The 2015 Louisiana Tour for National Tourism Week crisscrossed the state, celebrating another record-breaking year with local Visitors Bureaus. The state should be called the “Gumbo State” for it’s rich, melded variety of cultures, foods, nature and people. When you travel the state – start your exploration at the local visitor’s center. Some of them are destinations in their own right and, you might just meet an interesting local character.
This year’s Tourism Week started at the old Town Hall in Denham Springs to celebrate a great year in Livingston Parish. The outstanding turnout set the tone for
the whole week. From Livingston Parish the group traveled to Mandeville where they were given a commemorative Mardi Gras doll, then New Orleans, New Iberia and ended the day in St. Mary’s Parish at a beautiful new Visitor’s Center on Hwy 190 in Morgan City.
This brand new facility is a beautiful front door to a picturesque cypress swamp. The center provides information about the region, it’s culture and history. The wrap around porch provides a great view of the flora and fauna.
The second day started included the visitors bureaus in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes and ended at a reception in Burnside/Darrow. Houmas House hosted tourism industry representatives from Plantation country. In this region connected by the Sunshine Bridge, both banks of the Mississippi showcase magnificent plantation homes, carefully preserved to showcase Louisiana rich history. Each home’s story tells of centuries of wealth, struggle, abandonment and rebirth.
Day 3 started in Opelousas at the beautiful St. Landry Parish Visitor’s Center. Joe Citizen, a local Cajun music performer and institution educated me on the
finer points of LaLa Dancing and Cajun Music while I snacked on boudin from Billy’s and Mellow Joy coffee. Our next stop was the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette, then Abbeville and a last stop in Sorrento at the Ascension Parish Tourism Commission where they hosted a “Taste of Ascension!” C’est si Bon!
Across the street from the APTC; in the fork of Hwys 22 and 70, the Cajun Village features shops, antique store and a restaurant.
We left early to make the drive west to Lake Charles where we were welcomed by pirates at the Visitor’s Center, then east to Jennings, Jennings to Natchitoches (where our event was at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame) and then to Shreveport where we stayed overnight at the Remington Suites.
Leaving the Remington Suites in Shreveport we slogged through the heaviest thunder storm I’ve ever driven in to West Monroe for a breakfast event hosted by the Monroe-West Monroe CVB. The Hamilton House Inn in the Cotton Port Historic District was the host location and the breakfast style finger food was distinctive. The speaker was from Biedenharn Museum and Garden. After a luncheon in Alexandria we ended our day in St. Francisville at the Historical Museum. The displays in the museum provide information and explore the challenges faced in the towns history.
Day 6 – Saturday
We ended our week of celebrations with breakfast, Zydeco music and dancing in Breaux Bridge at Cafe Des Ami’s. Some of the dancing was chaotic, some mesmerizing and all in all a lot of fun.
This Louisiana Tour once again proved that north, south, east or west, the state has a wealth of places to visit and experiences to enjoy. In a mini-bus or Sprinter van your group can explore in comfort and ease. Remember, “we drive … you have fun!”