Across the state of Louisiana during Memorial Day weekend, there are exciting festivals that salute fallen soldiers of the U.S. military and welcome the beginning of summer. From over-the-top costumes on the Royal Street Stroll in the Big Easy to fishing excursions on Lake Ponchartrain, there’s something exciting in Louisiana for every type of visitor. When you’re ready to relax, immerse yourself in the blissful calm of Grand Isle Beach. Book a stay at one of numerous Louisiana vacation rentals for your upcoming Memorial Day weekend getaway. Whether you pack a bathing suit, golf clubs, or hiking boots, you’re bound for a great time in any of these cities and towns in Louisiana.

1. New Orleans

The Big Easy does everything big, including Memorial Day weekend festivities, from epic food to world-class attractions. New Orleans welcomes you with a smashing Greek Fest, with descendants of the city’s first Greek settlers celebrating their heritage with Greek food, music, and fun for all ages. Swirl, sniff, and sip your way through seminars for new wine drinkers during the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience in the French Quarter. Restaurants and wineries feature special events, including the Royal Street Stroll, a costumed parade that leads you on a wine-tasting extravaganza. On Memorial Day, swing by the National World War II Museum to take in the performance the Marine Corps quintet.

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2. St. Francisville

A good way to begin your Memorial Day weekend getaway is to take the scenic drive from Saint Francisville to Cat Island and hike out Big Cypress Trail. Look for Big Cypress, the largest tree east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After seeing part of the bayou, check with Bayou Sara kayak rental about one of their tours to introduce you to the waters of the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge. A different trail, the Beast, is behind the town’s sports complex. The 5-mile hiking and biking trail scrolls back and forth on a piece of land that measures about a mile long. The West Feliciana Memorial Weekend Classic gives bicycle riders several routes through the back roads and hills for tours ranging up to 65 miles. The tours begin at the Beast and diverge on marked routes according to riders’ choices.

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3. Alexandria

The Memorial Day Festival at Inglewood Farms invites you to join the fun at the Harvest Barn Market. Numerous vendors donate some of their sales proceeds to The Wounded Warrior Project. Besides fresh fruits and vegetables, look for textiles, wind chimes, treats, and crafts produced by local artisans. Enjoy some snacks, listen to live music, and take the kids on a wagon ride. Toss the golf clubs in the car for a chance to play 18 holes at Oakwing Golf Club on England Air Force Base, a 72-par, 7,043-yard course. Oakwing welcomes the public seven days a week.

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4. Lake Charles

Lake Charles doesn’t roll up the streets at sundown; it rocks them Downtown at Sundown on four consecutive Fridays, including Memorial Day weekend. Bring your chairs for the food, drinks, vendors, kids’ activities, and free concerts. Next day, Captain John of Reel Charters wants to take you on a fishing excursion on Calcasieu Lake for your morning or afternoon adventure. Check the schedules for a Lady of the Lake dinner cruise, and treat your family to an elegant dinner on this three-deck yacht.

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5. Grand Isle

There’s no festival on Grand Isle and no fireworks. This narrow barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico quietly celebrates nature, the ocean, and beaches. Grand Isle State Park includes trails, a 400-foot fishing pier, and the Butterfly Dome houses butterflies and vegetation. Head over to Wake Side Cable Park, to wake board, wake skate, wake ski, or wake surf while being pulled along by cables. Ride the Gulf waves with a jet ski rental from Wake Side, or get out on the bay side in a kayak rental from Bayou Jim’s RV Park.

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6. Slidell

Groove to smooth tunes at the annual Slidell Jazz and Blues Festival. This Memorial Day weekend festival supports music grants and scholarships for young musicians. Local vendors display their food, arts, crafts, and other wares. Take advantage of the first breezes of summer to get out on the open waters with Therapy Charters. Captain John welcomes families with young children, and enjoys taking the boat out on Lake Pontchartrain. Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge serves as a breathtaking setting for stretching your legs. You soon find yourself mesmerized by the stillness of the swamp and the sounds of the wildlife.

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7. Gonzales

Since 1967, Gonzales has been holding its annual Memorial Day weekend Jambalaya Festival in Jambalaya Park, right beside City Hall. Claim your spot for some world champion jambalaya served up with a variety of other dishes, music, and activities for the whole family. Check out the live entertainment, contest, carnival rides, and loads of fun. While you’re in town, take a leisurely drive to look for the majestic antebellum homes along the river, or head over to the Tanger Factory Outlet Mall. Take your pick of seven eateries and more than 90 stores, 57 of which are outlets.

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8. Westwego

Just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans, your Westwego vacation rental separates you from the hustle and bustle of the city, and gives you access to the stunning Bayou Segnette State Park. The park includes a boat launch and a huge picnic area with grills and tables for your Memorial Day weekend cookout. Cool off in the swimming pool or the wave pool on a sunny afternoon, or just enjoy the serenity of the park. When you’re ready to rev up the pace, Nola Riding Academy rents racing motorcycles and lets you use their track. You can get to the colorful nightlife and dining options in the French Quarter within 20 minutes by crossing the bridge or taking the ferry.

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9. Shreveport

The Mudbug Madness Festival makes a great Memorial Day weekend vacation destination for celebrating Cajun cuisine, heritage, and music. Get all-you-can-eat crawfish, also known as mudbugs. Immerse yourselves in the four-day festival, which features Cajun, blues, zydeco, and jazz artists performing on three stages in downtown Shreveport. Defy the forces of gravity on the climbing wall, or scream your way down the super slide with the kids. Try your hand at making sculptures, or check your fast ball in the speed-pitching booth. If the weather stops cooperating, check out Air U Trampoline Park’s indoor foam pits and trampolines. Unwind in the American Rose Center, the largest rose park in America. The park features up to 20,000 individual rose bushes on the 118-acre site that features peaceful fountains and sculptures.

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