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Visiting The Swamps of Louisiana with Kids – 6 Useful Tips

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Louisiana is a family-friendly destination that shouldn't be missed. Its swamps and bayous offer a thrilling peek into nature's untamed side. When we took our kids to explore these natural wonders, it became an adventure we all cherish.

An alligator popping out of the water on a swamp tour in Louisiana

Planning is key for a smooth swamp visit with kids. We've gathered six crucial tips to guide you. These cover everything from staying safe around the wild inhabitants like alligators to keeping those pesky mosquitoes at bay.

This guide is your starting point for a memorable swamp exploration with your family in Louisiana. Whether it's spotting wildlife, avoiding bugs, or choosing the right swamp tour, we've got you covered. Let's make your trip as exciting and safe as possible.

1. Safety First!

Seeing alligators, snapping turtles, and banana spiders up close is exciting! Just keep in mind that the native wildlife is wild. This isn't a zoo, and the animals can be dangerous.

Don't scare your kids, but talk to them in advance about not touching any animal unsupervised by a parent.

During a swamp tour, the kids are very likely to be invited to touch an animal, so carry hand sanitizer with you to use after the encounter.

Reptiles can carry salmonella and other pathogenic bugs, and younger children are more susceptible to infections than adults.

Covered Swamp Tour Boat at Honey Island Swamp with Green Trees Covered in Spanish Moss in Louisiana

2. Protect the kids from mosquitoes.

Swamps have a reputation for being mosquito-infested. However, when we toured the Honey Island swamp, we were surprised to see just how bug-free the air was.

Our guide explained that swamp water is not as still as it seems. It keeps moving slowly, so mosquitoes have difficulty breeding in real swamps.

That said, not all watery places are swamps, and it's hard to tell the difference just by sight. Some of the smaller bodies of water are bayous. Water doesn't flow as much in bayous areas, and as a result, these areas can have a lot of mosquitoes.

So, come prepared. By that, I don't just mean bug-repellant. If your kids are as sensitive as our Dan was (he was 7 years old at the time), a head net may be in order.

It's the one item that allowed him to visit the Wildlife Gardens at Gibson without freaking out over the pesky mosquitoes. Of course, long sleeves and long pants helped too -

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: Protecting the kids from the bugs was crucial. Dan wouldn't go anywhere without his Mosquito head gear

3. Go On A Boat Tour In A Swamp

You don't have to wander far into Cajun country for a swamp boat tour. We took ours at Honey Island Swamp, just half an hour from New Orleans.

Several companies offer tours in this wildlife conservation area, and most also provide transportation from and to your NOLA hotel.

Tour companies encourage you to make reservations in advance, but they also accept drop-ins. Traveling with kids, the last thing you want is to arrive and discover there's no room for your family on the boat.

I wouldn't book a tour months or weeks in advance, either. I think it's best to check the weather and then book one or two days in advance.

Our swamp tour was pretty awesome. It was fairly spontaneous, en route to New Orleans and the last tour of that day. The late hour and the cloudy sky resulted in poor picture quality. I'm sorry about that! I think you can still see how beautiful it was, though.

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: Take a swamp tour

The kids were 7 and 9 then and had to wear life jackets.

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: Take a swamp tour. This was taken during our Swamp tour of Honey Island.

The first part of the boat tour takes you through a river. Eventually, you reach the more magical areas of the swamp.

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: Take a swamp tour. This was taken during our Swamp tour of Honey Island.

Swamp Tour

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: Take a swamp tour. This was taken during our Swamp tour of Honey Island.

The tours don't disappoint. It's not possible to take a swamp boat tour and not see alligators, and there's a good reason for that.

The tour guides know where specific alligators live, and they feed them during the tour. In a sense, these alligators are semi-trained to show up when the tour boats do.

According to our guide, the gators' staple foods are hot dogs and marshmallows! Why marshmallows? My theory is that they're cheap, easy to store on a boat, and easy to stick on the long rod they use to make the alligators jump out of the water for their treat.

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: Take a swamp tour. This was taken during our Swamp tour of Honey Island. Feeding alligators on a swamp tour in Louisiana.

Our boys were the only kids on the boat, so the guide let them feed the gators, too! He helped them a little, but it was still very exciting for our little guys!

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: Take a swamp tour. This was taken during our Swamp tour of Honey Island. Feeding alligators on a swamp tour in Louisiana.

As if that wasn't enough, the tour guide opened a storage box on the way back and pulled out a baby alligator and a baby turtle. He passed them around and explained more about them.

I'm not too keen on using animals that way, but he explained that tour operators have special permits to keep these animals for educational purposes.

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: Take a swamp tour. This was taken during our Swamp tour of Honey Island.

Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids and taking a boat tour are a must! There's hardly any other way to see the swamps, anyway. Whatever you do, don't miss out on that adventure!

Looking for ideas for day trips from Florida? This post is for you.

4. Experience the swamp at night time

Swamps look mysterious at any hour, but they become even more so at night. The sound of the wetlands at night is something I will never forget.

You can experience that by taking a nighttime boat tour into the swamps. I'm not sure this would be a positive experience for young children. Frankly, I'd be scared to go on the water at night.

Instead, we slept at an authentic Cajun B&B in Gibson, LA. It's called the Wildlife Gardens B&B, and it's run by a local Cajun couple, Betty and Vernon Provost.

The cabin was fairly basic but clean and with a great screened porch. It had everything we needed and was on a local bayou's water. We were glad the porch was screened, as there were many flying bugs around us.

We spent the evening sitting on the porch listening to the amazing sounds of the animals. Who knew frogs could be that loud? Giant turtles swam under our cabin, and we could see them from the porch!

Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids would not have been complete without a nocturnal experience, and this was a great alternative to a boat tour, which could have been too scary.

5. Meet the locals

Cajun country is about the culture and people as much as the natural habitat. The two are connected. The Cajun culture evolved around life in the swamps of Louisiana. Meeting our hosts, Vernon and Betty, the following morning added a new dimension to our experience.

Over a hearty-cooked breakfast, they told us about life in the bayous, past and present. One of their sons joined us and showed us photos of huge alligators he had hunted in the area.

Betty then took us for a tour of the grounds, including a visit to the enclosure of their three large breeding alligators and the shed full of their offspring... Betty and Vernon keep alligators just like some people keep chickens!

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: meeting people AND gators!

So, if you get a chance, try to meet the locals!

6. Try the local food

Louisiana is a foodie's paradise. When traveling with kids, we do not usually opt for gourmet food, but fortunately, the local cuisine includes some great simple foods. A sausage, beans, and rice dish is simple enough for kids.

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: trying the local food

In my experience, once we find a local food that our kids will eat (not always easy!), they relish the thought that they're trying something local and authentic. If you're traveling with a couple of finicky eaters, you can try the beignets.

They're like little round donuts, so it's hard to go wrong with them.

6 tips for Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with kids: trying the local food

As always, have fun! Louisiana is a special state with many unique things to see and do; it's the perfect family destination!

Over to you now - have you been to Louisiana already? I'd love to hear more ideas and tips for traveling with kids in Louisiana, so please share yours in a comment!

Looking for tips on taking a family road trip? See our guide here.

Visiting the swamps of Louisiana with Kids

 
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2 Comments

    • Hi,
      We tried to avoid walking in weeds and stayed on paths/paved areas where possible. There were spiders everywhere, but they were easy to spot. We didn’t see any snakes though. I think it’s really just a matter of using common sense and being alert to your surroundings, more than anything.

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