Although Louisiana is a coastal state, people are often surprised to realize that it contains many wonderful white sand beaches that are as beautiful as those in Florida and California. The Cajun Riviera is what the locals call a stretch of sandy beaches that includes Holly Beach and Cypremort Beach. Grand Isle, a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, is a popular destination for picnickers and holiday makers, who come to enjoy its wide, sandy beach. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.North Beach

North Beach
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North Beach is a large, white, sandy beach located in Southwest Louisiana in Lake Charles. A true urban beach, North Beach is the only inland white sand beach in Louisiana and on the entire Gulf Coast. The beach is a great place for beach volleyball, beachcombing, and picnicking. There is also a marina and a wonderful scenic promenade on the lakeshore with breathtaking views all around, and it is a popular place for watching sunsets. The promenade links three popular Lake Charles’ parks – September 11th Memorial Park, Millennium Park, and Veteran’s Memorial Park. The beach is part of many of Lake Charles’ lively festivals

Lake Charles, LA 70601, Phone: 337-491-1201

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2.Cypremort Point Beach

Cypremort Point Beach
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Located in Vermilion Bay, a deep bay about 10 miles from the vast Gulf of Mexico, Cypremort Point State Park is a very popular 185-acre green space perfect for picnics, swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating, and especially windsurfing. Most of the environment is coastal marsh with a man-made half-mile-long beach. The beach has several picnic tables, a sailboat launch, and a fishing pavilion. There is also a 100-foot-long fishing pier, and the park is famous for its great and diverse fishing. The freshwater from the Vermilion and Atchafalaya rivers creates a rich environment for spotted sea trout, red drum, redfish, and speckled trout. The park is also home to many other animals, such as nutria, alligator, muskrat, deer, black bear, possum, rabbits, and red fox.

306 Beach Ln, Cypremort Point, LA 70538, Phone: 337-867-4510

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3.Fontainebleau State Park

Fontainebleau State Park
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Just a short drive from New Orleans, on Lake Pontchartrain’s north shore across the 24-mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge, is Fontainebleau State Park, a 2,800-acre park that was once, in 1829, the location of a large sugar mill. There is only a ruin of a brick building left now, but there is a nice sandy beach for swimming and watching colorful sailboats on the lake. An old disused railroad track in the park is now a part of the Rails to Trails program and is a great cycling, in-line skating, and hiking path. The park also has a nature trail with many interpretive signs that identify common shrubs and trees. There are more than 400 species of birds in the park, and the park’s streams and waterways are great for kayaking and fishing.

62883 LA-1089, Mandeville, LA 70471, Phone: 985-624-4443

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4.Best beaches in Louisiana: Grand Isle

Best beaches in Louisiana: Grand Isle
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The only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana, Grand Isle is a narrow, sandy ridge in the Gulf of Mexico formed by the relentless action of the waves. The island is known for its fantastic white, sandy beaches, deep sea fishing, and an incredible number of bird and butterfly species. Most rental homes and motels have their own beach access and the only public beach is located in Grand Isle State Park, on the eastern part of the island. The park has an observation tower that offers spectacular views in all directions. A 400-foot fishing pier is a popular place to throw the line and try to catch your dinner. Crabbing is another popular activity. There are several picnic pavilions and a fairly simple campground. A hiking trail loops through the park. The beach is great for swimming and has warm water and a gradual slope. The lagoon is the best place to spot some of the many species of birds.

Admiral Craik Drive, Grand Isle, LA 70358

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5.Best beaches in Louisiana: Holly Beach

Best beaches in Louisiana: Holly Beach
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Holly Beach, or the Cajun Riviera as this beach and the small community are known by the locals, is located in southwest Louisiana on the sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico, about 10 miles from Cameron. The community and the beach have both been severely damaged by several recent hurricanes, but the residents of Holly Beach are rebuilding and the beaches have been cleaned and are open to the public. The wide expanses of fine sand are popular for crabbing, driving on the packed sand, swimming, windsurfing, boating, fishing, and more, and there are always plenty of shells for the kids to collect. Most of the accommodation options consist of small beach cabins or camp sites.

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5 Best Louisiana Beaches



More Ideas in LA: Jungle Gardens, Avery Island, LA

It is rare to find a refuge in a place that has been mostly taken over by humans. Jungle Gardens, otherwise known as Avery Island is that place - a place visitors can go to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy how beautiful and important conservation of that world is. Dreamed up by Edward Avery (E.A.) McIlhenny (better known to friends as Mr. Ned), who was born on Avery Island, Jungle Gardens has always been a place to celebrate conservation.

History

Born the son of the man who invented Tabasco sauce, Mr. Ned turned what was once a private space into a public area to help draw attention to his causes, opening it in 1935. It now spans 170 acres.

Permanent Attractions

There are many nature areas and trails to explore, as well as attractions that guests should make sure not to miss while on the premises. Make sure to take the mobile phone tour, which will guide visitors and make sure that nothing important gets missed or overlooked! Tours are offered in both English and French.

Monsurat - Avery Island has it fair share of ponds and water dwelling creatures, including alligators. However, one of the largest alligators to live on the grounds was one nicknamed Monsurat (either a take on the Louisiana French vocabulary word for monster or a Catalan word for jagged mountain which would have described his back) by McIlhenny. Coming in at around eighteen feet in length, this gator is now preserved for all to see.

View the birds - Founded in the 1890s after being concerned about the number of egrets that were being killed by hunters, Mr. Ned started this bird sanctuary to protect them and found that they would continue to return year after year. At one point, it was said that over a hundred thousand different birds used Bird City as home! Guided bird tours are offered, with a downloadable list of bird available on the website so that visitors can check them off as they see them.

Buddha - This 900-year-old statue of Buddha was a gift to the founder of Jungle Gardens from some friends who knew that he had an abundance of Asian plants in his collection. The statue now has a prominent place in the garden and also serves as a local meeting and meditation point for Buddhists in the area.

Local wildlife - Besides the alligators in the ponds, the area also is home to many other species of local wildlife like coyotes, muskrats, armadillos, wild cats, and others. Although not all of them still inhabit the area, it has been at least a stopping place for many different animals over the years.

Bamboo - One of the oldest living groves of bamboo in the United States is located here, featuring over sixty different varieties of timber bamboo.

Educational Opportunities

Field trips are offered daily at a small cost to students and free for teachers and chaperones. It is recommended to have at least one adult per every thirty students and there is no limit on how many of students may attend at a time, as long as prior reservations are made. Teachers should plan on around an hour and a half to tour the grounds fully. Jungle Gardens is disability accessible and appropriate for grades 1st through 12th. Lunch is available on site, although students are also welcoming to bring sack lunches and eat at one of the picnic areas. Teachers can also purchase sack lunches on the grounds as well.

There are a variety of approaches to take to planning the field trip, as there are industrial, archaeological, and nature based tours. Depending on what each class is studying, the website offers guidelines on what benchmark is useable for each grade level.

Special Events

One of the newer events at Jungle Gardens is the Taste of Christmas, which is a children’s event and festival meant for the whole family to enjoy! Visit with Santa, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, drink hot chocolate, ride the trolley… expect nothing but Christmas fun at the Taste of Christmas!

Another special event held on the grounds is the St. Jude benefit runs - a one mile, 5K and 7K run. Held in November, the money raised goes to benefit St. Jude and all that they do to help cure and treat children’s cancer.

Weddings are also allowed at Jungle Gardens, with a down payment and a reservation of at least two months in advance. Any area is available as long as it is reserved with gift shop employees. Clean up must be handled by the wedding party or an extra fee will be charged. Receptions must be held off site.

Jungle Gardens, Highway 329, Avery Island, LA, 70513, Phone: 337-369-6243

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More Ideas in LA: Global Wildlife Center

The Global Wildlife Center is an expansive, beautiful area that is fun while also helping to conserve many struggling species of wildlife. Taking a safari while in Louisiana is an eye-opening experience that should not be missed. Originally opened in 1991 by Ken Matherne, today the Global Wildlife Center is the single largest wildlife preserve in the country that allows its animals free range to roam around the premises.

History

Over 4,000 animals from many different countries call the center home.

Permanent Exhibits

The main attraction at the Global Wildlife Center is the tour opportunities that allow visitors to experience the animals firsthand. There are a few varieties of tours available depending on budget and the amount of people in the party.

Guided tour by wagon - This tour takes guests through the 900 acres of land and introduces them to the many animals that live on the premises.

Private tour - Have a little more money to spend? Take a private tour in a Pinzgauer (an all-terrain vehicle similar to an SUV) with up to seven friends or family members, heading to places on the center that an unreachable by the wagon tour.

Although the center does not have any predators, there are many stunning and interesting animals to see (over 40 different species), no matter the tour guests choose.

1. Giraffes - The reticulated giraffes are one of the most popular animals at the center, mainly due to their incredible size! Even the babies are 6 feet tall at birth and weigh around 150#! Make sure to get a bag of animal feed as the giraffes are some of the most fun animals to let eat from the hand!

2. Zebras - Grant’s zebra are all unique, as none have the same stripe pattern, similar to a human’s fingerprint. The zebras at the center are not for feeding, however, as they can bite.

3. Kangaroos - Carrying their babies in their pouches, kangaroos are also another favorite of guests. Come watch them hop around!

4. Camels - The Bactrian camel that lives at the center is one of the rarest in the world. Each of their humps weigh around 25# and they can hold up to 1000 pounds at a time (which can last almost 30 miles daily).

5. Bison - Also known as buffalo, these beautiful and impressive creatures were almost entirely wiped out before efforts to preserve them were put into place.

6. Llamas - Actually part of the camel family (as well as alpacas and the less well-known vicunas and guanacos), llamas have been around for 4500 years and hail from South America, where they were used by the Incans.

Educational Opportunities

Field trips for students are a great way to introduce them to the global concerns of conservation in a way that engages them and gets them out of the classroom. Reservations should be made in advance through the website or by calling them directly. Lunch can be provided on request (although students can also bring in a sack lunch to eat at the designated area) and there is access for students with disabilities as well. Teachers can add animal feeding buckets to their field trip as well, to allow students to get up close and personal with the animals at the center. Tours generally take around an hour and a half to two hours and require a minimum of 15 students for the group rate, which is only available during the week. All tours meet the educational guidelines mandated by the state of Louisiana. Come bring students and experience the 900 acres of wildlife that is the Global Wildlife Center! It will be a field trip they will not soon forget.

Special Events

There are a variety of rentals available for special events while on the center.

Tree houses - Holding up to 50 people, the tree houses are available overlooking the kangaroos and the pond by the Visitor Center. They can be rented for either 2 or 4 hours and come complete with tables, tablecloths, and chairs.

Pavilions - Pavilion rentals are available for larger parties, with advance reservation. Call for price.

Birthday parties - A unique birthday party idea for children, this rental includes the tree house package, wagon passes for 2 adults and 10 children (as well as an announcement while on the safari), a sack of feed, a t-shirt for the birthday child, and animal masks for the children. Additional adults and children can be added to the party for an additional fee.

None of the parties will include any staffing from the wildlife center. Also, balloons, open flames, glasses, straws and/or piñatas are strictly forbidden.

Global Wildlife Center, 26389 Hwy 40, Folsom, LA, 70437, Phone: 985-796-3585

More Things to Do in Louisiana

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More Ideas in LA: Rip Van Winkle Gardens

The Rip Van Winkle Gardens of Jefferson Island, Louisiana, are 20 acres of garden and forest area surrounding the 1870s home of Joseph Jefferson, an American actor known for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle in several stage and silent movie productions, and the alleged originator of the famous phrase, “there are no small parts, only small actors.” The Victorian-style mansion with a fourth floor cupola is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home sits at the highest point of the peninsula’s salt dome at an elevation of 75 feet above sea level, unique for the coastal region. The mansion is furnished with period décor representing American and French empire furniture. The home itself reflects the opulence of French and Southern plantation-style architecture, incorporating Steamboat Gothic and Moorish details.

The Acadian-style servants’ quarters were built around the same time in 1870 to house Jefferson’s staff. Acadian homes were influenced by the early French settlers of the South, descendants of the Acadians who settled in Quebec and northeast America in the 1600s. In 1925, a cook’s cottage was added to the property by J. Lyles Bayless Sr., who purchased the home and servants’ quarters from Jefferson’s family in 1917. The cook’s cottage was built as living quarters for the cook at the Jefferson Island Salt Mine. Both the servant’s quarters and the cook’s cottage are available for rent by overnight bed and breakfast guests.

The gardens surrounding the Jefferson home and cottages span nearly 20 acres. It was John Lyle Bayless, Jr. who rebuilt the gardens between 1950 and 1980 after selling the salt mine. The gardens include a grove of oak trees more than 500 years old, one of which famously provided shelter for a napping Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. According to legend, the famous pirate Jean Lafitte stashed treasure under the oak trees in the late 1700s. Café Jefferson is an onsite restaurant open for lunch, with a glassed-in porch that offers views of the gardens and Lake Peigneur.

History

Joseph Jefferson (1829–1905) was an American comedic actor famous for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle in several theatric and silent film productions. He was among the most famous of all 19th century actors, and is thought to have been the earliest-born actor ever to have appeared on film. In 1869, towards the end of a successful career, Jefferson purchased the land and home on Orange Island in New Iberia, Louisiana, later named Jefferson Island. The “island” is just one of several natural salt domes that dot the shore along the marshy wetlands surrounding the peninsula.

After Jefferson’s death in 1905, the 2,000-acre property was sold to a partnership of J. Lyles Bayless Sr. and two others: Paul Jones, a bourbon distiller from Kentucky, and the maker of Tabasco brand sauce, E. A. McIlhenny. Bayless’ son John Jr. refurbished the surrounding gardens in 1950, and eventually donated the home and adjacent 800 acres to an operating foundation with the mandate to manage the site and keep it open to the public for generations to come. In 1980, a Texaco oil-drilling rig mistakenly pierced into one of the salt mine caverns off the coast of the peninsula. The collapse of the salt cavern created a whirlpool that swallowed a half-acre garden under a glass conservatory, the site’s welcome center, Bayless’ personal retirement home, 65 acres of woodland, the drilling rig, and several trucks. Miraculously, no deaths resulted from the disaster. The island has since been rebuilt, although the once 10-foot-deep freshwater Lake Peigneur is now a 1,300-foot deep salt-water lake.

Ongoing Programs and Education

Tours of the gardens and Joseph Jefferson’s mansion are offered daily. Visitors may watch a brief documentary on the oil drilling disaster and the site’s subsequent recovery. The servants’ quarters and cook’s cottage are rented out to the public for overnight bed and breakfast stays. The home and gardens are available for weddings, corporate events, and meetings.

What’s Nearby

Rip’s Rookery is a manmade wetlands nesting area located just prior to the entrance of the Jefferson home and Rip Van Winkle Gardens. The site is designed to protect the island’s wading birds from predators. Common birds in the area include egrets, spoonbills, and the occasional thick-billed pelican. Nesting season is from March through July.

5505 Rip Van Winkle Road, New Iberia, LA 70560, Phone: 337-359-8525

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