the tobacco’s robust, fruity flavor.
Local Cajun and Creole cuisine is a big part of any visit to the Louisiana River Parishes. Home to the state’s Andouille Trail, which features no less than 34 restaurants and old school meat markets that sell andouille or use it on their menus. Catfish is also a well-known local ingredient, especially in the community of Des Allemands. It’s considered the Catfish Capital of the World and is home to the annual Louisiana Catfish Festival.
Children and adults alike will enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities that bring visitors closer to the region’s stirring natural beauty. Spot migratory birds, native mammals, and alligators on a Cajun Pride Swamp Tour or a Swamp Adventures Airboat Tour. The arts are also a big part of Louisiana River Parish life and you can experience regional live music, dance, and stage performances at the world-class Lafon Performing Arts Theater and the St. John Theatre, the oldest community theater in the Louisiana River Parishes.
Visitors find the city of New Orleans located a short distance to the east, and the state capital of Baton Rouge about an hour to the west, making Louisiana River Parishes a convenient spot for venturing out to see the many sites and activities found throughout the region.
Explore this soulful corridor of Louisiana, which follows the twists and turns of the majestic Mississippi River. You’ll be glad you did.