Gas prices are up, causing many Louisianians to put those cross-country road trip plans on indefinite hold. Instead, many people are discovering the wonders of a trip through our own great state. From small-town charm to historic plantation life to colorful urban living, Louisiana has everything in place for great summer vacations. Here are some of our favorite destinations for Summer 2008:
This year, one of the best places to include on your travel itinerary is right in the center of the state. Alexandria and Pineville sit on opposite banks of the Red River smack in the middle of Louisiana and offer a unique experience through diverse culture and rich history, art and great recreation, and food and fun that will keep you wanting more. The Alexandria/Pineville area is home to three of nine distinguished Audubon Golf Trail courses and offers hotel rooms ranging from economical to luxury, a variety of bed-and-breakfast choices and a fantastic array of restaurants with a local flair. Visit this area, and you can enjoy a night at the theater, distinguished art, local music, living history, an exciting ballgame or an adventure at the zoo. Central Louisiana is truly a way to get away from it all without emptying your gas tank or your wallet.
Avoyelles Parish, in the middle of Louisiana, invites you to experience a parish of many firsts. See where Louisiana 4-H began and where Louisiana’s longest-running Fourth of July Parade is still celebrated, and view the first bridge in Louisiana listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Avoyelles Parish is home to Paragon Casino Resort, Louisiana’s first land-based casino. Avoyelles Commission of Tourism extends a personal invitation to play and stay for food, history, recreation, antiquing in Bunkie and year-round festival fun based on food culture paired with local traditions.
Avoyelles Parish is rich in wildlife and fishing opportunities with five state and national wildlife refuges. Grand Cote NWR has the Marc Dupuy Jr. Wildlife Trail in Fifth Ward that was recently designated the only national recreation trail in Louisiana with outdoor classroom settings for school groups.
Many historic properties are located in the parish along with historic markers designating their claim to fame. See where Civil War battles were fought, or drive the Solomon Northup Tour. A variety of museums offer educational opportunities, ranging from the historical to modern state-of-the-art facilities. Come see why Cotton Was King in Cottonport or visit the Adam Ponthieu Grocery Store/Big Bend Post Office Museum in Big Bend. Check out the Marksville State Historic Site with a museum based on prehistoric Indian culture.
For additional Avoyelles Parish information, visit www.travelavoyelles.com, or request info at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Avoyelles Commission of Tourism at 8592 Highway 1, Suite 3, Mansura, LA 71350, or phone (800) 833-4195.
Rich culture, amazing food, art and history museums, swamp tours, historic plantation homes, a colorful political background, great shopping –– who knew you could find all of this in one destination? Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s capital city, has all a visitor could want.
As the epicenter of Louisiana, Baton Rouge is a melting pot of food and culture and offers some of the most unique and diverse cuisine. With a blend of Cajun from the West, Creole from the South and various ethnic cuisines, visitors delight in the fusion of flavors they discover in every dish, from alligator sauce piquant to zydeco shrimp.
From the distinct tastes of the local fare to the soulful sounds of blues and gospel, this is a city that celebrates life. Indulge yourself with a night on the town at one of the many live music clubs, and experience the city’s brand of rhythm and blues. Don’t forget to visit the emerging historic district downtown, where you’ll find great food, music and more. Or try your luck at the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hollywood Casino.
Shop the fabulous stores at one of the area’s many upscale shopping centers. You’ll also find charming boutiques hidden throughout the city.
With the luxury of a warm climate nearly all year-round, basking in the great outdoors is always on the menu. Discover top-notch golfing at The Bluffs on Thompson Creek, designed by legendary golfer Arnold Palmer. Travel through the swamp in search of alligators and other wildlife, or take the kids to visit the award-winning Baton Rouge Zoo.
No trip would be complete without experiencing the picturesque ride along River Road out to one of our numerous antebellum homes. Spend a day exploring one of the many beautiful plantations in the Baton Rouge area.
From every direction, everything uniquely Louisiana culminates in the state’s capital city. Experience the downtown renaissance at the Shaw Center for the Arts with theatrical performances, art galleries, fine dining and more.
For more information, call (800) LA-ROUGE or visit www.VisitBatonRouge.com.
Over the past six years, The Cook Hotel has become one of Louisiana’s most sought after hotel and conference centers. It is owned and operated by the LSU Alumni Association but is open to the public. Guest surveys unanimously rate the hotel superior. They are especially fond of the upgraded bedding that features plush Sealy Posturepedic beds, feather pillows, luxurious triple sheeting and duvet comforters. All of The Cook Hotel suites are deluxe and have a private bedroom, fully equipped kitchen and a spacious living room complete with sleeper sofa and upscale granite and marble bathrooms. The Cook Hotel mega-suites offer a setting that is similar to a resort and feature extra-large living rooms, fireplaces, dining areas, full kitchens and two bathrooms. The master bath features an oversize Jacuzzi tub.
Guests enjoy a complimentary full Southern-style breakfast buffet; free high-speed wireless Internet; and a business center equipped with computers, copiers and printers. For visitors who continue their fitness regime while traveling, The Cook Hotel offers an on-site fitness center and access to LSU’s state-of-the-art Student Recreational Center and just out the front door is Baton Rouge’s scenic 4.5-mile lakeside jogging track. The Shaquille O’Neal Pool and Spa provide visitors with a tranquil setting that overlooks the University Gardens. The Lod Cook Alumni Center is the focal point of the conference facility and enjoys a reputation for superior service and delicious catering. Italian Renaissance architecture makes the Lod Cook Alumni Center an outstanding setting for seminars, meetings and social functions.
For more information and to view a video of the facilities, visit www.thecookhotel.com/life.
History is the order of the day in St. Francisville, just 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge. St. Francisville, in beautiful West Feliciana Parish, provides a glimpse of a unique area of Louisiana. The plantation homes and breathtaking gardens are monuments of the adventuresome and creative English who settled this area more than 200 years ago and built a Southern empire quite different from the rest of Louisiana. Experience the simple pleasures with a drive through the beautiful countryside. Nature preserves, abundant birds and other wildlife, winding roads, moss-draped oak trees, ancient cemeteries, churches and stately plantations speak for why it was here that John James Audubon painted at least 80 illustrations of his Birds of America in the 1820s. St. Francisville’s easygoing warmth and ambiance attracts birdwatchers, photographers, golfers, bicyclers, hikers, nature lovers and historic travelers for relaxing weekend getaways. The Bluffs, a beautiful Arnold Palmer Golf Course, hosts golfers all year long. Find the unique treasures of gracious bed-and-breakfasts, inns and hotels; art galleries; antique and unique gift shops; and great cuisine that await the most discriminating of travelers.
Upcoming special events: June 13-15: For a brief moment in 1863, the Civil War stopped in St. Francisville for a burial of Lt. Cmdr. John E. Hart, commander of the federal gunboat Albatross. In commemoration of this unique event in history, a re-enactment of the burial, a play by local performers and other activities are scheduled.
July 25-26 marks the Feliciana Hummingbird Celebration. For more information, visit www.audubonbirdfest.com or call (800) 488-6502.
The Cajun Coast encompasses Morgan City, Berwick, Patterson and Franklin. A trip to the Cajun Coast is like stepping into another world. Just 90 minutes from New Orleans, you can celebrate Louisiana culture and traditions with food, fun and music at 16 festivals, some cited as among the best in the nation. Stroll a 19th-century boulevard of cast-iron street lamps and moss-covered oaks in the heart of a community with more than 400 buildings on the National Register. Explore the exotic beauty of the Atchafalaya on a swamp tour. Visit antebellum homes, plantations and historic communities. Explore museums, try your luck at the casino, or play a round of golf at the newest addition to the Audubon Golf Trail — The Atchafalaya at Idlewild.
Right in the midst of what National Geographic called a “hauntingly beautiful land,” every year in Morgan City the summer winds down with the Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival, this year from Aug. 28-Sept. 1. The oldest state-chartered harvest festival offers family entertainment, continuous live music by local and national acts, a huge arts and crafts show and sale, a children’s village, the Cajun Culinary Classic and the traditional Blessing of the Fleet and water parade. Best of all, there is no admission fee. For more information on the festival, call (800) 256-2931 or visit www.shrimp-petrofest.org. Find out more about The Cajun Coast at www.CajunCoast.com.
Crowley is rich in history, culture and architectural design. With 200 structures on the National Register of Historic Places, Crowley’s Historic District is a classic example of superb Victorian residences that feature Queen Anne-style architecture and Eastlake galleries. Take a driving or walking tour of this district. Crowley City Hall is located in the restored Crowley Motor Co. building and is home to the Rice Interpretive Center and the J. D. Miller Recording Studio best known for its Cajun, zydeco, blues and country releases. Tour the center and studio where you can watch videos that chronicle the history of rice production in Crowley, the “Rice Capital of America,” and the history and talent that recorded at the studio.
In addition, tour the Grand Opera House of the South and the Rice Theatre, and take a driving tour of rice and crawfish country. This Oct. 16-18, come and join the fun at the International Rice Festival. Started in 1937, the festival features parades, rice-cooking demonstrations, entertainment, dancing, carnival rides, arts and crafts and all types of food. Brochures and maps are available for more information.
Sound like fun? Find out more: (866) 665-4642 or www.crowley-la.com.
Concordia lies adjacent to the Mississippi River. The Duck’s Nest restaurant, named by owners David and Fay Crews after the abundance of mallards and hens on Lake St. John, features panoramic views of Louisiana heron, pelicans and indigenous wildlife. David’s Blackened Crawfish Supreme and Catfish Spokane are must-haves on the menu.
Cotton Then and Now, at 1,800-acre Frogmore Plantation, features historical cotton and slave culture tours but also the high-tech computerized farming and ginning of today. Call for days and times of the gospel music special Journey through the South with Song, a fun, interactive history of music with a slave wedding re-enactment.
Ferriday’s nearby Delta Music Museum has some harmony of its own. Tour the Secretary of State’s Delta Music Festival and Hall of Fame and learn more of the intimate, personal lives of Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Percy Sledge, Conway Twitty, Gov. Jimmy Davis, Fats Domino and other inductees.
RV-lovers will want to park at the River View RV Park under the live oaks with magnificent views of the river. Other guests may overnight at the Comfort Suites Riverfront Hotel and savor the complimentary Southern breakfast on the banks of the Mississippi River, take a stroll along the new riverwalk and visit the state-of-art Vidalia Conference and Convention Center. The screened or glassed-in porch at Slough Daddy’s, next door, is a must for lunch or dinner. Molly B’s catfish is a favorite.
Providing harmony of the river, the lakes, the music and food and family, Concordia is the perfect place for a relaxing weekend. For more information, go to www.vidaliala.com or www.ferridaychamber.org, phone (318) 336-7008 or e-mail CPTC@concordiatourism.org.
Located in Louisiana’s famed French Acadiana, Houma presents every visitor with sprawling plantations, a vibrant historic downtown, thriving fishing villages and lively views of some of the most beautiful wetlands around. Visiting Houma offers an experience blended with rich history, breathtaking scenery and a thriving culture. Explore the wetlands with one of Houma’s colorful guides; “get hooked” on world-class fishing; uncover age-old traditions at one of Houma’s museums and cultural centers; travel the scenic routes “along the bayou”; and pass a good time at one of Houma’s many fairs and festivals, namely Mardi Gras, the Voice of the Wetlands Festival and the Grand Bois Inter-Tribal Pow Wow.
Grab a fishing pole and a tackle box because the fishing rodeo season kicked off last month in Terrebonne Parish. Area organizations are planning several rodeos for 2008. Situated on the Gulf Coast, the Houma area 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. To learn more about the area fishing tournaments and Houma, call the Houma Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 688-2732 or e-mail email@example.com. Visit www.houmatravel.com.
Visit Cajun Country’s HOT side –– 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 premier 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, all of 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.
A visit to Lafourche Parish will open your eyes to what natural Louisiana beauty is all about. The Jean Lafitte National Park Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux tells the story of the Acadians who settled along the bayous and the wetland swamps of southeastern Louisiana, with extensive exhibits and artifacts. The Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center is located in Thibodaux along the banks of Bayou Lafourche. A spacious boardwalk affords an excellent view of the bayou. Several large plantations, including Madewood, Oak Alley and Laura, are easily accessible in the area. Charter fishing, camping and great seafood restaurants are available throughout the area.
In Thibodaux, visit Laurel Valley Village, the oldest surviving 19th- and 20th- century sugarcane plantation in the United States, with more than 50 original structures. Several movies were filmed here including A Gathering of Old Men; Interview With the Vampire; and Ray, the life story of Ray Charles. Lockport is the home of the Bayou Lafourche Folklife and Heritage Museum. Housed in a National Register of Historic Places building, the museum has a wonderful collection of exhibits that depict early life along the bayou as well as traveling exhibits.
“Reel” excitement abounds in Lafourche Parish, one of the Top 5 fishing spots in the U.S. Fishing charters are available in the South Lafourche area down to Fourchon at the Gulf of Mexico. If a charter is not for you, cast your line into the Gulf at the public beach at Fourchon or just enjoy the cool Gulf breeze as you watch the waves roll to shore or take a dip in the warm Gulf waters. Swamp tours are available either by pontoon boat or airboat. Also, the E. D. White State historic Site is open – find out about special events at www.lafourche-tourism.org.
If you had the pleasure of seeing the motion picture Steel Magnolias, you already know what a beautiful town Natchitoches is. This is a town where you can experience the charm of the original French colony in Louisiana, established in 1714. The Landmark Historic District offers distinctive shopping, dining and attractions, while the town also features historic fort sites, museums, cultural events and festivals.
Natchitoches has some of the most beautiful bed-and-breakfast inns in the state, all minutes from the Cane River National Historical Park at Oakland and Magnolia plantations.
This spring, The Old Courthouse Museum presents Game Faces: LSU Sports Exhibit. The exhibit features LSU sports memorabilia and artifacts, a few dating back to the early 20th century such as the 1907 football that was used to play in a game in Cuba and track shoes worn by track star Al Moreau. Trophies, cups, titles and awards can be seen, such as the Louisiana Amateur Golf Association trophy, the Heisman Memorial Trophy given to Billy Cannon (featured in June) and the 2007 National Championship trophy (featured in August). The museum is open Monday through Saturday.
The Natchitoches Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information about Natchitoches, call (800) 259-1714 or visit www.natchitoches.net.
No trip through south Louisiana is complete without a visit to Prejean’s Restaurant in Lafayette. Located 2 miles north of Interstate 10 on Interstate 49 North, Prejean’s is open daily, serving award-winning Cajun cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The ambience is friendly, inviting, casual and fun. Live Cajun music fills the air every evening and weekend mornings.
Prejean’s showcases the rich culture of the Cajun French heritage with an exciting blend of sights and sounds. “Big Al,” Prejean’s famous 14-foot alligator, sits in the middle of the dining room guarding Team Prejean’s most recent culinary trophies. Antique relics grace the walls and rafters.
And now, after a year of construction, Prejean’s artist John Pourcio has unveiled his yet-to-be-named masterpiece, a three-dimensional mural of swampland, alive with cypress trees, egrets and Spanish moss.
The restaurant opens daily at 7 a.m. and closes at 10p.m. on weekdays, 11p.m. on weekends. Prejean’s is closed for New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Prejean’s serves only lunch and dinner on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and closes after lunch on Super Bowl Sunday.
Be sure to ask about Prejean’s cookbook! Complete menus and private dining information are at the new Web site www.prejeans.com.
It’s stars and peaches forever in Ruston from June 27-29 at the annual Squire Creek Louisiana Peach Festival. The streets overflow with music; exciting events; more than 200 artisans and vendors; and – best of all – delicious, juicy-sweet peaches.
From Friday through Sunday, you and your family can enjoy terrific entertainment including: a kids’ fishing tournament, a fine arts show, a peach cookery contest, a pet show, a peach-eating contest, a parade, a motorcycle poker run, an antique car show, a tennis tournament, a 5K and a fun run, a rodeo and lots of music.
At the Peach Jam, you can check out the toe-tapping sounds of bands playing on the Railroad Park stage or take advantage of Evening in the Park or the gospel jamboree –– or enjoy them all. Festival headliner Asleep At the Wheel plays at 8 p.m. on June 28. For more information, visit www.louisianapeachfestival.org.
While in the area, visitors can enjoy the various shops and attractions. Visit the Louisiana Military Museum and relive America’s war history through a collection of more than 200 years of military artifacts and displays dating to the Civil War. History-lovers will also want to visit the 18-block historic downtown district filled with shopping, dining, art and architecture designed in the Breaux Style. The historic district also includes the Piney Hills Art Gallery, featuring works from 30 of Ruston’s most talented artists. Dine in the district for an eclectic blend of culture and cuisine sure to satisfy the taste buds.
The Idea Place and Planetarium is located on the Louisiana Tech University campus. Visitors enjoy a hands-on opportunity to explore the scientific wonders of the world through interactive exploration of the scientific phenomena.
For more events happening in Ruston and Lincoln Parish, visit www.experienceruston.com.
You have heard about Louisiana’s Cajun Country, but did you know just minutes from downtown New Orleans there’s another fascinating culture that is just as colorful, historic and enchanting? In St. Bernard Parish, you can visit the last vestige of Spanish Colonial Louisiana at two museums. Explore the San Bernardo Scenic Byway, Louisiana Highway 46 that takes you past the site of the Battle of New Orleans where you can walk in the footsteps of Andrew Jackson at the Historic Chalmette National Park and view stately old plantations homes that are open for group tours; century-old fishing villages and historic cemeteries; or a bit of nature at the St. Bernard State Park, the only state park located along the Mississippi River. Enjoy birding at one of three American Wetlands birding sites.
St. Bernard Parish is known for its great local produce and seafood. You can stop roadside to purchase locally grown produce or freshly caught seafood at many local seafood and farmers markets or enjoy them prepared at several local seafood restaurants. If fishing is your sport, enjoy world-class fishing destinations at Shell Beach, Hopedale, Yscloskey or Delacroix Island with charters and guides available to help you find the big ones.
For more information, contact St. Bernard Parish Tourist Commission at (504) 278-4242 or (888) 278-2054 or go to www.VisitStBernard.com.
Upcoming special events include St. Bernard Salutes America at Torres Park in Chalmette on July 4, Oh Boy Oberto Redfish Cup and Tailgate Party at Breton Sound Marina in Hopedale on Aug. 15-17 and Blessing of the Fleet at Breton Sound Marina in Hopedale on Aug. 17.
The Historic New Orleans Collection offers a host of summer activities, starting with a new concert series. On June 20, Concerts in the Courtyard will conclude with the music of Vavavoom and selections from Dixie Beer. The series celebrates New Orleans culture by featuring a different musical act and cocktail at each event held in the beautiful, historic French Quarter courtyard at 533 Royal St. Admission is free for HNOC members and $10 for all other guests. The series will resume in the fall with dates in September, October and November.
August brings two events to the collection: the inaugural New Orleans Antiques Forum and the 10th annual Genealogy Workshop. The New Orleans Antiques Forum will be held Aug. 7–10 at the Williams Research Center, 410 Chartres St., and will explore many aspects of historical decorative arts, including interior design, furniture, miniatures, porcelain, Southern landscapes and much more. Advanced registration is required for this event.
Italian genealogy in New Orleans will be the focus of the collection’s 10th annual Genealogy Workshop on Aug. 23, where June C. DeLalio, a board-certified genealogist and founder of the Italian Genealogical Group, will be the featured speaker. Seating is limited, and all participants are required to register.
Visit www.hnoc.org for more information on these events and the collection’s current exhibitions. The collection’s facilities are open to the public on Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and the Royal Street complex is open Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. For additional details, call (504) 523-4662.
If you haven’t taken time to visit St. Landry Parish, this summer is the ideal time. From the Saturday Night Live Radio Show at the Liberty Theater in Eunice, hosting the best in Cajun and zydeco music, to the historic towns of Washington, Grand Coteau and Opelousas, St. Landry Parish captures the spirit of the people of Acadiana.
Upcoming special events include The Sydney & Walda Besthoff Collection Comes to Acadiana Exhibit from June 1-Aug. 30. The Opelousas Museum of Art, 106 N. Union St. in Opelousas, features 36 selections of paintings and indoor sculptures from the Besthoff Collection. This exhibition celebrates the museum’s 10th anniversary. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 1p.m.-5p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. or by appointment. For more information, call (337) 942-4991. On July 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26 and 30-31 and Aug. 1-2, 6-9, 13-16, 20-23 and 27-30, enjoy live thoroughbred horse racing at Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino in Opelousas at 2235 Creswell Lane Extension. There will be 10 races per night in the first entertainment complex in America designed to combine horse racing and casino gaming. It is open Wednesday through Saturday with a post time of 6:20pm, and admission is free unless you’re viewing from the clubhouse. For more information, call (337) 594-3000 or go to www.evangelinedowns.com.
On July 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26 and Aug. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30, enjoy Nu Nu’s Nightlite Concert Series at Arnaudville Town Market, 1013 Neblett-Highway 31. Doors open at 7 p.m., and music begins promptly at 8:30 p.m. and goes until the wee hours. A $10 donation gets you music, dancing and dinner in a cleverly lit smoke-free environment. All ages are welcome. For more information, call (337) 754-9898 or go to www.townmarket.homestead.com.
Webster Parish is located in the beautiful piney hills of Northwest Louisiana, 30 miles east of Shreveport, just off Interstate 20. The area was first settled around 1818. Dorcheat Bayou was the transportation artery that brought the first settlers to the area. The parish seat was established in Minden, the largest community. Minden today is known for its historic downtown with the original brick streets, antiques shops and quaint restaurants. Nearby, the beautiful historic residential district features more than 70 historic properties within walking distance of downtown, many on the National Register of Historic Places. Spend a night at Yellow Pine Inn, a bed-and-breakfast listed on the National Register. For more information, log on to www.yellowpineinn.com.
Upcoming special events include the 56th Annual Springhill PRCA Rodeo featuring Champion Bull Rider, Donny Gay on June 12-14. This is rodeo at its finest held at 8 p.m. nightly. There will be a dance at the Piney Woods Palace (CAC) following the rodeo with live music on Saturday night. For more information, contact Billy Nickerson at (318) 464-9399. On Sept. 27, take in the Bluegrass Festival at the historic Germantown Colony Museum featuring live music, crafts and food for the entire family. Many of the remaining buildings contain items used by the colonists in the early 19th century. This annual fundraiser is a Webster Parish historic treasure and a wonderful fall festival. For more information, contact Robin McCormack at (318) 426-4691.
Lafayette is the heart of Cajun Country and the cultural center of Louisiana’s heritage. Here you’ll discover the rich history of our French, Spanish and Caribbean ancestors. Learn how these diverse cultures came together to create art and architecture, music and dance, food and celebrations and a joie de vivre that has not only influenced the lives of everyone in our state but also made an impact on the entire world. Lafayette offers something for everyone, so prepare to be enlightened, educated and most of all entertained.
Mark your calendars: On June 14, the date of the Second Saturday ArtWalk, spend an evening browsing various galleries and enjoying original artwork along with complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres at various locations along with musical entertainment. The event takes place from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in downtown Lafayette and is free. For more information, call (337) 291-5566 or go to www.downtownlafayette.org.
Through June 26, tour Southern Open. This juried exhibition features artists from the five southern states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The exhibit will showcase mixed-media pieces, including paintings, drawings, pottery, photography, video, folk art and more. It’s held at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Members get in for free, adults are $5, students and seniors are $3, children 5-17 are $2, and children 4 and younger are free. For more information, call (337) 233-7060, visit www.AcadianaCenterfortheArts.org or e-mail info@AcadianaArtsCouncil.org. From June 16-Aug 15, Eat Lafayette, a celebration showcasing the restaurants that make Acadiana culture so appetizing, will be open. Dining enthusiasts will enjoy discounts and specials at each of the featured locations. For more information, call (337) 232-3737 or (800) 346-1958, go to www.EatLafayette.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chemin Neuf, the “New Road,” was carved in 1822 as a shortcut from False River to the Mississippi River. Incorporated in 1875, New Roads, which sits on the banks of False River, is the commercial hub and seat of government of Pointe Coupee Parish. Many fine retail establishments, restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and historical features call New Roads home. As travelers seek the history, culture, food and charm of attractions off the beaten path, the tourism industry continues to grow in New Roads and on False River. Places of interest are the grave of Julien Poydras, the 22-mile-long oxbow lake for water sports and fishing, Bergeron’s Pecan Shelling Plant, numerous plantation homes dating from 1820, various events and festivals that are listed at www.pctourism.org and historic cemeteries. Small-town charm and ambiance welcome even the most discriminating visitor who will find good food, good times and Louisiana lagniappe. Coming up: boat races on July 4.
For the history buff, Vicksburg offers the 1,800-acre National Military Park, America’s most monumented national park, where the fate of a nation was decided in 1863. Within the park, you will also find a Union ironclad gunboat and more than 6,300 recovered artifacts that had been submersed on the bottom of the Yazoo River for 102 years. The largest national military cemetery of Union dead in the U.S. is located in the park, and a few miles away, 5,000 Confederates repose in Soldiers Rest in City Cemetery.
The Vicksburg Battlefield Museum, just east of the military park, features models of gunboats; the film Vanishing Glory, which is about civilian life during the siege; and a diorama of the battle.
For more than five decades, Vicksburg was the center for the aristocracy whose wealth was based on cotton and lumber. A glimpse of its former glory is evidenced by the preservation of many historic churches, government buildings and homes, dating to the 19th century. The town’s most historic building is the Old Court House Museum, a national landmark. It now houses more than 10,000 artifacts from pre-Columbian times to present day.
Historic Downtown Vicksburg offers a variety of restaurants, boutiques and shops, art galleries and antique stores. You’ll also find The Corner Drug Store with a huge collection of Civil War artifacts; the Coca-Cola Museum, where the first-ever Coca-Cola was bottled in 1894; and the Antique Doll and Toy Museum. On the floodwall along Levee Street, more than 20 murals by artist Robert Dafford depict the history of Vicksburg, and across the street is the whimsical Children’s Art Park at Catfish Row.
For further information, call (800) 221-3536 or visit www.visitvicksburg.com.
Iberville Parish is tucked between the swamps of the Atchafalaya and the bustling state capitol of Baton Rouge. Iberville is renowned for its many beautiful historic buildings and waterways. The pride of Iberville is Nottoway Plantation, the largest remaining plantation home in the South, which is open for tours daily. Other interesting attractions include the Plaquemine Lock, with its unique Dutch-influenced architecture and gleaming white tile exterior; the majestic St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, with its marble altar and intricate stained glass; Iberville Museum; captivating Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park; beautifully restored historic buildings; and quaint towns intermingling with the natural beauty of bayous, massive oaks and cypress trees.
Many waterways provide easy access to the 800,000-acre Atchafalaya Basin, which is teeming with wildlife and offers wonderful recreational opportunities. And for the golfer, Iberville is home to one of the finest golf courses in this region, The Island Country Club, which is part of the Audubon Golf Trail and has been featured on The Golf Channel and in Golf magazine. North Iberville offers a picturesque view of rural Louisiana along the meandering Bayou Grosse Tete, draped in massive live oak trees dripping with moss; open fields of sugar cane, corn and soybeans; and rustic fences keeping cattle in pastures of green grass. For more information, visit www.IbervilleParish.com.
Bring an appetite and put on your dancing shoes this August for Satchmo SummerFest, one of the year’s biggest and most exciting festivals in New Orleans.
Although he spent most of his adult life elsewhere and is buried in New York City, Louis Armstrong, known as “Satchmo,” never forgot his native city, and his native city never forgot him. Satchmo SummerFest started out as a one-time salute in 2001 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth and reaffirm his vital role in the development of American musical culture. However, the festival that year was such a success that the city and the festival’s sponsor, French Quarter Festivals Inc., decided to make it an annual event.
Over the years, Satchmo SummerFest has evolved into what one visiting music writer called “a mini Jazz Fest.” With three days of outdoor concerts, music-history seminars, jazz exhibits, a jazz Mass, a second-line parade and plenty of local food delicacies and drinks, the festival has become a tourist, as well as a local, favorite. Nearly all of the participating musicians are New Orleans-based. A Satchmo art contest and exhibit at the Crescent City Brewhouse attracts some of the city’s most talented artists to create works in a Satchmo motif. There’s even a fun-filled Satchmo Club Strut down Frenchmen Street that includes most of the nightclubs in the city’s preeminent live music district.
Most of the Satchmo SummerFest’s activities take place in and around the Old U.S. Mint opposite the French Market at Barracks Street and Esplanade Avenue. For the most up-to-date information on Satchmo SummerFest, July 31-Aug. 3, call French Quarter Festivals at (504) 522-5730 or go to www.fqfi.org.
Some of the most charming accommodations in the state of Louisiana are included in our stellar collection of bed-and-breakfast Inns. The Louisiana Bed and Breakfast Association is made up of Louisiana’s finest bed-and-breakfast establishments.
Visit the LBBA Web site, www.louisianabandb.com, to find out about the best bed-and-breakfast inns in more than three dozen Louisiana cities and towns. Here you can find full descriptions of the inns and links to their Web sites, and you can take advantage of the opportunity to reserve online directly from this site.
Browse LBBA’s online store to purchase the association’s great new cookbook. It’s ideal for gifts or to take home as a Louisiana memory. Request a free bed-and-breakfast directory by calling the LBBA at (225) 590-3084, or request one online at www.louisianabandb.com or via e-mail at LBBA@Cox.net.
While visiting the Web site, be sure to read about LBBA’s aspiring innkeeper workshop for those who are considering opening a bed-and-breakfast. n
This article appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Louisiana Life