There are a lot of historic parks, heritage sites, preserves and monuments in Louisiana. Each will tell you a different story about the state’s history.
If you love jazz music, the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is a must-visit. This park celebrates the evolution of jazz music and also has a visitor center and a concert venue.
A national park named for a legendary pirate, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve includes six sites scattered throughout south Louisiana. They include three Acadian cultural centers (in Lafayette, Thibodaux and Eunice), a visitor center in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the site of 1815’s Battle of New Orleans in Chalmette, and 20,000 acres of wild wetlands at the Barataria Preserve outside Marrero.
Jean Lafitte is a man of mystery, and even his birth date and last name are unknown. He was probably born in France or the French colony of St. Domingue in the Caribbean, and by 1810 he was in Louisiana with his older brother Pierre.
He became a leader of the Baratarians, an independent privateer group that operated in swamps and bayous south of New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico. The Baratarians used letters of marque from Cartagena in present-day Colombia to capture Spanish ships and their cargo, including slaves. The United States charged Lafitte and his men with piracy, but they managed to escape several times.
The Cane River area in Louisiana is a unique cultural heritage zone that encompasses historic plantations, churches, cemeteries and colonial forts. These sites reflect the hardships and hard work that were required to settle in this region.
Cane River Creole National Historical Park preserves the landscape and resources of this historic area. Established in 1994, the 63-acre park includes two French Creole cotton plantations, Oakland and Magnolia.
Visitors can explore 63 historic structures, vast plantation landscapes, family and plantation records, and an extensive collection of artifacts from the area’s rich history. Visits to these sites provide a glimpse into colonial times in Central Louisiana, the rise of cotton, and the ruin and rebirth associated with the Civil War.
The Magnolia Unit of Cane River Creole National Historic Park is home to the main house, as well as outbuildings that include a store, overseer’s house/hospital, blacksmith shop, tenant cabin, gin barn, and eight cabins. In addition, a rare 1830s mule-powered cotton press is located in the gin barn.
Located in Southeast Louisiana, Lake Pontchartrain Basin National Wildlife Refuge protects and conserves the natural and cultural resources of the Mississippi River Delta. It is a subtropical region that is home to an extraordinary diversity of birds and wildlife.
There are many ways to enjoy the area, including fishing, hunting, birding, hiking, kayaking and more. The Bayou Lacombe Visitor Center in Lacombe has exhibits, maps and a nature store.
While the water quality of Lake Pontchartrain is not ideal, it has improved since clam dredging was stopped in the 1950s. This dredging removed filter-feeding clams that clean the lake’s waters and stirred up sediment into the water, shading out sunlight and damaging seagrass beds and aquatic life.
Wetland restoration projects are being implemented to help improve the health of wetlands in the area. These projects include restoring wetland vegetation, improving water quality and creating habitat for fish and other wildlife.
The refuge protects an expansive network of wetlands that provide habitat for many species. Throughout the park, visitors can explore wildlife habitats and enjoy recreational opportunities.
A cypress swamp with a rookery of wading birds is located within the refuge, and is a great place to see ibis, neotropic cormorants, snowy egrets, and little blue herons. The lake itself offers a wide variety of recreational activities including fishing, canoeing, and hiking.
In addition to its habitat, the refuge protects the water quality in Maurepas Swamp. It is threatened by erosion, nutrient loading, and changes in natural hydrology.
The lake provides a home for a wide variety of bird species, including neotropic cormorants, white ibis, yellow-crowned night herons, and anhingas. It also protects the flora and fauna in its surrounding marshes and forests. It also serves as a migratory stopover for thousands of waterfowl and ducks. The lake also supports a large population of American alligators, and is a popular nesting area for roseate spoonbills, green herons, and great egrets.