Things to do Near Palmetto Island State Park

What’s in a name? Plenty. At Palmetto Island State Park, visitors are treated to a jungle-like environment of native hardwoods, cypress trees and the abundant dwarf palmettos found throughout the park. These, plus the cabins, water playground, boardwalk and hiking trails, make Palmetto Island State Park a sought-after and celebrated south Louisiana nature preserve.

Get into the waters of Palmetto Island State Park in a canoe, available for rental by the hour or day, or bring your own boat. A boat launch is available, and visitors have the option of venturing out into the Vermilion River or setting course for the dense canopies of trees covering the swamps.

Paddle through partially submerged stands of cypress, serenaded by the sounds of wildlife. Listen for the familiar calls of the King of the Swamp — the alligator — and keep a close watch on the shoreline for other native fauna. Birding is a popular pastime here, as Palmetto Island State Park is located within the migratory route known as the Mississippi Flyway.

Or you can stay on land, enjoying the boardwalk and biking/hiking trails that wind through the park and a pier where sunset views are guaranteed to ease stress. An aquatic pavilion gives visitors views of the Vermilion River and a splash park (with adjoining bathhouse) guarantees hours of fun for families with younger visitors.

Overnight guests have options, ranging from backcountry campsites to deluxe cabins overlooking the Vermilion River. Tent campsites overlook a lagoon along the canoe trail, and numerous RV sites are available for use near the heart of the park. The six cabins come fully equipped with the creature comforts of home, have fireplaces for use on the occasional chilly nights, and the screened-in porches are perfect for settling in for an evening of dinner and drinks.

Nearby Attractions

Many visitors headed to Palmetto Island State Park pass through the town of Abbeville along the way. This is the Vermilion Parish seat and is rich in Cajun cultural history dating back to the 1700s. Be sure to check out the historical homes in town, and, to get an idea of what the Abbeville of yesteryear looked like, check out the local antiques found in the Sam Guarino Blacksmith Shop Museum. Other local history stops include the Depot at Magdalen Place (a converted 1894 railroad depot with antiques, handcrafted gifts and Cajun souvenirs), the Louisiana Military Hall of Fame & Museum (featuring wartime relics) and Abbeville Cultural & Historical Alliance Center.

Hungry visitors looking for authentic Cajun cuisine: Come to Abbeville. The city is blessed with many restaurants upholding local culinary traditions. One of the biggest names in the region’s restaurant scene, Shucks!, serves up oysters whose recipes range from the old-school (oysters Rockefeller) to the truly unique (Rough-Neck oysters served with cream sauce and jalapeño peppers, Candied oysters served with cheese and sugarcane pepper glaze). Many other local dining spots serve up tasty south Louisiana cuisine; the shortlist includes Dupuy’s, RiverFront, Little Big Cup, Richard’s Seafood Patio and Cajun Claws.

Abbeville isn’t just known for its rich history and rich meals. It’s also known as the home of one of Louisiana’s most noteworthy — and sure, maybe a little offbeat — festivals. Named the Giant Omelette Celebration, this beloved annual November event brings together both locals and visitors for a family-friendly weekend where folks gather ’round the skillet to see 5,000 eggs turned into a truly massive omelette. Other fun facets of the Giant Omelette Celebration are the arts and crafts show, the antique car exhibitions, live music and a grand procession of cooks on their way to the skillet that is set up in the middle of town.