Visiting Louisiana, United States
, is a unique and memorable experience – or five unique and memorable experiences and things to do offerings. The State of Louisiana is made up of five distinct geographic regions, each of them offering a very different experience. From the bright lights and sparkling, quirky personality of Greater New Orleans to the thick, piney woods and solitude of Northern Louisiana’s Sportsman’s Paradise, the State of Louisiana offers five wonderful faces to the lucky visitor who gets to know it well.
Located in the southeastern corner of Louisiana, New Orleans is the fabled Big Easy, the city that enchants visitors with its delightfully European architecture and atmosphere. New Orleans is a city to be experienced with all the senses. More than any other city in the nation, it has its own unique sound, its own taste, its own sweet scent. A visit to New Orleans is a journey into a different world, a world of lacy balconies and secret passageways in the Vieux Carre’, of decadent and luxurious mansions along St. Charles Avenues. Walk down Bourbon Street and listen to the very distinctive sound of New Orleans jazz. Wander in and out of the galleries and museums of the Warehouse District and feast your eyes on the artwork at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Steep your taste buds in the smoky flavor of gumbo, the decadent richness of pecan pie and the irresistible flavors of fresh crawfish and trout. There’s even something there for the Sixth Sense – the lovely and haunting marble tombs of the cemeteries of the Old Quarter, with their eerie hints of old stories and older mysteries.
Following the Gulf of Mexico and stretching up into south central Louisiana is the unique flavor of Cajun Country. Settled by French Canadian refugees centuries ago, Cajun Country has developed its own unmistakable personality that you won’t find anywhere else. Cajun Country is rightly known for its spicy, fiery foods, its hot music and its wide-open hospitality. Cajun Country is Bayou Country, and the region is worth the visit even if you only come for the scenery. The magnificent waterways and swamps are home to Great Blue Heron, snowy egrets, and alligators. Cypress trees dripping with moss create an atmosphere of silky mystery against the stunning blue skies. No trip to Cajun Country would be complete without a visit to one or both of the living history museums in Lafayette. The Acadian Village is a recreation of a historic village complete with blacksmith shop and doctor’s office and the Mississippi Mud Museum. Vermilionville is a second reproduction village that authentically portrays Cajun/Creole heritage in the 19th century. Come to Cajun Country for fine dining, lively music, deep sea fishing on the Gulf Coast and wonderful, unforgettable adventures.
The history of Louisiana would be incomplete without mentioning the magnificent Ante Bellum Plantations and mansions of Plantation Country. Many of the plantations in the southeastern part of Louisiana offer tours of the gardens and homes, and some accept overnight visitors and offer lodgings. As beautiful as the architecture and landscaping is, the true magic of Plantation Country lies in its stories and personalities. There’s not a plantation in the state that doesn’t have its tales of mystery, tragedy, Confederate spies and star-crossed lovers. Many of the plantations boast their own ghosts – and if you’re lucky enough to book a night at The Myrtles, known as the most haunted house in America, you may even get to meet one or two. Other plantations of note to visit while you’re in Louisiana include Nottoway Plantation, with a total of 365 doors and windows, one for each day of the year, and Houmas House, where the classic dark film Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte was filmed.
Located at the intersection of El Camino Real and the Natchez Trace, Crossroads offers a taste of all that is New Orleans. Crossroads is a wide swath across the center of Louisiana, where you’ll find everything from the stunning natural beauty of Kisatchie National Forest to the patterned elegance of the Cane River and other plantations. Among the most enchanting areas to explore, Crossroads offers the opportunity to travel El Camino Real, a National Historic Trail, and walk in the footsteps of history, or to navigate a canoe across the beautifully wild Kisatchie Bayou, or to hunt and fish in the unspoiled loveliness of Toledo Bend Reservoir. Crossroads is rightly famous for its bed and breakfasts, and for the enormous number of mansions and plantations that are on the National Register of Historic Sites. If you’re planning to stay in one of the cities of Crossroads, you might consider combining the two and staying in one of the many plantation houses that offer lodgings and breakfast. Dining in Crossroads is all about tradition – country fried chicken, barbecue and cornbread are on just about every menu – but there are a couple of absolute must-tries on any tour of Crossroads – Natchitoches Meat Pies and Cane River Cream Pie.
At the northern end of Louisiana are the beautiful, thick, piney woods of Sportsman’s Paradise. While Louisiana is well-known for its wealth of hunting, fishing and outdoor sports, nothing compares with the abundant beauties and rich recreational opportunities afforded by Sportsman’s Paradise. There are acres and acres of unspoiled woods and fields for bird-watching, fishing, hunting, hiking and other outdoor activities. The streams and lake bayous are famous for the size and abundance of the fish that are regularly pulled from them, and the weather supports all the outdoor sports and fun that you can handle. But there’s more to northern Louisiana than just sports. Shreveport and Bossier City offer glitzy nightlife and casinos, world class restaurants and fine hotels, and a short hop east to Monroe will put you on a riverboat ride for a delightful, lazy ride up the river. If what you’re looking for is relaxation, you’ll find it in any one of dozens of small towns in Northern Louisiana, where you can check into a local B&B and enjoy homemade peach cobbler and pecan pie, bottomless sweet tea and the view from a spacious front porch.