Winter can be a miserable experience for a significant portion of Americans. If you’re sick of cold, dreary weather but can’t exactly afford a vacation to Jamaica, then take a trip to Louisiana. You can get away from the worst of the winter weather without even crossing an ocean or packing your passport. If you’re looking for mild weather, look to Louisiana. 28.7 million people visited Louisiana in 2014, according to state tourism officials, which shows a trip is definitely worth your time. The winter season is short-lived enough that you can enjoy the outdoors just about any time of year. Read on to find out what you need to know about visiting Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, regardless of if you go in January or June.
If you haven’t heard of “wildlife tourism,” that’s ok. It basically means a type of tourism that revolves around going outside and interacting with nature. It can refer to hunting, fishing, or even just sitting and watching birds. Louisiana’s nickname is the Pelican State, so it makes sense that 2 million people a year visit the state to take part in wildlife tourism. TV shows like Swamp People further enhance the state’s reputation as a place full of abundant natural wildlife.
The wetlands in Louisiana are a must-see experience. There are about 10,000 square miles of wetlands in the state, and they stretch as far as 30 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. There’s also a ton of unique animals and plants that are hard to find outside of a wetland environment. If you’re looking for good news, see if you can spot brown pelicans. The beautiful birds almost went extinct because of exposure to DDT, but things are finally looking up again for this species.
You can also find raptors in South Louisiana. When we say “raptors,” we don’t mean the kind that exist in Jurassic Park. Think instead of birds like ospreys and barred owls. While you’ll want to spend most of your time looking at nature, you’ll still need to access your phone for some things. Mobile chargers that can get batteries up to snuff while birdwatching can be found at one of the many AT&T stores in Louisiana and are worth the trip. No one wants a drained battery upon arrival at the bayou. Besides needing to reach each other locations or place an emergency call, visitors will also need plenty of battery space to take stunning photos or download iBird Pro, an interactive app that helps identify more than 960 species.
Louisiana beaches don’t have the same reputation as beaches in Florida or Georgia, but the state is still home to plenty of sand and surf. If you want white-sand beaches, you can find them here. Start with a visit to Grand Isle State Park, which is the only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana. Look out upon the beautiful Gulf of Mexico while you enjoy a picnic full of Cajun foods. If you’re still thinking about birding, there’s a gigantic birding habitat right on the island. Why choose between watching birds and watching waves when you can do both?
Believe it or not, surfers can also ride the waves without leaving Louisiana. Simply grab your board and head to Port Fourchon. It’s the only surfing beach in the state. That means you’ll have to fight off the crowds during the peak of summer travel season, but it’s worth a trip anyway. You can even do research on your cell phone with the Travel+Leisure App to find the best beaches around the state.