Top 5 Reasons To Visit Natchitoches

Natchitoches, pronounced “Nack-a-tish”, this city in Louisiana was established in 1714, making it one of the oldest parts of the Louisiana Settlement. The region’s culture and heritage date back 3,000 years, starting with the Caddo tribe and then slowly acquiring Spanish, French, African, and Creole settlers.

This little city has a lot of history, a robust community, and gorgeous scenery. With over 30 bed and breakfasts for travelers to pick from and elaborate french architecture from colonial times, it’s clear that there’s something special about this charming town.

Cosmos Mariners shares their top five things to do when visiting Natichoches:

  • Go on an adventure in the historic district.

This 33-block National Historic Landmark Distance in Natchitoches contains a multitude of structures, homes, and historic sites. You’ll see sites like the Fort St. Jean Baptiste Historic site located on the Cane River Lake (make sure to see the exquisite replica of a french fort!) and the Herman Taylor Home, known for its role as the home in the movie Steel Magnolia. You can even choose to stay in the pink “Shelby” room overnight, or choose one of the other rooms that is named after the characters.

If you want to see some original French architecture, check out the Roque House. Located downtown on the riverbank, the home was built by a freed slave around the 1800s. While your downtown, stroll through the oldest general store, Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile.

  • Learn about Creole culture in Natchitoches

Start at the Melrose Plantation, constructed completely by descendants of freed slaves, served as home to the Metoyer family for generations. The matriarch of the family, Marie Theresa Coincoin, was a freed slave who built her empire by trapping and selling local game, making medicine, and growing tobacco.

Oakland Plantation and Magnolia Plantation Complex are both a part of Cane River Creole National Park and provide a unique insight into the daily lives of past residents. On Magnolia Plantation, pay close attention to the slave cabin area – this would have been the heart of the African AMerican community before the Civil War era.

  • Tour the Hall of Fame and History Museum.

The tour starts before you even enter the building – the modern architecture of the building is contributed to the area’s rich and dynamic culture. The uniquely designed building was named world’s top architectural project by Azure in 2013.

The Sports Hall of Fame caters a spot to Louisiana athletes like Shaquille O’Neal, Audrey Patterson, and Archie Manning. New Orleans Saints’ fans need to check out the commemorative football signed by all players from the 2010 Super Bowl.

At the Northwest Louisiana History Museum learn how the native and early French, Creole, Spanish, and African settlers contributed to the dynamic melting pot Louisiana is known for today.

  • Try Louisiana classics.

What’s the best way to dive deep into Louisiana culture? Food!

Fill up your plate (and your stomach) with meat pies and étouffée and explore the different options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with these favorite restaurants:

Maglieaux’s on the Cane

Merci Beaucoup (try their mini crawfish pies and stuffed potatoes with etouffee!)

Mariner’s Restaurant, (for fresh seafood fans)

Lasyone’s Meat Pies(the name says it all!)

French Market Express (for when you’re on the go)

  • Get festive during the Christmas season.

Natchitoches Christmas Festival of LIghts is the oldest celebration in the state. The riverbank and downtown dress up for Christmas, brightening the night sky for over 90 years. Make sure to stroll through the shops downtown and try some fresh locan gumbo or gator on a stick!

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Visit New Iberia, Louisiana

Due to Louisiana’s location on the Mississippi River, it made the city of New Iberia a perfect landing spot for those looking to settle land in the U.S. This means that a lot of the communities in Louisiana are some of the oldest communities in the U.S. Not only that, but Native Americans actually populated Louisiana’s area meaning that this land is filled with history.

First claimed by spanish settlers in 1779, the banks of the Bayou Teche hold a lot of that history. This area known as New Iberia was eventually taken over by french settlers, who were known as Acadians. They were pushed out of Nova Scotia and once they settled here they became known as Cajuns. The perfect place to learn about Louisiana’s history while also maybe taking a vacation. We are here to tell you about a few different things to do in New Iberia, Louisiana.

Things to do in New Iberia

The Bayou Teche Museum

Known as a “hidden gem”, this museum has been years in the making. Offering educational tours and self guided tours, its visitors can explore the history and preservation this museum holds. The Bayou Teche Museum is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The doors open at 10 a.m. and they close at 4 p.m.. However, they can be open at other times when an appointment is made. Students pay $3 and adults pay $5; kids under five can enter for free.

The Shadows on the Teche

The Shadows on the Teche was built in 1834 for a man named David Weeks, a sugar planter. The Shadows displays the life of four generations of the Weeks family living at the Shadows. The building is a historic sight and even still also holds all of the Weeks papers.

Not only is the house amazing, the large trees that fill the property will take your breath away. The Shadows on the Teche is open year round. Monday through Saturday, 10a.m.-4p.m. The first tour will begin at 10:15 and the last tour will begin at 3:15.

Click here for all of the admissions information.

Places to eat

Duffy’s Diner

Looking for a 50s style diner that sells the best fried chicken? Check out Duffy’s Diner. Located in New Iberia, this diner will for sure fill your hunger after checking out Main street. Their menu ranges from simple sandwiches to seafood platters. Locally owned and operated, this diner will take you back in time but won’t cost a heavy penny. Make sure to grab a milkshake to go for the ride home. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the best milkshakes in town.

Jane’s Seafood and Chinese

Opened in 1991 this seafood and Chinese restaurant delivers to the city of New Iberia with its flavor. Featured in New Iberia’s Best of the Teche, Jane’s received many accomplishments. Including first place for the best wait staff. They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays); check their website for their hours. This restaurant will please everyone with a little bit of everything. Make sure to try their chargrilled oysters, you’ll never forget them.

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Louisiana Parks Worth Making a Visit To

When people think of Louisiana, they don’t often think of the 20 state parks, the state forest, or the wildlife refuge-but they should. The parks, forests, and refuges in the state call themselves home to native species. They preserve a part of the area that would otherwise be forgotten and creates a safe haven for these things to exist. Below are the best parks and forests to visit to experience the part of Louisiana often forgotten.

Kisatchie National Forest

 Kisatchie National Forest is the only national forest in Louisiana. With its headquarters located in Pineville, the forest has over 40 recreational areas and over 100 miles for hiking. Visitors also find themselves picnicking, camping, hunting, horseback riding, or boating.

The forest is also home to two predominant roadless areas. Cunningham Brake and Saline Bayou are both areas designated to protect species native to the area. Cunningham Brake is a large wamp that protects flows into Kisatchie Bayou. Saline Bayou contains various forest types, each having different habitats. These areas were not given roads, as roads can damage forests, prairies, streams, and wetlands. They also do harm to native amphibians and reptiles that migrate to vernal pools.

Kisatchie National Forest lies throughout seven different parishes: Grant, Natchitoches, Winn, Rapides, Vernon, Claiborne, and Webster.

Grand Isle State Park

Grand Isle State Park is located right off the coast of Louisiana. The waters from the Gulf of Mexico created the beach. Grand Isle is the breakwater between the Gulf of Mexico and the channels that connect to the bayou tributaries of the Mississippi River. Lots of visitors come to the waters for fishing, swimming, or crabbing. Every July, many visit the beach for the Tarpon Rodeo, a fishing competition. The terrain also offers hiking or sunning for those looking for alternatives to water activities.

Over 280 species of fish call the Grand Isle State Park home. This is also an amazing place to see the Louisiana state bird- the Brown Pelican. For those looking for something a little different, there is a two-and-a-half mile nature trail in the park.

South Toledo Bend State Park

South Toledo Bend State Park is snugly located in the village of Anacoco, Louisiana. The park is located on several bluffs over and into the Toledo Bend Reservoir. For 2015 and 2016, Toledo Bend Reservoir was the nation’s number one bass fishing lake. In addition to bass fishing, visitors also enjoy hiking, cycling, and camping.

Housed in South Toledo Bend State Park are nesting grounds for bald eagles, which have been spotted in the area. The eagles feed from the endless supply of freshwater fish in the Reservoir. The park’s visitor center has an observation deck with a view of the reservoir lake and the islands nearby. Around the center is also a 3,000-foot surface nature trail.

South Toledo Bend is located six miles south of the former Hodges Gardens State Park, which closed in 2018. It is also not far from Natchitoches, Louisiana, which is the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase.

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The Best Places in Louisiana

Summer might be coming to an end but Louisiana is still full of places to explore. Due to Louisiana’s history the cities are often filled with places to discover; you just have to know where to look. Both tourists and locals can benefit from taking time to explore this beautiful state. Trips to Discovery gives us a list of 9 of the Best Places to Visit in Louisiana; we are sharing four of them!

Breaux Bridge

Known as the “Crawfish Capital of the World”, Breaux Bridge is located near Lafayette, Louisiana. Lying along the Bayou Teche, this city is filled with history. Even better though, downtown is filled with boutiques and antique stores. They even have their own festival dedicated to Crawfish, but it is the Crawfish Capital, right?

Check out Cafe des Amis for a zydeco breakfast that will make you come back for more. Want to enjoy the wildlife? Lake Martin gives visitors the option to kayak through the swamp and you could even get the chance to see some gators.

Grand Isle

Grand Isle is Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island, but what makes it even better is the white beaches that go on for 7 miles. The Grand Isle Birding/Nature Trail offers five different bird watching locations; the birding trail itself is about 2 miles. Click here for more information.

Another unique thing about Grand Isle is that the island, Queen Bess, houses thousands of brown pelicans (Louisiana’s state bird). These birds were on the verge of extinction in the 1960s, so the state planned to bring them back on this very island. The island also houses roseate spoonbills. Visitors can see the island by private boats or by charters!

Grand Isle also offers the annual Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration during the month of April. Songbirds stop to rest on the island during their migration across the Gulf of Mexico.

St. Martinville

During the early 18th century, St. Martinville was founded by French explorers which is why the city is said to be the place where cajun culture was born. The settlers were not just French, many also came from Quebec. Even the trees show the history and age of the city; large oak trees lining the streets.

Picnics at the park are always an option when passing through. Or even check out the African-American Museum which displays the story of the journey Africans made through Southwest Louisiana.

St. Francisville

St. Francisville is not only beautiful but it has a tv and film career as well. Often used as a setting, this small town has more than enough to keep you busy. If the paranormal is your thing, this is the perfect place. Myrtles Plantation is known as one of the most haunted hotels in the country.

The plantation offers multiple opportunities for visitors. Private tours and guided day tours are offered every day that the plantation is open. Self-guided tours are even available! Friday and Saturday nights open up the opportunity of evening mystery tours. It truly is a sight to see.

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Number One Affordable New Orleans Excursion

Whether you planned a trip to the Big Easy with your group of girlfriends, are heading down with your company for a work conference, or planning a weekend getaway with your family, you will want and need to know all the details about this number one Affordable New Orleans Excursion. Classic Louisiana delicacies such as oysters, po-boys, crawfish, and beignets are at the top of any New Orleans itinerary, but there’s much more to the city than eating and indulgence.

Whether you’re a first-timer or a born-and-raised local, there is always something new to do in New Orleans, from palm-readings in the French Quarter to one-of-a-kind museums and historical jazz joints (between meals at some of the world’s best restaurants, of course). One thing’s for sure: You’ll be ready to collapse into bed at one of the best hotels in New Orleans by the end of the day.

New Orleans is a city that never sleeps and is never dull, but paying for all of that activity can add up.  Luckily, there are tons of inexpensive (even FREE!) things to do in New Orleans to help lift the financial burden that excursions can add. Recently, published their Top 10 list of affordable New Orleans attractions. The following is our Top affordable NOLA excursion!

The French Quarter stretches along the Mississippi River from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and inland to North Rampart Street. It equals an area of 78 square blocks and has an elevation of 1 foot.  The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré (“Old Square”), is the oldest section of the City of New Orleans. Founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, New Orleans developed around the Vieux Carré, the city’s central square. Today, the district is referred to as “the Quarter.”

Affordable New Orleans Excursion - Here is a view of The New Orleans French Quarter at dusk

There are lots of attractions in the Quarter and you could spend an entire day there just adventuring around and taking in the sights that you happen upon.  You will see plenty of street performers. They may be extravagantly painted jokesters that at first glance look like a statue, or young boys with bottle caps nailed to the bottoms of their shoes.  New Orleans isn’t short on raw talent. You will see tons of artists using various mediums and propping their art up in various places, some even doing commissioned representations of Quarter visitors who have the time.  There will be palm readers, street preachers, and tons of tourists from all over the world. It’s a place bustling with color and life.

Several tours are available in the Quarter.  Some cheap, some free. One popular option is a Literary Self-Guided Walking Tour.  See where some of New Orleans’ most renowned authors lived such as Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Thornton Wilder, Walker Percy and Anne Rice.  Click here for our favorite Literary Quarter Tour.

When your tummy starts rumbling, pop in any one of the iconic Quarter restaurants, not for a meal, but for an experience.  Have Oysters Rockefeller & Cafe Brulot at Antoine’s Restaurant, Shrimp remoulade and pompano with crab meat from Galatoire’s, Barbecue Shrimp at Mr. B’s, Killer Po-boys in Erin Rose, or a Late Night Burger at Clover Grill.

When you’ve seen all there is to see and you are ready to retire for the night, there are plenty of lodging options available, depending on what you prefer.  Whether you are looking for a quaint, tucked away inn or a hotel right in the middle of the bustling French Quarter, you’ll find the perfect accommodations in this quintessential New Orleans neighborhood.  If you want something right smack in the middle of things, book your room at Four Points by Sheraton.  It is located in the heart of the French Quarter on the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse; you can’t get much more central than that. Many rooms offer balconies overlooking the street below or the courtyard/pool and it is in walking distance to all French Quarter attractions.  If you want to remain within walking distance but don’t want to be too much in the mix, try the Astor Tower whose renovation was just completed in 2016.  This AAA Four Diamond hotel is located at the edge of the French Quarter at the intersection of Bourbon and Canal Street.  Wherever you stay, just know that you will sleep hard and well- New Orleans has a funny way of wearing you out!

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