Skip to main content
  • Ferns in hanging baskets on a French Quarter balcony in New Orleans, Louisiana
    View more

    New Orleans, Louisiana: Crescent City History Tour

  • Former slave cabins at the Evergreen Plantation in Edgard in New Orleans Plantation Country, Louisiana
    View more

    See a Long-Ago Lifestyle in Louisiana's Plantation Country

  • Cajun Mardi Gras parade revelry in Houma, Louisiana
    View more

    Swampy and Festive in Houma, Louisiana

  • Playing the traditional button accordion in Lafayette, Louisiana
    View more

    Lafayette, Louisiana: Cultural Mélange of Influences

  • Stained glass designs in the Old State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    View more

    In the Seat of Government in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Historical charm at the circa 1856 Dunleith Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi, where you can even stay the night
    View more

    Natchez, Mississippi: Site of Significant Structures

  • Emerald Mound Site just northeast of Natchez, Mississippi
    View more

    Ancient History at Emerald Mound, Mississippi

  • Just a few kilometers north of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the USS Cairo, full of history at Vicksburg National Military Park
    View more

    Beyond the Battleground in Vicksburg, Mississippi

  • Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, home of special events year-round
    View more

    Commerce and Comfort in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana

Destrehan Plantation in New Orleans Plantation Country, Louisiana
View more

A Historical Tour through Louisiana and Mississippi

  • Route distance:
    780.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    6 days

A path through the past in the heritage-rich Southeast

People tend to follow their stomachs through Louisiana, but history also runs deep here, evidenced by the array of architectural styles, historic downtowns and sites where lands and lives were gained and lost. Follow the theme into Mississippi, where indigenous settlements, a legendary battlefield and a parade of storied homes await.

01
Ferns in hanging baskets on a French Quarter balcony in New Orleans, Louisiana
View more

New Orleans, Louisiana: Crescent City History Tour

Charming, historical and lively New Orleans is serviced by Louis Armstrong New Orleans International. To see the history of the Crescent City, just amble about the walkable French Quarter, which comprised the city’s footprint at the time of its founding in 1718. The iconic statue of Andrew Jackson astride his horse at Jackson Square, with the St. Louis Cathedral as a backdrop, makes a photo-worthy entrée to the Louisiana State Museum, a statewide collection of nine historical museums, five of which are right here in New Orleans. Tour the circa 1799 Cabildo, site of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase, and The Presbytère, a matching 18th century structure that displays cultural exhibits. Stop for chicory coffee and beignets at the famous Café du Monde across Decatur Street, then walk to see the artifacts and artwork at Historic New Orleans Collection. From the Quarter, take a paddlewheeler cruise downriver to the Chalmette Battlefield, site of the final battle of the War of 1812. Here, the stately and haunting Malus-Beauregard House will prepare you for the upcoming journey into Plantation Country.

63 km
1 hour by car
02
Former slave cabins at the Evergreen Plantation in Edgard in New Orleans Plantation Country, Louisiana
View more

See a Long-Ago Lifestyle in Louisiana's Plantation Country

The drive into Plantation Country follows the Mississippi River on the Great River Road National Scenic Byway. Take in views of the river as you pass antebellum plantation homes and remnants of the sugar cane fields that once sustained them. Beneath moss-draped oaks and Greek Revival-style columns, the 10 estates of Plantation Country are restored and open for tours. Some highlights include Oak Alley Plantation, billed as one of the most photographed plantations in the world; San Francisco, an opulent manor distinguished by its bright blue accents; and Laura Plantation, known for its phenomenal history tour and the birthplace of the “Br’er Rabbit” stories. Evergreen Plantation offers a rare chance to see a working sugar cane plantation with 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including 22 preserved slave cabins. Some properties in Plantation Country offer accommodations, perfect for a night's rest before you head deep into the Louisiana bayou.

74 km
1 hour by car
03
Cajun Mardi Gras parade revelry in Houma, Louisiana
View more

Swampy and Festive in Houma, Louisiana

Trade Plantation Country for Bayou Country in Houma, a region deep in the state known for its Cajun culture, colorful locals and, of course, swamps. Estimates indicate that southern Louisiana stewards nearly half of the wetlands in the lower United States, creating a landscape of cypress trees and wetlands, plus the alligators, turtles and hundreds of bird species they shelter. Tour the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge by airboat, canoe or even seaplane. The Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum downtown complements the swamp tour with exhibits on the area's connection to the water. Nighttime beckons with tasty food and foot-stomping zydeco, Cajun and swamp pop music. Ask friendly locals for their recommendation of hot spots and dance the night away.

More information
164 km
2 hours by car
04
Playing the traditional button accordion in Lafayette, Louisiana
View more

Lafayette, Louisiana: Cultural Mélange of Influences

En route to Lafayette, make a side trip to Avery Island, where you can tour a nature preserve, see a centuries-old Buddha statue at Jungle Gardens and go to the Tabasco factory, where the famous hot sauce is made. Once in Lafayette, you’re in the capital of Cajun Country. Explore southern Louisiana’s French, Spanish, American Indian and African influences in cultural repositories like Vermilionville, a living regional history village, and the adjacent Acadian Cultural Center, with exhibits on the origins and evolution of the Acadians. If your itinerary allows, catch a show at Acadiana Center for the Arts, known for attracting top-name musical acts.

89 km
1 hour by car
05
Stained glass designs in the Old State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
View more

In the Seat of Government in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From the Cajun capital, you’ll head to the state’s capital of Baton Rouge. Tour the current State Capitol building for a 27th-floor view as stunning as the building’s history. Huey Long, Louisiana’s controversial governor and U.S. senator who helped build the Art-Deco gem, was assassinated here shortly after the building opened in 1935. The Old Capitol, a Gothic exemplar overlooking the Mississippi River, includes an exhibit on Long’s political career. You can also tour Long’s residence, the Old Governor’s Mansion. If historic home tours are your thing, Magnolia Mound Plantation is a must, with a main house dating to 1791 and several well-preserved outbuildings.

More information
146 km
2 hours by car
06
Historical charm at the circa 1856 Dunleith Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi, where you can even stay the night
View more

Natchez, Mississippi: Site of Significant Structures

Leaving Baton Rouge, Highway 61 branches off to the Mississippi River and Natchez, where about 1,000 structures are on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of those are antebellum homes open for tours during Natchez’s annual Spring and Fall Pilgrimage events. Others are National Park Service sites open year-round for visitation and include the majestic Melrose Mansion; the William Johnson House, named for the freed slave who inhabited it; and the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, a prehistoric site that interprets the area’s indigenous people. Natchez’s historic downtown is pedestrian-friendly, but horse-drawn carriage tours, available at the intersection of Canal and State streets, up the charm.

21 km
1 hour by car
07
Emerald Mound Site just northeast of Natchez, Mississippi
View more

Ancient History at Emerald Mound, Mississippi

On you way out of Natchez, be sure to stop at Emerald Mound. Before the Grand Village, ancestors of the Natchez Indians settled at the Emerald Mound Site just northeast of Natchez. The ceremonial mound, one of the largest in North America, rises more than 10.5 meters and supports two smaller mounds. The site dates to 1250. Admission is free. It’s a quick and fascinating stop on your way to the historic city of Vicksburg.

100 km
1 hour by car
08
Just a few kilometers north of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the USS Cairo, full of history at Vicksburg National Military Park
View more

Beyond the Battleground in Vicksburg, Mississippi

In this city with the name of a key Civil War battle, start at Vicksburg National Military Park. See 1,300-plus monuments and markers, from a restored Union gunboat to the Shirley House, which narrowly survived the battle, and a national cemetery. Living history programs run in summer. Year-round, self-guided driving and cell phone tours are available, or you can commission a guide service. Beyond the battlefield, you’ll still feel the aura of the past in Vicksburg’s numerous historic homes. Peek at Confederate Gen. John C. Pemberton’s Headquarters downtown, then tour or stay overnight at a property like Anchuca or Cedar Grove. Both of these Greek Revival-style residences have war stories to share. Anchuca was a shelter for the wounded, and Cedar Grove was a cannonball target. Ask to see the affected parlor wall.

More information
123 km
1 hour by car
09
Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, home of special events year-round
View more

Commerce and Comfort in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana

Your final stop on this road trip is back in Louisiana in Shreveport-Bossier City, home to two historic districts: downtown and Fairfield/Highland. The Red River defines downtown and hints at former enterprises, including cotton. Sightseeing cruises, available April through November, reveal more. By land, note the Spring Street Historical Museum in one of downtown Shreveport’s oldest buildings, the 1925 Strand Theatre and several historic churches. Trade commerce for elegant comfort in the Fairfield/Highland district. The area reads like an architectural encyclopedia brought to life, with preserved homes of so many styles – including cottage, Queen Anne and neo-classical – reminiscent of the lifestyles of the city’s first families. Fly out of Shreveport Regional Airport to nearby international hubs such as Dallas/Fort Worth, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta or back to Louis Armstrong New Orleans.

Official Travel South Information

Explore more