Louisiana

The US state of Louisiana is the birthplace of jazz! But the hot and humid southern state in the Gulf of Mexico has more to offer than just music. Come with us on a journey to the Mississippi River, the alligator-infested swamps, and the Pelican State's African-French Creole-Cajun cultural mix!

Louisiana facts

Capital: Baton Rouge
Area: 134,264 km²
Population: about 4.7 million
Location: Southeast USA
Nickname: Pelican State, Bayou State, Creole State
State animal: Pelican
Time zone: Central: UTC−6/−5

Louisiana: location & population

Louisiana is located in the southeast of the USA in the Gulf of Mexico. On the land side, the "Pelican State" borders Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Because of its long Gulf coast and the large Mississippi River, Louisiana is one of the top five states in the USA with the most water.

Many Cajuns, an ethnic group displaced from Canada, still live in Louisiana today. They mix with the descendants of Spanish and French colonists, the Creoles, and the large African-American community in the Pelican State.

In addition, there is a large Honduran community living in Louisiana. Approximately 3.5% of the population speaks Spanish, French, or Louisiana Creole and Cajun at home.

The biggest cities in Louisiana

The exciting Louisiana mix of French, African, and French-Canadian cultures is also evident in the city names in the Pelican State. The largest cities in Louisiana by population are:

City Population
New Orleans 400,000
Baton Rouge 221,000
Shreveport 190,000
Metairie 140,000
Lafayette 126,000

Climate and nature in Louisiana

The state of Louisiana is subtropically hot and humid. Summers are usually above 30 °C, and in winter, it is still a full 15 °C warm in the south. Only in northern Louisiana can frosty nights occur in some winters.

Louisiana is one of the wettest states in the USA. Especially in summer, you have to expect many thunderstorms and heavy rain. Hurricanes are not uncommon either, and some of them can be very violent, as Hurricane Katrina showed us in 2005.

Louisiana can be divided into distinct natural regions: freshwater and saltwater zones, prairies and barrens, flatwood regions, pine forests, Mississippi floodplains, and the Red River river valley.

Much of Louisiana consists of wetlands. Swamp tours give you a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the so-called bayous (Cajun term for standing or slow-moving waters). You'll see alligators, owls, snakes, herons, pelicans, otters, and turtles on a boat tour.

Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina destroyed some parts of Louisiana in August 2005. An estimated 1,500 people lost their lives. The damage and aftermath of the storm were still clearly visible years later. To this day, the people of Louisiana are divided over whether the reconstruction is complete and satisfactory.

Visually, the Pelican State can certainly show its face again. However, many residents complain about the increased rents caused by the reconstruction. The US government invested ten billion dollars in new floodwalls.

Best time to visit Louisiana

Do you like hot and humid heat? Then you'll love summer in Louisiana! For the rest of us, we recommend a visit in spring or fall, when temperatures are milder, and you can take long hikes through Louisiana's enchanting state parks.

Louisiana in spring

A lovely day at the beach, a hike or bike ride along scenic nature trails, or a visit to the more than 600 festivals held throughout the year in Louisiana is most fun in the spring.

Take a walk through thriving parks, take a river cruise, linger in cafes with hearty Creole food, or visit one of the wildlife refuges and learn all about Louisiana's spectacular wildlife

Louisiana in fall

With mild fall temperatures, the festival season continues in Louisiana. Visit the Sugar Cane Festival in New Iberia or the Voodoo Music & Art Experience in New Orleans. The famous Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport also takes place in the fall.

When the deciduous trees are already glowing in fiery colors, a trip to Clark Creek Natural Area just over the border from the neighboring state of Mississippi is a great idea. A visit to a cornfield maze is also a very special fall adventure.

Mardi Gras in Louisiana

Do you like crazy parades? Then come to Louisiana in February for the annual Mardi Gras celebrations.

Also called "Fat Tuesday," the festival represents Shrove Tuesday and is celebrated throughout Louisiana, especially in New Orleans. Parades and masquerade balls take place over five days. The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith.

How to get to Louisiana

If you fly to Louisiana from Europe, you usually pay a reasonable €430 to €500 for a flight to New Orleans and travel between 15 and 18 hours with two stops.

Travelers from the African and Asian regions are on the way for 30 hours and more. Flights from Mumbai are amazingly cheap, at only about €830. The best flight bargains can be found from Nicaragua (€321) or from Canada to Monroe (€280).

The most important airports in Louisiana are:

  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
  • Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport
  • Shreveport Regional Airport
  • Lafayette Regional Airport
  • Alexandria International Airport
  • Monroe Regional Airport

Louisiana travel authorization

If you do not yet have a Green Card and are not a US citizen, you will need to apply for an ESTA or US Visa for your trip to Louisiana.

ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!

Louisiana airport transfer

If you have taken one of the affordable flights to New Orleans, the following transfer options are waiting for you at the airport:

Taxi

Cabs will pick you up at a special cab loading zone on the plaza in front of the baggage claim on Level 1, Door 7. A ride from the airport to the Central Business District (CBD) or the French Quarter (west of the Elysian Fields) costs $36.

Shuttle bus

A shuttle service is available for $24 (per person, one way). These fares include three pieces of luggage per person. You can get a ticket at the Airport Shuttle counter on Level 1 of the baggage claim between doors 3 and 4.

Public transport

Service from the airport to downtown New Orleans is provided by the Jefferson Transit Authority (JET) and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Buses are available at the curbside outside the ticket lobby on Level 3. You can get a ticket starting at $2.

Other options

SShuttles to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport rental car station depart from the terminal around the clock. Lyft and Uber ride-sharing services also have their own pickup points at the airport. You'll find them behind exits 7 - 9 (Lyft) and 9 - 11 (Uber), respectively.

Louisiana state parks and natural wonders

Louisiana's subtropical climate and expansive wetlands make a trip into nature a unique experience in the Pelican State. Here are the most beautiful places in Louisiana:

Chicot State Park

Quiet hiking trails lead you through rustic wetlands at Chicot State Park as you pass by turtles, alligators, and impressive bald cypress trees.

Rent one of the waterfront cabins, or enjoy rustic tent camping at one of the old campsites. The waters here invite you to take a tour by canoe or motorboat.

Fontainebleau State Park

Fairytale sunsets above the gentle waves of Lake Pontchartrain, a glass of wine on the patio of your beach cabin, and long days on the hiking and biking trails along the beautiful wildlife refuges make a weekend at Fontainebleau State Park a perfect vacation. Tip: Bring some rubber boots because the water is often higher than expected in the wetlands.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve

Don't be surprised if, on your hike through this jungle-like park, a giant alligator suddenly lies in front of you. This is quite common in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park. Sometimes, there's even a cute little monkey hanging in the trees. The best way to find your way around is with a ranger. He will also help you discover and get to know the diverse wildlife in this reserve.

Top 10 sightseeing highlights in Louisiana

The following places in Louisiana are must-sees and should definitely be on your travel list:

  • R.W. Norton Art Gallery
  • Margaritaville Resort Casino
  • National World War II Museum
  • Lake Charles
  • Vermilionville
  • French Quarter, Jackson Square and Bourbon Street (New Orleans)
  • New Orleans Museum of Art
  • Oat Alley-Plantage
  • Aquarium of the Americas
  • Melrose Plantation

Louisiana city highlights

On a city trip through Louisiana, you will encounter the historic antebellum building style from the colonial era in many places. What this chapter of American history means to many of the people living here is best told on a historical city tour.

Booking.com

City Highlights New Orleans

New Orleans is considered the jazz capital of the world. Creole, African, French, and Spanish influences give the historic city a unique flair. Besides music, festivals, and the games of the New Orleans Saints football team, the city also has a lot of art, great architecture, and - around Mardi Gras - spectacular Mardi Gras parades to offer.

These are the places you should see in New Orleans:

  • French Quarter and Jackson Square
  • National World War II Museum
  • Garden District
  • Mardi Gras World
  • New Orleans City Park

City Highlights Baton Rouge

Today's college town of Baton Rouge on the banks of the Mississippi River is the former center of "Plantation Country," where one cotton plantation stood next to the other in the days of slavery. Book a historical city tour or a "plantation tour" to learn the truth behind the pompous antebellum estates and the region's history.

These are the places you should see in Baton Rouge:

  • Louisiana’s Old State Capitol
  • Magnolia Mound
  • USS KIDD Veterans Museum
  • BREC’s Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center
  • Blue Bayou Water Park

City Highlights Shreveport

On the Red River, the second most important river in Louisiana, lies the cultural hub and gambling city of Shreveport. Here, old riverboat casinos, many different museums, and spectacular neon lights await your discovery. The Red River National Wildlife Refuge is also worth a visit.

These are the places you should see in Shreveport:

  • R. W. Norton Art Gallery
  • Shreveport Water Works Museum
  • Sci-Port Discovery Center
  • Louisiana State Exhibit Museum
  • Shreveport Aquarium

City Highlights Lafayette

If you love good food, Lafayette is the place to be. The southern city is famous for its exceptionally high density of restaurants and the best Cajun cuisine. You'll also find plenty of entertainment, club and street music, and world-famous festivals.

These are the places you should see in Lafayette:

  • Vermilionville Historic Village
  • Acadian Cultural Center
  • LARC’s Acadian Village
  • Lafayette Science Museum
  • Acadiana Center for the Arts

Roadtrip in Louisiana

A road trip through the US state of Louisiana takes you to idyllic small towns with southern charm, breathtaking nature, and the best restaurants in the USA. You'll experience the vibrant nightlife and daily surprises in the form of extraordinary roadside attractions.

Drive over the beautiful Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and along the Northshore. Stop at unusual museums (Britney Spears Museum, Abita Mystery House, Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum) and artworks along the roadsides, and explore the rich history of Louisiana.

Instagram hotspots in Louisiana

The beauty of the US state of Louisiana is in the details in many places. Here are the best Instagram hotspots in the Pelican State.

  • Oak Alley
  • Lacombe
  • Six Flags New Orleans
  • Gatorville, The Cajun Village and Coffee House
  • Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans

Food highlights in Louisiana

We can sum up Louisiana's many flavors with the words "Cajun" and "Creole." There are three mandatory ingredients following the French model: finely chopped onions, sweet peppers, and celery. There's no shortage of sweet treats either.

Try these dishes during your Louisiana vacation:

  • Gumbo — Seafood or meat stew with okra and tomatoes
  • Crawfish Étouffée — Rice stew with lobster and herbs
  • Beignets — Baked dough pieces with powdered sugar
  • Po’boy — French baguette with meat, mayonnaise, lettuce, cucumber, and tomato
  • Muffuletta — Round sandwich with Italian cold cuts, garlic, olives, and cheese
  • King Cake — Braided cake ring with cinnamon and colored icing, served around Mardi Gras
  • Boudin — Smoked sausage with rice and meat filling

Louisiana fun facts

We bet you haven't heard these exciting facts about the US state of Louisiana:

  • Louisiana has one of the largest alligator populations in the United States: There is approximately one alligator for every two people.
  • The city of Rayne hosts an annual frog festival and is considered the frog capital of the world.
  • Louisiana is home to the largest bridge in the world that crosses a body of water. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is over 38 km long.
  • The nickname "Pelican State" comes from the many pelicans that once inhabited the Gulf Coast of Louisiana.
  • There is no official language in Louisiana. English, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese are spoken.

Moving to Louisiana

Are you as excited about Louisiana as we are? It's only understandable if you want to stay. Our tips for living and working in the Pelican State might help:

Working in Louisiana

Louisiana's major industries include agriculture and fishing, construction, food service, shipping, oil and gas production, coal mining, and food processing. With its many salt mines, Louisiana is also one of America's largest salt producers.

Financial professionals, food service workers, drivers, salespeople, cashiers, and managers are constantly in demand in Louisiana.

Louisiana also has an unusually high number of people working as riggers (shipbuilding profession), sailors, marine engineers, and captains compared to other states. The highest-paying occupations in Louisiana, based on average salary, are physicians and mining safety engineers.

Living in Louisiana

Louisiana residents love most about their state: the architecture, the lakes and wetlands, the signature scents, the good food, and - especially - the low cost of living.

Well, you'll have to make friends with heat and humidity if you live in Louisiana. However, there are clearly identifiable seasons here, which bear different fruit. So you'll find something delicious to be happy about in every season.

What's important is that as a new American, you have respect for the state's past. Louisiana is a special US state with a remarkable history of its own.

Come to Louisiana with a Green Card

Having a Green Card allows you to live and work in the USA indefinitely. However, getting the desired US immigrant visa through a job is not that easy.

That's why we recommend you try your luck at the Green Card Lottery. Every year, the US government raffles off 55,000 Green Cards. Sign up now - it's just a few clicks!

Green Card CheckAre you eligible?