Top 10 Things To Do Along the Cajun Coast

Experience all the attractions near Franklin, Morgan City, Cypremort Point, Baldwin and Patterson in southeast Louisiana.

Things to do Canoeing in St. Mary's Parish, Louisiana

Head out on the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail to access 135 miles of water in St. Mary's Parish.

1. Bayou Teche Paddle Trail

Of the countless reasons to visit St. Mary Parish, also known as the Cajun Coast, the biggest among them may be the land itself. Bayous and cypress forests, scenic driving byways and paddling trails — if you want to see some of America’s wettest wild places, you need to be here. Gear up for a trip down the part of the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, 135 miles of Atchafalaya swampland with conveniently located access points that allow canoeists and kayakers to go for short day trips or more ambitious multi-day journeys. 

2. Gaming

A little bit of Vegas in south Louisiana? Sure! Amelia Belle Casino, downriver from Morgan City in Amelia, is home to 800 slots as well as table games including blackjack, craps and roulette. 

Cypress Bayou Casino, located on the Chitimacha Indian Reservation, is a top regional destination for dining and gaming. Its 1,300-plus slots and more than 35 table games are just part of the draw — Cypress Bayou also has three restaurants with outstanding dishes that include praline-coated chicken and biscuits at Mabel’s Kitchen, and mouthwatering steaks at Mr. Lester’s Steakhouse.

3. The Bayou Teche Scenic Byway

Driving the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway, one of the 19 driving trails that make up the Louisiana Byways & Trails system, is an awesome intro to the area’s culture, history and geography. On it, you’ll find the Chitimacha Museum in Charenton (home of the Chitimacha Tribe), the Wedell-Williams Aviation & Cypress Sawmill Museum and the International Petroleum Museum & Exhibition.

4. Cajun Cuisine

The Acadians (now known as Cajuns) who migrated to south Louisiana in the 1700s knew how to live off the land, and that resulted in a unique culinary tradition that has made the region world-famous. Find authentic, locally sourced Cajun delicacies at such restaurants as Bayou Lagniappe in Berwick, Annie Mae's on the Bayou in Franklin, and Mr. Lester's Steakhouse and Mabel’s Kitchen at the Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel in Charenton. Best of all, check out the Shrimply Delicious Food Trail to sample the freshest and tastiest shrimp dishes in the area and win prizes for it!

5. History Tours

Of course you could read a history book about Cajun culture, but why not see it in person? One noteworthy stop is the Franklin Historic District. Most of these homes (more than 400 of them) were built in the late 1800s, and the turn-of-the-century structures situated near the railroad lines make Franklin an unforgettable, picture-worthy place.

6. Swamp Tours and Cypremort Point

Swamp tours offer a quick, convenient way to get up close and personal with southern Louisiana's natural wonders. Part Cajun history lesson (since the people and swamps are inextricably linked), part eco-adventure, you’ll witness the Atchafalaya Basin’s awesome beauty while learning about the fur trappers, crabbers, crawfish fishermen and farmers who carved out a living in the nation’s largest river swamp and is also known as “America’s Foreign Country.”

No trip to the Cajun Coast would be complete without seeing the coast itself. Cypremort Point State Park’s half-mile stretch of sandy beach makes for a perfect getaway where visitors can picnic, swim and try their hand at crabbing. Sailing here is especially popular as well.

7. The Southwest Reef Lighthouse

There’s no mistaking the Southwest Reef Lighthouse when you see it: A large red monument to the glory days of south Louisiana’s fishing industry. Built in 1858, this Berwick attraction in Atchafalaya Bay was built to replace lightships that had been guiding boats to shore well over a century ago.

8. Houseboating

Spending the night on a houseboat is an unforgettable way to experience the wilds of the Cajun Coast. Hear the sounds of the swamps set against the backdrop of dense forests, with the comforts of home within arm’s reach. Fire up the grill, cast a line, gaze at the stars, go on mini-excursions into the bayous, and most of all — relax. Services like Cajun Houseboat & Rentals, Inc. can get you set up for a fun waterside getaway you'll never forget.

9. Golf the Atchafalaya Golf Course

In Patterson, head to the Atchafalaya Golf Course at Idlewild, part of the Audubon Golf Trail to find a unique 18-hole course surrounded by wildlife and designed to provide dramatic views of the Atchafalaya Basin. 

Rich wildlife and native flora accompany the five lakes and ten natural wetland areas which give the course a nice balance between competition and the stunning views. All skill levels are welcome and golfers can warm up at the on-site practice facility or grab a meal at the clubhouse restaurant.

10. Noteworthy Louisiana Festivals

*Check festival websites for up-to-date info.  
There are plenty of unique, local festivals, the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. The Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival (April, in Franklin) celebrates the native Louisiana black bear, which is found almost exclusively in the state, with live music and boat tours of the Bayou Teche.

And don't miss the enormously popular Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival in Morgan City. This festival honors two of the region’s most prominent industries, hosting local and nationally touring musicians, arts and crafts displays, the Children’s Village and the Blessing of the Fleet. 

In October, the Chitimacha Pow Wow in Charenton honors the local Native American tribe with competitive dancing and drumming.