New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the country. Many visitors comment that visiting the city feels like travelling to a different country. Many people immediately think of the party scene on Bourbon Street, but the city also offers a wide range of cultural activities. The French Quarter is a must. Make sure to plan out your dining priorities as it is a city for foodies (more on this later).
The bayou (including coast wetlands and the inner swamps) is one of Louisiana's defining characteristics. The area serves as the drainage for much of the eastern US into the Gulf of Mexico. The area supports diverse vegetation and wildlife. Swamp tours are some of the most popular experiences outside of New Orleans.
The Cajun and Creole history of the state (largely from original settlement by the French and Spanish) have a broad impact on the culture today. Some rural communities still speak Louisiana Creole or Louisiana French as their dominant languages.
Louisiana has a rich storyline that predates the country with the natives through the early settlers. In 1803, Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of the country with the Louisiana Purchase from France. This included much of Louisiana as well as the central US from Arkansas in the southeast to Montana in the northwest. Fast forward to 1815 and The Battle of New Orleans took place as part of The War of 1812. This was a major victory for the US, but the battle ironically took place after the war had ended, but before news arrived from Europe that a peace treaty had been signed. Louisiana also had a major role in the Civil War with over two dozen battle having taken place in the state. All of this is to say that there are a lot of historic sites to visit when in Louisiana. If you prefer, you can just belly up to one of the oldest bars in the country. Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (New Orleans) was founded in 1775 and is still slinging drinks today.
Just to give a sense of how different the menus look in Louisiana compared to the rest of the country, some of the most popular dishes include gumbo, jambalaya, oysters Rockefeller, po' boy sandwiches, crawfish, boudin, alligator, oxtail soup, and beignets.
New Orleans is often considered the birthplace of jazz music. The area is also known for blues. Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Harry Connick Jr., Lil Wayne, and Britney Spears all come from Louisiana. Live music is enjoyed nightly in New Orleans.
Easily the state's most popular sport is American football. The state consistently produces some of the best high school football players in the country. LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is regularly ranked as the #1 college football experience in America (the stadium holds over 100,000 people) and the Tigers have won several national titles recently (2003, 2007, 2019). The New Orleans Saints are the beloved professional (NFL) team that won their first super bowl in 2010.