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7 Best Small Towns in Louisiana to Visit in 2024

The Pelican State is often seen as a surprising destination for newcomers and experienced travelers. It’s filled to the brim with rich history, supernatural tours of the Bayou, and plenty of exotic foods seasoned in a special way that no other geographic area in the world can duplicate. But despite the fame of cities like New Orleans and Lafayette, there are plenty of cute little towns worth visiting in 2024. So discover seven cute towns in Louisana that are worth visiting and experiencing.

Big Island

Grand Isle, Louisiana.  Editorial credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com
Grand Isle, Louisiana. Editorial credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

Hidden somewhere along the Louisiana coast, Grand Isle is a grand secret that is well-kept. Being the only inhabited barrier island in the state, the city is a beachside paradise with 7 miles of coastline, fishing spots, natural beauty, and fresh cuisine from the Gulf of Mexico.

For a unique watertub experience, provided by cool breezes and a group of friendly faces, Grand Isle is home to Captain John’s Fin-Tastic Charters. Captain John facilitates a variety of services on the water and is said to have legendary hospitality and mad cooking skills as part of the charter, including take-home and dinner, and even allows multiple boats depending on the package. Certainly one of the more unique experiences on Grand Isle that many flock to; its own state park is a must-see.

A perfect spot for campers, beachgoers and hardcore fishermen, Grand Isle State Park shares its name with twin Vermonters, but the difference is that the one belonging to Louisiana combines an aquatic culture with the beautiful and serene environment of nature, undisturbed . A waterfront spot, Grand Isle excels in everything on and off the coast.

Ponchatoula

Ponchatoula, Louisiana.  On Wikipedia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponchatoula,_Louisiana by Polka Dots and Pastries - https://www.flickr.com/photos/lifes-little-lists/9312125231/, CC BY 2.0, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50785665
Ponchatoula, Louisiana. On Wikipedia. By Polka Dots and Pastries, CC BY 2.0, Wikipedia

Home to Parish County’s famous Strawberry Festival, Ponchtoula is a town that symbolizes a slow and comfortable life each spring. A more relaxing time will be found in this nearby swamp town, full of culture and a variety of creatures.

Perhaps the most popular attraction for guests is Kliebert & Sons Gator Tours. Not only in name, the attraction is both a zoo and a touring device dedicated to education, not in history but in zoology and herpetology. Putting on spectacles and entertainment while having close-up interactions with turtles, birds, alligators and more is common.

However, to see the city’s more antique and artistic touch, the Collinswood Museum (built in 1883) and the Revival Art House both share the same goal: to teach the history of the city and its movements, albeit in different ways. Nevertheless, the crazy carpet and walls of the Revival seem to add some flair to the city.

Morgan City

Morgan City, LA, bridges.
Morgan City, Louisiana, bridges.

Once the home of the popular reality and paranormal show Ghosts of Morgan City, the local community prides itself on having a little bit of everything.

The most famous landmark the city has to offer is Carillon Tower, a 100-foot-tall structure commissioned by Mrs. Claire Horatio Brownell, a woman from one of Louisiana’s founding families. Located in Brownell Memorial Park, a measly half-mile from Lake End Park (a coastal beauty in its own right), the ferns and palmettos fit right at home among an abundance of plants and animals living on acres.

For those willing to take an educational trip and perhaps some oil propaganda, the Rig Museum in Morgan City is a popular attraction that aims to provide information about offshore oil drilling and its process, while also allowing you to walk further and learn about the mechanisms of the scum itself (known as Mr. Charlie).

Leesville

The historic 1910 Vernon Parish Courthouse taken in Leesville, Louisiana, United States.  Editorial credit: Printin Mckenzie / Shutterstock.com
The historic 1910 Vernon Parish Courthouse taken in Leesville, Louisiana, United States. Editorial credit: Printin Mckenzie / Shutterstock.com

Covering just 3.5 km², Leesville is actually a small town stuck in the past: a town full of antique shops, museums and art. Those deeply committed to exploring a time very different from their own will find Leesville exceptional.

Among the notable sites, the Museum of West Louisiana is a highlight. This unique museum documents Leesville’s very beginnings through modern times and even houses paintings of German POWs from World War II.

While antiquity and art course through the city’s veins, a short stroll through the small but striking Leesville Art Park will do the soul good, and ending a day at Gallery 111 will be even better. While the art gallery is created and infused with the passion of local artists and enthusiasts, with changing exhibitions on a monthly schedule, there is always a lot changing.

Natchitoches

Natchitoches City in Louisiana, United States.
Natchitoches City in Louisiana, United States.

Pronounced na*kuh*tuhsh, this energetic, slightly larger city has a wealth of historical sites and intrigue.

Founded in 1714 during the times of French Louisiana, one of the focal points of this growing city is found on the site of a once-degrading fort. A replica straight from the past, Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site tells the story of a trading post and base for the French, who once occupied vast swathes of land. Natchitoches is a must for history buffs and has another great claim to fame.

For modern and contemporary history, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame is sure to attract any sports fan ranging from American football to baseball. The best of the best is enclosed in display cases, art and other objects. Once again offering tours and a deep dive into the sport’s legends, Natchitoches is proving itself as a place of new and old venues in the service of the past.

Saint Francisville

Historic Grace Episcopal Church, built in 1860 on Ferdinand Street in St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.  Editorial credit: Nina Alizada / Shutterstock.com
Historic Grace Episcopal Church, built in 1860 on Ferdinand Street in St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Editorial credit: Nina Alizada / Shutterstock.com

Picture this: an antebellum house stands at a distance, and as you approach it in a horse-drawn carriage, the outline of a reflective white mansion disappears and the details begin to fill in as a large and wide veranda comes into view as mossy oak trees drape about the pearly white perfection. That is the style and environment of Saint Francisville, a city where nature and architecture are appreciated.

The Audubon State Historic Site is a perfect example of this, combining 100 acres of magnolias, birds, glades and hills. The grounds include the Oakley House (circa 1806), an original colonial-style building that serves as both an anchor and main structure on the land. The Audobon site inspires many to visit and is the crown jewel of the city.

But a close second is probably Afton Villa Gardens, a botanical garden that is so much more and even contains a historic cemetery, the famous ‘Ruins Gardens’ and even a daffodil valley as fragrant scents fill the air. Many old plantations can also still be visited, such as the Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site.

Mandeville

Mandeville, Louisiana: Silhouetted families play on the swings overlooking Lake Pontchartrain at sunset.
Mandeville, Louisiana: Silhouetted families play on the swings overlooking Lake Pontchartrain at sunset.

To conclude, Mandeville is a small town built on conviviality and relaxation, as opposed to wild adventure. Known for its museums and state parks, the entire city is a collection of warm feelings and slowed-down time.

What was once a sugar mill is now a park that kisses the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Fontainebleau State Park took a hit from Hurricane Ida, but is now back and stronger than ever. With nearly 3,000 acres of trees, trails and beaches, the state park is a symbol of renewal, strength and beauty.

On a more historical note: the Jean Baptiste Lang Creole House Museum. One of the last Anglo-Creole homes, the site of this exact museum and home, survived the Civil War and the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. Learn about a time almost completely gone from the source itself, and catch a glimpse of Mandeville’s ghost along the way.

Why these cities?

Louisiana is one of those states that needs no introduction; the culture is widely considered unique, whether that’s in the form of the wild parties and alcohol, the cuisine, the rich and bloody history, or even the strange stories and natural wonders that emerge from the Bayou. All of these cities represent just a portion of what the Pelican State has to offer in 2024, which is why they are all worth visiting at least once.