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Springtime In Acadiana
However ephemeral, spring is my favorite season in Louisiana. Everything is saturated like a rush of blood to the land, and I’m in awe again of the abundance of natural beauty this particular part of the world possesses. Longfellow called it The Forest Primeval.
It’s true. We have what looks like ancient geography down the road from our homes. Trees that have stood for hundreds of years line our streets, and it’s easy to take them for granted.
Here I’ve compiled a list of my favorite places to visit in and around Acadiana. Some are well-known sites with recent updates, and others are destinations that deserve more recognition. I hope it inspires you.
- Acadiana Park and Nature Station: You may have visited this park, located in upper Lafayette, on one of your field trips when you were little. Just outside of the city, the Nature Station is 150 acres of land that is untouched by urbanization. It features six miles of hiking trails that go through tons of lush greenery unique to our region. In spring, the François Coulee (also known as the Dan Debaillon Coulee) contains largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish.
- Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area: Tunica Hills is a 5,906-acre sprawl just north of Baton Rouge. Its rugged terrain is carved by rolling hills, bluffs and ravines. Its topography is ideal for many native creatures to thrive in, making Tunica Hills a popular spot for hunters and bird-watchers alike. Visitors can ride bikes or horses, or merely sightsee while hiking its extensive trails.
- Evangeline Oak: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie” follows the love story of two Acadians separated by Le Grand Dérangement who reunited under this oak tree by the Bayou Teche. Although the story is fictional, the 350-year-old tree remains a landmark within the small town of St. Martinville that represents sacrifices made by the Acadians and their extensive history.
- Rip Van Winkle Gardens: Located on Jefferson Island in New Iberia, Rip Van Winkle Gardens typifies the idyllic south. Stage actor Joseph Jefferson, best known for his role as Rip Van Winkle, bought the property in 1869 as a hunting lodge. Its 3,600 acres house more than 260 of different kinds of birds and a variety of flowers and plants. It is rumored that the coins found in the yard of Jefferson’s mansion were those of Jean LaFitte.
- Lake Martin: Lake Martin is probably the most visited place on this list, largely due to its accessibility and proximity to Lafayette. The Breaux Bridge landmark is home to egrets, herons and alligators. Its quiet beauty is punctuated by soaring cypresses and lily pads, which can be viewed from a kayak or picnic blanket.