Louisiana Bucket List ~Cajun Country Region

Here comes the final region in Louisiana, but perhaps the one it is most associated with as a state aside from Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Cajun Country region.

Breaux Bridge

  • Cajun Country Swamp Tour: What better way to explore the bayou region that to take a swamp tour.

Cypremort Point

  • Cypremort Point State Park: Looks like a nice way to experience the Bay area.

Grand Isle

  • Grand Isle State Park: We took a day to visit Grand Isle during our time in New Orleans, because we wanted to say we visited the Gulf. The water wasn’t safe for swimming when we visited, but we did stick our feet in the water and got to see some dolphins from the pier.

Jennings

  • Gator Chateau: This place claims to be home to rescued baby alligators, so I’m all in for this one!

Lacassine

  • Bayou Rum Distillery: This allows visitors to visit the largest private rum distillery in the U.S.

Lake Charles

  • Sam Houston Jones State Park: Looks like a neat bayou and marshy ecosystem.

New Iberia

  • Tabasco Country Store and Visitor Center, McIlhenny Company: Here you can take a tour of the legendary Tabasco company.

St. Martinville

  • Lake Fausse Pointe State Park: Another state park that could lead to some fun bayou hikes.

Ville Platte

  • Chicot State Park: Once again, a beautiful park that will give you a taste of Louisiana wildlife.

All attractions found in the 2018 Louisiana Travel Guide.

Louisiana Bucket List ~ Greater New Orleans Region

This is the place in Louisiana that we have spent the most time visiting as we spent 3 days in New Orleans the summer of 2016. While we didn’t find New Orleans to be quite what everyone talks it up to be, we did enjoy the few days we were there and found several things to keep us busy.

Franklinton

  • Bogue Chitto State Park: A nice way to view the landscape of Louisiana.

Madisonville

  • Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum and Research Center: Museum that gives some history about life on Lake Pontchartrain.

Mandeville

  • Fontainebleau State Park: This state park was once a sugarcane plantation.

New Orleans

  • Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation: New Canal Lighthouse Museum and Education Center: I’m really sad we missed out on this, and quite frankly that we didn’t see much of Lake Pontchartrain at all as we did not approach the city from that angle. This unique lighthouse would have been neat to see.
  • Mardi Gras World: This place is fun to visit no matter what the season. When we were there in August, work was constantly being done to complete these massive floats for Mardi Gras celebration.
  • The National World War II Museum: This was the highlight of our visit to New Orleans. We spent a whole day here as they have so much to offer. So much was interactive and gave great insights into America’s involvement in the war.
  • New Orleans Jazz Museum and the Old U.S. Mint: Not only was this a neat historic building to visit, but they had live jazz performances occurring while we visited.
  • Southern Food and Beverage Museum: This is another place that I’m sad to have missed. Looking at pictures it looks like the perfect place to visit for a foodie like me!
  • Cafe du Monde: Ok, this is an extra, and a food related one that I would rarely share, but no visit to NOLA is complete without trying their tasty beignets.

All attractions found in the 2018 Louisiana Travel Guide.

 

Louisiana Bucket List ~ Plantation Country

We spent a day in this region of Louisiana back in the Summer of 2016. We stopped through Baton Rouge on our way from New Orleans to Hot Springs, AR. It was a great way to check another state capitol off our list!

Baton Rouge

  • Capitol Park Museum: Located just south of the capitol building, this museum offered a great overview of the history and regions of the state.
  • Louisiana’s Old State Capitol: This looks like a small white castle and was very neat to visit. Parking was tough to come by, but it’s worth a stop in to get some history on the area.
  • Louisiana State House: This is the tallest state capitol building in the U.S. at 450 ft tall. You can get some great views from the observation deck!

Springfield

  • Tickfaw State Park: This park allows you to stroll through 4 different ecosystems.

Valcherie

  • Laura Plantation-Louisiana’s Creole Heritage Site: Listed as the state’s top and most authentic plantation tour.

All attractions found in the 2018 Louisiana Travel Guide.

Louisiana Bucket List ~ Crossroads Region

This is a very short installment of the Louisiana Bucket List series. We spent a night in this region in Natchitoches, which seemed like a quaint little town to visit if we had had longer to spend in the area.

Bermuda

  • Cane River Creole National Historic Park: This was the one thing we visited while in the area in order to get a stamp for our National Park Passport. When we visited, the site was not staffed, but it was neat to walk around the old plantation and get pictures.

Many

  • Fort Jesup State Historic Site: This was built to protect the border with New Spain and restore order in the neutral area.

Natchitoches

  • Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site: Experience what life was like as a French Colonial in land that was on the edge of French and Spanish colonies.

All attractions found in the 2018 Louisiana Travel Guide.

Louisiana Bucket List ~ Sportsman’s Paradise Region

We visited Louisiana in the summer of 2016, it was hot and sticky when we arrived in New Orleans, but we did enjoy that trip that also let us explore the Gulf for a day trip and the capitol city of Baton Rouge. While researching Louisiana I’ve found overall that we saw a lot of the state that is included on my bucket list series, but this region in particular is one that I would like to see more of as we only briefly touched into this region.

Bastrop

  • Chemin-a-Haut State Park: Bluff park overlooking a bayou.

Doyline

  • Lake Bistineau State Park: Park along a lake formed by a log jam during flooding on the nearby Red River.

Monroe

  • Biedenharn Museum and Gardens: Combines two of my favorite things…museums and gardens! Also home to the Coke and Bible Museums.

Pioneer

  • Poverty Point World Heritage Site: This is the one thing in the area we did visit, seeing as how it is both a World Heritage Site and run by the NPS. Ancient mounds are all that is left from the civilization that once lived here.

Shreveport

  • Sci-Port Discovery Center: Neat science center in Louisiana.
  • Shreveport Aquarium: While in New Orleans we visited their aquarium which I didn’t find overly exciting for the admission price. I’m wondering how this one compares.
  • Shreveport Water Works Museum: This unique museum shows how steam water power works.

St. Joseph

  • Lake Bruin State Park: Appears to have some beautiful waterway hikes.

All attractions found in the 2018 Louisiana Travel Guide.

Southern Tour Day 8: Natchitoches, Texarkana, Hope

Day 8 of our Southern Tour was filled with lots of time in the car! After spending the night in Natchitoches, we went out to Cane River Creole National Historical Park and got to walk through the grounds of an old plantation. It was already quite hot and muggy so we didn’t spend long, but it was easy to think about what life would have been like on the plantation. I especially enjoyed the set up of the plantation store.

After that it was back in the car and on our way to the next state on our trip…or should I say states? The town of Texarkana lies right on the border of Arkansas and Texas. We ate lunch on the Arkansas side at one of our more favorite southern fast food joints, Whataburger. Then it was down the main drag to the Post Office where you can get our of your car and straddle the border. We weren’t the only crazy tourists who stopped to do that! There also is a nice plaque dedicated to John F. Kennedy who spent some time campaigning in Texarkana.

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After that we hopped back in the car and continued our trek into Arkansas. Our next stop was Hope, Arkansas: Birthplace of President Bill Clinton. We had only anticipated being able to stop in the visitor center seeing as how there had been a fire in the house earlier in the year and hadn’t been giving out tours while it was being restored, but when we walked in they asked if we would like one! We were pleased to learn that they had restarted tours just a few days before! As chance would have it, just like the tours at Abe Lincolns house in Springfield, IL and Grant’s home in St. Louis, we had the tour to ourselves. It was very interesting to learn about Bill’s life as a young boy, living with his grandparents, and having been taught the values of integration early on in his life. Clinton is the first president I really remember being in office during my lifetime but I felt like I learned so much more in this little town called Hope.

It was late afternoon by the time we left Hope, but our journey for the day was not quite complete. We had one more hour to drive to reach our destination of Hot Springs. We were eagerly anticipated our natural hot springs spa experience the next day after all our time in the car.

Southern Tour Day 7: Baton Rouge

Phew! So sorry to my followers that it’s taken me so long to finish this trip. The work of a preschool teacher and pastor interns wife comes with a lot of responsibility, especially around the holidays!

Day 7 of our Southern Tour brought us to the capitol city of Louisiana: Baton Rouge. Two weeks before Baton Rouge had been filling the news with the police officer shootings so needless to say we weren’t exactly sure what we would be walking into, but hoped for the best. The night before we had reached Baton Rouge and checked into our hotel after being stuck in horrendous traffic for the last hour. Traffic seems to see the biggest issue when dealing with Baton Rouge. Both times we passed through during the trip it was far worse there than in New Orleans.

Our first stop of the day was to see the Old Statehouse. The outside looks like a gorgeous miniature white castle. They had some fascinating exhibits inside, including one about the different flags that have flown in the state throughout the years and one about the different locations of the capitol throughout the state’s history. The upstairs area is nearly empty, but if you use your imagination you can picture how it would look filled with a bustling government. They also have a nice little gift shop there. If you are wanting gifts about the state, this is your stop because the current capitol and state museum offer limited souvenirs or none at all.

Following our visit to the Old Statehouse, we continued on a walk northwards towards the current State capitol. This building is one of the tallest state capitols you can find. Nebraska’s is just a bit taller I believe. We had been told that a trip to the observation deck was a must. I loved every view from the top. My husband doesn’t do well with heights but still peeked out for a little while! It really gives you some perspective on the city from way up there! On our elevator trip back down, we accidentally got out a floor above where we expected, but this gave us a chance to view the Senate and House chambers, so it was a worthwhile mistake.

Our final stop of the morning was a visit to the Louisiana State Museum. The exhibits in this museum were very well done! The bottom level was all state history and the second level dealt with the cultural influences in different regions. It was neat to see how they portrayed areas that we had already visited and a great chance to read up on the next region we would be heading into! We grabbed some fast food for lunch and then headed to our next destination…..Natchitouches. But that would be the next days adventure!

Southern Tour Day 6: New Orleans

On our last day in New Orleans, we made sure to get the full city experience one last time.  Our morning began with a tour of Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. It was so neat to see how they put the floats together and watch the artist’s at work.  I loved that after the tour, we could stay in the warehouse area as long as we wanted walking around seeing all the props and floats that were back there. It’s hard to believe that what’s there is just a small portion of what gets used during Mardi Gras.

Following that, it was back towards the French Quarter area to see the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. While it was a neat Aquarium, it was very busy and I think far overpriced. We only spent about an hour there because that’s all we needed to peek into all the exhibits.  The bird feeding area was pretty neat, but I wish they had more of a show like Baltimore or Chicago. It would have made it more worth it. But I was very excited to see a white alligator. The only other time I’ve seen one was at the Philadelphia Zoo when I was 8.

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Lunch was split into two courses. First we went to Mother’s for some gumbo. The line was long and out the door but the wait went by quickly. While gumbo in New Orleans is better than it is other places, it’s still not my thing. Next we went to The Joint, which supposedly has the best BBQ in Louisiana. The price seems a little high at first, but when you see how much food you get, you won’t be sorry! We were eating leftover BBQ for two meals after!

We made a quick drive past the Metrodome, just to say we’d been past it and then head out of the city towards Baton Rouge.

Southern Tour Day 5: Swamps and the Gulf

After being in the city for nearly two days, we decided we needed a breath of fresh air away from New Orleans.  We’d been wanting to check out the gulf anyways. I mean, when you are that close, you might as well make the trip down. Our morning began at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, mainly the preserve portion.  We arrived early in the morning at the already humid and buggy swamp area.  We walked along the boardwalk trail in hopes of seeing an alligator in the normal spot, but just saw a few swamp birds.  We also walked along another trail and again saw lots of birds and a number of giant grasshoppers that I could have lived without.  Bugs don’t normally bother me much, but these grasshoppers were real nasty looking! We didn’t see any alligators but part of me is quite alright with that. I’m not sure I’d really want to see one in the wild anyways!

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After that we got into the car, and drove two hours down to Grand Isle State Park to visit the Gulf.  Imagine our disappointment when after two hours of driving and grabbing Subway for a picnic lunch, we pull in and see a red and purple flag flying. Dangerous current and dangerous aquatic wildlife. Swimming was not advised. However we did meet our goal of seeing the gulf and enjoyed a nice picnic on the shore. Plus we did brave it enough to stick our feet in to say we’d stepped in the gulf. We were just about ready to head back to the car after about half an hour of sitting on the shore, when we decided to just walk out on the pier for one last view. That’s when we saw the dolphin pod. At least 10 dolphins all swimming right past us on the end of the pier. Needless to say that made the 4 hours in the car worth it for us! We also enjoyed some nice views from the observation tower there.

On our drive back we got stuck in a torrential rainstorm. The worst either of us have ever experienced, and that’s saying something because I’ve been to Florida a few times. We pulled off outside a little bar and waited it out in the car. When we finally hit the outskirts of New Orleans, we decided to stop and eat at a B-dub’s because our nerves were just that shot by then. We didn’t feel like driving into the French Quarter for any authentic food at that point! And when we returned to the hotel, our swimming pool was finally back up and running, so we got to relax in the pool as well!

Southern Tour Day 4: New Orleans

On the 4th day of our trip Andrew and I had hoped to take a trek down to the Gulf of Mexico, but we awoke to a thunderstorm that morning. Quick flip of plans and we decided to head over to the National World War II Museum. On our way there, I’m pretty sure we drove past a movie set. That’s not something you get to see everyday!

Lucky for us, our visit to the museum fell during “Museum Month” in NOLA. This meant that with Andrew being a student we got in for roughly half the price, just by signing up to become members! You begin your time in the museum on a train car where you receive a card with a soldiers information on it. You can use this card in either the European or Pacific Theater exhibits to follow the real life story of your soldier during their time in the war.

The museum is made up of 4 buildings. The first is where you start your journey and can view some planes and other military vehicles. They also had a really neat exhibit about an artist who traveled with soldiers during the war and created art work to share with the people back at home. Very moving!

The next building was where the theater was located to give us a 4D experience of “Beyond All Borders,” a 40 min film put together and narrated by Tom Hanks to give you an introduction and overview of the war. It really opened my eyes to how things were for the U.S., since most of my WWII studies have focused mainly on Europe.

Following that it was time for our U.S.S. Tang submarine experience in the third building. Each of us was given a card that showed us who we were and what our duty on the submarine was. About 30 of us were herded into the “submarine” where we were given commands from our captain and then took place at our stations. We were in charge of the depth gauges. Sadly, I can say, neither of our soldiers were among the survivors in our mission.

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Following our submarine mission, we decided to head over to the museum’s Soda Fountain for lunch. This was located back in the main building and we both enjoyed some fantastic Mac and Cheese. They also have another restaurant that is a bit pricier but uses all local ingredients from the “Victory Garden.”

Following lunch, we went over to our final building which included the European and Pacific theater exhibits. We started with the Pacific exhibit where we followed Andrew’s soldier through his journey. My soldier was part of the European exhibit, but my card quit working halfway through :(. No matter though, we still enjoyed the exhibits. I do wish they had a few more machines available for following the soldier’s stories though, it got awful backed up at times.

We spent a little bit more time back in the submarine building taking pictures of aircraft displayed in that building. Some of the catwalks got a little high for my liking though! I’m really glad we gave ourselves the whole day to be at the museum, because we definitely needed it with doing the whole package deal.

We were getting hungry for dinner after our time at the museum, so we drove back down into the French Quarter and found a much more convenient parking area by Cafe du Monde this time. We were on a quest to find some real NOLA cuisine. The first restaurant we had thought about trying didn’t open for another two hours and we didn’t feel like waiting that long, so we thought we’d find some alligator in the French Market instead. We were unsuccessful there due to it being late in the day, but did eventually find some at the Market Cafe nearby, and boy was it tasty! The for dessert we grabbed some beignets  at Cafe du Monde. Despite what several people say about it being busy, I didn’t really think it was and our wait was very short. Do come prepared with Cash though as that’s the only form of payment they accept!

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