With a long and vibrant past, Louisiana is a must-visit for any history lover.
Louisiana’s unique past offers exciting history for visitors to explore, from ancient monuments built by Indigenous peoples to fanciful French and Spanish architecture, important American Civil War sites and more. Luckily for today’s visitors, many of these places that showcase Louisiana heritage and culture have been excellently preserved. Look back in time at fascinating historical sites throughout the beautiful Bayou State.
The Foundations of First Settlers
Louisiana is home to dozens of historic places, with some highlighting thousands of years of human presence in the area. Travel the state to learn how the region and its inhabitants have evolved over centuries, from ancient and Indigenous peoples to later settlers. In the northeast corner of the state at Poverty Point World Heritage Site, a network of five over-3,000-year-old mounds and six concentric semicircle ridges stands as a testament to human ingenuity. Explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s 161-hectare archaeological site and museum through guided tours, demonstrations and hiking excursions.
Among the oldest inhabited regions in the USA, Abita Springs was originally a village of the Choctaw Nation who named it after nearby medicinal waters. Today, enjoy spring-fed pools and check out historic landmarks and museums in this area north of New Orleans. Dive into more Indigenous heritage at the Tunica-Biloxi Museum in Marksville, where you’ll find a vast collection of artifacts known as the Tunica Treasure. Exhibit halls, a restoration library, an auditorium and a learning center honor the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, whose roots in the area go back centuries.
Near Natchitoches, the first permanent European settlement in what would become the Louisiana Territory, the Cane River National Heritage Area served as an intersection among the French, Spanish and Indigenous peoples in the region. Today, it encompasses a National Historical Park as well as several National Historic Landmarks and state historic sites with original structures that predate the Louisiana Purchase. Highlights include Los Adaes State Historic Site, formerly the capital of Texas, and its rich archaeological finds from the early 1700s. Nearby, tour Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site to see a replica of a 1716 military post on the scenic banks of Cane River Lake.
A walkway winds through ancient earthen mounds at Poverty Point World Heritage Site near Pioneer
Post-Louisiana Purchase: The Making of a State
The territory of what would become the state of Louisiana was at the heart of the USA’s Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. With an important location at the mouth of the mighty Mississippi River, Louisiana has played a vital part in events that shaped the country, fostering cultures that have influenced the sounds and tastes of the present day.
Future U.S. President Zachary Taylor established and commanded the garrison at Fort Jesup, now known as Fort Jesup State Historic Site, in 1822. Part of the Cane River National Heritage Area near Natchitoches, it served as an important military outpost for nearly 25 years, and you can take a tour to see historical exhibits exploring this history. In the American Civil War era, Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site were built by the Confederacy on the Red River. Check out the visitor center near downtown Pineville for exhibits and Civil War reenactments, as well as hiking and nature programs around the site.
From early gospel and string bands to the more familiar country sound of today, the story of folk music in the South comes alive at the Louisiana Country Music Museum, part of the Rebel State Historic Site near Marthaville. Time your visit with a live concert at the amphitheater and don’t miss the “musical petting zoo” instrument gallery. For a look at Creole culture and its multifaceted roots, head to the Creole Heritage Folklife Center in Opelousas. Educational programs and events help visitors celebrate the traditions of Creole food, music and more.
Reading a historical marker at Fort Randolph in Pineville
Getting to Louisiana is easy. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) offers direct flights from most major airports. Airports in Baton Rouge (BTR) and Shreveport (SHV) also have regional flights throughout the USA.
More experiences nearby