We’ve all heard that road trips are “in” right now. It’s just you and the open road … and your kids asking, “Are we there yet?” every three minutes. As summer starts to simmer down and the crispness of fall starts to creep in, what better time for a family road trip? Located less than an hour from New Orleans, Lafourche Parish – also known as Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou – is the perfect destination for a trip with a truly personal feel.
"UP" AND "DOWN" THE BAYOU
In Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, there’s no north or south; all directions are given as “up” or “down” the Bayou – as in Bayou Lafourche, the body of water that nearly bisects the parish. Highway 1 and Highway 308 traverse this waterway, and this road trip allows you to follow one of those roads for dozens of miles. (Or both – you can criss-cross over bridges along the way.)
START AT THE VISITOR CENTER
Start your tour in Raceland, at Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Visitor Center. This facility is home to photos, videos and even virtual reality exhibits that tell of the food, events, culture and great outdoors of Lafourche Parish. You should pick up two things while you’re here: a Cajun Bayou Food Trail passport (more about that later) and information about the Lafourche Live Oak Tour, a driving tour designed to help visitors explore a fascinating tourism route.
HEAD ON DOWN
And now it’s time to officially get on Highway 1 or 308 and head on down the Bayou. Your first stop is Lockport, home to a 440-foot elevated boardwalk that meanders through the natural swamps and wetlands so you can view wildlife ... including those famous alligators. Nearby you’ll find the Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building, where you can see all the ways people have traversed the waterways here over the years.
As you head further down the Bayou, stop at the Cajun Pecan House in Cut Off to get a sugar rush that will keep you going the rest of the day. The shop offers everything from roasted pecans to decadent pecan pies and pralines.
Your next stop is Leeville, a village whose famous pier is one of the best fishing spots in the area. If you’re looking for a higher thrill and can invest a little more time, there are plenty of charter captains ready to take you into the Gulf of Mexico to see what sort of scale-tipping specimens you can reel in.
GET IN TOUCH WITH NATURE
End your tour all the way down the Bayou, in Port Fourchon, which has installed viewfinders throughout a 40-acre recreation area to support birders in their quest for peace, tranquility and plenty of additions to their birdwatching “life list.” During migration seasons –fall and spring – you can count nearly 300 species as the birds arrive and depart via the Mississippi Flyway.
TRULY AUTHENTIC CUISINE
All the way up and down the Bayou, local restaurants offer truly authentic Louisiana cuisine. The Cajun Bayou Food Trail now boasts 17 stops. Armed with a special trail map and passport (available at the visitors center and participating restaurants), road-trippers can take in countless smells and tastes of the Bayou before collecting a free T-shirt.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
To help plan your fall road trip to Louisiana's Cajun Bayou, check out our interactive map below that includes all of the stops mentioned in this article!