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Louisiana - Birthplace of Jazz

Louisiana - Birthplace of Jazz
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Well-known Icons and Pleasant Surprises

To many, Louisiana is known as the birthplace of jazz, where over-stuffed po’ boys are bountiful, and where the greatest Mardi Gras celebrations take place. The list of lesser-knowns from this swampy Southern state is deliciously new to the outsider: a steaming hot bowl of seafood gumbo, freshly-made beignets and drive-through daiquiri shops. Thankfully, the uninitiated can head down one of Louisiana’s Culinary Trails to acquaint themselves with the distinctive Creole/Cajun flavors, and the history behind them.

Then there’s the unmistakable beat of zydeco music, eerily-beautiful bayous and the sacred temples of Voodoo priestesses (where you go to get your juju on track). Here, the Cajun and Creole musicians (who created the tunes of swamp pop in a hybrid of rock, R&B and blues sounds) live on in a new generation of talent that moves the crowds at the intimate local music haunts. Another cure for the unaccustomed: one evening at the Blue Moon Saloon and Guesthouse, a historic honky tonk that hosts roots music every night. Louisiana is a place where artistic expression flourishes and where artists have an outlet for their creativity that remains unhampered by convention, which is reflected in the many galleries showing outsider art as a mainstay.


Nowhere Else Like It

Only in Louisiana has Spain’s running of the bulls been transformed into folks strapping on rollerblades and helmets – with horns – to roll around chasing each other as “rollerbulls.” And only in Louisiana are there frog shows in place of dog shows and inmates performing as cowboys in prison rodeos. This is a state that knows how to throw a good party – and to tease its arrival all year long: The 365-day countdown to Mardi Gras, which commemorates Fat Tuesday, is the most-anticipated event of the year across the state. This Pre-Lenten/Easter festival about parties, parades, beads, costumes and eating traditional king cakes is one of the most popular events to attend in all of the U.S.

Louisiana - Birthplace of Jazz

Louisiana - Birthplace of Jazz
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Fun Fact

The colorful and Spanish-influenced architecture of New Orleans' Royal Street
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The majority of the New Orleans’ French Quarter is actually Spanish in architecture.

Nottoway’s White Castle Plantation, just one of many magnificent Louisiana mansions
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Nottoway Plantation in White Castle is the largest antebellum mansion in the south and was the inspiration for the mansion in the Disney film, “The Princess and the Frog.”

An Elvis statue commemorates The King’s days on a radio show broadcasted from Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
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The ascension of Elvis Presley’s musical career began at the Louisiana Hayride, a recurring radio-broadcast concert series at Shreveport, Louisiana’s downtown municipal auditorium in 1954.

Must see places

Flags hanging from the balconies in the French Quarter

New Orleans French Quarter

You came, you saw, you mardi gras’d: There’s no visiting Louisiana without a trip to the iconic community that acts as the crossroads for so many cultures and traditions. Explore this National Historic District’s unbeatable food scene, museums, music and notorious thoroughfare, Bourbon Street.

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Sunrise over the marsh along the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road

Creole Nature Trail All-American Road

Consider this 290-kilometer path through the marshlands and coastline of Louisiana a drive right into the heart of Cajun culture. You’ll encounter gators, beaches, crabbing, fishermen, wildflowers and plenty of chances to sample the seafood along this scenic path.

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Exploring Jungle Gardens on Avery Island, home to TABASCO, in Louisiana

Avery Island

This small, salt dome island in Iberia Parish is home to TABASCO, where you can take a tour and sample the products and then explore the lovely environment. Visit Jungle Gardens to take in the serenity of the island as well as its wildlife.

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A rip-roaring airboat tour through the basin at Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

The basin here is the USA’s largest river swamp, home to hardwoods, bayous, backwater lakes and teeming with swamp wildlife (including crawfish). Don’t miss a tour of the water heritage trail in this spectacular environment; it tells the richly complex story of the water, land and people of the area.

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The Historic Broussard House at Vermilionville in Lafayette, Louisiana
Denny Culbert

Vermilionville Living History & Folk Life Park

In Lafayette, this folk life park illustrates Acadian, American Indian and Creole culture of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Highlights include 19 attractions, seven restored homes, costumed guides and local artisans.

A breathtaking tunnel of trees leads to Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation

The very picture of a historic antebellum home, a tour of Oak Alley takes you through the Big House, a Civil War Encampment Exhibit and Slave Quarter Exhibit. A Cajun/Creole lunch buffet is also available, as well as the “Spirits” Bar and a shop.

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Stately Jackson Square

St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square

The USA’s oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use presides over Jackson Square. Tours of the historic landmark are self-guided, and you’ll want to follow up with a stop at the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center and at the Old Ursuline Convent Museum. Afterwards, explore Jackson Square, the iconic French Quarter park bursting with character.

A drum welcomes music-lovers to celebrated Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall

There’s no better place to catch classic New Orleans live jazz than here, where they’ve been keeping the tradition alive since 1961. Get tickets for a show any night; past performances have even included rock, country and hip-hop styles.

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The boardwalk at Poverty Point, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Poverty Point

See the 22-meter tall mound, concentric half-circles and other earth works, built by hand 3,400 years ago by American Indians. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is in Pioneer.

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The Cabildo, part of the Louisiana State Museum, in New Orleans

Louisiana State Museum

Five of the nine museums in the statewide system are in the French Quarter: Cabildo, Presbytere, 1850 House, Madame John’s Legacy and New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint. Visit one or all.

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Colorful sunset over the Atchafalaya Basin
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Experience Louisiana