Great River Road

State: Louisiana
Length: 773 Miles
Time to Allow: Allow at least 3 hours

The Great River Road spans over two thousand miles starting in Louisiana and heading up to Minnesota. If you stay strictly in Louisiana, the byway takes you up 773 miles starting at the coast and moving up toward Arkansas. A massive portion of the byway borders Mississippi as it’s home to the Mississippi River. If you are into architecture, take this road to visit 12 Louisiana plantations between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Start out on the water at the very edge of the state where water meets land. Visit Fort Jackson, a historical location dating back to the Civil War. Move up the coast with spars land surrounded by water and stop at Shell Beach near Lake Borgne before heading to New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. The small beach is free of commercial property and a great place to camp or take your RV. It’s a great place to fish and boat with a little bit of space to swim in a lagoon.

Next, New Orleans is a wonderland for those who love the nightlife. The French Quarter is a must for unique architecture. Stop at the Boutique du Vampyre and grab a new set of teeth for a unique detour. If you like the goth life, then visit the Cities of the Dead, where tombs are built up instead of into the ground. Visit the busy wharf next with incredible views of water and cityscapes. Steamboat on the Mississippi River on the Natchez to cool off on hot days. End the day with a beignet and cafe au lait at the historic Cafe du Monde or Morning Call.

The next big city following the great river in Baton Rouge. Visit the past in the Capital city with nightlife, shopping, and arts. A must is the Sing the River Sculpture on Florida Street to open your artistic senses. The rest of the city offers architectural wonders like the Old Governor’s Mansion, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and the Rural Life Museum. Of course, you must break off and tour six gorgeous plantations with a tour right on the byway.

Going north, the trail follows the river closely rich with culture and culinary delights. Plantations make this part of the trip amazing but so does the Great River Road Museum in Darrow, which just happens to be near a famous Plantation. Visit the expansive gardens, dine at three restaurants, and even spend a night in a luxurious cottage on the property for an exquisite night. It’s a great place to try some traditional Cajan food at the Latil’s Landing Restaurant dating back to the 1770s!

For a little more history, visit a few historical sights on this byway, including the Louisiana State Cotton Museum or Grants Canal Historical Landmark. The area is drenched in water and history, ready to take your breath away. Take a week or two and follow the trail all the way up the country, visiting ten states and enjoy a variety of cultures. Make sure to look for Native American culture along the way as they depended on the river for quality life.

More Louisiana Byways

You can check out additional Byways in Louisiana by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Louisiana Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.