One of the most distinct states in the country, Louisiana is a sprawling mix of dense swamplands and rich, local cultures.
You can find everything here from colonial-style French buildings to thriving Creole towns, all woven together by some of the warmest hospitality the South has to offer.
Of course, it’s most famous for the beating, vibrant life of New Orleans, but the small towns in Louisiana offer a world of possibility, a world of dense wildlife, music, and some of the country’s best food.
Here, we meander around the Bayou to discover the best that Louisiana has to offer, from quiet swamp-side life to thriving independent art scenes.
Known as the Prairie Capital of Louisiana, Eunice is a charming town that is rich in Cajun culture.
Rice fields span out around it, these flat agricultural landscapes giving the town a real feeling of horizon-spanning open space (the sunsets are fantastic).
Music is everything here and you should get the weekend started with the morning Cajun jam session that kicks off every weekend at the Savoy’s Music Center.
Here, regulars mingle with new faces as people breakfast on boudin sausage and play the weekend into shape.
Follow this up with a trip to the beautiful Liberty Theatre.
A 20’s style art-deco building, it broadcasts a French-Cajun music show every Saturday evening that you can watch live.
This easy-living, foot-tapping lifestyle isn’t just for the weekend, spanning all around the week.
Stop into the Music Hall of Fame to learn about the rich roots of the music that you’ve been listening to, and spend your days drifting between locally-owned stores and restaurants, dining on some of the best Cajun cooking the state has to offer.
2. Donaldsonville: Louisiana small towns
Founded in 1806, this riverside town has a long history to it.
Once a hotbed of piracy, for a short spell in the early 1800s it became the state’s capital.
Today, you can see evidence of this history everywhere, whether you’re drifting between the remarkably well-preserved historic buildings, checking out the antique shops, or exploring Fort Butler, still watching out over the riverbanks.
After all that, you can drop into Grapevine Café & Gallery for quirky takes on Cajun food while admiring the locally made artworks that coat the walls.
Or, just choose a bench on the riverside and watch the Mississippi flow on by.
3. Breaux Bridge: small towns or cities in Louisiana
It’s fair to say people around here like their seafood, but of all the best little towns in Louisiana, nowhere does it quite like Breaux Bridge.
There’s a reason it’s called the Crawfish Capital of the World, and if you’re in town looking for some of the freshest food cooked in perfect Cajun style, this little river town will be heaven.
You’re spoilt for choice year-round (the food tours are a particularly delicious way to spend a day) but if you can time your trip during the yearly Crawfish Festival, it’s seafood dining at a different level.
More than 30 musical groups perform throughout the town, while thousands of Crawfish enthusiasts come along to spend three days eating the best Cajun and Creole cooking you can get your hands on in the state.
4. Jeanerette: best small towns in Louisiana to visit
In a state that’s pretty sweet already, Jeanerette has earned itself the nickname ‘Sugar City’, a place of good food and good living.
The town’s a mix of African, Spanish, French, and Cajun cultures, making a delicious mixing pot of architectural and culinary styles.
The antebellum-style housing makes even just drifting around the streets a pleasure, while annual food and music festivals punctuate the year with celebrations of color and life that always bring a little bit of extra spice to the sweetest town in the South.
5. Bastrop: charming towns in Louisiana
There’s beautiful, lush nature all over this state, but of all the quaint towns in Louisiana, few have access to it like Bastrop.
It makes the perfect base to explore the Chemin-A-Haut State Park, located just 10 miles north of town.
The name translates as ‘High Road’ in French, and it isn’t lying.
Most of the park is at a much higher elevation than the surrounding landscape, offering views out and over the Bayou Bartholomew as it meanders through the area.
Whether you’re looking to hike, boat camp, or swim, there are over 500 acres of pristine wilderness to explore here.
6. Covington: quaint towns in Louisiana
Covington’s got a little bit of everything.
Three rivers wind through the area around the town, feeding a lush green landscape that’s rich with wildlife and crisscrossed with scenic hiking trails.
There is a great food scene of independently owned restaurants that cater to visitors and the well-heeled local crowd (you need to check out Half Shell Oyster House).
Art galleries and quirky local stores fill up the historic downtown, with wide streets branches over by ivy-coated trees.
All of this comes together to make it one of the best small towns in Louisiana to live in or the perfect day trip if you’re looking for a journey out from New Orleans.
7. Natchitoches: cute towns in Louisiana
Of all the very best small towns in Louisiana, none have the history to match Natchitoches.
It was the first French colony in the state and over the years has become a melting pot of cultures and influences.
You can explore the impressively well-preserved French Fort St. Jean Baptiste, explore the lives and legacies of the slave trade in the area at Melrose Plantation, or take a free guided walking tour through the National Historic Landmark District that makes up downtown, exploring how European settlers, Africans, and rural Southerners came together to forge this truly distinctive town.
Beyond the history, you can wander the banks of the Cane River as it meanders along beside you, stopping off for some of the town’s best food at Mayeaux’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant, right on the riverside.
8. Grand Isle
Louisiana isn’t all winding forests and deep swampland, there are some real hidden gems along its coastline and Grand Isle is one of the best of them. #
It’s on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, ringed by wide open beaches looking out to the emerald blue waters.
The whole place is protected by the Grand Isle State Park, meaning that you can wander for miles along pristine sand or hire a kayak and explore the water, watching out for the area’s rich wildlife.
The town itself is an oasis of calm in a busy world.
Friendly locals enjoy the town’s beach-side easy living are reliably lovely and there are a series of great restaurants and accommodation options.
Stop by at the admittedly ominously named Hurricane Hole for some of the town’s best seafood, all caught fresh from the Gulf’s rich waters, and eat looking out to sea, with the sun-setting gradually setting. Grand Isle is always worth the detour.
Labadieville is nestled deep in the belly of Cajun Country, a quaint little town made up of pleasant green space and historic buildings.
Everything seems to move at a leisurely pace here, all watched over by the sharp spire of the St Philomena Catholic Church, just as it has been since the end of the 19th century.
When you’ve meandered the streets, head on over to the Cajun café on the Bayou.
This old school café (complete with a green-white tiled floor and emerald green counter) is a little slice of rural Americana that serves up some great Cajun food right on the banks of the Bayou Lafourche that winds through the town.
10. St Francisville
There are a fair few cute towns in Louisiana, but none quite like the charming little Saint Francisville.
You can find it an easy 30 miles to the north of the better-known Baton Rouge and will always be glad you made the trip.
Classic antebellum-style houses line the tree-lined streets, complete with charming wooden porches and equally charming locals.
No stop is complete without kicking back on the tree-covered patio of The Francis Southern Table & Bar, a beautiful all-wood joint that produces some of the best classic Southern food (and classic Southern hospitality) that you’ll find in the state.
The area’s main draw is the plantations of the area.
There are a huge 7 of them in total, and these historic sites offer a fascinating, educational insight into the development of this region, and America.
Thibodaux, formerly an important trading center in this part of the state, is today a quiet slice of true Louisiana life.
As the name might suggest, it was first set up by the French but today it is a diverse mix of influences, from the antebellum architecture to the fine Cajun cuisine that is on offer at the local restaurants.
It is surrounded by miles of winding bayous and fertile cypress swamps, full of rich wildlife that can provide days of enjoyment for any nature enthusiasts.
If this is your kind of thing, check out the wetlands Arcadian Culture Center to learn more about the vibrant wildlife and rich culture of this part of the world.
Henderson is deep in the heart of America’s wetland, a hotbed of Cajun cuisine and all things crawfish. It’s one of the best spots in the state to eat freshly caught seafood.
Nearly everywhere is delicious, but stop by Pat’s Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant for informal-style Cajun eating that’s sat right on the river.
Once you’ve eaten your fill, you can head out to the surrounding wilderness to see some of America’s best wildlife.
Everything from black bears to panthers prowls these woods, and a guided swamp tour is the best way to explore this amazing habitat, taking in the rich sights of the Atchafalaya Basin, the biggest river-fed swamp in America.
The charming Minden is full of history.
Wandering down the red brick-paved high street (one of only two that still exist in the state), you get a real insight into how the heartland of Louisiana.
History fans are spoilt for choice, with a cemetery full of Civil War graves and the Germantown Colony Museum that tells of the town’s origin as a Utopian colony set up by European immigrants.
The town makes a great base to explore the surrounding bayous and forests, with the comfort of great Southern food to welcome you back into town after your exploring.
14. Ville Platte
Ville Platte has the usual appeal of a small town in Louisiana – great food, charming locals, that feeling of an old world still flourishing in the modern world – but it’s got a few quirks to it as well.
It was originally founded by a French cavalry officer and this history of horsemanship is remembered each year during the Louisiana Cotton Festival and the Tournoi, a unique competition where people are outfitted with armor and capes and ride on horseback, collecting gold rings with lances.
Year-round, the town is full of food, local music, and easy living, but the festival and this event, in particular, are the ones you don’t want to miss.
Nearby to the busier Lafayette, Opelousas is a hotbed of history and music.
Guided walking tours are available that show you the rich past of the place, from the historic monuments that are scattered around town to the well-preserved buildings that let the place retain its old-world charm.
But its the modern life that makes it stand out.
Nearly every night of the week you can find the locals grooving away at the dancing clubs but if you time your trip to coincide with one of the music and arts festivals that pass through time you’re in for a treat: people enjoying lie under the southern sun with some of the region’s best Cajun food and Zydeco music.
16. Abita Springs
This beautiful town got its name from the local mineral waters that visitors of the early 1800s would flock to for their healing properties.
Today, it is still a popular place to come for some rejuvenation, whether that’s relaxing in the beautiful natural surroundings or taking a trip to the new watering hole in town, the Abita Brewing Company.
This craft brewery uses the very same medicinal water that people traveled here, offering guided tours as well as a tasting room and a pub right in the center of the historic downtown.
Whether it’s nature, culture, or just beer, Abita Springs is the perfect place to stop, rest, and rejuvenate yourself.
17. St Martinville
Only a few hours from New Orleans, St Martinville is pure Cajun and Creole culture. It’s surrounded by a thick network of swampland and flowing bayous, creating a whole landscape that is rich with wildlife.
Food is life here, with locally-owned restaurants serving up, fresh, richly spiced seafood. St John’s restaurant found right on the Bayou Teche, is the town go-to.
It became famous for the Evangeline Oak, the tree that henry Wadsworth Longfellow is thought to have used as inspiration in his famous poem ‘Evangeline’, and you can see why this would be the place you choose to bring two lovers back together: open, nature-filled horizons, the water winding by, all the music and food a heart could desire.
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