Hawk’s Crawfish - During Louisiana’s annual crawfish season—late winter to early summer—it’s worth a pilgrimage through the Acadia Parish rice fields for some of the best boiled crawfish in the state. In “the Middle of Nowhere,” Hawk’s Crawfish prides itself on serving the biggest, tastiest mudbugs around. Spicy and bold, yet delicate and savory, these little critters will shed light on Cajun Country’s crawfish obsession.
416 Hawks Road, Rayne, LA 70578; 337.788.3266, hawkscrawfish.com
» Discover more: Acadia Parish
Allen Parish—the Gateway to Cajun Country—will delight outdoor aficionados. There’s hunting at West Bay Game Reserve, fishing on the Calcasieu River and great sporting events. For those interested in other types of gaming, visit The Coushatta Casino Resort, the state’s largest land-based casino resort.
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Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans on both banks of the Mississippi River, Ascension Parish offers a gumbo of the cultures unique to south Louisiana. The food, festivals, architecture, history and way of life reflect this rich mixture, and visitors enjoy museums, plantation homes, gardens, shopping and dining.
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Assumption Parish is the gateway to the Atchafalaya Basin, one of the world's largest and most beautiful estuaries offering a huge menu of outdoor activities. With French, Spanish and American Indian heritage, many of Assumption’s centuries-old traditions and buildings are still in use today.
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Avoyelles Parish in central Louisiana takes its name from the Avoyels Indians, commemorating its American Indian and French Creole heritage. The abundant wildlife and many waterways make this a year-round sportsman paradise. Authentic Louisiana cuisine like local specialty cochon de lait—Cajun roasted pig (pictured here)—delights foodie travelers.
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Beauregard Parish is filled with Louisiana's famous food, music and history. Spend the day antique shopping and visiting the notorious jail built in 1914 during the heyday of the parish’s lumber industry. Or head outside to the Ouiska Chitto River for a white sandy beach adventure.
» Discover more: Beauregard Parish
Northwest Louisiana’s Bienville Parish uniquely combines business, history, festivals, shopping and outdoor activities. Festival lovers will find that Bienville Parish celebrates everything from pine beetles to watermelons. If you’re seeking other adventures, hike Driskill Mountain, the highest point in Louisiana.
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Combining two great American heritages, Bossier City mixes spicy Cajun attitude and wide-open Texas spirit. Four riverboat casinos and one horseracing track offer 24-hour excitement for gaming enthusiasts. The Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets provides premier riverfront shopping, dining and entertainment at the state’s largest outlet destination.
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Strawn’s Eat Shop - Hit this classic Shreveport diner for a breakfast feast and a slice of their deservedly famous strawberry pie. During the summer, make sure to try the cream-topped peach pie too.
125 Kings Highway, Shreveport, LA 71104; 318.868.0634, strawnseatshop.com
» Discover more: Caddo Parish
Calcasieu’s Cajun personality makes you feel at home while exploring luxurious casinos, golf greens, live music, Cajun cuisine and year-round fishing and hunting. Known as the Festival Capital of Louisiana, Calcasieu Parish boasts more than 75 fairs and festivals including Mardi Gras and the Contraband Days Pirate Festival.
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Caldwell Parish celebrates its history as an area once bustling with lumber business among the acres of pine trees. Columbia's Main Street program preserves the small, turn-of-the-century town. It highlights the Schepis Museum that features rotating art exhibits, art workshops, theatrical performances and concerts.
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Creole Nature Trail and Cameron Prairie - The Creole Nature Trail is part of a 200,000-acre wildlife preserve where salt marsh meets open sky. Drive it during fall or spring, and you’ll see the sky filled with migrating birds. Take the 180-mile scenic route, a loop from outside Lake Charles to the coast, and stop at the Cameron Prairie visitor center, where interactive dioramas and dramatic vista points put the area’s teeming, diverse wildlife into clear context.
1428 La. Hwy. 27, Bell City, LA 70630; 337.598.2216
» Discover more: Cameron Parish
Quirky Catahoula Parish shares its name with Louisiana’s state dog, and its local legends include buried gold and giant catfish—visit and see if they’re true! There are numerous rivers and lakes for fishing, swimming and boating and the town of Jonesville is America’s only spot where four rivers meet.
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Lake Claiborne is the eponymous jewel of Claiborne Parish. The lake’s 6,400 acres are lavishly stocked for fishermen, and a swim in the famous clear water works up an appetite for a fresh fish supper. Nature trails and a scenic overlook profit from the true beauty of the area.
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Enjoy Delta music, home-cooked dishes and casual living in Concordia Parish, the Land of Harmony. Lakes and rivers are jumping with fish, and Frogmore Cotton Plantation and The Delta Music Museum share the area’s unique history. The new RiverWalk boasts lodging, conference and RV facilities with Mississippi River views.
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De Soto Parish
Explore historic DeSoto and see why DeSoto is Different. The land is green and rolling, dotted with cattle and hay bales. Old homes and traditions are valued and preserved. The bayous are rich with fish, the forests are filled with game and the backroads are beautiful.
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East Baton Rouge Parish
Mississippi River Levee in Baton Rouge - On a clear day, walk along Baton Rouge’s river levee for a great view of the state’s capital city. At sunset, see Baton Rouge’s revitalized downtown and deco-era capitol building glow golden in the fading light. Run along the levee, or experience the quiet pleasure in resting on a levee-side bench and watching hulking ships move down the river.
Louisiana Old State Capitol, 100 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70801; 225.342.0500, louisianaoldstatecapitol.org
» Discover more: East Baton Rouge Parish
East Carroll Parish
The Byerley House Museum and Visitor Center is the perfect start for a visit to East Carroll Parish. Six-mile long Lake Providence provides recreation throughout the year with all types of water activities. The parish is also home to the Louisiana Cotton Museum and Panola Pepper Company.
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East Feliciana Parish
East Feliciana Parish, the heart of Louisiana's English Plantation Country, is noted for scenery and history. Meaning "Happy Land” in Spanish, the flags of Spain, France, England and the Republic of West Florida have flown over the parish. Forested rolling hills feature quaint historic towns and beautiful country drives.
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D.I.’s Cajun Restaurant - D.I.’s is the only restaurant and dance hall in Acadiana that sports a functional airstrip for customers arriving by plane. The kitchen serves fantastic gumbo and barbecued crabs (a seasonal house specialty), and bands pack the dance floor on weekends. The real magic happens when pilot groups arrive for lunch and put on improvised air shows.
6561 Evangeline Highway, Basile, LA 70515; 337.432.5141, discajunrestaurant.com
If you like the riches of small rural life, then there’s no better place than Franklin Parish. There’s plenty to do: fishing, hunting, dining, shopping, exploring and riding. A family-friendly community, the wholesome quality of life is one of Franklin Parish’s most appealing aspects.
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Every November, the town of Colfax in Grant Parish becomes the center of the pecan universe. The Louisiana Pecan Festival draws roughly 70,000 people nationwide to celebrate the pecan, whose trees are prevalent in Louisiana. From salads to pies, attendees can sample the nut’s many varieties and uses.
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Iberia Parish boasts world-renowned Cajun and Creole cuisine and contagious music, but also claims world-famous attractions such as the TABASCO® factory, America’s oldest rice mill, lush tropical gardens, distinctive museums, a National Trust plantation home and award-winning New Iberia Main Street, immortalized in James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series.
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Tucked between the Atchafalaya Basin swamps and the capital city of Baton Rouge, Iberville Parish is rich with legend and mystery. Featuring magnificent antebellum homes, massive live oaks, meandering bayous and historic buildings, Iberville has grace and beauty and—most of all—a joy of life.
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Jackson Parish is nicknamed the Sunshine Parish for its native son Jimmie Davis. The former governor penned Louisiana’s state song You Are My Sunshine. Jimmie Davis State Park is known for bass fishing, and Jonesboro hosts the Sunshine Festival and Antique Car Show and a stunning holiday lights display.
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Jefferson Davis Parish
Jefferson Davis Parish is an unexpected place to eat, drink and enjoy. You can hold baby gators, cruise the Flyway Byway and taste Bayou Rum! It’s the home of unique museums, the Seafood Sensation Culinary Trail, the Yellow Rails and Rice Birding Festival and the Lake Arthur Regatta Festival.
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Barataria Preserve - A quick jump across the Mississippi from New Orleans takes you deep into the heart of this swampy, eerie, magical forest. Part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, the Barataria Preserve contains 23,000 acres of swampland with all the grandeur of nature one can imagine including alligators, bald eagles and stately oak trees.
6588 Barataria Blvd., Marrerro, LA 70072; 504.689.3690 ext. 10, nps.gov/jela/barataria-preserve.htm
» Discover more: Jefferson Parish
LaSalle Parish, “where the oil flows and pine trees grow,” is one of Louisiana’s most relaxing getaways, offering visitors a hometown experience in the middle of sportsman’s paradise. The Jena Band of Choctaw hosts their annual Pow Wow in the Pines every fall, showcasing native dance, foods and crafts.
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Johnson’s Boucanière - This little butcher shop-meets-restaurant serves famous boudin, barbecue and plate lunches. Johnson’s was originally a renowned shop in the rural prairie town of Eunice, specializing in great boudin (rice and pork sausage), crispy gratons (fried pork skins also known as cracklins) and other specialties.
1111 St. John St., Lafayette, LA 70501; 337.269.8878, johnsonsboucaniere.com
» Discover more: Lafayette Parish
Just 45 minutes from New Orleans, Lafourche Parish is a coastal destination where passing a good time is part of everyday life. Travel "Up da Bayou" and "Down da Bayou" for Cajun food, music, outdoor experiences and hospitality as historic as the parish’s many sites and museums.
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In North Louisiana between Shreveport and Monroe, Lincoln Parish is known for Ruston’s 18-block historic downtown and for growing its celebrated peaches. Explore the many arts, outdoors and historic attractions—such as the Louisiana Military Museum—as well as shops, restaurants and a variety of events and festivals.
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Livingston Parish offers something for everyone including first-class golfing, an award-winning antiques district and a Bass Pro Shop. Discover delicious restaurants, 400 miles of rivers and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet only 15 minutes from Tiger Stadium and less than an hour from New Orleans.
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Madison Parish residents enjoy life, and they want visitors to as well! Outdoor lovers enjoy hunting, fishing, canoeing, birding and hiking. In addition to boasting a rich Civil War history, the parish hosts three yearly festivals and is home to two plantation homes and the first Louisiana airport.
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Morehouse Parish is set against a tranquil background of Southern tradition, rural legends and subtropical weather. Canoe or kayak on Bayou Bartholomew, one of the longest and most beautiful bayous in the country. Hunt turkey, deer or duck and hear squirrels chatter in trees and coyotes howl at night.
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Meat Pies - In Natchitoches, the oldest permanent settlement in the region, the meat pie—the empanada’s Louisiana cousin—is served in nearly every restaurant in town. If you’re downtown, grab a basket of mini meat pies and a cold beer at The Landing Restaurant and Bar, or if you’re heading out of town, pick up a few to go at Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant.
622 Second St., Natchitoches, LA 71457; 318.352.3353, lasyones.com
» Discover more: Natchitoches Parish
Mardi Gras Indians - The Black Masking Indians sew all year to showcase their distinctive street culture with intricately beaded, colorful suits accompanied by drum-driven a cappella chants. Catch them on Mardi Gras day, at three springtime Super Sunday parades or onstage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
For information visit: wwoz.org/new-orleans-community/inthestreet
» Discover more: Orleans Parish
Restaurant Cotton - Food Network’s Chopped champion chef Cory Bahr brings his creative Southern cuisine featuring hyperlocal ingredients to a beautifully renovated warehouse overlooking the Ouachita River. Don’t miss the decadent deviled eggs or the Ole Smokey, a variation on the Manhattan cocktail served in a cloud of wood smoke.
101 N. Grand St., Monroe, LA 71201; 318.325.0818, restaurantcotton.com
» Discover more: Ouachita Parish
Make Plaquemines Parish your next great adventure and experience the best fishing Louisiana has to offer. Just 15 minutes from New Orleans, you’ll find fishing, swamp and wildlife tours, great restaurants and much more.
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Pointe Coupee Parish
Pointe Coupee Parish is one of the Mississippi River Valley’s oldest settlements, and its French and African influence still thrives today. Fishing, boating and hunting abound on its 22 freshwater lakes, and the parish hosts dozens of events and festivals, including one of the state’s oldest Mari Gras parades.
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Lea’s Lunch Room - Frozen in time, this crossroads diner has long been a required stop for weary travelers. Well worth a short detour, Lea’s specializes in hearty Southern specialties such as smothered chicken, pork roast and traditional pies.
1810 U.S. Hwy. 71, Lecompte, LA 71346; 318.776.5178, leaslunchroom.com
» Discover more: Rapides Parish
Red River Parish
Red River Parish boasts top-notch fishing and hunting along a 33-mile stretch of the Red River that includes 4,900 acres of oxbow lakes and backwater fishing areas. In Red River Parish, experience the tranquility of small-town living with nearby big-city benefits.
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Visit the 300-acre Black Bear Golf Course. Ranked as one of the top courses in 2009 by GolfWeek, it hosts an 18-hole championship layout with a par of 72. The 2,700-acre lake at Poverty Point Reservoir State Park offers water sports and a seasonal scenic backdrop for waterfowl migration.
» Discover more: Richland Parish
Sabine Parish’s Toledo Bend Lake was named Bassmaster’s top bass fishing lake in the nation and, at 186,000 acres, it is the largest man-made lake in the Southern U.S. Sabine Parish is perfect for sportsmen seeking trophy fish and for families planning a fun getaway.
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St. Bernard Parish
Just 5 miles from downtown New Orleans, St. Bernard’s scenic beauty, cultural treasures and beautiful waterways will make you yearn to remain in its tranquil surroundings. Take a quaint byway drive or visit a fabulous fiesta, and you’re sure to have adventures with New Orleans' most historic neighbor.
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St. Charles Parish
St. Charles Parish, known as New Orleans Plantation Country, is one of America’s most memorable destinations. Countless stories live within the walls and on the grounds of its 10 plantations. Enjoy delicious Cajun and Creole cuisine, swamp tours and the richness of south Louisiana’s vibrant culture.
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St. Helena Parish
There are no traffic lights in St. Helena Parish, but instead a retreat of rolling hills, pastures and forests delighting nature lovers. You can also discover the parish’s gaming attractions, historical sites and the Brushy Creek Impact Crater, Louisiana’s only meteor crater and one of only 176 on earth.
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St. James Parish
Laura Plantation - If your vision of plantation life comes mostly from Gone with the Wind, a trip to this Creole plantation upriver from New Orleans will provide a different perspective. Architecturally, Laura Plantation reflects a French style marked by bold colors instead of staid white columns. Historically, the property is steeped in French and African Creole history, a distinct culture rich in story.
2247 Hwy. 18, Vacherie, LA 70090; 225.265.7690, lauraplantation.com
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St. John the Baptist Parish
Jacob’s World Famous Andouille - One bite of andouille sausage from Louisiana’s German Coast will spoil you for life. LaPlace is the official Andouille Capital of the World. Its pork sausage has little filler and is smoked over pecan wood. The best of the best, it is often the secret ingredient in famed Louisiana dishes such as red beans and gumbo.
505 West Airline Highway, LaPlace, LA 70068; 985.652.9080, cajunsausage.com
» Discover more: St. John the Baptist Parish