Road trips across America are a great way to spend time bonding with friends and family, but they are also a great way to discover often-overlooked spots in the country. Sometimes the unlikeliest of spots are places we take for granted, like Visitors Centers, which dot the country’s roadways and welcome us to each state we enter.
Visitors or Welcome Centers are often thought of as a great place to stop and use the bathroom or grab a hot cup of coffee and a roadmap, but Atchafalaya Welcome Center in Louisiana is proof that sometimes Visitors Centers are well worth the stop.
This fascinating Welcome Center is certainly home to all the amenities you might need for a stop on your road trip, but it is also happens to be located in the heart of Atchafalaya Basin, the home of America’s largest river swamp. Visiting a swamp may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you visit Louisiana, but the truth is they are fascinating places that make up a large portion of the southern landscape and home to an impressive array of flora and fauna.
You can explore the center’s exhibits that showcase the area’s plants and animals and catch a movie about the local history, cultures and lifestyle of the peoples that learned how to conquer the elements and coexist with this challenging environment. The surrounding grounds are worth spending some time as there is an impressive system of walking trails that let you take in some of the local landscape, view statues of many of the animals that call the area home, and even catch a glimpse of local wildlife if you are lucky.
The Welcome Center is also conveniently located to a few other spots worth visiting before or after your stop, like Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, Prehistoric Park, places for boating and fishing, taking a swamp tour and grabbing a bite to eat from a local eatery.
Located off of exit 121 (in both directions) along I-10, this interesting Visitors Center lands on many road trip routes as I-10 will take you all the way from California to Florida. It is free to visit and open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
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