Pocketed between the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi and Texas, Louisiana is a dynamic southern state with a mash of cultures. Southern Louisiana is the main attraction for vacationers and culture vultures. Strong French, Latino, and Caribbean influences can be seen throughout Louisiana, especially in Acadiana and New Orleans. While at one time there were two distinct forms of cooking, Cajun and Creole, the two have been merged into a tantalizing mixture that no foodie can resist. Dishes like spicy jambalaya, grilled catfish and dirty rice are staples in the unique restaurants of this lively state.
Some of Louisiana's must-see attractions and activities include:
- New Orleans: The city's unofficial motto is "laissez les bons temps rouler," or "let the good times roll," and it sums up this vibrant city quite well. One walk through the affluent French Quarter, where sweet jazz melodies abound, and you will be hooked on this sultry city. It's an ideal base for romantic getaways in Louisiana. The New Orleans area is also home to two Louisiana National Parks and a multitude of Louisiana aquariums, if you're looking for outdoor or family-oriented activities.
- Avery Island: This famous island is actually a dome of salt. Avery Island is home to the McIlhenny Tabasco Sauce factory and an enormous nature preserve that showcases the flora and fauna native to Louisiana's bayou country.
- Sicily Island Hills: Home to the state's tallest waterfall, the Sicily Island Hills are located in the northern part of Louisiana. This tranquil paradise is an ideal venue for mountain biking, hiking and bird watching, and the surrounding area is home to some of the most unique Louisiana campgrounds.
- Natchitoches: Another great destination for romantic getaways in Louisiana, this historic mid-state city has its own French Quarter and some of the state's most striking architecture, offering a quieter but equally unique alternative to New Orleans.
- Plantation country: The stretch of Great River Road spanning New Orleans and Baton Rouge is colloquially known as "plantation country," and offers a look into the state's colorful and storied past.
The Mardi Gras festival, held every March in New Orleans, is the ideal time to visit if you've never been to Louisiana before.
For your accommodations, consider a vacation rental such as a condo if you're in the city or a cabin rental if you want closer to the bayou. These choices make more convenient, spacious and private alternatives to getting a hotel room and are ideal for families, groups and couples alike.
Louisiana is bordered by Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi to the north, west and east respectively, and all three states offer their own unique slice of southern life to visitors. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico beckon beyond the state's southern shores, so you can enjoy a relaxing cruise or head down to the Caribbean quickly and easily.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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