Even if your summer vacation is behind you, the fall is an ideal time to travel through Louisiana and the southeastern U.S. Permanent attractions, special events and festivals abound throughout the area. From the white sandy beaches of Florida to the small town to the historical wonder of the River Parishes, the southeastern states offer some of the finest travel destinations in the country. This fall, even with higher gasoline prices and busy schedules, area residents are still likely to take advantage of some of the most inviting destinations in the U.S. Here are some of the best of the best:
Big things are happening in Baton Rouge and you don’t want to miss them. Louisiana’s state capital is a charming city that has gracefully merged her past with the energy and excitement of the present. 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. Get a bird’s eye view of the city from the observation deck of the 34-story State Capitol, and then walk right across the street to visit the brand new Louisiana State Museum. And while you’re downtown, dive into the colorful history of Louisiana politics at the Old State Capitol and the Old Governor’s Mansion, built by legendary former Governor Huey P. Long.
No trip to Baton Rouge would be complete without experiencing the picturesque ride along River Road to visit one of the numerous antebellum homes including Nottoway, Houmas House, Magnolia Mound and many, many more. Spend a day with the kids at the award-winning Baton Rouge Zoo, or travel through the swamp in search of alligator and other wildlife at Alligator Bayou Swamp Tours. For more information call (800) LA-ROUGE or visit www.VisitBatonRouge.com.
In the River Parishes, you are just in time for St. Charles Parish Rotary Club’s annual Alligator Festival, Sept. 21–24. This festival celebrates the animal for which the swamps of Louisiana have become famous. It’s held on the last full weekend of September and draws visitors from virtually all over the world. At this festival, you can sample fried alligator, alligator sauce piquante, alligator balls, alligator burgers, alligator meat pies, jambalaya, and many other Cajun delicacies.
In October, be sure to visit LaPlace for the St. Joan of Arc Fall Craft Fair & Food Fest Oct. 7, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Oct. 8, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. at the SJA Family Life Center. Later in the month, LaPlace hosts the annual Andouille Festival, Oct. 20-22, with rides, music, and great family fun. At the end of the month, visit Oak Alley Plantation for the annual Oak Alley Arts and Crafts Festival. On October 28 and 29, more than 150 artists and craft vendors from throughout the country will be on hand, featuring original and handmade creations such as jewelry, furniture, clothing, home accessories, paintings and prints, pottery, wooden crafts, toys and much more. New this year is a caricaturist as well as a rock climbing wall and pony rides for the kids. As always, there will be a delicious selection of great food. For full details on these and other River Parishes attractions, visit www.takemetotheriver.com, or call (866) 204-7782.
If you haven’t taken time to visit St. Landry Parish, this fall 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 Atchafalaya Gateway towns of Krotz Springs and Melville, St. Landry Parish captures the spirit of the people of Acadiana. In September, the 24th Annual Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival will take place in Plaisance, with 15 hours of non-stop spicy music, food, culture and crafts. For more information, call (337) 942-2392.
Visit the Opelousas Museum of Art from September through December for “New Orleans Rebirth — Significant Artists Return.” This is also horse racing season in Opelousas, Monday through Wednesday and Saturday, through November 11 at Evangeline downs Racetrack and Casino (Post time is 6:45p.m.). Oct. 13-15 marks the 30th Annual Bayou Ramble Antique Show and Sale at the Yambilee Building in Opelousas. If you want to know what real Louisiana cooking is all about, plan to attend the 9th Annual Soiree Royale in Opelousas, Oct. 25. Chefs will prepare some of their signature dishes and compete in various categories. For more information on all of these events and more, visit www.CajunTravel.com.
Southern Resorts lets you choose from a variety of beach homes, cottages and condos along the coast in the Beaches of South Walton, Fort Walton Beach and Destin, Fla. You may enjoy Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, where the vacation spot of the “past” has been revived and is definitely a current favorite with the same great beach and their most welcoming rates. Watch the fishing boats come and go while staying at one of the holiday Isle properties. Downtown Destin properties are close to water parks and the harbor.
Or, venture off the main highway onto Scenic Old Hwy. 98 to a coastal area sprinkled with colorful beach cottages, homes and midrise condos. In a variety of seaside neighborhoods you will find magnificent beach homes as well as quaint one bedroom condos across the street from the beach. Embark a little further east to the Beaches of South Walton. Here you can choose between several delightful beach communities, offering old fashioned beach-going quietude, a culturally diverse palette of art and events and the picturesque natural beauty of the area. Find out more at www.southernresorts.com, or call (800) 737-BEACH.
A quick getaway to the beach or a week of family fun is easily accommodated at over 1,900 vacation rental properties managed by Meyer Real Estate along 38 miles of Alabama and Florida beaches. Whether it’s a beachfront condominium with a fully equipped kitchen and living room featuring outdoor pools, indoor pools, saunas, spa, exercise rooms, etc., or a large beach home suited for weddings, family reunions and business meetings, Meyer can find the perfect property for your unique needs. There are even homes on and near the beach adapted for bringing the family pet (subject to restrictions and availability).
The Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Perdido Key rental markets are very diverse with upscale luxury condos on a variety of waterfronts, as well as midrange priced condos and value priced properties often sought after by families. Fall vacation prices are the best value season to experience the beach at its finest. For more information regarding individual floor plans, amenities and decor and to preview available rental properties, visit www.MeyerRE.com, or call (866) 269-6927.
For more than 30 years, area residents have relied on Town and Country Travel to create memorable excursions throughout the world. Town and Country Travel—a locally owned and operated travel agency, handles everything from airline tickets to custom European and worldwide vacations. The agency specializes in desti-nation weddings, with a focus on the Caribbean. Due to their long business history, Town and Country Travel has all the best connections with resorts and properties suitable for romantic weddings and celebrations. The agency also sells many cruise lines, and notes that cruising out of New Orleans has picked up considerably in recent months. Town and Country Travel is located at 723 Aurora Ave., Metairie. Visit www.townandcountryravel.mycaribbeantravel.com for more details, or call 838-8702. The office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m., and by appointment.
Luxury living by the water, elegant beaches, and spacious floor plans overlooking the surf – what more could you ask for? In Perdido Key, Fla., Palazzo I and Palazzo 2 offer exquisite condominiums with glassed in showers, marble counters, Viking and Miele appliances, Sub-Zero refrigerators, extra high ceilings, painted crown mouldings and private entrances off high speed elevators to the foyers of each unit. Attention has been paid to details in architecture, design and even lighting – Soho Lighting can be precisely adjusted for personal art collections. State-of-the-art security cameras and protection systems have been installed throughout the buildings and parking garages. Both Palazzo 1 and Palazzo 2 offer various floor plans up to 2,800 square feet. For more information, contact Tinnie Sassano, an associate for Pelican Real Estate, at (850) 269-2151. Visit www.palazzo1.com and www.palazzo2.com for details.
It is not unusual for visitors to the southeastern U.S. to become so enamored with the area that they simply decide to take up residence permanently. Some may not go quite that far, but will opt for a vacation home or a summer rental. That takes expert guidance, and some of the best comes from Kaiser Realty. “We have been renting the island’s finest properties around Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for 27 years,” says Belinda Kaiser. “We are a family run business, and our philosophy is that each person who stays with us can guarantee that they will get the best service in vacation properties they can find anywhere on the island.” Kaiser Realty still works with many of its original customers from 1980. Specializing in vacation homes, real estate sales and property management, Kaiser Realty has properties to suit all tastes and budgets. Find out more at www.KaiserRealty.com, or call (800) 225-4853.
Pelican Real Estate is the largest locally owned real estate company on the Emerald Coast that spans from Perdido Key, Fla. all the way to Apalachicola, Fla. Pelican takes a uniquely personal approach, offering opportunities in development, residential and commercial real estate and condominiums. Pelican’s philosophy is simple: Customer service is one core principal, with professionals who understand that customers deserve the very best. Pelican Real Estate is a member of an exclusive relocation network, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. Whether you are buying a home, moving to a new city, selling a home or a second home, the network provides relocation assistance services and international relocation. Pelican Real Estate has offices throughout the Gulf Coast and beyond. With over 200 hard-working agents, Pelican is the leader and a trusted name in real estate in the northwest Fla. panhandle. For two years, Pelican has been named #1 in closed sales by the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. For more information, visit www.pelicanproperty.com, or call (850) 650-2494. •