Louisiana boasts a rich history, vibrant culture, and scenic natural areas perfect for an upbeat summer vacation. Whether you prefer the nightlife of New Orleans, the political history of Baton Rouge, or the rich flora and fauna of Lake Charles, you’re sure to find unforgettable attractions and points of interest. Take a look at the top 10 places to enjoy a summer getaway in the Pelican State, and book your Louisiana vacation rental today.

1. New Orleans

horse carriages in front of the town park

New Orleans is famous for its Mardi Gras celebration in February, but summer is another exciting time to visit. There is always something going on in this historic town, whether it be live jazz performances, food festivals, or live events at one of the many bars and clubs downtown. Head over to the French Quarter to see 18th-century architecture, go for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or even go on a cocktail tour. Do not leave the city without first trying the Cajun or Creole cuisine from the city’s celebrated restaurants.

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2. Lafayette

acadian village lafayette
Source: Flickr/Louisiana Travel

Vacation rentals in Lafayette put you within range of shopping, restaurants, and several historic sites. Head to the always upbeat downtown and check out the variety of shops. Numerous art galleries line the street, and you will also find stores specializing in antiques, leather goods, stained glass, and even costumes. At the end of the day, visit Jefferson Street Pub for cocktails, or one of the several other bars for a wide selection of beer on tap.

Other attractions in Lafayette include Acadian Village, a reconstructed Cajun bayou community with replica houses and a blacksmith shop. Kids will love the hands-in exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Acadiana.

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3. Baton Rouge

old state capitol baton rouge

Book a vacation rental in Louisiana’s capital city, and you will never have a bored moment. Blue Bayou Water Park is the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon, with pools, water slides, and waterways offering a sure way to beat the heat. Dry off with roller coasters and other thrilling rides at associated Dixie Landin’.

Be sure to see both the old and the new state capitol buildings to see their impressive architecture and to learn about the political history of the state. Nearby is Atchafalaya Basin, the largest swamp in the United States. Tours of the swamp are available, and trails in the park are great for hiking and seeing native wildlife.

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4. Bossier City

8th air force museum at barksdale air force base
Source: Flickr/Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau

Home to Horseshoe Bossier City casino resort, Bossier City is big on nightlife. In addition to gambling, there is a swimming pool, fine dining restaurants, and periodic shows at the resort. Many hours of shopping await you at Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, including clothing stores, sport outlets, restaurants, and toy stores. To see vintage aircrafts, head on over to the 8th Air Force Museum.

City parks in Bossier City have space for summer sports, picnics, and walking. If you feel the itch to get out into nature, then Red River National Wildlife Refuge is only a short drive away.

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5. Houma

mandalay national wildlife refuge houma
Source: Flickr/dconvertini

Houma is a friendly small town with historical and outdoor attractions. Southdown Plantation is a must-see site. This 19th century sugar plantation turned museum features guided tours of the mansion and slaves’ quarters that provide an educational encounter with this sad, yet instructive period of U.S. history.

Summer is a great time to take a stroll through downtown Houma, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge provides a rich wetland environment with hiking trails and opportunities for fishing and wildlife watching.

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6. Shreveport

downtown shreveport
Source: Flickr/Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau

Shreveport has something for visitors for all ages. Take the kids to Air-U Trampoline Park to take part in the open jump sessions. If you prefer an afternoon outdoors, head over to the American Rose Center, where 20,000 rosebushes, sculptures, and fountains provide a relaxing setting. For a fun evening of drinks and karaoke, take your friends or significant other to Celebrity Lounge.

R.W. Norton Art Gallery is a worthwhile destination in Shreveport. The museum houses paintings and sculptures by over 100 artists spanning several thousands of years.

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7. Grand Isle

sunset at grand isle

If you dream of being surrounded by water during your summer vacation, then consider Grand Isle. This Louisiana gem sits on a barrier island and is almost completely surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico. Beaches here are great for catching the sun and swimming, and nearby Grand Isle State Park has trails for hiking. Fishing is another popular activity here, as is bird watching. Check out the many souvenir shops to purchase gifts for yourself and your loved ones.

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8. Alexandria

a wild cat at alexandria zoo
Source: Flickr/Paul Barbee

Alexandria provides a small-town getaway in an area rich in cultural attractions. The Louisiana History Museum showcases artifacts relating to the state’s history, including old photographs and vintage picture postcards. The Arna Bontemps African American Museum houses memorabilia of the respected poet and author Arna Wendell Bontemps.

The Alexandria Zoo makes for a fun day trip. Exotic animals roam freely in habitats made to resemble their homes in the wild. Stop by the zoo’s Festival Plaza, where special events are held throughout the year.

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9. Monroe

a coati

The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo is one of the many highlights of a stay in Monroe. The cape buffalo, coati, and leopard are among the many animals you will find here. The zoo also caters to smaller children with its charming children’s zoo. There is even a small water park on site for kids to splash around and keep cool in the summer heat.

Be sure to also check out the The Chennault Aviation and Military Museum to see exhibits relating to military history on the regional and national levels. Stop by the museum’s gift shop and grab a souvenir to take back to your vacation rental.

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10. Lake Charles

an alligator in the bayou

Book your vacation rental in Lake Charles to experience wild Louisiana firsthand. Lake Charles gives you access to Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, a lengthy trail that takes you through wetlands and beaches that are home to alligators, bobcats, otters, deer, and other large animals. Portions of the trail offer ample opportunity for wildlife watching, fishing, and crabbing.

As with other large cities in Louisiana, Creole and Cajun culture help define life here, with Cajun summer festivals offering delicious regional dishes, games, and live music.

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