If you’re looking for more ways to spend quality time with your toddler and help him or her reach their full potential, try opting for outdoor adventures. Sure, looking for pianos for toddlers or taking them to ballet and swimming classes might develop their personalities but children also need plenty of time spent outdoors, having fun with their parents. So, next time you’re in Louisiana, make sure to take your kids swimming, fishing or kayaking.
The Deep South region of the United States may not be your first traveling destination on the map but it offers so many diverse opportunities to spend your spare time that you should take it into account. Bordered by Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi, the climate is perfect for spending time outdoors almost all around the year.
Apart from the rich heritage with strong influences of French, Haitian, Spanish, African, and Native American cultures, this Dixie state is blessed with a diverse biosphere, full of plants, animals, and insects that are worth observing.
So, if you are thinking of new ways to keep your toddlers and children entertained, pack your bags and head to one of Louisiana’s finest destinations to enjoy the true Southern experience and hospitality. Here are some activities you must do next time you’re around.
Thanks to its subtropical climate, forests, and sources of freshwater, Louisiana is one of the major North American migratory corridors for thousands of species of birds. Combined with the rest of the plants and insects that provide shelter and plenty of food for birds, there is no doubt that you will here find the wildlife you were looking for.
Birdwatching has increased in popularity in the past few years as new technologies allowed people to use a series of devices, including monoculars, binoculars, and high-resolution cameras to observe animals, birds, and insects in their own habitat.
Nowadays, with little over $500, you can purchase a decent pair of binoculars and all other accessories required for a wildlife adventure that will help you learn more about nature and spend quality time outside, away from all technological distractions.
Louisiana has plenty to offer in the field of birdwatching, both for aficionados and newbies. For instance, in Bossier City, you can go to the Red River National Wildlife Refuge and enjoy over 200 species of migratory shorebirds and songbirds, as well as wading birds, and waterfowl.
The Louisiana State University Campus lakes in the state’s capital, Baton Rouge, are the perfect place to spend a couple of days admiring the views. The surroundings are said to host nearly 200 bird species, including herons, egrets, and ibises. During the colder months, you can also get to see the white pelicans.
One of the oldest urban parks in the United States, City Park in New Orleans hosts 1,300 acres of fields, live oaks, and hedges. They are home to migrant flycatchers, tanagers, orioles, wood-warblers, grosbeaks, and others. And, if you’re tired after your birdwatching experience, you can head to the famous French Quarters at night and enjoy the city’s authentic vibe.
Another place that you should definitely visit if you’re a bird enthusiast is the small town of Cameron, as it is the home of the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. Here you can find a wide array of geese, ducks, killdeer, great blue herons, cormorants, snowy egrets, and many more.
And, thanks to the gravel trail, you can easily install your tripod and capture the best pictures with your camera.
Paddling and kayaking
More than 15% of Louisiana is covered in water, making the state a paradise for water lovers. There are hundreds of rivers, bayous, marshes, and swamps that await you. The easiest way to enjoy the state’s unique ecosystems is to grab your paddles and start canoeing or kayaking.
Head toward Shreveport to the North, in Bayou Dorcheat, where you can also enjoy forests of cypress, tupelo, and mixed hardwood, home of other migratory birds and plenty of animals and reptiles, including alligators. This is the perfect opportunity to teach your children how to swim or paddle while spending plenty of time outdoors, breathing fresh air, and learning more about nature’s wonders.
Spend a day at the beach
Paddling and birdwatching imply physical exercise which is great for your muscles but could prove tiring in the long term, especially if you’re bringing children with you. So, why not take some time off and enjoy a quiet, lazy day at the beach?
It is said that one of Louisiana’s best-kept secrets is its beaches, so make sure to read ahead to find the perfect spots for tanning and swimming. Just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, you’ll find some perfect white-sand beaches, in Mandeville.
The barrier island of Grand Isle is a two-hour road trip south of the Big Easy and it offers over 10 miles of coastline and sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. In Lake Charles, near the border with Texas, you’ll find some other rare white-sand beaches about 20 miles inland from the ocean, perfect for a lazy afternoon sipping your favorite cocktail.
You can also bring your binoculars along as there will be plenty of bird species to see in their natural habitat.
Fishing is not only popular but a source of sustainable living for many locals here in Louisiana. And, since more than 15% of the total surface is covered by water, it comes as no surprise that this Dixie state provides plenty of fishing opportunities for newbies and professionals alike.
According to many locals and visitors, Louisiana has some of the best freshwater fishing spots on Earth, so there is plenty of fish in the sea to catch. All year-round, from January to December, you’ll have a chance to catch catfish, white perch, sauger, drum, redear sunfish, and other species.
In fact, Toledo Bend, located in Western Louisiana, was named the best bass fishing lake in America twice by the Bassmaster’s magazine. This makes it a popular destination for professional anglers, amateurs, and even families with children, so don’t miss it out.
Another popular destination for fishermen is Venice, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the great river of Mississippi. Here, you’ll find a wide selection of tuna, trout, redfish, and snapper, so pack your rod and reel and head there before sunrise.
You cannot leave the state before taking a relaxing chartered boat ride through the (in)famous swamps of Louisiana. It is the perfect opportunity to explore wildlife and plants, teaching your kids more about the local wonders. If you book a tour, you will also get to enjoy Cajun food and good music, some of the state’s most common features.
But what could be that special on a boat tour? For starters, you’ll get to meet the famous wild alligators under canopies of Spanish moss. And, if you’re lucky enough, you may even reach one of the traditional Cajun villages accessible by boat only. Other local wonders include discovering the owls, turtles or the swimming feral pigs.
If you don’t fancy a one-on-one meeting with a gator, you can always buy a souvenir from the local shops that will remind you of one. They are a popular meat choice in the area, so make sure to taste the local cuisine, including the delicious burgers or the swamp platters, filled with fried fish and alligator meat.
The Salt Domes
Do you enjoy a tint of Tabasco hot sauce over your fries and burgers? If the answer is yes, then you have to take a one-day trip to Avery Island, a salt dome located just 20 minutes away from the Cajun town of New Iberia.
There, you will find the family-owned company that has been making the iconic hot sauce since 1868. You can enjoy a factory tour and see how it is made, and even taste some delicious local specialties that go perfectly with the spiciness of hot Tabasco sauce.
But the real treat of the area is the Jungle Gardens of Avery Island, a semi-tropical landscape that covers 170 acres and is the home of massive oaks, bamboo, alligators, and hundreds of species of flowers.