What is Louisiana known for

Mardi Gras, Jazz, and Cajun are some things we instantly associate with Louisiana, but what is Louisiana famous for besides these?

Located in the Deep South, Louisiana shares a border with Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and it has the Gulf of Mexico to the south.

In 1812, Louisiana was the 18th state to enter the union and the 31st largest state. With a population of about 4 650 000, it is the 25th most populous state. As one of the poorest states, It usually ranks very low in terms of average education, healthcare, and overall development.

Officially nicknamed the “Pelican State,” Lousiana is sometimes also called “the bayou state,” “Creole State,” “Sportsman’s Paradise,” and even “The Boot.”

So, let’s explore what is Louisiana famous for!

15 Things Louisiana is known for

French Colonization, culture, and Language

France initially colonized Louisiana in the 17th and 18th centuries when the explorer René-Robert Cavelier claimed the Mississippi Valley. It was claimed in 1682, but the first permanent settlement was made only in 1699 in Fort Maurepas.

The colony struggled with disease, food shortages, and conflicts with local Native American tribes and was eventually abandoned in 1702. Other French colonies were more successful, like New Orleans and Baton Rouge. However, in 1763 France ceded the territory to Spain through the Treaty of Paris.

In 1800, Spain returned Louisiana to France, but Napoleon Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the USA in 1803 in the famous Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the USA.

You should note that the Louisiana Purchase included a territory that was much larger than the current Louisiana state. The acquired area had a total of 828,000 sq mi and cost fifteen million dollars or approximately eighteen dollars per square mile.

What is Louisiana known for
St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana | photo by sepavone via Depositphotos

French heritage

Although relatively short, the French colonization left a huge mark in Louisiana, and as a result, the state has a rich and well-known French heritage and culture that can be seen even today.

This influence can be seen in the state’s cuisine, architecture, language, and traditions. Some of the state’s most influential dishes are french inspired, like beignets, gumbo, and Jambalaya. The French Quarter in New Orleans is famous for its distinctive French colonial architecture.

Furthermore, while English is the state’s primary language today, certain regions still speak French, especially in New Orleans and Cajun country. Thus, many Louisianans are proud of their heritage and culture, including the world-famous Mardi Gras, which we will explore below.

Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras celebrations are deeply ingrained in the state culture and history, making it one of the most famous things in Louisiana. The celebrations in New Orleans usually attract people from all over the world because of their unique identity.

Mardi Gras means “Fat Friday” in French and marks the beginning of the Lent season for Christians. Louisiana celebrates it with parades, costumes, beads, bright colors, delicious foods, drinking, dancing, and other extravagant celebrations.

We can trace Mardi Gras to the French colonization when settlers held masquerade balls and other festivities to celebrate the beginning of Lent. With time these celebrations evolved into parades, parties, and elaborate multi-day celebrations.

Each Mardi Gras parade is organized by a different Krewe (basically a social club) with its own unique identity and theme. They prepare floats, costumes, and throws that are used in the parade. The tradition involves throwing beads and other trinkets to the crowd. It’s an incredibly fun celebration filled with joy and a strong community spirit.

What is Louisiana famous for
Traditional cake of Mardi Gras – King Cake | photo by fahrwasser via Depositphotos

Cajun food and culture

The Cajun food and culture are other notable things about Louisiana. The Cajuns are descendants of the French-speaking Acadian people who were expelled from Canada in the 18th century and settled in Louisiana.

After settling, they developed a distinct culture and cuisine, which features elements of their French Heritage and influences from other cultures, such as Native-America, African and American. They have contributed to the unique cultural tapestry of the state.

One of the Cajuns’ most celebrated and appreciated features is Cajun cuisine. Famous for its bold flavors, large use of spices (particularly cayenne pepper and paprika), and techniques like roux-making and blackening.

Some of the most popular dishes of Cajun cuisine are gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, and boudin. They are characterized by using local ingredients like seafood, rice, and sausage.

famous things about Louisiana
Jambalaya Cajun food – Famous Louisiana | photo by bhofack2 via Depositphotos

Bayous and swamps

The bayous and swamps are the most typical ecosystems found in Louisiana. They are the most iconic and distinctive features of the Louisiana landscape.

Both swamps and wetlands are wetland ecosystems characterized by flat lowlands filled with water. The swamps are usually dominated by trees and other woody vegetation and standing water with soil oversaturated with water, usually near rivers and lakes.

Bayous are usually slow-moving creeks, swampy rivers, or lake sections often lined with trees and other vegetation. Usually, they don’t have trees inside or woody vegetation. So, they are similar but not exactly the same.

They are both home to a variety of plants and animals, including alligators, snakes, and a wide range of bird species. They are an essential part of Louisiana’s natural and cultural heritage. For this, they are a popular setting for art, literature, music, and movies.

They are also one of the main attractions in Louisiana, and many travelers are keen to explore the state’s wetlands and experience the Cajun and Creole culture that developed. There are many bayou and swamps tours available.

Well known things about Louisiana
Swamps are one of the most famous things in Louisiana | photo by YAYImages via Depositphotos


The alligator is the most iconic animal in Louisiana. Between 1.5 and 2 million alligators live in the state’s swamps, bayous, and other wetlands. The extensive wetlands system covers over 1.5 million acres of land in Louisiana, providing the perfect habitat for this animal to prosper.

Alligators play an important role in the wetlands system controlling the populations of other animals, such as snakes, turtles, and fish, while serving as a shelter and ample food source.

Alligators are also relevant to the state’s economy and culture. They are raised for meat and skins, with a regulated hunting season. Gator meat is used in some of Louisiana’s dishes. They are also one of Louisiana’s tourist attractions, and travelers enjoy wildlife tours, where gators are always one of the highlights.

Because of this enormous importance and iconic stature, the alligator is the official state animal and an essential source of revenue and inspiration in literature and art.

Everything about Louisiana
Alligator in Lake Martin in Louisiana | photo by mfmegevand via Depositphotos

Jazz Music

What is Louisiana known for? Many people will immediately think of Music, notably Jazz Music.

Louisiana is considered the birthplace of Jazz music, in the late 19th century, in New Orleans. This unique American musical genre emerged from the city’s thriving nightlife with a vibrant music scene, with numerous dance halls, saloons, and clubs where musicians performed.

New Orleans was a major port city with a diverse population of African Americans who had been brought to the city as slaves, free people of color, Caribbeans, and European immigrants. Their cultures blended to create a unique musical style.

Jazz incorporated elements of ragtime, blues, brass band music, and other genres. It quickly spread beyond New Orleans to Louisiana and the rest of the USA. Some of the best-known jazz musicians came from Louisiana, like Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, and Wynton Marsalis.

Although it has transcended the state borders for a long time, Jazz continues to be an essential part of Louisiana’s identity and one of the best places to enjoy this unique music style as there are many jazz festivals, music venus, and other events.


What is Louisiana known for in food? Crawfish is among the most common answers, as this delicacy is native to Louisiana’s freshwater streams, rivers, and swamps.

The Crawfish (or crayfish) is a freshwater crustacean similar to small lobsters or shrimp. Typically harvested from January to June, they are caught using baited traps or nets.

As one of the most popular ingredients in Louisiana, they are a key component of the cuisine and culture of Louisiana. Crawfish are usually boiled or steamed before being served, but they are also used in dishes like etouffee, gumbo, and jambalaya. Or served on their own with corn, potatoes, and sausage.

The crawfish popularity made the state the largest producer of crawfish in the USA, and an important part of the economy, contributing to employing thousands of people and generating millions in revenue.

Interesting things about Louisiana
Crawfish is a popular ingredient in Louisiana | photo by bhofack2 via Depositphotos

Oil Industry

Crawfish may be a popular and extremely well-known product in Louisiana, but no industry is as significant as Oil and Gas. Along with Texas, North Dakota, and Alaska, Louisiana is one of the top-oil producing states in America.

With an output of about 70 million barrels in 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration accounts that Louisiana produced about 7% of the total US oil production and 8% of the Natural Gas.

Louisiana’s oil industry goes back to the 1900s when the first well was drilled in 1901 Jennings. Soon after, the Jennings Oil Field was discovered and became one of the largest in the country at the time. From that moment, the industry developed, and most major oil companies came o the state, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Shell.

Oil Industry is naturally one of the state’s largest job providers and revenue sources, but it is also facing challenges, particularly environmental and the impact of natural disasters.

Hurricane Katrina

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina became one of the most famous things about Louisiana as it unfolded to be one of the most significant and devastating events in Louisiana and American history.

Along with Texas, North Carolina, and Florida, Louisiana is one of the most vulnerable states to hurricanes. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico fuel hurricanes, making Louisiana’s state prone to these giant tropical storms.

Katrina was “only” a category three hurricane, with winds up to 125 miles per hour, but it generated a very large and powerful storm that caused significant damage due to its strong winds, storm surge, and rainfall. This severe storm surge and flooding led to the failure of levees and floodwalls in New Orleans, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, causing significant damage, and killing almost 1400 people.

The hurricane caused significant damage to the city’s infrastructure, including homes, businesses, and schools. It is considered one of the most destructive hurricanes to hit the United States and estimated costs of around $161 billion, the most in history.

Furthermore, the images of the floods, the destroyed buildings, and the despair of the people for weeks are what really made Hurricane Katrina continue to be on everyone’s minds.

French Quarter

The French Quarter is the oldest and most significant historic neighborhood in Louisiana. Located along the Mississippi River, it is famous for its distinctive architecture with narrow streets and lively atmosphere – day and night.

Founded in 1718, it was built with a grid pattern on high ground above the Mississippi River to defend against floods. As one of the best-preserved examples of French and Spanish colonial architecture in the USA, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Today the French Quarter is filled with art galleries, museums, restaurants, bars, and music venues, attracting millions of visitors annually. Another famous feature tourist love is the historic streetcar system that serves the city, particularly the French Quarter with St. Charles Avenue and Riverfront lines.

Now operating for over 150 years, it has become part of the city’s culture and history. It is also a great and easy way of seeing the French Quarter and other historical landmarks.

Facts about Louisiana
Houses in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana | photo by Hackman via Depositphotos

Mississippi River

Stretching over 2 300 miles from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River is the second-longest river in the USA. Because about 600 miles of the river course and the extensive delta mouth are in Louisiana, it plays a massive role in the state’s geography, culture, and economy.

This privileged location made it a critical transportations and trade hub in the early days of settlement in the area. The Mississippi is the heart of almost all economies, connecting a vast area in the interior of the USA to the global markets.

In this regard, the invention of the steamboat revolutionized river transportation in the whole area, providing a faster and more efficient way of moving goods and people. The steamboats quickly became part of the landscape and are still a fascinating tourist attraction today.

Besides transporting goods like cotton, sugar, and tobacco to markets across the country, the river delta was also at the center of the development of Louisiana’s unique Cajun and Creole cultures, as mentioned above.

what is Louisiana known for
Steamboat in the Mississippi River in New Orleans | photo by f11photo via Depositphotos

Plantations, cotton, and sugar cane

Plantations played a huge role in Louisiana’s development and history, dating back to the 18th century when French colonizers established the first agricultural estates.

Louisiana’s plantation produced various crops, including sugar, cotton, tobacco, and indigo. Among these, we need to highlight sugar and cotton. During the 19th century, Louisiana was the USA’s largest sugar cane producer. Furthermore, by 1860 it produced about 800,000 bales contributing to about 1/6th of all American cotton and 1/3 of the exports.

Naturally, Plantations had a crucial role in Louisiana’s economy and society, but they were built on the backs of enslaved Africans brought to work the land. They were forced to work long hours in the field and were subjected to violence, abuse, and dehumanization. It was a brutal slavery system that took place until the end of the civil war.

Despite this dark history (or maybe because of that), the plantations became popular attractions drawing tourists worldwide. Some have been preserved and have been opened as museums. They serve as a reminder of the past and symbols of the struggle for equality and justice in the USA.

Some of the most famous plantations include:

  • Destrehan Plantation – established in 1787, is the oldest documented plantation.
  • Oak Alley – famous for its iconic row of oak trees that frame the entrance to the estate
  • Laura Plantation – established in 1804, is known for Creole architecture and its rich history of enslaved people who lived and worked there.
  • Houmas House – once one of the most prosperous sugar plantations in the state.
  • Belle Grove Plantation of White Castle – one of the largest plantations ever built in Louisiana and the South.
Cool things about Louisiana
Houmas House in Louisiana | photo by Hackman via Depositphotos


Beignets are another dish highly associated with the state of Louisiana. They are a fried dough pastry made by frying squares of dough until they become puffed up and golden brown and topped with powdered sugar.

Although highly associated with New Orleans, Louisiana, beignets have originated in France. Cafe du Monde in New Orleans has been serving beignets and coffee since 1861 and has become one of the most beloved institutions in the State.

Most visitors to New Orleans make sure they go to Cafe Du Monde to savor their famous beignets. They are traditionally prepared to be eaten fresh and hot before consumption. They are mostly eaten at breakfast, but sometimes also as a dessert.

With time, beignets became an essential part of Louisiana’s cuisine and can be found in many cafes and bakeries throughout the state.

Louisiana cuisine
Traditional Louisiana pastry – Beignets | photo by bhofack2 via Depositphotos

Fun facts Louisiana is known for

What is Louisiana known for? Many cool things, as described above, but it is also home to many fascinating records, fun facts, and curiosities. Some of them are pretty well-known. Let’s examine a few of our favorites:

  • Louisiana was named after and in honor of Louis XIV, the king of France.
  • The brown pelican is officially the state’s bird. It is also featured in the state’s flag.
  • The tallest state capitol in the United States is in Baton Rouge.
  • Louisiana is home to the largest salt dome in the United States, the Avery Island salt. It has been mined for salt since the early 19th century.
  • Louisiana still operates under the Napoleonic code. It’s the only state to do so.
  • Louisiana doesn’t have counties. It has parishes.
  • St. Charles Streetcar line in New Orleans is the world’s oldest continuously operating streetcar line.
  • The first Opera conducted in the USA happened on May 22, 1796, in New Orleans.
  • Poker was invented in Louisiana in the 19th century.
  • The Atchafalaya Basin covers over one million acres, making it the world’s largest freshwater swamp.
  • The Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans is the largest enclosed stadium in the world.
things about Lousiana
State capitol Baton Rouge is the tallest state capitol in the United States | photo by sepavone via Depositphotos
  • Cover photo by f11photo via Depositphotos

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