Article Summary: Historic Sites In Louisiana
Historic Sites In Louisiana. More Than Just Parks has 10 incredible must-see sites for you to visit.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
I’m going to give you my list of the 10 Historic Sites In Louisiana that you’ll want to see.
To be clear, this list includes national park sites (as in sites managed by the National Park Service) as opposed to national parks. It also includes sites not managed by the National Park Service. After all, we’re more than just parks!
If you are planning a trip to Louisiana then you might want to pick up a copy of Greater Than a Tourist- Louisiana USA: 50 Travel Tips from a Local by Veronica Godkin.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table Of Contents: Historic Sites In Louisiana
Historic Sites In Louisiana
- Historic Sites In Louisiana
- Top 5 Historic Sites In Louisiana
- 5. Historic Poverty Point National Monument
- 4. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve
- 3. Cane River Creole National Historical Park
- 2. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
- 1. The National World War Two Museum
- List Of Historic Sites In Louisiana
- Why Trust Us About Historic Sites In Louisiana?
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Historic Sites In Louisiana
10. Mansfield State Historic Site
Louisiana is famous for its Cajun and Creole cuisine, Mardi Gras celebrations, diverse cultural heritage, bayous, jazz music, and as the birthplace of American blues.
The state also has some fantastic historic sites for you to visit. At More Than Just Parks, we’re going to give you our Top 10 List of the Best Historic Sites In Louisiana. And we’re starting our countdown at #10 with Mansfield State Historic Site.
It’s located in Mansfield, Louisiana, and is the site of the Battle of Mansfield, which occurred on April 8, 1864, during the American Civil War.
The battle was fought between Confederate forces, led by General Richard Taylor, and Union forces, led by General Nathaniel Banks. The Union forces were defeated and the battle is considered a significant Confederate victory.
Things To Do
Here are some things to do at the Mansfield State Historic Site:
- Take a guided tour: Guided tours are available at the historic site, and they provide visitors with an in-depth look at the Battle of Mansfield, the Confederate soldiers who fought in the battle, and the historic site’s various exhibits.
- Explore the battlefield: The Mansfield State Historic Site includes a preserved section of the battlefield, where visitors can walk the grounds and see firsthand where the battle took place.
- Visit the museum: The museum at Mansfield State Historic Site features exhibits and artifacts related to the Battle of Mansfield and the American Civil War. Visitors can learn about the weapons and equipment used by the soldiers, view historical photographs and documents, and see artifacts from the battlefield.
- Attend special events: Mansfield State Historic Site hosts special events throughout the year, including reenactments of the Battle of Mansfield, living history demonstrations, and educational programs for children and adults.
- Picnic and relax: The historic site has picnic areas and walking trails where visitors can relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
- Visit the cemetery: The Mansfield Cemetery is located nearby, and it is the final resting place of many Confederate soldiers who fought in the Battle of Mansfield. Visitors can pay their respects and learn more about the soldiers who fought and died in the battle.
- Shop for souvenirs: The historic site’s gift shop offers a variety of souvenirs, books, and other items related to the Battle of Mansfield and the American Civil War.
9. Port Hudson State Historic Site
Louisiana has some truly amazing historic sites so it was no easy feat to narrow the list down to 10. Next up on our list is another state historic site that preserves the remains of one of the longest sieges in American history.
At #9 on our list of the Best Historic Sites In Louisiana is the Port Hudson State Historic Site.
The history of Port Hudson dates back to the 18th century when French colonists established a trading post at the site. In 1803, the United States acquired the Louisiana Territory from France, and Port Hudson became an important port on the Mississippi River.
It Served As A Strategic Location For The Confederacy
During the Civil War, Port Hudson served as a strategic location for the Confederacy, as it guarded the southern approach to the river and served as a key transportation hub for troops and supplies.
In May 1863, Union forces under the command of General Nathaniel Banks launched an assault on Port Hudson, hoping to capture the stronghold and gain control of the Mississippi River. The Confederate defenders, led by General Franklin Gardner, repelled the attack, and the Union army settled into a siege that would last for 48 days.
During the siege, the Confederate defenders endured heavy artillery fire and a constant bombardment from Union gunboats on the river. Despite suffering from hunger, disease, and dwindling supplies, they held out until July 9, 1863, when they finally surrendered to Union forces.
The Port Hudson State Historic Site was established in 1974 to preserve the remains of the Civil War site and commemorate the sacrifices of the soldiers who fought and died there.
The site includes the remains of the Confederate fortifications, as well as interpretive exhibits, guided tours, and educational programs that explore the history and legacy of the siege of Port Hudson.
Today, the site serves as a reminder of the courage and determination of the soldiers who fought in one of the most significant battles of the Civil War.
8. Audubon State Historic Site
Our next site honors a man who was a pioneer in documenting birds through his paintings of them in their natural habitats. At #8 on our list of the Best Historic Sites In Louisiana is Audubon State Historic Site.
John James Audubon
John James Audubon (1785-1851) was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and artist who is widely regarded as one of the most significant figures in American natural history.
He’s best known for his extensive work documenting North American birds in vividly illustrated books, which became iconic representations of American wildlife and helped to popularize natural history as a discipline.
Audubon was born in Haiti and raised in France, but he spent much of his life in the United States, where he became a citizen in 1812.
He began his career as a businessman and explorer, traveling extensively throughout the American frontier and studying the natural world. He developed a passion for bird-watching and began to paint and draw the birds he observed.
The Birds Of America
In 1827, Audubon began publishing his most famous work, “The Birds of America,” a series of books featuring life-sized illustrations of hundreds of North American bird species. The illustrations were accompanied by detailed descriptions of the birds’ behavior and habitats, making the books both beautiful and informative.
Audubon’s attention to detail and his commitment to accurately depicting the birds in their natural habitats set a new standard for ornithological illustration.
Audubon’s legacy extends beyond his artwork and scientific contributions. He was a staunch advocate for the conservation of American wildlife, recognizing the importance of preserving natural habitats for the birds and animals he studied.
The National Audubon Society, founded in 1905, is named in his honor and continues to promote the conservation of birds and their habitats to this day.
Things To Do At The Site
Here are some things to do at the Audubon State Historic Site:
- Take a tour of the Oakley House: The Oakley House is a restored Creole-style plantation home that was built in the early 1800s. Visitors can take a guided tour of the house, which includes a viewing of original Audubon art and artifacts.
- Explore the grounds: The Audubon State Historic Site features beautifully landscaped grounds with walking trails, gardens, and a pond. Visitors can explore the grounds on their own or take a guided nature walk.
- Learn about Audubon’s life and work: The site includes a museum that houses exhibits about Audubon’s life and work as an ornithologist and artist. Visitors can learn about Audubon’s journey to America, his bird-watching expeditions, and his artwork.
- Attend special events: The Audubon State Historic Site hosts special events throughout the year, including bird-watching tours, nature walks, and historical reenactments.
- Picnic and relax: The site has picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a picnic lunch or relax in the peaceful surroundings.
- Shop for souvenirs: The museum gift shop offers a variety of souvenirs, books, and other items related to Audubon and the site’s history.
- Visit nearby attractions: The Audubon State Historic Site is located near several other historic sites and attractions, including the nearby town of St. Francisville, which features antebellum homes, quaint shops, and restaurants. Other nearby attractions include the Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site and the Myrtles Plantation, both of which offer tours and exhibits about Louisiana’s plantation history.
7. USS Kidd
In developing our lists of historic sites we strive to include something for everyone. Our next site is for the naval enthusiasts amongst us. At #7 on our list of the Best Historic Sites In Louisiana is the USS Kidd.
The USS Kidd is a Fletcher-class destroyer that was commissioned into the United States Navy in 1943 during World War II. The ship is named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who was killed aboard the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
During World War II, the USS Kidd participated in several major naval engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic and the invasions of Sicily, Italy, and Normandy. The ship also provided support for the carrier task forces that conducted air strikes against Japanese forces in the Pacific theater.
The USS Kidd After World War Two
After the war, the USS Kidd was decommissioned and placed in reserve. It was later recommissioned in 1951 and saw action during the Korean War, where it was involved in shore bombardment and escort missions.
The ship was decommissioned for a second time in 1964 and was subsequently transferred to the government of Taiwan, where it served as the ROCS Chieh Yang.
In 1982, the USS Kidd was returned to the United States Navy and was converted into a museum ship. Today, the ship is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is open to the public for tours and educational programs.
The USS Kidd serves as a reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the sailors who served aboard her during some of the most significant naval engagements of the 20th century.
6. Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge
Next up is a state capitol that was built to resemble a castle. We don’t see too many of those these days. At #6 on our list of the Best Historic Sites In Louisiana is Louisiana’s Old State Capitol at Baton Rouge.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge is a historic building that has played a significant role in the state’s political and cultural history. Here is a brief overview of its history:
- The building was designed by architect James H. Dakin and completed in 1849. It served as the state capitol building until the current capitol was completed in 1932.
- In 1862, during the Civil War, Union troops captured Baton Rouge and used the Old State Capitol as a prison and barracks. The building was damaged by fire during this time.
- In 1882, a major renovation of the building was undertaken, adding a new dome and other features.
- The Old State Capitol was the site of several important political events, including the impeachment trial of Governor Huey P. Long in 1929.
- After the completion of the new state capitol building in 1932, the Old State Capitol was used for various purposes, including as a museum, office space, and meeting space.
- In 1992, the building was severely damaged by fire, which destroyed the roof and upper floors. It was later restored and reopened in 1994 as a museum and educational center.
- Today, the Old State Capitol is a popular tourist attraction and educational resource, featuring exhibits on Louisiana’s political history, as well as temporary exhibits on various topics. It also serves as a venue for events and weddings.
Top 5 Historic Sites In Louisiana
5. Historic Poverty Point National Monument
We’re More Than Just Parks, but we’re not always more than just parks. Our next four historic sites are national park sites though they are not national parks.
Now if you’re curious as to the difference between a national park and a national park site then please feel free to check out our article: What Is A National Park, Really?
At #5 on our list of the Best Historic Sites In Louisiana is one of these national park sites. It’s Poverty Point.
Poverty Point is an ancient earthen monument built by indigenous peoples of North Louisiana over 3,400 years ago.
The site includes a 72-foot tall mound with enormous concentric half circles and other earthworks that have stood for thousands of years.
The purpose and methods used to construct these monuments are still a mystery to archaeologists, as the indigenous peoples did not have access to modern tools or animals, and there is no evidence of wheeled carts.
Millions of artifacts have been discovered at the site, including simple tools, human figurines, and stones that originated from over 800 miles away.
The site is believed to have been a major center of trade and commerce, with hundreds or even thousands of people dwelling in the area.
What Can I See & Do At Poverty Point
Some of the things you can do and see include:
- Take a self-guided tour of the monument, which features six concentric semi-elliptical ridges and mounds that were built by the ancient indigenous people over 2,700 years ago
- Explore the museum, which showcases exhibits on the history and culture of the people who built Poverty Point, including artifacts and replicas of ancient structures
- Walk the trails that offer views of the mounds and ridges and provide interpretive information about the site and its cultural significance
- Attend educational programs and events, such as ranger-led tours and workshops, to learn more about the history and culture of Poverty Point
- Visit the park store, which offers books, souvenirs, and other items related to the history and culture of Poverty Point
- Picnic in the scenic surroundings and enjoy the peaceful and natural beauty of the site.
CHECK OUT: 10 MUST-SEE Historic Sites In Alabama
4. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve
If you like pirates then you’ll love our next site. At #4 on our list of the Best Historic Sites In Louisiana is the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve.
Jean Lafitte was a French-American pirate and privateer who operated in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. Born around 1780, Lafitte was known for his skills as a sailor and his cunning tactics as a pirate.
During the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, Lafitte offered his services as a privateer to the United States. His ships helped the Americans win the Battle of New Orleans, which proved to be a turning point in the war.
After the war, Lafitte continued to operate as a pirate and smuggler, running a successful black-market operation in the Gulf of Mexico. He established a base on the island of Galveston, Texas, which became a hub for pirates and other outlaws.
Lafitte’s activities eventually caught the attention of the U.S. government, and in 1817, a military force was sent to destroy his base. Lafitte and his men were forced to flee, and he later surrendered to the authorities. He was offered a pardon in exchange for his assistance in fighting piracy, but he eventually returned to smuggling.
Jean Lafitte’s life and exploits have become the stuff of legend, and he is still celebrated in some parts of Louisiana and Texas today.
The History Of This Site
The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve was established in 1978 to preserve the natural and cultural history of the area and to commemorate the significant events that occurred in the region.
The park encompasses six distinct sites, each with its own unique history and attractions.
These sites include the following: Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice, the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux, the Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery, the French Quarter Visitor Center in New Orleans, and the Barataria Preserve in Marrero.
The Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery site commemorates the Battle of New Orleans, which was fought in 1815 during the War of 1812. This battle is significant because it marked the last major conflict of the war and helped establish the United States as a major power in the world.
The Barataria Preserve is a 23,000-acre wetland area that includes forests, bayous, and swamps. This site is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including alligators, snakes, and migratory birds. Visitors can explore the preserve on hiking trails, boardwalks, and canoe trails.
The other sites within the park are dedicated to preserving the unique cultural heritage of the area. They feature exhibits, demonstrations, and performances that showcase the traditions and customs of the Cajun and Creole peoples of Louisiana.
Things To See & Do At These Amazing Sites
Some of the things to see and do include:
- Hiking: The park offers several hiking trails that take visitors through wetlands, forests, and prairies. Visitors can explore the park’s natural beauty, observe wildlife, and learn about the park’s history and ecology.
- Canoeing and Kayaking: The park’s waterways are perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Visitors can paddle through the park’s bayous, marshes, and swamps and explore the area’s wildlife and natural beauty.
- Fishing: The park’s waterways are home to a variety of fish species, making it a great spot for fishing. Visitors can fish for bass, catfish, and other species in the park’s bayous and swamps.
- Camping: The park offers primitive camping options for visitors looking to spend the night in the great outdoors.
- Visitor Centers: The park’s visitor centers offer a wealth of information on the park’s history, culture, and ecology. Visitors can learn about the park’s natural and cultural resources, as well as the park’s recreational opportunities.
- Barataria Preserve: The park’s Barataria Preserve offers visitors a chance to explore the park’s wetlands and marshes, and learn about the park’s wildlife and ecology.
- Chalmette Battlefield: Visitors can explore the site of the Battle of New Orleans, the final battle of the War of 1812, where American troops led by General Andrew Jackson defeated the British.
- French Quarter Visitor Center: The French Quarter Visitor Center is located in the heart of New Orleans and offers visitors an introduction to the park’s history and resources.
CHECK OUT: 10 BEST Revolutionary War Sites In America
3. Cane River Creole National Historical Park
We’re on to the final three sites on our list. At #3 is a historic site with a unique history. Welcome to Cane River Creole National Historical Park.
It goes back to the establishment of the Louisiana Creole Culture. It’s a culture which originated along the Cane River in 18th century Louisiana.
Creole culture goes back to the Colonial Era. French and Spanish peoples brought it with them from the Old World where they had been influenced by much earlier contacts with African peoples.
Catherine Picard & Jean Pierre Prud’homme
The National Park Service traces the American origins of this culture to 1725. Catherine Picard, daughter of a New Orleans trader, married Jean Pierre Philippe Prud’homme, a former marine and trader from Natchitoches.
The French-born couple went to a military and trading post. Imagine a world where cultural exchanges and marital unions among European, Canadian, African, and American Indian cultures produce a unique frontier society heavily influenced by the French.
Ex-soldiers like Prud’homme moved out from the post to make a living as traders, hunters, and farmers along the Red River, known in this area as Cane River.
As indigo and tobacco farming supplanted other livelihoods, colonists relied more heavily on the enslaved African workers who had helped build the colony. (Source: National Park Service)
The Cotton Kingdom
Cane River National Historical Park tells the story of King Cotton.
Visitors will find two plantations named Oakland and Magnolia. These amazing places depict the story story of cotton and the people whose lives revolved around it.
Plantations That Were Like Small Cities
Oakland and Magnolia were like small cities before the Civil War. Oakland had about 150 enslaved workers, and Magnolia about 250. Slaves picked cotton. They also worked as blacksmiths and carpenters.
Visitors can see where these people lived and worked. They learn about their culture too. Locals are available to tell the stories which give listeners insights into the people and their culture.
“These activities really take what could just become a historical museum, and put the people back in the story,” says Julie Ernstein, assistant professor of anthropology at nearby Northwestern State University.
CHECK OUT: 15 MUST-SEE Historic Sites In Georgia
2. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
New Orleans is widely recognized as the birthplace of jazz and the sites and structures associated with the early history of jazz remain in the city. Jazz is America’s most widely recognized indigenous music art form; performance and appreciation of jazz is worldwide.
Our #2 Historic Site In Louisiana pays homage to this incredible history. Welcome to the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.
The park was established in 1994 to recognize the significant contributions that New Orleans and its musicians have made to the development and evolution of jazz.
Things To Do
Here are some things to do at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park:
- Attend a concert: The park offers free live jazz performances by local musicians in its visitor center and other venues throughout the city. The concerts are a great way to experience the vibrant energy of New Orleans’ jazz scene and to discover new musicians.
- Take a guided tour: The park offers a variety of guided tours, including walking tours of historic jazz sites in the French Quarter, and tours of the park’s visitor center, which features exhibits on the history of jazz in New Orleans.
- Join a music workshop: The park offers music workshops for people of all ages and skill levels. These workshops cover a range of topics, including jazz improvisation, brass band music, and drumming.
- Visit the Jazz Museum: The park’s visitor center includes a jazz museum that showcases the history and development of jazz music in New Orleans. The museum features exhibits on jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton, as well as interactive displays that allow visitors to explore the rhythms and sounds of jazz.
- Explore the French Quarter: The park is located in the heart of the French Quarter, a vibrant and historic neighborhood that is home to many of New Orleans’ most famous jazz clubs and music venues. Visitors can stroll through the streets, soak up the atmosphere, and listen to live music at some of the city’s most iconic jazz clubs.
CHECK OUT: 20 Best Black History Sites For You To Visit
1. The National World War Two Museum
More Than Just Parks has selected the World War Two Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, as the #1 Historic Site In The Bayou State.
Why Select The World War Two Museum?
World War Two was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, and it had a profound impact on the world in a number of ways.
Here are some of the key impacts of World War Two:
- Loss of life: World War Two was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, with an estimated 70-85 million people losing their lives, including civilians and military personnel.
- Economic devastation: The war had a significant impact on the global economy, with many countries suffering from severe damage to infrastructure, loss of productive capacity, and high levels of debt.
- Rise of the United States and Soviet Union as superpowers: The war had a major impact on the geopolitical landscape, leading to the emergence of the United States and Soviet Union as the dominant global superpowers.
- Formation of the United Nations: The war also led to the formation of the United Nations, which was created to promote international cooperation and prevent future wars.
- Holocaust and genocide: The war saw the perpetration of horrific atrocities, including the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime in Germany.
- Technological advances: The war spurred significant advances in technology, particularly in the fields of aviation, medicine, and communications.
- Decolonization: The war also contributed to the decolonization of many countries in Africa and Asia, as imperial powers such as Great Britain and France lost their ability to control their colonies.
Things To Do
What can you see at The National World War Two Museum? Perhaps a better question would be: What can’t you see? I’ve been there and this place is simply awe-inspiring. In my humble opinion, you won’t find a better museum anywhere in the world which tells the story of the United States in the Second World War.
Among the activities that you should see, I recommend the following:
- U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center
- Campaigns of Courage: The Road to Tokyo and The Road to Berlin
- Traveling Exhibits: Fighting for the Right to Fight; Manufacturing Victory: The Arsenal of Democracy; Infamy: December 1941
- Louisiana Memorial Pavilion
- Kushner Restoration Pavilion
- Beyond All Boundaries
- Final Mission: The USS Tang Experience
- The Merchant Marine Gallery
- The Soda Shop
- The National World War II Museum Store
The New Orleans Factor
The museum features the story of a New Orleans native named Andrew Higgins. What did he do? Well, according to Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, Higgins was “the man who won the war for us.”
Higgins, a local industrialist, and his 30,000 employees here in New Orleans built more than 20,000 “Higgins boats.“ Capable of carrying 36 combat-equipped infantrymen, a Jeep and 12 troops, or 8,100 pounds of cargo, the LCVP featured a crew of four and could float in 3 feet of water, reach a speed of 12 knots, and was protected by two .30 caliber machine guns.
Used in North Africa, Italy, France and across the Pacific, and by the U.S. Army to cross the Rhine River into Germany in March 1945, the Higgins Boat became the standard personnel landing craft for the military during World War II.
There’s a gallery space in the museum dedicated to Higgins and his company’s creation, and it is a powerful testament to the American ingenuity that was so integral to defeating the Axis powers.
If you’re interested in learning more then I heartily recommend Andrew Higgins and the Boats That Landed Victory in World War II by Nancy Rust & Carol Stubbs.
CHECK OUT: 25 BUCKET-LIST Famous Landmarks In America
List Of Historic Sites In Louisiana
- The National World War Two Museum
- New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
- Cane River Creole National Historical Park
- Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve
- Poverty Point National Monument
- Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge
- USS Kidd
- Audubon State Historic Site
- Port Hudson State Historic Site
- Mansfield State Historic Site
Why Trust Us About Historic Sites In Louisiana?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, U.S. Forest Service, and more for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
And, in 2018, our father – having spent a lifetime teaching history – joined us so that he could help us to tell the stories behind these amazing places.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!