Skip New Orleans. See Louisiana Instead.


Kayakers paddle the Bogue Falaya River, which flows under the Tammany Trace rail-trail.
Guided by Canoe and Trail Adventures, kayakers paddle the Bogue Falaya River, which flows under the Tammany Trace rail-trail.

The local had a simple question for us, “So, you all been to Louisiana before?”

I replied, “No. I mean, we’ve been to New Orleans before, but not Louisiana.”

He paused for a second and then the light went on. “YES! That’s it! Exactly!”

Now, New Orleans is fabulous and filled with incredible food, culture, history and … crowds. In 2019, nearly 40 percent of all visitors to the state went to New Orleans. But, as fine a city as it is, it doesn’t embody the entirety of The Bayou State, as no one city can. Like many states with an iconic, revenue-driving and globally-recognized city, too many outsiders equate that city with the rest of the state — when the two are generally very different economically, socially and culturally.

The good news, though, is that renown tourist destinations like New Orleans have ample air access (Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport currently hosts 18 airlines that offer nonstop flights to more than 60 destinations), and flights are (generally) more affordable than harder-to-reach destinations. Thus, you can leverage all that access to create a launching pad for nearby outdoor adventures into the breadth of the state of Louisiana.

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‘Chez’ Chesak is an award-winning travel writer, tourism consultant and 25-year veteran of the outdoor and travel industries. He is Executive Director of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and formerly was the Vice President for Business Development for the Adventure Travel Trade Association and Executive Director of the Family Travel Association. He has been serious about his writing since about age eight. He also runs the Central States Chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers. He’s lived all over the U.S. and traveled to some 36 countries but has the most fun when he’s exploring with his wife and two daughters. An avid outdoors person, he’s happiest on a trail, on skis, or nestled into a sleeping bag. He deployed to Iraq with a U.S. Army line unit in 2005. His works have appeared in the Los Angeles Times,, Good Housekeeping, Rachel Ray Every Day, Fatherly, Yahoo Travel, Family Vacation Critic, and many others. He also does periodic travel segments for the morning show of his local FOX affiliate and on American Forces Radio.

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