Take a Louisiana Staycation
Louisiana Trails & Byways
Louisiana is home to culture like no other American state. From one corner of the state to another, visitors will find a rich gumbo of culture that is a blend of Native American, Canadian, French, Spanish, African, German and more – each contributing to the unique tales of Louisiana’s history. And the best way to experience these stories is to break away from the highway and take a road trip down one of Louisiana’s 19 trails and byways.
Each byway varies in length and together offer glimpses of industry, natural resources and human heritage that promise visitors a trip outside of the traditional experience, and a deeper understanding of Louisiana.
Check out the four trails and byways below for a taste of what you’ll find.
1. Zydeco Cajun Prairie Byway
Music is the heartbeat of Louisiana, and the Zydeco-Cajun Prairie Byway is known for its musical roots that grow deep in communities along its route. From Opelousas, the Zydeco Capital of the World, to Mamou, the Cajun Music Capital of the World, to Ville Platte, home of Louisiana Swamp Pop, visitors can immerse themselves in the sounds of Louisiana. Drive through crawfish and rice farms, stop for boudin and cracklins, and visit towns such as Washington, where 80 percent of the buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Put your dancing shoes on Saturday morning and visit Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, then head to the “Rendezvous des Cajuns” live radio show at Eunice’s Liberty Theater. Can’t make it on a Saturday? That won’t be a problem here – you can find live music almost nightly along this byway, along with numerous music festivals.
2. Louisiana Great River Road
The Great River Road extends from its trickling creek source in Minnesota to the mouth of the Mississippi River. In Louisiana you can experience miles of history along River Road, from the stately homes and historic sites to the ancient Native American mounds in Poverty Point, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cultural attractions include the Los Islenos Museum and Village in St. Bernard Parish; the Whitney, Laura, and Oak Alley Plantations, where visitors can learn about wealthy sugar barons, the lives of the enslaved people, and Creole culture. Driving along the winding River Road, visitors will also discover the history of one of the world’s largest rivers, viewing massive locks and levees designed to control the ever-changing river. And, of course, everywhere along this byway are excellent places to stop to eat, including fine dining and traditional Louisiana seafood restaurants.
3. Northup Trail
The award-winning film “Twelve Years a Slave” was based on the real Solomon Northup, a free man of color kidnapped from his home in New York, sold into slavery and brought to central Louisiana where he worked for 12 years on plantations. What makes Northup’s story so compelling is Northup’s remarkable rescue and his sharing of the experience in a best-selling book. Follow Northup’s steps to places he visited in Louisiana, including the Bunkie Depot and Red River Landing, where he first arrived; the Epps House, the home of his third owner; the Avoyelles Courthouse where he won his freedom; and other historic buildings that Northup would have seen while in the area.
4. Cane River National Heritage Trail
This trail begins in Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory. Here visitors may enjoy the historic waterfront with its boutiques, galleries and restaurants. The many historic bed and breakfasts offer charming accommodations. Natchitoches guests can also visit locations used in the filming of “Steel Magnolias” in 1989. The trail heads down the Cane River, traveling through rich farmland of pecan trees and live oaks, ending at Cloutierville. The Cane River National Heritage Area and the Cane River Creole National Historical Park tell stories of the Cane River Creoles through Magnolia and Oakland Plantations and Melrose Plantation, once home to primitive artist Clementine Hunter.
Discover the many and varied stories of Louisiana culture through Louisiana’s Trails and Byways. Visit LouisianaByways.com to start planning your staycation.