Eco-friendly Places to Visit in Louisiana


I mean, it's not like I even remember what a summer break is like. But nonetheless, summer break is here. Whether or not you have a big summer vacation with friends or family planned (insert wah-face emoji here), there are tons of destinations here in Louisiana you can visit. From a short day trip to a long weekend trip, get out in the Louisiana nature and be eco-friendly.

This is not a complete list, but it's the perfect start to get you going. And at the end, check out my handy dandy custom map to see exactly where all these places are. (Look Ma, I can make maps now!)

The Atchafalaya Basin

It might be the reason for that annoying 20-mile long bridge on I-10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge (have I ever mentioned I really hate bridges?), but the Atchafalaya Basin is one of the largest wetlands in the nation. And there's so much you can do out on the basin. Bring your boat and go fishing. Go kayaking. Take a swamp tour. Stay in a houseboat overnight. 

Toledo Bend

Situated between Louisiana and Texas, Toledo Bend is one of the largest man-made lakes in the nation. Both private and public facilities are available for swimming, boating, picnicking, fishing, camping, hunting and sightseeing. Toledo Bend is one of my favorite places to unplug and relax (while still taking four million pictures). We've fished, swam, kayaked, boated, suntanned, watched fireworks and amazing sunsets, and simply relaxed and spent time together.

Lake Martin

Located about 20 minutes east of Lafayette near St. Martinville, Lake Martin is a great place to go kayaking, bird watching and boating (and get great photos). It's part of the Cypress Island Preserve and is a recognized bird sanctuary.

Cypress Island Preserve Visitor Center

The visitor center, managed by the Nature Conservancy, is a great educational place next to Lake Martin where you can learn about local ecosystems and the wildlife species. There's a picnic area next to the center. And the best part is that the center is reflective of the Eco Cajun name! The building is a traditional Acadian style, but it's incorporated numerous green building techniques, lowering its impact on the local environment.

Acadiana Park Nature Station

I'm almost ashamed to admit that the last time I was at the Nature Station was for an elementary school field trip. Within the city of Lafayette, the station has seven miles of trails for hiking and a kayak launch. There are young naturalist programs, to give the kids something fun to do this summer.

Louisiana State Aboretum

The Louisiana State Arboretum is located in Chicot State Park, north of Ville Platte. There are six miles of trails that go around the park, with trees and other plants marked along the path. The J.D. “Prof” Lafleur Nature Center has an exhibit on the woodlands of Louisiana and offers many nature programs throughout the year.

Chicot State Park

Chicot State Park has fishing, camping, hiking and biking, cabins and a boat launch. The park covers over 6,400 acres in central Louisiana (Cenla, if you will.) It's a beautiful area and allows you to get away from civilization for however long you want.

Tammany Trace

Over on the Northshore, the Tammany Trace is a converted railroad that is now a walking/jogging/biking/sometimes-equestrian path. It runs from downtown Covington, through Abita Springs, Mandeville and Lacombe, and ends in Slidell. With the help of grants and federal dollars, St. Tammany Parish government has asphalted 31 miles, remodeled railroad trestles into pedestrian bridges and maintained the Trace. I have been wanting to take a weekend trip with my fiance and visit the Tammany Trace with our bicycles, tour the Abita Brewery and get some great food while we're out there!

Bayou Vermilion District

While not specifically a place, the Bayou Vermilion District oversees multiple boat launches, parks (including Vermilionville), canoe and kayak launches, and fishing. They recently launched the Paddle Trail app, which allows you to locate and identify points of interest along Bayou Vermilion. Recreation areas, boat and canoe launches, businesses and other amenities, as well as areas of historical interest, are highlighted and identified.

Kisatchie National Forest

Over 604,000 acres in Cenla are known as the Kisatchie National Forest. Visit one of the many areas to get your fix of hiking, climbing, bicycling, fishing, horse riding, hunting, picnicking and playing on the water.

St. Landry Parish Visitors Center

It's not often I say, "Oh, I really want to visit that vistors center!" But in the case of the St. Landry Parish Visitors Center, it's true. Located on I-49 Exit 23, the center incorporates sustainability and efficiency into all aspects of the building. It was designed to show how sustainable practices, both old and new, can work together for the betterment of the region.

Get a complete list of Louisiana's state parks at the Culture, Recreation and Tourism website.

Wherever you may visit this summer, remember to be a respectful visitor.

  • Limit your disposable items as much as possible. 
  • Pack food or your gear in reusable containers and bring a reusable water bottle (or two).
  • If you do have trash, DON'T LEAVE IT BEHIND. Throw it in a trashcan, and if there is none around, hold on to it until you do find a can, or bring it home.
  • Don't disturb the wildlife or plants. You are just a visitor, and not the only one. By respecting nature, you'll keep it in pristine condition for visitors tomorrow and years from now.

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