Named for a legendary 19th-century pirate, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve includes six sites scattered throughout Louisiana that offer outdoor activities, history lessons, swamp tours, and more. See them on an airboat tour of Barataria Preserve in Marrero—a 26,000-acre (10,521-hectare) wetland rich in wildlife.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve and the Barataria Preserve are within easy reach of New Orleans and can be visited in a half day or less. Choose an airboat tour that fits your style, from a slow, sleepy crawl to watch wildlife to a thrilling high-speed ride through cypress swamps. Nature guides onboard point out alligators, turtles, snakes, and other swamp critters.
Explore the history and traditions of the Acadian or Cajun people through exhibits, dioramas, crafts, and live performances at the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice, and the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux. History buffs should visit the site of the War of 1812’s Battle of New Orleans at the Chalmette Battlefield and Chalmette National Cemetery.
Things to Know Before You Go
- For your safety, never approach alligators or other wild animals.
- Louisiana is often hot and humid, so stay hydrated and wear sun protection.
- Ask about the preserve’s Junior Ranger program for kids.
- The visitor centers at all sites and the environmental education center trail at the Barataria Preserve are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The six sites that are part of the park and preserve are scattered throughout southern Louisiana. Detailed maps and directions can be found on the National Park Service website or from the visitor center located at 419 Decatur Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Most swamp tours include transportation from New Orleans.
When to Get There
The Barataria Preserve is open Wednesday-Sunday from morning until afternoon, and the French Quarter Visitor Center is also open Tuesday-Sunday from morning until afternoon. All sites except the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice are closed on federal holidays and Mardi Gras.
Understanding Cajun Culture
Cajuns are descended from the Acadian people who emigrated from Northern France to Canada and later Louisiana, and Cajun culture is distinct from the more urban Creole heritage found in New Orleans. To experience Cajun country and culture, book a swamp and bayou tour. Visiting swamps and cultural centers such as those in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is a great way to explore the history and traditions of this ethnic group.