Five Outdoor Adventures to have in Louisiana

It’s no secret that Louisiana has a long and unique history that dates back to pre-America. Louisianans are known worldwide for their diversity, their love for their heritage, being home of Cajun culture, the birthplace of Creole food and jazz, and a state that knows how to celebrate. However, food isn’t the only thing Louisiana has to offer. With year-round warm weather and beautiful landscaping, Louisiana provides ample opportunity for outdoor adventures. You can find outdoor experiences anywhere – like New Orleans, in the Louisiana backwoods, or on the Gulf.

Here are just a few outdoor adventures to make sure you add to your Louisiana bucket list:

Paddling and Kayaking

More than 15% of Louisiana is covered with water – you have the Gulf Coast, swamps, bayous, marshes, and rivers. A great way to really dive into Louisiana’s aquatic ecosystems is through kayak, paddleboat, or canoe. In north Louisiana, you can glide along forests filler with hardwoods, cypress, and tupelo. To the south, there are more than seven water routes that snake through over 170,000 acres of protected wildlife. For a more urban experience, head to New Orleans and paddle in the waters of City Park or the Bayou of St. John.

Golfing

Love to golf? The Audubon Golf Trailhas 16 beautifully landscaped golf courses throughout Louisiana, including:

The Wetlands in Lafayette

Audubon Park in Uptown New Orleans

Santa Maria Golf Coursein Baton Rouge

Island Country Clubnear Plaquemine

Even better news? Regardless of the time of year you’re traveling to Louisiana, the year-round weather means you can golf almost any day of the year!

 Hiking

Although Louisiana is known for its wetlands and marshes, there are a variety of hiking trails for people who prefer to take in the sights by foot. Just a few minutes outside New Orleans are the Barataria Preserve trails in Jean Lafitte National Park, where you’ll find wooden platforms that keep you away from the alligators. Or you can head to North Louisiana to Driskill Mountain, a 1.9 mile trail through the forest. This trail will take you to the highest point of Louisiana, 535 feet above sea level. Near the Mississippi border is the Tunica Hills State Wildlife Management Area, where you can experience wildlife, waterfalls, and rugged terrain.

Swamp Tours

Ready to get a closer look at what’s living in the swamps? You can take a boat ride through Louisiana swamps to get a closeup of the state’s plants, wildlife, and swamp creatures like owls, turtles, alligators, and swimming pigs. Most tour guides will include Cajun food and local music for a more authentic experience. If you’re lucky, you might end up in true Cajun country that’s only accessible by boat.

Beaches

Beaches in Louisiana? There sure are! Get your relax on by heading to Mandeville, a drive that will take you over one of the longest over-water bridges in the world, and layout on the white-sand beaches of Fontainebleau State Park. About two hours south of New Orleans is the barrier island of Grand Isle, where you’ll find ten miles of coastline and sandy beaches bordering the Gulf of Mexico.

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A Guide To Cajun Mardi Gras

You already know about the carnival-style Mardi Gras, but what about a Cajun Mardi Gras? Cajun Mardi Gras is exactly what it sounds like – Mardi Gras – Cajun style. Traditionally, this festival is known as Courir de Mardi Gras and takes place throughout Acadiana.

This festival is rooted in French medieval history and was brought to Louisiana in the 19th century. Cajun Mardi Gras is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, which is February 25, 2020, and is commonly referred to as “the real Mardi Gras”. There are plenty of traditions that take place during Courir de Mardi Gras, like chasing chickens, a unique twist on trick or treating, and gumbo cookoffs.

Luckily,Louisiana Travel put together a guide to the traditions of Courir de Mardi Gras. Here they are!

Trick or Treat: Gumbo Style

 This main festival event is rooted in the name; a couriror “run” led by thecapitaineof the Mardi Gras. Participants will dress up in costumes and masks and will travel by horseback, foot, or trailer to make their way through the neighborhood while doing the other ancient ritual of begging. In Tee-Mamou, the capitaine will raise a flag to let the Mardi Gras runners to dismount their transportation and begin chanting the “begging song” called Le chanson de Mardi Grasand approach the houses.

The participants will then go from house to house singing and dancing for the owners so they can get different ingredients for the communal gumbo that is served later in the evening. The last ingredient and the main spectacle of the entire festival is the chicken.

Chase the Chicken

Much like most traditions, each town has a unique take on how they put on the Courir De Mardi Gras. Since the chicken is the highlight of the celebration, it’s hilarious to watch people chase the chicken throughout the neighborhood! In addition to the chicken run, you’ll see beautiful costumes and masks, hear traditional Mardi Gras songs, and try delicious homemade Cajun cooking.

Certain towns, like Mamou, Iota, Elton, Church Point, Faquetigue, and Soileau, you’ll experience food and events more authentic than the towns hosting the festival.

Want to experience a Cajun Mardi Gras yourself?

In Eunice, Louisiana, the week long festival begins on February 21, 2020. The first couple days set the tone for the celebration with music, crafts, and every traditional Cajun dish you can imagine, from boudin and crackins to backbone stew. Then, on the day of Mardi Gras, you can participate in the Courir de Mardi Gras downtown and collect ingredients for the communal pot of gumbo. You can end the celebration with a Cajun dance party at Lakeview Park and Beach.

If you head to Church Point, you can catch their 59th annual Courir de Mardi Gras that takes place on February 23, 2020. Here you can see buggies, wagons, and horseback riders decked out in colorful costumes, listen to live music, chase the chickens, catch a greased pig, and enjoy delicious gumbo!

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The Visitor’s Guide to Vernon Parish, Louisiana

Vernon Parish, Louisiana is a beautiful town filled with history and culture, beginning with being part of the “No Man’s Land” area, a strip of disputed territory where the border of Mexico once was. Many lives were fought for, lost, and won on the soil of Vernon Parish, adding to the celebrated rich history.

Read on to learn how you can celebrate with the locals and make the most out of your time in Vernon Parish, thanks to this list from Louisiana Travel.

See the Myths and Legends Byway

Known as Louisiana’s Wild West, Vernon parish was once home to the Coushatta and Atakapa Indians and to outlaws and gun-slingers with names like Leather Britches Smith. The Myths and Legends Byway is a section of the Louisiana Trails and Byways and follows different travelers’ journeys. To find out what life was like as a traveler on the frontier,  begin at Burr Ferry and follow the scenic backroads through Vernon and neighboring parishes.

Tour the Leesville Main Street Cultural District in Vernon Parish

One of six in Louisiana’s nationally accredited main streets, Leesville is brimming with history. Visitors can walk at their own pace throughout the well-preserved historical buildings, like the Wingate and Ferguson Houses on display. You can find local goods every Thursday and Saturday at the 3rd Market Street or head to Gallery One Eleven, a co-op of contemporary and traditional local artists that showcase west Louisiana culture.

Have fun at MayFest

This annual festival takes place the first full weekend of May and brings in food vendors, face painters, craftsmen, and artisans from Louisiana and Texas. You can find hand-blown glass, pottery, homemade candles, and many other types of crafts and trinkets. They also showcase local musicians and well-known Louisiana artists like Tab Benoit and the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”, Irma Thomas. Check out this guide to MayFest for more information.

Hike in the Kisatchie National Forest, Vernon Parish

Taking up a portion of Vernon Parish, Kisatchie National Forest actually stretches out through most of central and west Louisiana. Here you can find endangered bird species and natural areas that showoff Louisiana’s backcountry. Make sure to check out Little Cypress Recreation Area if you’re into horseback riding, off-road biking, or boating.

Dine in at the Vernon Parish Restaurants

Get your fill of quality Louisiana-style southern food like gumbo and jambalaya, along with other homestyle dinners. Check out restaurants like The Mustard Seed, BJ’s Diner, BubbaQue’s BBQ, and Wagon Master Steakhouse.

Wander the Talbert-Pierson Cemetery

Cemeteries are no stranger to Louisiana, inspiring many myths and scary stories of Louisiana’s eclectic culture and the Talbert-Pierson Cemetery is no exception. It’s filled with 13 grave houses with tombs as it’s occupants that date back decades.

Learn the history at the Museum of West Louisiana.

The Museum of West Louisiana is filled with artifacts that capture the region’s history, housing everything from railroad memorabilia to Native American artifacts made from stone and clay. This museum also features a series of paintings made by World War II German Prisoners of War during their time at Fort Polk.

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Nicholls Makes Strides In Coastal Restoration Efforts

Nicholls State University has once again made its place known as an official part of Louisiana’s efforts toward coastal restoration, preservation, and water management.

In a press conference held on the university’s campus in September, Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, and the President and CEO of the South Louisiana Economic Council (SLEC) Vic Lafont announced the new Louisiana Coastal Technical Assistance Center (CTAC). The CTAC will be located on the Nicholls campus and will assist local companies and organizations that are competing to work as contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers on various coastal restoration projects in the state.

Other organizations represented at the press conference wereLouisiana Economic Development (LED), the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA),  and The Water Institute of the Gulf. The organizations came together to sign a memorandum of understanding for the creation of the CTAC.

Governor John Bel Edwards stated that the Pelican State will be funding hundreds of millions of dollars into coastal restoration throughout the next fifty years. In addition to preserving the coast, coastal restoration also helps Louisiana businesses by creating a market for them to compete in for work along the coast. It is the state’s way of making sure Louisiana businesses are at the forefront of the coastal restoration process.

The center will be overseen by the South Louisiana Economic Council, which will also help companies gain the necessary qualifications needed for coastal recovery bidding processes. Similarly, Nicholls will provide vast technical support and research services as its role as the CTAC’s higher education partner. Nicholls will also provide a shared office and business space that will be specifically dedicated to coastal restoration.

This is not the first time Nicholls State University has taken a stand in the realm of coastal restoration and preservation. The university has previously partnered with the University of New Orleans, Water Institute of the Gulf, and the Coastal Preservation and Restoration Authority. Just this past spring, Nicholls and the CPRA announced a joint effort to build a Water Research Center for Coastal Restoration on the university’s campus.

LED and CPRA is providing a combined $750,000 initially to establish the new center. After that, each agency will give $125,000 every year for three years. The first year will be the 2020 fiscal year.

“CPRA’s investments will transform the coast,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline Jr. “By teaming up with LED, Nicholls, SLEC, and the Water Institute, we believe we have a real shot at transforming the economy of South Louisiana as well. CPRA is measuring success in restored land and reduced flood risk, but CTAC also gives us the opportunity to measure our impact in jobs and business development.”

The Water Institute of the Gulf will join the newly established Coastal Technical Assistance Center in boosting employment and business opportunities within the water management sector. The Institute, which is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is a leading applied research center with a focus on coastal and deltaic solutions across the world.

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Louisiana Beaches Worth Visiting

Louisiana is located on the gulf coast but the beaches seem to often be glanced over. They might not have the prettiest water, but that isn’t the only thing that Louisiana beaches have to offer.  Louisiana Travel explores the multiple beaches Louisiana has hidden away. Here is a list of beaches located in our great state that are worth exploring with both family and friends alike.

Grand Isle

This tiny town is right on the coast and the barrier island. It overlooks Caminada Bay, only about two hours away from New Orleans. Want to get out of the city for a while? Take the short drive and pack up the fishing pole. The tarpon and redfish never stop biting in Grand Isle. This beach goes on for 10 miles and feel free to check out the birds that migrate and call the island their home for a little while.

Click here for more things to do in Grand Isle.

Click here for more information on Grand Isle State Park.

Holly Beach

Just about an hour away from Lake Charles, this coastline goes for over 20 miles. You can even camp on the beach! There are also plenty of rental properties and even RV areas. You can make it more than a day trip for sure. Famous for crabbing, this beach is known for many “Cajun getaways”. So why not check it out for yourself?

Rutherford Beach

Looking for a more rustic beach scene filled with shells to collect? Look no further than Rutherford Beach, located in Cameron Parish off of Highway 82. This beach also offers camping on the beach! When you take your Louisiana beach trip, try to stop by and check it out.

Cypremort Point Beach

Cypremort Point is actually a State Park. The official name is Cypremort Point State Park; this beach overlooks Vermilion bay. Many boats often fill the water with watersports such as windsurfing and tubing. Fishing is also a big hit at this beach. It has an amazing fishing pier, so great that you could actually stay the night. Cypremort Point offers six cabins at the park so why leave when you can spend the whole weekend fishing?

North Beach

Looking for an urban beach in Louisiana? Check out North Beach located in Lake Charles. It is the only beach located between Texas and Florida that is an inland, white sand beach. It is over 20 miles away from the ocean so it makes it pretty unique in this area. It is also referenced as I-10 Beach. A boardwalk can be found that actually connects three different parks in Lake Charles. These include the September 11th Memorial, Millennium Park, and Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Fontainebleau State Park

Located in Mandeville this white sand beach is the perfect getaway. The views of Lake Pontchartrain are bound to pull anyone in. However, laying on the beach isn’t the only option. Hike the 6 mile trail or bike the Tammany Trace. You can kayak along the shore. It is the perfect spot for a day trip. Watch the sun set and enjoy the view.

Click here for more information on all of these beaches!

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Louisiana’s Most Famous Food

Louisiana is known for many things, but the food usually makes the top of the list. Louisiana Travel has a list of Louisiana’s most famous food and where to find them. We are sharing some of those with you!

Po’boy

What are they:

A Po’boy is a sandwich Louisiana has made their own. It’s definitely at the top of the Louisiana’s famous food list.  Usually always made up with meat like, fried seafood, roast beef, or even just regular deli meat. But the thing that makes Po’boys extra special is the bread they are served on. Traditional French Bread, which often has a fluffy center and a crispy crust. If you enjoy mayonnaise, pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce then ask for your Po’boy to be “dressed”.

Where to find them:

New Orleans holds theOak Street Po-Boy Festival, which goes on in November. A New Orleans restaurant, Mother’s Restaurant serves one of the best roast beef po’boys. Maybe New Orleans is too far, check out Chris’ Po’boys that is located in Lafayette, Louisiana. They are known to be the best in Cajun Country!

King Cake

What are they:

Round braided dough filled with cinnamon that is covered in icing. Colored sugar covers the top of the King Cake and there is even a little plastic baby that is stuffed inside. There are three colors that are presented on the top. Purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power. These cakes can also be filled! If you get the piece with the baby, that means you have to buy the next King Cake!

Where to find them:

Metairie is known to have the best at Manny Randazzo’s King Cakes. However, this amazing desert can be found anywhere from Shreveport to the cities that line the Gulf Coast. They can also be found in these pretty amazing places:

Haydel’s Bakery in New Orleans

Atwood’s Bakery in Alexandria

Daily Harvest Bakery & Deli in Monroe

Boudin

What are they:

A smoked sausage casing is filled with pork, rice and spices. It can be served in balls or links. Usually boudin balls are deep fried and served with dipping sauce. The links can also be grilled and served like that. It can be an easy snack or even a whole meal!

Where to find them:

Scott, Louisiana is the Boudin Capital of the World is one of the best places to find boudin. Or not that far down the road, Earl’s Cajun Market is known for their plate lunches and their amazing boudin. They are located in Lafayette, Louisiana. Check out these places for even more boudin options:

Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins

Don’s Specialty Meats

Gumbo

What is it:

The base of gumbo is known as a roux, which is made up of butter/oil mixed with flour. Gumbo is one of the most versatile Louisiana recipes. Everyone cooks it differently. However, there is always a protein and plenty of seasoning. The Creole style gumbo usually incorporates tomatoes while the Cajun style sticks to the “regular” roux. Gumbo is actually the official Louisiana dish.

Where to find it:

Almost every where in Louisiana offers gumbo. If you want to experience the full southern Louisiana experience, try trying some different bowls of gumbo from New Orleans. The Gumbo Shop and Restaurant R’evolution are both located in New Orleans. Want something a little more north? Check out Monroe, Louisiana and visit Warehouse No. 1 for a seafood gumbo.

For more Louisiana related articles, click here, and to read the entire article on Louisiana’s Famous Foods click here.