Welcome to Louisiana
Louisiana has an appetite for food, music, and fun that is best summed up in the Cajun phrase laissez les bons temps rouler—let the good times roll.
In exploring Louisiana, a great place to start is the Greater New Orleans area. Nowhere else is Louisiana’s uniqueness more evident than in New Orleans, affectionately called “The Big Easy.” The most European city in America, New Orleans offers unique history, art, music, and cuisine. Shopping, entertainment, and nightlife are abundant throughout the French Quarter, Central Business District, Arts and Warehouse District, Faubourg Marigny, and the Garden District.
New Orleans was founded as a trading post almost 300 years ago on a curve in the Mississippi River, and the original city is now the French Quarter (Vieux Carre). The “Quarter” as locals call it comprises 90 city blocks containing 2,700 buildings with striking wrought iron embellishments and architecture. The district’s centerpiece, Jackson Square, is dominated by the St. Louis Cathedral.
Attractions include Audubon Zoo, Aquarium of the Americas and Audubon Insectarium, Steamboat Natchez and the city’s historic streetcar system.
Cajun Country, Louisiana's southwest region was settled by Acadians expelled from Nova Scotia in the late 1700s. The Acadians, or Cajuns, adapted well to south Louisiana.
Visitors can experience Cajun food, music, history, and culture in cities like Lafayette, Lake Charles, and Houma; in smaller towns like Breaux Bridge, New Iberia, Crowley, and Opelousas. Nature experiences are abundant on the Creole Nature Trail, an All-American Road. Popular activities include dancing to Cajun and zydeco music, living history tours at Cajun colonial villages, and air boat rides.
Within this region are people of Franco-African, Indian, Acadian French, and Spanish descent. They enjoy Cajun fare like gumbo and jambalaya along with traditional Southern cooking like chicken-fried steak and pecan pies.
Large plantations prospered in central Louisiana during the Antebellum South period. Notable examples are Frogmore Plantation west of Vidalia and Melrose Plantation near Natchitoches.
Louisiana’s oldest permanent settlement, Natchitoches, began as a trading post in 1714 (predating New Orleans by two years). Its downtown historic landmark district, reproduced French colonial Fort St. Jean Baptiste, and Bayou Pierre Alligator Park are popular attractions.
The state’s northern region is the largest, highest, and oldest part of the state with rolling hills, pine forests, and lakes. The north’s major city is Shreveport, where casinos and horse racing help bolster the economy.
Numerous waterways like Caney Lake, Lake Bistineau, and Lake D’Arbonne attract freshwater anglers.
Attractions in Shreveport and across the Red River in Bossier City, include the American Rose Center, Stage of Stars Museum at Municipal Auditorium, and Louisiana Boardwalk.
Of the hundreds of Louisiana festivals, none tops Mardi Gras. Spectacular parades, unbelievable costumes, music, dancing, food and drinks. The Mardi Gras season begins January 6 and continues until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. In 2014, Fat Tuesday will be March 4.
One of the most popular foods during Mardi Gras is the king cake. The official colors for Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold; purple represents justice, green stands for faith, and gold stands for power.