Barataria Preserve

Top choice in Cajun Country

This section of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, south of New Orleans near the town of Marrero (and Crown Point), provides the easiest access to the dense swamplands that ring New Orleans. The 8 miles of boardwalk trails are a stunning way to tread lightly through the swamp, but sadly, the area's wildlife – which does include plenty of alligators – can be tough to spot due to the proliferation of invasive water hyacinth.

Start at the National Park Service Visitor Center (NPS), 1 mile west of Hwy 45 off the Barataria Blvd exit, where you can pick up a map or join a guided wetland walk or canoe trip (call for more information). To rent canoes or kayaks for a tour or an independent paddle, go to Bayou Barn about 3 miles from the park entrance.