Hop on a Culinary Trail and Explore Louisiana

Known for its vast scenery and savory cuisine, Louisiana is home to several Culinary Trails to be explored this summer, according to an article by the State’s Tourism Department.

Local residents are invited to forge new summer traditions by traveling across the state in search of the best homegrown vegetables, sweet desserts, fresh fish, and more that this expansive state has to offer on its culinary food trails.

Visit a Farmer’s Market

It’s no secret that Louisiana is home to expert farmers, so access the state’s vast catalog of local Farmers Markets and stock up while the getting is still good. While many markets are seasonal, there are a handful that are year-round and regularly stocked to supply you with fresh fruits, vegetables, and more in your search for authentic homegrown excellence. There’s still time to attend the Opelousas Farmer’s Market on the Prairie Home Cooking trail, which is open year-round. While you’re out, be sure to stop by a roadside stand, like the ones that line both parameters of Bayou Lafourche along the Bayou Bounty Trail. Wether your looking for something sweet or one of Louisiana’s seafood staples, there is a culinary trail for everyone.

Treat Yourself to a Progressive Dinner

When you find the kitchen to be too swelteringly hot, step into a history with a meal at a locally-owned restaurant thats a part of Natchitoches’s Red River Trail, where locals are invited to dine in the Historic District. Partake in Louisiana History as you sample the blackened alligator appetizer at the Landing Restaurant and Bar.

Fish for your own Supper

Take agency in your meal preparation by indulging in Louisiana’s Sportsman’s Paradise. Our state houses a wealth of fishing spots, home to redfish, catfish, bluegill, bass, and much more. Northern Louisianaians are invited to cast off in Sabine Parish’s Toledo Bend or learn from a professional fisherman and guide like Homer Humphreys, who can show you the finest catches of Red River and Lake Bistineau. South Louisiana fisherman are invited to catch redfish on the Seafood Sensation trail, located in Lake Charles. Wether you’re in the gulf or within the boot, nothing tastes quite like the pride that accompanies a fish that you catch and prepare yourself, so catch your limit and cook it up this summer.

Cool off with a Sweet Treat on this Culinary Trail

Traditionally, the chosen dessert of the summer months is ice cream, but true Louisiana residents never overlook the essentialness of the icebox pie. Across the state, dessert shops and restaurants tote that they have the perfect sweet dish to help you beat the heat. Clancy’s in New Orleans serves a specialty lemon icebox pie from notorious pastry chef and author David Guas. In Shreveport, locals know to head to Strawn’s for a whipped-cream crowned slice of strawberry, chocolate, or coconut. The Creaola Cafe in Grand Coteau, serves its patrons a chocolatey, creamy Yum Yum pie that has rave reviews. Though, this suggested list would be amiss without mentioning the Pie Capitol of Louisiana,  Lecompte. Stop by Lea’s Lunchroom for a delicate slice of coconut, lemon, chocolate, banana, and much more when cooling off this summer.

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The Best Water Sports in Louisiana

With spring here and  summer not too far behind, what’s the best thing to do when the weather gets hot? Head to the water! Once things get back to normal around here, this list of water sports by Louisiana Travel are perfect for Louisiana natives  and visitors to keep cool!

 Kayak-Iti-Yat Kayak Tours

Located in New Orleans, Kayak-Iti-Yat Kayak Tours let you explore New Orleans’ bayous and historic waterways from a unique perspective! They offer different tours for different experiences, ranging from nice and easy to adventurous.

Try the two-hour Big Easy Bayou Tour, which takes you past neighborhoods that showcase different architectural styles. This tour is perfect for first-timers! The four-hour Pontchartrain Paddle is more active, outdoorsy types. Running the entire length of Bayou St. John and back, this dynamic trip takes you through the city’s oldest neighborhood along the way.

Flyboarding

This unique and exhilarating way to experience the water has you being blasted out of the water, with the flyboard strapped to your feet to keep you propelled and floating in the air some 40 feet high.

You’ll twist, turn, and shake until you come down for the coolest landing ever. This crazy fun experience is a combo of new age water sports and something out of the movie Waterworld.

Head to Northshore Hydrosports in Madisonville to book your flyboard adventure.

River Tubing

This is the ultimate chill water sport, which features you in the middle of the river, on a float, surrounded by friends and good music.

Head to Louisiana River Adventure Tubing in Franklinton, which offers “no reservation required” tubing trips, to relax down a popular stretch of the Bogue Chitto River just 90 minutes north of New Orleans. Two-hour and four-hour floats are the same price – just $20 – and free shuttle service gets you to and from the river.

If you’re on the Northshore, Tiki Tubing is the place for you. This laid back river float takes tubers down the Amite River. A $25 ticket includes your tube, parking, and transportation upriver where the float trip begins. Tiki Tubing also offers ice chest rentals.

Regardless of which river you choose, don’t forget your sunscreen and water!

Bayou Paddle Co. SUP Trips

Ready to explore the waters of St. Tammany Parish on Louisiana’s North Shore from a new perspective?

Bayou Paddle Co. SUP trips let you explore Lake Ponchartrain and the Bogue Falaya, Bogue Chitto and Tchefuncte rivers while balancing on your own individual paddleboard.

The company provides each customer with everything they’ll need for the trip, including equipment, lessons, and a guide if you want!

Water Parks and Playgrounds

Louisiana’s family-friendly water parks, playgrounds, parks, and resorts are the perfect place to go when summer’s reached its peak (and so has the boredom). Experience water slides and canons, lazy rivers, splashing fountains and more at locations throughout the state.

Read more about water parks and water playgrounds in Louisiana.

Louisiana also has the perfect beaches for shelling and shore fishing.

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A Guide to Louisiana’s Crawfish Festivals

It’s crawfish season in Louisiana, and festival season also. That can only mean one thing, crawfish festivals!

Crawfish are an important part of Louisiana State’s identity, economy, and cuisine. This red crustacean is found in both Creole and Cajun dishes throughout Louisiana and is cooked in every possible way imaginable.

In fact, the most commonly asked question in Louisiana from visitors is “When is crawfish season?”

The importance of the crawfish is first seen in the Houma Indian tribe, where the crawfish was used as its emblem for hundreds of years. In the 1800s, lobster recipes brought by Cajun settlers from their Canadian roots were substituted with crawfish. Then, Creole restaurant entrepreneurs realized how delicious and accessible crawfish was, and it’s been an important part of Louisiana culture and cuisine ever since!

What makes crawfish an even bigger commodity is the fact that it’s seasonal. Prime time for crawfish falls from February to mid-May. For many Louisiana residents, crawfish is the marker for an upcoming spring.

In honor of crawfish season and the fact that Louisianians have a festival for everything, here’s a guide to the best Louisiana Crawfish festivals you don’t want to miss.

Louisiana Crawfish Festival

This festival is from March 26th to the 29th in Chalmette. St. Bernard Parish is one of the most seafood-centric regions in Louisiana. Most of this is due to a commercial fishing industry that has been thriving for decades. Head to this fest for every imaginable recipe of crawfish, good Cajun music, arts and crafts, and pageants.

The Original Downtown Lake Charles Crawfish Festival

This three say party occurs on April 17-18 in Lake Charles. Although it’s called a crawfish festival, expect a celebration that focuses on all the awesome things St. Charles has to offer. You’ll find pageants, live music, local crafts, and carnival rides.

Slidell’s Annual Crawfish Cook-Off

The largest one day event on the Northshore, this festival is on April 18 in Slidell. This festival hosts a healthy competition that has more than 60 teams cooking for the title of Best Crawfish in St. Tammany Parish. Plan for large crowds, great music from well known artists, and a special kids zone for kids 12 and under.

Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival

The first weekend of May each year (May 1-3 this year), this huge festival is hosted in Breaux Bridge. With over 30,000 visitors flocking to Cajun Country, Breaux Bridge was named the Crawfish Capital of the World in 1959, and the festival followed suit in 1960. The festival embodies Cajun culture with authentic music and food.

Curious about other festivals in Louisiana? Click herefor a complete list.

Want to find crawfish without the crowds? Head to one of these restaurants for a delicious crawfish meal:

If you’re interested in the history of crawfish, Jeff Davis Parish offers crawfish farm toursthat show visitors a glimpse into crawfish ecology and the business.

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Things to do in Ascension Parish

It seems like everyone knows about Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but what about what is in between them? Ascension Parish is the perfect melting pot of Native American, Spanish, French, German, Italian, English, African, and Acadian cultures. You’ll find a place where 500 years of history, culture, and tradition have mingled and thrived, leaving unbelievable sights, traditions, and experiences.

Louisiana Travel created a list of the best things to do in Ascension Parish that let every visitor get a taste of its unique culture and culinary traditions.

The Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road

Experience life on a sugarcane plantation in the 1800s at the Houmas House and Gardens. You’ll find a mansion that’s been restored to the antebellum era, which reflects the wealth of the sugarcane farm in its youth. Take a guided mansion tour to explore its 250-year history and learn about the evolution of the structures and style of the mansion, as well as how it became a grand estate. Artwork around the house reflects the plantation life.

Aside from being the oldest and most beautiful estate in the South, Houmas House and Gardens is home to Latil’s Landing Restaurant, The Carriage House Restaurant, and Cafe Burnside. The chef, Jeremy Langlois, has mastered the art of creating delicious recipes utilizing the freshest local ingredients and giving his guests an unforgettable culinary experience.

Donaldsonville’s Historic Portal to the Past

Prefer to explore on your own terms? No problem at all. Experience a blast to the past in Donaldsonville at your own pace by visiting this portal map where you can find seven self-guided portals in the Historic District. You can start anywhere you like, and the route is about 2.5 miles. You can walk, bike, or explore by car! Learn more about Donaldsonville!

Louisiana’s First State Capitol

Donaldsonville, which served as Louisiana’s first state capital from 1829-1831, is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Head to the Historic District to learn about the diverse histories of past Donaldsonville occupants that deserve to be heard. The River Road African American Museum, located on Railroad Avenue, is the perfect place to start. This museum preserves, collects, and exhibits all types of art, artifacts, and buildings as they relate to the history and culture of the African American communities along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

Head to Farmer Dave’s Frame Shop to see and purchase the art of a local Donaldsonville artist, Alvin Batiste, who focuses his art on life along the Mississippi.

Find the Jambalaya Capital of the World

Jambalaya is a Cajun or Creole dish (depending on the ingredients you use) that is a combination of various meat, rice, vegetables, and seasonings all combined into one pot to make a delicious meal.

Sound yummy? You can head to Gonzalez, Louisiana and eat your way through the annual Jambalaya Festival and World Champion Jambalaya Cooking Contest. Louisianan’s pride themselves on their culinary skills that pay tribute to their culture and heritage, so be prepared for Jambalaya cooked to perfection.

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Best Places for a Weekend Getaway in Louisiana

Louisiana is a great place to plan a weekend getaway, but knowing where to start when it comes to actually planning your trip can seem overwhelming. Should you visit Cajun Country, as everyone else seems to? Or maybe explore the deep southern routes in Plantation Country? But if you want to do outdoor activities, maybe it’d be best if you head north?

Planet Ware put together a list of the best top-rated weekend getaways you can take in Louisiana, complete with activities and attractions you’d enjoy. Here are a few of our favorites!

New Orleans

Naturally, New Orleans had to be in our top favorites! This city is one of the top vacations spots in Louisiana thanks to its neverending adventures and over 300 years of history, culture, and amazing food.

Hop on a streetcar and explore the French Quarter. You can choose from one of four streetcar lines, but the oldest is the Saint Charles Streetcar Line, which has been in operation for more than 150 years.

Once you’re in French Quarter, make sure to stop at the Vieux Carre, where you can explore Jackson Square and tour St. Louis Cathedral.

A few other adventures to add to your list include stopping at Café du Monde for their famous beignets and stopping at the French Market. The French Market is an open-air market that spans five blocks. It has specialty shops, a community flea market, home-cooked food, and music.

Plantation Country

If you prefer a quiet getaway, this is your stop. This region of Louisiana is about an hour outside New Orleans and is home to a multitude of sprawling plantations you can tour. It’s also the birthplace of Louisiana’s famous andouille, a staple in their Southern dishes.

A few of the more plantations to tour are the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, the Laura Plantation, and the Oak Alley Plantation. The Ormond Plantation, Houmas House, and Oak Alley all offer dining and lodging if you’re looking for an extra special trip!

A few other activities you can do while in Plantation Country that doesn’t involve touring these historic homes are taking a kayak, pontoon, or airboat swamp tour and learning about local wildlife, the Cajuns, and the Native Americans that originally inhabited the area, spending an afternoon taking in the Louisiana culture, or going on a food tour of the Cajun cuisine made in Plantation Country.

Toledo Bend Reservoir Weekend Getaway 

If you’re a fan of the outdoors and want to make sure you have plenty of opportunities to be outside on this getaway, your best bet is Toledo Bend Reservoir in North Toledo Bend State Park. This reservoir is home to the largest man-made lake in the south and is known as one of the top fishing spots in Louisiana. You can even take a guided fishing trip on the lake.

Activities include hiking, biking, water sports, and year-round golf. You can rent kayaks, canoes, and flat-bottom boats from the park for day-to-day use. The reservoir is also a fantastic birding location, with over 900 acres to look for native and migrating species.

If you prefer to camp, the state park has campsites on site that range from premium sites to backcountry camping. Cabins are available that sleep up to 6 people and lodging for larger families is also available.

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Five Unusual Things to do in New Orleans

In Louisiana, New Orleans is the place to go to experience a city that truly captures the essence of Louisiana’s culture and history. You’ll find jazz music at the corner of every street, epic gumbo festivals, tons of museums, haunted cemeteries, and of course, Mardi Gras.

But not everyone wants to check out the usual spots, or maybe they aren’t a fan of the crowds that usually populate local favorites. Thanks to Louisiana Travel, here is a list of unusual things to do in New Orleans.

Located in one of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhoods, you’ll find an arrangement of artist shacks and tiny homes, all built with recycled materials. If you go inside one of these shacks, you’ll find an assortment of handmade musical instruments built into the building themselves.

Their website states “The Music Box Village is a place where play, imagination, experimentation, collaboration, community and hard work come together as a whimsical village of artist-made interactive “musical houses.” Each installation is inspired by the unique musical and architectural culture of our home city of New Orleans, and represents a collaborative process between artists based here and abroad. Our one-of-a-kind art site hosts intensive artist residencies, performances, panels, and welcomes visitors for exploration and play.”

Established in 1772, this shop is named for Pierre Lafitte, a blacksmith and a brother of Jean Lafitte, a pirate, and hero of the Battle of New Orleans. The brothers used their shop to plan their many exploits. In the 1940s, the shop became a popular cafe with local artists.

Their website claims Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop to be “a gumbo of truth and French, Spanish, African, Cajun and American embellishments.”

So make sure to stop by and soak up some history when you’re in the French Quarter.

Have you ever been curious about Voodoo and its roots? If so, make sure to stop by this museum!

At the Historic Voodoo Museum, you will learn about the real history of Voodoo and experience Voodoo related artifacts and objects. The museum was founded in 1972 as a designated place for all things Voodoo to live. They claim they took “all the mysteries, the secrets, the history, and the folklores of rituals, zombies, of gris-gris, of Voodoo Queens and all that jazz, and put it all in one place at the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter.”

This warehouse-converted-art gallery features 35,000 feet of gallery space and is home to the up-and-coming artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums. Contrary to tradtional canvases, Odums paints powerful and hopeful murals on exterior and interior walls.

“Studio Be features “Ephemeral Eternal,” his first solo exhibition that includes over a dozen original murals, several room-sized installations, and reconstructed murals salvaged from #ProjectBe before the Florida Housing Development’s demolition in 2014. The studio is open to the public 4 days a week, and welcomes hundreds of visitors from near and far weekly.”

Located in the historic Tremé neighborhood, this museum is the only one of its kind in the world. Dedicated to the contributions of the city’s African Americans to New Orleans culture, the museum has become a collection of priceless artifacts from Mardi Gras Indians and jazz funerals, and has archived images of more than 500 related cultural events.

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