As I sing my first note from the stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, one of Louisiana’s 400 festivals, I watch as people are drawn to the music. They come from every walk of life; tall, short, thin, round, young, old, hippie, yuppie, folkie, and foreign. Everyone is different, yet they’re all here, in Louisiana, to enjoy our little piece of heaven on Earth. The smell of roux and fried seafood intertwine with the dancers, sweat and dust. Cypress crafts pepper the backdrop of multi-colored tents. In this moment, there are no worries—just complete happiness. Food for my soul…my plate is full.
—Yvette Landry (Author, Educator, Ambassador, GRAMMY-Nominated Songbird, and Breaux Bridge Native)
When you make a list of all the unique things Louisiana has to offer visitors, you quickly see the long-lasting influences of our French, Spanish, and African ancestry. Our past is well preserved in our architecture, music, food, and lifestyles—which include our amazing festivals—and of course in our museums of history and fine arts.
It is not an accident that Louisiana clings to the phrase “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” meaning “Let the good times roll.” Let yourself get lost in the traditions passed down through generations. Come visit us during Mardi Gras season when costumed riders parade and magnificent balls are thrown from New Orleans and Baton Rouge to Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Shreveport and beyond. Peek back across the centuries, as you walk under lavish ironwork and through the lush courtyard gardens of a meticulous French Quarter hotel. Touch history with a tour of a plantation where the daily activities of the past are recreated. Let nature’s mysteries inspire and awe you via a boat tour through a cypress-studded bayou.
Here, in Louisiana, history and lore don’t merely live in books on a shelf; they’re reflected in our everyday lives.
European explorers found their way to the region and inhabited the area very early relative to settlement of much of the rest of the continent. As a result, some communities in Louisiana are among the oldest in the United States. Before those explorers arrived, of course, people we now know as Native Americans populated the region. Reaching still farther back in time, ancient peoples left their mark on the area thousands of years ago. The state of Louisiana offers many ways to explore the region’s rich history, in hundreds of museums, historic structures, landmarks, artifacts, and works of art. The careful preservation and restoration of these sites and artifacts has created many rare opportunities for visitors to experience Louisiana’s history and gain insights into the diverse cultures that continue to influence the state today.
The area of Lafayette, Louisiana is at the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Country, an area known as the ‘Happiest City in America.’ The rich cultural history, the tasty culinary scene, and the distinctive Cajun and Zydeco music are all part of the cultural legacy created by the diverse people who settled here — Acadian, Creole, French, African, Spanish, Italian, and Native Americans. It’s an area where the Cajun dialect is still spoken.
Visit Eunice and Opelousas for the Zydeco music, and Breaux Bridge for the crawfish. Head to St. Martinville (one of Louisiana’s oldest towns and historically significant to the Acadian legacy) to see the beautiful architecture and buildings, many of which are listed on the historic register. Visit museums, antique markets, plantations, and historic churches. You must try the region’s famous boudin (sausage), dance to live music, and visit one of the many festivals happening year-round such as Festival International de Louisiane, the Sweet Dough Pie Festival, or Courir de Mardi Gras.
Once you’ve had your fill of crawfish, sweet dough pies, cracklins, étouffée, and catfish, head into the boundless wonders of the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest river swamp, containing almost one million acres of swamps, bayous, and backwater lakes. Learn more about the Lafayette area’s restaurants and food. Start planning your trip today at www.LouisianaTravel.com.