5 Best State Parks Near New Orleans

A stone bridge and mature trees near water and an orange rectangle with words that read,

New Orleans. The Big Easy. Crescent City. The Birthplace of Jazz.

Whatever you call it, this Louisiana city is world renowned. It's known for its colorful history, incredible food (and cocktail!) scene, lively music culture, Southern hospitality, and so much more. 

One thing New Orleans isn't known for, however, is being a major nature-focused or outdoor destination. But hold that thought. 

New Orleans is actually surrounded by fascinating nature, with only-in-Louisiana landscapes and wildlife. It's true that you have to venture outside the city to find it, but you may be very pleasantly surprised at just how accessible some of the best outdoor destinations are. 

We did the research and found five exceptional state parks near New Orleans, all very different and some as close as 15 minutes from the city!

Best State Parks Near New Orleans

A glamping tent setup on the beach at Fontainebleau State Park, one of the best state parks near New Orleans
Photo credit: Tentrr

1. Fontainebleau State Park

Situated on the northern shores of massive Lake Pontchartrain, this is one of the closest state parks near New Orleans — and understandably one of the most popular. 

Fontainebleau State Park has something for everyone. There are sandy white beaches, watersports rentals so you can explore nearby Cane Bayou in a kayak (watch for gators!) or charter a boat to fish the lake, and even the remnants of a former sugar mill. The state park is built on the site of a sugar plantation, built in 1829!

One especially unique thing about Fontainebleau is that it offers secluded glamping tents as a lodging option for visitors. Louisiana was the first state to partner with glamping company Tentrr to offer these sites in 10 sites around the state, including several other state parks near New Orleans. 

The glamping sites at Fontainebleau are on raised platforms and most are accessible via boat only (including kayaks). You can bring your own inflatable kayaks or have one delivered right to your site from Bayou Adventures. The company also delivers bicycles. 

Mandeville, the lakeside resort city, is just 10 minutes away, historic Covington is about 30 minutes away, and New Orleans is 45 minutes to one hour, straight across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. 

Fun fact: the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is a whopping 24 miles long (23.83, to be exact!) and was the longest bridge ever built when it was constructed in 1956. To this day, it's still the world's longest bridge over water!

A boardwalk in Fairview-Riverwalk State Park, one of the most historic state parks near New Orleans

Photo credit: RV Life

2. Fairview-Riverside State Park

Another state park sitting on Lake Pontchartrain's north shores, Fairview-Riverside is a smaller destination that's easily overlooked, often overshadowed by the much larger Fontainebleau.

While Fairview-Riverside State Park has plenty of gorgeous scenery and natural features, the star attraction is actually a historic home.

Otis House is an elaborate estate that was built in the 1880s for a wealthy sawmill owner. He left it to the state park in 1962 and in 1999, the waterfront building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can tour the home seasonally from Tuesday through Saturday.

Back to those natural features — the pristine, sparkling Tchefuncte River runs right through Fairview-Riverside State Park. It's crystal clear, which is not at all common for Louisiana waterways, much less in state parks near New Orleans!

Enjoy the river's unique photo ops and wildlife watching, and bring your fishing gear. Redfish, trout, bluegill, and bass are all consistently good catches here, and you can fish from a boat or even right from shore. River crabbing is also popular!

Elevated cabins on the bayou in Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, one of the most unique state parks near New Orleans

Photo credit: Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

3. Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

Like many other areas in Louisiana, this state park sits at the crossroads of several different bodies of water and in a region that's been heavily influenced by numerous cultures in its long history. 

The park is located smack in the middle of multiple bayous, the Atchafalaya River, and Lake Fausse itself, in what's known as the Atchafalaya Basin. This is the largest swamp in the entire country!

At different points in its centuries-long history, Lake Fausse Pointe State Park has been occupied by Chitimacha Native Americans, Cajuns, and French settlers. Nearby historic sites reflect these very different influences. 

Explore the park by hiking its elevated boardwalks or rent a kayak or canoe from the visitor center. Lake Fausse Pointe is one of the only state parks near New Orleans that has an official canoe trail! This is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with the impressive partially submerged cypress forest. It's definitely one of those only-in-Louisiana experiences!

There's also an adorable (and appropriately alligator-themed) children's splash pad, and the elevated cabins with private docks offer a unique waterfront escape. 

Situated right between New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette, it's easy to plan a getaway to Lake Fausse Pointe State Park even if you don't have much time. 

A boardwalk leading to the gorge area in Bogue Chitto State Park, one of the best state parks near New Orleans

4. Bogue Chitto State Park

North of the Big Easy, Bogue Chitto is one of the newest state parks near New Orleans. It's quickly becoming a fan favorite, though, with its offering of sandy beaches, excellent fishing and wildlife viewing, and plenty of outdoor recreation. 

The Bogue Chitto River and 11 small lakes are at the heart of the state park, offering swimming, kayaking, and fishing, but that's just the beginning. 

The park also features leisurely hiking trails, many of them on elevated boardwalks, plus 14 miles of horseback riding trails. You can even take guided horseback rides or "rent" a horse to ride on your own.

Other especially unique features among Louisiana state parks include the 14 miles of single-track mountain biking trails and disc golf course. There's also a fun water playground for the little ones. 

At the end of the Gorge Run Trail, you'll find quite the surprise. Fricke's Cave (a misnomer, as it's not a cave at all) is an open gorge-like area with notable elevation change, home to hundreds of tiny, delicate sandstone spires. It's certainly not the type of thing you expect to see in The South!

The spires are created by a combination of water erosion and the unique pebble surface. They're so delicate that they need to be protected, so the park has built a series of boardwalk paths to offer visitors a great view and photo ops from a safe distance. 

Floating cabins at Bayou Segnette, one of the closest state parks near New Orleans

Photo credit: Heart of Louisiana

5. Bayou Segnette State Park

Many state parks near New Orleans are on lakes or bayous, or even the Gulf, but Bayou Segnette is right on the Mississippi River. 

Because of its unique geography, you can enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fishing here. There is some accessible shore fishing, but the best opportunities are found via boat, including for the best bass, trout, and redfish. 

Visitors can also explore Bayou Segnette in canoes or kayaks, getting close to the unique swamp and marshes. You can keep the theme going by booking one of the 12 "floating" cabins right on the water, highly regarded as some of the nicest accommodations in the entire Louisiana State Parks system.

Finally, one of the most popular features at Bayou Segnette State Park is its family-friendly wave pool. Open from Memorial Day through August, this pool is the place to be on hot summer days!

Best of all, Bayou Segnette is just 15 minutes from downtown New Orleans. Whether you're a local looking for a quick "getaway" or a visitor who wants to experience both Louisiana's unique nature and all that New Orleans has to offer, this state park allows you to do it easily. 

 

Have you ever been to any of these state parks near New Orleans? Show off your favorite, and your love for the Big Easy and Louisiana in general, by bundling a few Travel Tokens from The Wander Club!

Consider getting a Louisiana State Token and a New Orleans City Token in addition to State Park Tokens for your favorite destinations!

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