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Great Louisiana Destinmations

North Louisiana
    Looking for a quiet and relaxing winter getaway? Located just 20 minutes south of Alexandria, Loyd Hall Plantation is convenient to city attractions, yet far enough to feel a world away. This historic bed and breakfast property was built by William Loyd, a rebellious member of the famed Lloyds of London family, around 1820, and is known for both its Civil War history and ghostly folklore. The family oriented bed and breakfast offers five cottages as well as two luxury suites located in the plantation home.  Visitors enjoy a slow-paced rest and relaxation experience, and many guests have been known to sit and rock on their front porch rocking chair all day, with some wine and a book. All of the cottages are located behind Loyd Hall and include a kitchenette area and private bath with views of the pasture and swimming pool. The Loyd Hall Suites, located on the second floor of the historic home, are 1,000 sq. ft. of luxury living, including parlor room, bedroom and master bath with two-person, clawfoot, air jet jacuzzi tubs.Guests of Loyd Hall can enjoy swimming in the pool, fishing in the bayou, feeding the property’s miniature horses and donkeys, or relaxing on the grounds of the historic property. Perfect for corporate retreats/functions, luncheons, family reunions, weddings and other special events. Loyd Hall is a glance into the old Antebellum south. For more information visit www.loydhall.com or call 888-602-LOYD.
    Everyone loves Natchitoches, so make plans to visit your favorite city this year. Founded in 1714, Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory. This cultural island retains its European flavor through its architecture, heritage and lifestyle. The charming 33-block Landmark district is a shopper’s paradise and a bed and breakfast lover’s dream. 
 New this year is Alive After 5, a six-month series of evening art events, musical theatre, concerts and other cultural events taking place on the first Friday of every month through September.  All events are free and take place in the Landmark Historic District along the scenic Cane River Lake.
     Cane River National Heritage Area Trail includes homes open daily along Cane River, including Melrose Plantation and the Cane River Creole National Historical Parks, located at Oakland Plantation and at Magnolia Plantation Complex. Ft. St. Jean Baptiste, a full-scale replica of the French colonial fort built in 1732, is open daily. Westward along the El Camino Real lie three other state historic sites: Los Adaes, Fort Jesup and Rebel State Park, which includes the Louisiana Country Music Museum. For year-round events, visit www.natchitoches.net.

Places to Stay in Natchitoches
    Travelers looking for a touch of luxury combined with southern charm and history need look no further than the Church Street Inn, located in the heart of downtown historic Natchitoches. The first of its kind in the area, the hotel utilized extensive renovations to combine the historic nature of the inn and the town with the very best in 21st century facilities and amenities. 20 elegant guest rooms are decorated with hand-carved mahogany furniture and furnished with themes taken from the unique history and culture of Natchitoches, while at the same time offering top quality modern features. Visitors can relax in the New Orleans-style courtyard, or enjoy a private balcony overlooking Church Street and downtown Natchitoches. 
     The inn is within easy walking distance of fine dining, shopping, museums, Northwestern State University, and the beautiful Cane River Lake. With its central location, the inn makes an excellent destination for visitors arriving to enjoy summer events such as the Cane River Green Market, which runs every Saturday until the end of July, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the Melrose Arts and Crafts festival held June 13-15; the 4th of July fireworks display and festivities, which run July 3-5; and the Northwestern State University Folk Festival, which runs July 17-19. 
    The inn offers banquet and meeting facilities to accommodate up to 50 people, as well. ADA-compliant facilities cater to visitors’ personal and business needs. 
     For more information on the Church Street Inn, summer events and the surrounding area, visit www.churchstinn.com.
    Ruston and Lincoln Parish will offer visitors a trio of experiences this summer including entertainment, an explosion of flavors and one of Louisiana’s premier festivals.
    On May 9, Aaron Neville will perform at the Dixie Center for Arts. Neville is known the world over for his musical talents as an artist, is regularly featured at the New Orleans Jazz Festival and continues to be one of Louisiana’s most recognizable musical talents. Tickets for the event are $50. The Dixie is North Louisiana’s hub for theatre, the arts and dance. Visit www.dixiecenter.org for more information.
    June 15-Aug. 15, visitors are invited to ignite their taste buds during the first Explosion of Flavor event. The Explosion of Flavor program promotes the area’s locally owned restaurants and their unique cuisine. Be sure to visit www.explosionofflavor.com to see the participating restaurants and download a 10 percent discount coupon to help enjoy the dining experience in Ruston. 
    Named one of The Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society, Ruston and Lincoln Parish will celebrate the 59th Annual Squire Creek Louisiana Peach Festival June 26-29 in downtown Ruston.  Each year, the festival draws thousands of visitors to the community to enjoy Louisiana’s longest running agricultural festival. Visitors enjoy a host of activities, including an antique car show, parade, arts and craft show and other events. The Railroad Park stage delivers three days of diverse music, including Grammy award-winning bluegrass and country musician Ricky Skaggs, who headlines the performances on Saturday, June 27th.  The Squire Creek Louisiana Peach Festival experience is made complete by enjoying the sweet taste of Ruston’s wonderful peaches! Learn more about the peach festival at www.louisianapeachfestival.org or by visiting the events and festivals section on www.experienceruston.com. Ruston and Lincoln Parish, A Peach of a Place to Visit!
    It’s easy to see why Webster Parish is called a "Sportsman's Paradise." Lake Bistineau State Park provides more than 17,000 acres of excellent fishing, duck hunting, boating and waterskiing.  The shoreline boasts outstanding facilities with rental cabins, campgrounds and RV sites. Meanwhile, Caney Lakes, located in the 600,000-acre Kisatchie National Forest, provides more than 350 acres of water recreation, hiking and biking trails and camping facilities.  Visitors can experience duck hunting on a fully camouflaged houseboat with Houseboat Adventures (318-458-4680); go bass fishing with famous BASS Pro, Homer Humphreys (318-371-2020); or canoe down Bayou Dorcheat with Norris Outfitters (318-588-0116).
    Spring and summer events and activities provide terrific fun and entertainment for family vacations and weekend adventures.  On May 2, the Minden Cruisin’ for a Cure Car Show will dazzle auto enthusiasts, with proceeds going to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Center.  The annual Trails & Trellises Garden Tour and Seminars is presented by the  Piney Hills Louisiana Master Gardeners, and will be held May 16.  On June 11, the annual Springhill Rodeo Parade arrives on Main Street in historic downtown Springhill, in advance of the 57th Annual Springhill PRCA Rodeo.  The Champion Park Speedway, located just off Interstate 20, provides thrilling stock car race nights Fridays and Saturdays.
    The newly opened Dorcheat Museum, located in historic downtown Minden, chronicles the rich history and culture of Webster Parish. The Germantown Colony State Museum is one of three colonies founded in the U.S. in the early 19th century by the Utopian Movement of the Harmonist Society, which originated in Germany.
    For a free brochure and detailed map of historic sites, boat launches, campgrounds, RV sites, golf courses, racetracks, state parks, and other recreational and lodging facilities, call 888-972-7474, or go to www.visitwebster.com.

Central Louisiana
    Spring and Summer are in the air and Avoyelles Parish is in full bloom, waiting to offer you a “Bottomless Cup of Hospitality.”  May invites you to three Avoyelles Parish festivals. The Avoyelles Cookbook Festival will be held in the new Avoyelles Commission of Tourism Office, 8592 Hwy. 1, Mansura, on May 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Try delicious local recipes and search through dozens more in local cookbooks available for purchase. Music will round off this first-ever event. The Cochon de Lait Festival is held annually on Mother’s Day weekend, also in Mansura, which is the Cochon de lait Capitale of the World. Festival fun continues with the Tunica-Biloxi PowWow on May 15-18, on the Tunica Biloxi Reservation adjacent to Paragon Casino Resort. On the second full weekend in June, the annual LA Corn Festival will arrive once again in historic downtown Bunkie. Marksville is the place to be every Saturday morning in June at 8 a.m. sharp for the Marksville Farmers Market, along with continuous bicentennial events. As the Avoyelles Parish county seat, Marksville celebrates its 200 years with monthly activities. Additionally, Avoyelles Parish boasts recreational parks and great golfing for the sports enthusiasts, as well as walking trails in the federal and state wildlife managed areas.  Add to this the famous local “joie de vivre,” and you can see why Avoyelles Parish is a choice summer destination.  For event and travel information, check out www.travelavoyelles.com or call 800-833-4195.
    Looking for a little harmony in your life? Concordia Parish, named by the Spanish for “land of harmony,” offers a rural, affordable retreat from the hustle of the city life. Vidalia, with its landscaped and lighted, riverfront walk, offers a panoramic view of the legendary Mississippi River, including the majestic antebellum homes and night life of Natchez, which lie just across the river. The Riverfront Comfort Suites Hotel has a charming patio so close to the river that guests can hear the rustling of the water passing by and throw in pebbles to watch the whirlpools take them under. Spacious guest rooms and an indoor pool and hot tub make it an ideal spot for a getaway. Situated right next door you will find the Riverfront Royale Salon and Med Spa, which is open six days a week and offers a full-service salon, as well as a med spa with an onsite doctor. The new Vidalia Conference and Convention Center offers the most modern and state of the art necessities for any type of event. With more than 18,000 sq. feet of meeting space, a glassed-in promenade overlooking the Mississippi River and a staff that strives to make your event more than you expected, it is the best place for any event, ranging from 30 to 930 people! The nearby Riverview RV Park is “one of a kind,” with secluded, shady parking under the gorgeous oaks. The Delta Music Museum in Ferriday is a music lover’s must-see with the Hall of Fame for Louisiana musicians. Frogmore Cotton Plantation and Gins offers tours of both a historical and modern working cotton plantation with cotton in the fields to pick. Frogmore also boasts a rare steam engine gin and the only, completely computerized cotton gin in the nation. Visitors learn how and why life changed from the 1700s to date. The Duck’s Nest and other local restaurants provide area specialties, and if you would rather catch it and cook it, four large area lakes offer wonderful fishing with public boat launches. Have a golfer in the family? Concordia Parish offers a driving range in Vidalia and a 9 hole golf course in Ferriday. For more information, visit www.seevidalia.com or www.ferridaychamber.org.
    For a beautiful and relaxing summer getaway, be sure to check out St. Francisville and West Feliciana Parish, which offer one-of-a-kind charms, histories and small-town curiosities.  The beautiful riverside St. Francisville Historical district is home to many boutiques, shops and historical sites. Spring and summer events like the Scottish Heritage Festival (May 9), the Day the War Stopped (June 12-14) and the Hummingbird Festival (July 24-25) make for fun-filled weekend excursions. Historical sites, such as the Museum of the West Feliciana Historical Society, showcase local history, art and tradition. Since 1970, the West Feliciana Historical Society has been housed in this classical gable-front hardware store, built in 1895. 
    Outside of town, the rolling countryside provides scenic backdrops to historic sites, churches and cemeteries. Numerous plantation homes, full of legend and stories, dot the landscape.  The Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum provides a touch of intrigue with its many historical artifacts and personal histories from both sides of the prison bars. Outdoors enthusiasts will find numerous parks and gardens, such as the West Feliciana Parish Sports and Recreational Park, Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Afton Villa Gardens or the Garden Symposium Park. 
    Whether you're on a romantic getaway or a family weekend excursion, whether you’re coming for the history, the festivals, the shopping or the outdoors, you'll find what you're looking for in West Feliciana Parish. For more information, visit www.stfrancisville.us.
    The largest of Louisiana’s 64 parishes, Vernon Parish combines rugged natural beauty with unique history and small-town charm to create a great travelers’ destination. Long leaf pines cover miles of rolling hills, and creeks and bayous cut through the hills to flow into beautiful Lake Vernon, Anacoco Lake and the Toledo Bend Reservoir.  The Boise-Vernon Wildlife Management Area and the Kisatchie National Forest provide nearly endless recreational and outdoor sports opportunities. In Leesville, history buffs can browse through the historic district and the Museum of West Louisiana, exploring the rough-and-tumble past of the “Neutral Strip,” a much-disputed territory claimed by French, Spanish and American governments at different times, and often at the same time. Visitors can explore the rich history of the frontier and homesteading days, as well as historic buildings and sites. For visitors more interested in natural history, the parish offers adventures such as canoeing, as well as treasures of petrified wood and fossils. Beautiful Louisiana opal can be found along the Sabine River in the northwest corner of the parish. For artistic treasures, be sure to drop by Gallery One Ellleven in downtown Leesville, a nonprofit collective of more than 25 talented local artists. For more information on attractions, RV and camping sites, or great hotel accommodations, contact the Vernon Parish Tourism and Recreation Commission, 337-238-0783, or e-mail inquiries to vernontourism@bellsouth.net.

Baton Rouge
    Spring and summer are the perfect times to take advantage of all Baton Rouge has to offer. With the great weather visitors can enjoy a collegiate baseball game at LSU or Southern University, visit one of the area’s many plantations or explore the BREC Baton Rouge Zoo. The LSU Tigers have a brand new baseball stadium, and spring travelers can be some of the first to sit in the brand new seats at the Alex Box Stadium. The weather also makes it a perfect time for a walking tour of the downtown area. Against a backdrop of blooming azaleas, visitors can delve into the colorful political history of Louisiana at the Old Governor’s Mansion, the Old State Capitol and the current State Capitol, or delight in the various museums also located downtown. 
    Part of the most musical 125 miles on earth, Baton Rouge has a terrific lineup of spring and summer festivals, shows and outdoor concert series, as well. Fest For All is Baton Rouge’s Premier Art and Music Festival. The festival features an exceptional representation of fine arts and crafts, along with artist demonstrations, kids’ art activities in Children’s Village, live music from blues to classical, performing arts and a variety of Louisiana cuisines. Free and open to all May 2 and 3. For more information, visit www.artsbr.org.  Meanwhile Live After Five is every Friday from April 17 to June 5 in Galvez Plaza, and Sundays in the Park runs every Sunday through May 17 in Lafayette Park. For more information on schedules, artist and lineups, visit www.liveafterfiveonline.com or www.artsbr.org.  
    For more information on events, celebrations and visiting Baton Rouge, visit www.visitbatonrouge.com.

Southwest Louisiana
    In the heart of the “Cajun Prairie,” Acadia Parish offers visitors a host of unique attractions, from Acadian history and folklore, to beautiful historic districts, to year-round festivals and events.  In Crowley, home of the International Rice Festival, visitors are treated to the large historical district, including the Historic Rice Theatre, the restored Crowley Motor Company Building and the J.D. Miller Recording Studio, which is the longest continually running studio in Louisiana, famous for its Cajun, zydeco and country releases. The Zydeco Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway passes beneath a recognized fly-way where wildlife migrate during winter months. It then arrives at Kelly’s Landing LLC Agricultural Museum and Aqua-Culture Tour, where visitors can see and learn about the history, scale and significance of the region’s top exports – rice and crawfish, which are shipped around the world.  The city of Rayne is known as both the Frog Capital of the World and the Louisiana City of Murals, and it won’t take long to see why.  The tree frogs that live in the area have inspired their very own Frog Festival, as well as numerous murals and works of art.  Don’t miss the live frog pond at the Rayne Chamber. 
    This summer, be sure to plan a trip to Church Point, “Buggy Capital of the World.” The 27th Annual Church Point Buggy Festival will be held from June 5-7, with proceeds going to support the Acadia St. Landry Hospital. Enjoy food, drinks, carnival rides, the beauty pageant, contests, dances, arts and crafts, the buggy parade, and music, music, music. With more than 35 famous Cajun musicians in a seven-mile radius, the festival is a showcase of local talent. For more information visit www.acadiatourism.org.
    Visit Cajun Country’s HOT side in Iberia Parish, where visitors enjoy the charms and adventures of New Iberia, Avery Island, Jefferson Island, Jeanerette, Loreauville and Delcambre. New Iberia, the parish seat, is a national Main Street Award winner, where visitors can experience the setting captured in the famed Dave Robicheaux novels by New Iberia native and award-winning author James Lee Burke. America’s oldest operating rice mill and the Gulf South’s only National Trust for Historic Preservation house museum offer tours. Avery Island is home to a world-famous pepper sauce factory and a remote tropical garden island and bird sanctuary for more than 20,000 migrating waterfowl. Jefferson Island’s premiere attraction is the retreat mansion and garden of the 19th century American stage actor Joseph Jefferson, famous for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle. Museums, restaurants, entertainment venues and charming bed and breakfast cottages in lush tropical gardens speckle the area. Uniquely situated as the centerpiece of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, myriad recreational activities abound, including boating, golfing, charter fishing, swamp tours and two of Louisiana’s most visited state parks, which offer opportunities to get close to nature. If you’re looking for a close-to-home weekend getaway or a day trip of touring and shopping this summer the HOT side of Cajun Country is too HOT to pass up! For more information call 888-942-3742, or visit www.iberiatravel.com.
    Iberville Parish invites visitors to explore a unique natural landscape, to savor a rich history and to share in a one-of-a-kind South Louisiana culture. This region, still known for its sugar production and refining, is home to the majestic Nottoway Plantation - the largest remaining plantation home in the southern U.S. where visitors capture a glimpse of antebellum history and grandeur.  North of this site, along Louisiana’s Great River Road, is the quaint Madonna Chapel, which according to folklore is the world’s smallest Catholic church. In addition, Iberville takes center stage as the Atchafalaya Basin capitalizes on its designation as a National Heritage Area – one of only 40 congressionally recognized regions in the country. Picturesque sites such as historic churches, homes and scenic byways are abundant throughout this region and are perhaps most notable in the North Iberville village of Rosedale, where many antebellum homes have been restored into private residences. East Iberville tells a story of its own through the mystique of the Hansen’s Disease Center, an isolated corner of the parish that once served as a contained community for leprosy patients until the late 1980s.  An architectural and engineering phenomenon, the Plaquemine Lock State Historic Site was designed by the same engineer who constructed the Panama Canal, and allows visitors to learn more about the commerce of waterways in an earlier time. As the gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin and at the heart of Louisiana’s Plantation Country, Iberville Parish is a wealth of discovery.  For more information, please contact the Iberville Parish Tourist Commission at 225-687-2642 or visit www.ibervilleparish.com.
    Lafayette has a style all its own - true to its Cajun and Creole cultures.  The area offers arts events, museums, performing arts and festivals celebrating everything from international music to flowers. On Fridays, and during the winter months, the city is a playground for food and music lovers. The Lafayette area features three dancehall restaurants where you can enjoy authentic Cajun food and live Cajun or zydeco music nightly. On weekends, you can literally dance from morning until night, starting with zydeco breakfast at Cafe des Amis, to a Cajun music jam session at Vermilionville, lunch at Mulate's, dinner at Randol's and topping off the night at Blue Moon Saloon. 
    Lafayette has hundreds of restaurants, many of them specializing in authentic Cajun and creole cuisine, upscale Louisiana.  EatLafayette, which runs June 22-Aug.15, is a showcase of the locally owned restaurants that make Acadiana culture so appetizing. These restaurants will offer a special for local and visiting diners, encouraging people to visit local restaurants to enjoy a true experience of Lafayette’s culture and cuisine. For more information, go to www.eatlafayette.com.  
    Lafayette offers a large variety of hotels and B&B getaways, but two of the newest additions are boutique hotels, The Carriage House and The Juliet. The Juliet, located in the heart of historic downtown Lafayette, is ideal for weekend getaways, offering the finest in personal service, stylish surroundings and first-class amenities. At The Carriage House, contemporary decor blends with influences of Acadian hospitality to create a fresh and welcoming atmosphere. Located in the heart of The Village River Ranch in Lafayette, guests become part of a vibrant community where beauty, history, entertainment and culture merge.  For more information, visit www.lafayette.travel.

The Good Life in Lafayette
    Looking for a great dining experience? How about two? Be sure to check out the Rodrigue-themed sister restaurants Blue Dog Café and Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro. Combining the great food of south Louisiana with the hugely popular art of George Rodrigue, the two restaurants run the gamut from “Cajun Cool Casual Dining” to “Louisiana Chic Creole Fine Dining.” Blue Dog Café, celebrating 10 years of excellent service and award-winning cuisine, offers a more casual dining experience in a family friendly atmosphere.  More than 100 of the artist’s iconic Blue Dog works grace the walls, and the menu offers a fantastic selection of both traditional Cajun and innovative Cajun fusion dishes, many of which are award-wining.  Don’t miss the popular Sunday Brunch Live, voted Best Brunch in Acadiana several years running, where a rotating schedule of local talent plays Cajun, creole, Celtic, folk, zydeco, swamp pop, old standards and original compositions. 
    Meanwhile, just a quarter mile down Pinhook Road, Blue Dog’s sister restaurant Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro offers an upscale creole fine dining experience.  The beautiful dining rooms feature pressed tin ceilings and an elegant spiral staircase, creating an old world atmosphere.  The menu features fresh seasonal local produce, seafood and meats, which are used to create both New Orleans creole fine dining classics and “nouvelle creole” creations, all served in an elegant setting.  Jolie’s wine list is rivaled in quality only by her art collection, which features 35 of Rodrigue’s early historic paintings. The paintings feature scenes of Louisiana life and famous figures from local history, all set amid the live oak landscapes for which Rodrigue is famous.  For more information about these sister restaurants, including menus and directions, visit www.bluedogcafe.com and www.jolieslouisianabistro.com.
    Located in the heart of French Louisiana, Lafayette’s own Prejean's Restaurant has been delighting visitors for nearly 30 years with its fine hospitality and succulent seafood dishes that have made Prejean's name recognizable throughout the country and across the seas. Prejean’s talented crew now holds the record for most medals captured by any culinary team in the south.  Juicy steaks, wild game dishes and world famous gumbos turn a meal into a memorable occasion, and "Big Al," the 14-foot stuffed alligator, once a native of Louisiana’s Grand Chenier swamp, sits in the middle of the dining room guarding the culinary medals.  If it's a little too far to drive, Prejean's will deliver – almost anywhere in the country.  The landmark restaurant is most famous for its food, but the atmosphere of the restaurant is not to be missed, either.  Traditional Cajun bands entertain nightly, and the walls and building are filled with antiques and historic relics.  Resident artists create works for the restaurant as well as works for sale to visitors.  The live turtle tank is a favorite of young and old alike, and Prejean's is proud of the distinguished clientele who have passed through its doors, from NATO diplomats to U.S. Supreme Court justices, from governors to members of Congress, from military generals to noted actors, musicians and writers.  For more information, to view the live webcam or to make reservations, visit www.prejeans.com.
    Steeped in the history of South Louisiana and the Acadians who helped form Cajun culture, Lafourche Parish is a treasure trove of historic and natural sites, just 40 miles south of New Orleans.  Visit the Jean Lafitte National Park Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux to learn the story of the Acadians who settled along the bayous and the wetland swamps of southeastern Louisiana. A musical Cajun Jam Session takes place every Monday evening from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center is located in Thibodaux along the banks of Bayou Lafourche, where a spacious boardwalk affords excellent waterside views. The bayou itself provides a picturesque backdrop for a scenic drive south to the Gulf of Mexico. Meandering through the countryside and local communities enables a visitor to experience the different lifestyles that make up the Cajun way of life. The bayou itself changes from a lazy, slow moving stream surrounded by sugar cane fields, to a widened, quick, vibrant and busy waterway.  Beautiful plantation homes such as Madewood, Oak Alley, Laura and Laurel Valley, offer glimpses into early American history, architecture, tradition and legend. Near Kraemer, visitors can take swamp tours through some of the most spectacular scenery of all the Louisiana swamps and bottom lands. Outdoors enthusiasts will enjoy the numerous fishing rodeos that Lafourche Parish holds each summer, as well. This spring, the Fourchon Public Beach, a favorite destination for locals and visitors alike, is reopened, offering miles of sundrenched beachfront. For more information, visit www.visitlafourche.com.

Southeast Louisiana
   For a watery wonderland, look no further than the Cajun Coast, in St. Mary Parish. Surrounded by the waters of Bayou Teche, Atchafalaya River and the Atchafalaya Swamp Basin, the beauty of the area lies in its natural splendor and “road less travelled” atmosphere. In fact some destinations can’t be reached by road at all, and that’s where Cajun Jack’s Swamp Tours come in handy, taking visitors through the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest overflow swamp in the U.S. and home to a myriad of wildlife including the American Bald Eagle. Three wildlife management areas provide ample opportunities for sports fishing and nature watching. The Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area, the Attakapas Wildlife Management Area and the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge offer explorers walking and paddling trails, as well as a black bear habitat area. They are open to the public. 
    Golfers won’t want to miss a chance to hit the Atchafalaya at Idlewild, which was rated the No. 1 golf course in Louisiana by Golfweek Magazine. Part of the Audubon Golf Trail, the 7,533-yard course was designed by Robert von Hagge and contains five lakes and 10 native wetland areas that encompass nearly 40 acres of this 175-acre layout.
    Back in town, Franklin is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Louisiana, with more than 400 historic properties, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The main street is a boulevard of majestic oak trees and plantation homes that lead into an early 19th century downtown. The area is also the original home to the Chitimacha Native Americans, and the cultural museum is a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Cajun Coast. For more information, visit www.cajuncoast.com.
    Grab a fishing pole and a tackle box because the fishing rodeo season kicks off this June in Terrebonne Parish. Area organizations are planning several rodeos for 2009. Houma offers the expert and amateur angler alike a bountiful and diverse fishing experience. The Houma-Terrebonne Barataria Basin and the Gulf of Mexico offer more than 50 different species of fish, including speckled trout, red fish, red snapper, amberjack and king mackerel.
    After the fishing pole is put away, enjoy a city full of restaurants, Cajun dancing, nightclubs, swamp tours and more. The whole family will enjoy outings to treasures like the exotic wildlife park and the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum. A Cajun band performs at the museum on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Just down the road, the Terrebonne Folklife Culture Center offers classes on Cajun dancing, cooking, crafts and duck decoy carving.  Art lovers and seekers of curiosities will marvel at the remarkable Chauvin Sculpture Garden, which has more than 100 concrete sculptures and is open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.
    On May 31, be sure to check out a special event, Storm Warning: Last Stand for Americas WETLAND. Part of a region-wide effort to raise awareness of coastal erosion, the event marks the beginning of hurricane season, when vessels from East and West Louisiana meet at the Houma Downtown Marina and raft up to form a flotilla demarcating the front line in the battle to save Americas Wetland. The event will feature live music, a boat parade, food, games and fun for the whole family, both on water and land.
     For more information on visiting Houma or on its calendar of events, visit www.houmatravel.com.
    This summer is the perfect time to visit New Orleans Plantation Country. Venture back to an era when powerful Creole families thrived in lavish homes along the Mississippi River. Surviving Civil War sieges, changes in ownership and the passage of time, the region’s historic plantations still stand gloriously. See priceless heirloom antiques, ancient avenues of oaks, beautiful gardens, garçonnières and gracious verandas overlooking sugarcane fields.
    Just beyond these stately mansions, explore peaceful swamps draped in moss and shimmering with mist. Glide through cypress-filled waters as a native guide quietly approaches wild animals that call the Louisiana swamps home. Choose a serene boat tour or the excitement of an airboat excursion.
    In New Orleans Plantation Country, you’ll find one-of-a-kind dining experiences. Indulge in foods as unique as the chefs who prepare them. Authentic Cajun and creole cuisine is served with Southern charm and hospitality in a relaxed atmosphere. On the menu, you’ll find crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, andouille sausage, boudin and oysters.
    A wide range of accommodations is available for your stay in New Orleans Plantation Country. Offering spacious and comfortable rooms, national chains and local hotels are spread throughout the region. The area also is home to many charming, well-appointed bed and breakfasts, often located on historic plantations. For visitors who prefer the beauty and peacefulness of the great outdoors, choose from a large selection of RV parks and campground sites. A memorable trip to New Orleans Plantation Country is only a reservation away.
    For more information, call 866-204-7782 or visit www.NewOrleansPlantationCountry.com.
    One of the unique qualities of St. Martin Parish that draws visitors year-round is that it offers a singular welcoming hospitality while at the same time boasting three distinct areas, each offering its own style and activities. In the Breaux Bridge area, considered the Crawfish Capital of the World, visitors will discover a wide array of shopping, antiquing and leisurely dining in the historic downtown district. Early risers can kick up their heels at the famous Zydeco Breakfast, every Saturday morning at Cafe des Amis, followed by the Pont Breaux Cajun Jam at The Coffee Break from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dining and dancing can follow at Mulate's Restaurant, where a Cajun band plays every evening and at lunch on weekends. Visitors can then move on to the breathtaking scenic beauty that the Henderson area offers, at the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin. Airboat and swamp tours are available year round, and the town has many wonderful family owned seafood restaurants. In between outdoor and eating adventures, enjoy more local music, especially on Sunday afternoons. A remarkable day begins at McGee's Landing at 12:30 p.m., then moves along to Whiskey River Landing at 4:00 p.m., and finishes the night at the Atchafalaya Club. In need of some recovery after all that dancing?  A quieter stay awaits in the St. Martinville area, where visitors can linger in quaint cafes and elegant bed and breakfasts before they head out to experience the enduring Cajun and African-American traditions through the Acadian Memorial and the African-American Museum, which highlight the parish’s rich history and “cultural gumbo.” The downtown area is one of the prettiest towns in South Louisiana, where the centerpiece is St. Martin de Tours Historic Church Square. St. Martin Parish offers travelers a host of options for lodging, too. Quaint hotels, bed and breakfasts and rustic cabins and campgrounds are available.  For those who want to veer off the beaten path, try staying the weekend on a rented houseboat.  For more information on events, activities and annual festivals, visit www.cajuncountry.org.    

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