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Louisianans can always find a reason to celebrate. Throughout the year, music, food, history and holidays inspire more than 400 Louisiana festivals and events of all sizes occurring throughout the state and each one is an opportunity to Feed Your Soul.
Cajun Heritage Festival: A hunter’s dream, the Cajun Heritage Festival showcases a decoy show and live auction, plus carving demos, duck calling contests, Cajun food, vendors and raffles. This festival celebrates the Cajun heritage of Lafourche Parish. Free and open to the public. Cultural and heritage festival event held on June 7 – June 9 all day beginning at 9:30 am in Larose.
Sunflower Trail and Festival: View the beautiful, blooming sunflowers at the Sunflower Trail & Festival along Highway 3049 in Gilliam. Enjoy crafts, entertainment, food and family fun. June 15th, 9:00am – 3:00pm
Uncle Sam Jam: Celebrate Independence Day at beautiful Lafreniere Park in Metairie at the Uncle Sam Jam! Each year, fest goers look forward to live music, delicious food and great company! This FREE festival features top local acts. You’ll want to stay for the spectacular fireworks show! Save the date: July 3rd, 5:00 – 11:00 pm!
Ark-La-Tex Music Heritage Festival: This festival features more than 70 local and regional talents covering a wide range of musical genres including country, jazz, rock and gospel. Admission is free for this evening festival held on. August 1st, 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Iberia Film Festival: Film festival celebrating all genres of short independent films. It gives the community a chance to come together to view truly independent films from around the globe that you will not see in the commercial movie industry. The Iberia Film Festival also spotlights local films. South Louisiana filmmakers will have an opportunity to have their film shown on the big screen with family and friends in the audience. Enjoy wonderful movie nights from August 1 – August 3rd, 10:00am – 10:00 pm at the Essanee Theater in New Iberia
84th Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival: Tap your toes – tempt your taste buds at Louisiana’s oldest state-chartered harvest festival. This extravaganza of family entertainment includes continuous live music by local & national acts, a huge arts & crafts show and sale, a Children’s Village, the Cajun Culinary Classic, the traditional Blessing of the Fleet and a water parade . . . all free! Aug 29 – Sept 2nd, 8:00am – 11:00 pm in Morgan City.
20thAnnual Cane River Zydeco Festival: Labor Day weekend is full of good music, fun, and more fun at this festival! Enjoy live music and take part in a motorcycle poker run, zydeco dance competition, and more! August 30 & 31, in Natchitoches, on the Beauport Riverfront.
Super Derby Festival of Racing: Horses, trainers and riders come from around the country to compete at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs during this festival which culminates in the Grade I Super Derby. September 7th, Louisiana Downs in Bossier City.
Red River Revel Arts Festival: The Red River Revel Arts Festival attracts over 120,000 people to the Shreveport riverfront each fall. This fun-filled, eight-day festival is dedicated to presenting the finest in visual and performing arts including national headliners. The Revel offers four stages, 100+ juried artists, 23 food booths, and a dedicated children’s area! The festival holds several honors and awards including being named a “Top 20 Event in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society. September 29- October 7, in Shreveport.
TravelKatz would be thrilled to help you with any one or more of these festivals by building a wonderful trip around them. Call us @ 352-277-7300 to make your travel plans.
PLACE OF INTEREST
In New Orleans the good times are perpetually rolling down Bourbon Street, which, thanks to the city’s annual Mardi Gras celebration, has quite a party animal reputation. Once you’ve soaked up the scenery of the historic French Quarter, tour the elegant Garden District and meet the colorful characters of Frenchmen Street. Experience the city’s supernatural vibe at the Voodoo Museum or by taking a guided ghost or vampire tour through taverns, alleyways, and cemeteries.
Frenchmen Street: Frenchmen Street is how Bourbon Street was years back. Great casual music venues featuring all the best in NOLA. There’s lots of good, reasonable food and the Night Art Market too where you can buy local items from the artists. This is the place to go to hear real NOLA Jazz. Frenchmen Street is just a 5-minute ride away from the French Market or a 15-minute walk. It’s fun time!
New Orleans Swamp and Bayou Boat Tour: With alligators, hidden villages, and snakes, Louisiana’s swamps can be scary to explore on your own. On this tour, your guide will keep you safe—and fill you in on Cajun history—while you explore the swampy territories. Visit areas of Honey Island Swamp that you can only reach by boat and learn about the area’s wildlife from your guide. Plus, round-trip transportation from New Orleans makes for a no-hassle adventure. Your tour starts with hotel pickup. Sit back and relax on the drive over to Honey Island Swamp in Slidell. Once you arrive, your adventure begins at one of Louisiana’s last protected wetland areas. Board a flat-bottom boat that your guide can easily maneuver through the foliage and narrow passageways. Explore the wildlife in the area, and keep an eye out for animals, such as alligators, wild boars, and snakes. You’ll visit hard-to-reach spots of the swamp. Your guide will tell you about the history of the swamp and its importance to the people who still live there in a small Cajun village. Afterward, enjoy a relaxing transfer back to your hotel.
Steamboat Natchez Jazz Dinner Cruise: Steamboats played a major role in the 19th century on the Mississippi River, and this tour offers a whole evening of New Orleans fun aboard a paddle-wheel steamboat. Enjoy unique views of the city without having to deal with crowded streets and save time and money by combining a cruise with a night of live jazz and Creole-style dinner – The food is fantastic – The service is wonderful, and the Jazz band is excellent. It could be one of the best part of your trip to New Orleans.
New Orleans Original Cocktail Walking Tour: Get a drink-focused insider tour of New Orleans’ famous French Quarter. Leave the navigation to your guide as you hit up the area’s historic bars and restaurants to taste classic cocktails. You’ll learn about the sometimes-scandalous history of the quarter’s drinking culture and come away with ideas about where to return during the rest of your stay.
The Hermann-Grima House is a gem in the New Orleans French Quarter. Built in 1831 by Samuel Hermann, this home is one of the only Federal architectural style buildings in the area. Through ongoing preservation, this historic house/museum offers a rare glimpse into life in the 18th century in the French Quarter. This property boasts the only original working open-hearth kitchen in the French Quarter along with an original stable on property. The hidden courtyard is full of historically accurate roses and other flowering plants too. Learn about the Hermann and Grima families, the enslaved residents, daily urban life, and New Orleans history while on the guided tour, offered six days a week (Thurs-Tues). If you want to see what it was like to live in luxury back in the 1800’s, this is the place to get a glimpse into the past right in the heart of the French Quarter. Conversely, it will also give you a glimpse into the lives of the slaves, too. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and give lots of details regarding the house and those who once lived there.
City of New Orleans and Katrina Recovery Tour: This small-group, New Orleans tour combines what most individual tours of the city cover separately, including historic cemeteries, the French Quarter, the Garden District, and an inside investigation on how New Orleans is doing since Hurricane Katrina. Plus, save yourself the hassle of planning transportation around the city because this guided tour comes with convenient hotel pickup and drop-off.
Travelkatz looks forward to hearing from you so we can make your vacation to New Orleans a most memorable on for you and your family or group. Give us a call at 352-277-7300.
10 Additional “Must-Do Things” in New Orleans
Bourbon Street and nights filled with booze and revelry generally come to most people’s minds when you mention New Orleans. However, New Orleans, lovingly referred to as “NOLA” by the locals, is far more than just its bars and party scene. In 2018, it will be celebrating its 300th anniversary, so it’s no wonder that New Orleans provides travelers with so much to see and do. So, take a trip to the Big Easy — we’ve managed to narrow it down to the 10 best things to “pass a good time,” as the locals say.
COFFEE AND BEIGNETS AT CAFE DU MONDE: Start off your mornings at Cafe Du Monde, an open-air coffee shop in the French Quarter. This isn’t your typical coffee shop, so don’t expect Wi-Fi, couches or long hours working on your laptop. The waiters wear 1950s-style paper hats and move at breakneck speed to accommodate all the visitors in this self-seating establishment. The menu here is simple: There’s black coffee or cafe au lait, which is half black coffee and half steamed milk. Beignets, French-style square doughnuts with powdered sugar, are a must-have and come in orders of three. You might need to control yourself after the first bite — the desire to gobble them up might overwhelm you. Finally, this place only accepts cash.
SHOP AT THE FRENCH MARKET: After a coffee and a few orders of beignets, head to the French Market, a collection of shops in the French Quarter, for some shopping. It starts with the Shops of the Colonnade, which is right next door to Cafe Du Monde. Here, you’ll find a variety of shops in an outlet-style building which includes local merchandise, stores with cooking ingredients, toy shops and candy stores. Continue east on Peters Street and make your way to the French Market’s flea market, which is open every day of the year. It’s an open-air market with vendors from all over the world where you can find local art, jewelry, candles, crafts and kitschy tourist items.
ART IN JACKSON SQUARE: Jackson Square has been around since the 18th century, and it’s an iconic place to visit in New Orleans. The square is surrounded by historic buildings, like the St. Louis Cathedral, and a collection of galleries, museums, restaurants and apartments. For the last half century, it’s been a haven for local artists. They display their artwork along the square’s iron fence, and it’s easy to lose hours staring at the beautiful displays. However, there’s more to do and see in this lively square. Palm readers and tarot card readers set up tables here daily, and there are often bands playing lively local tunes throughout the day. You can also generally see a street performer or two.
DINE AT COOP’S PALACE: There are plenty of fantastic Cajun restaurants in New Orleans, like Muriel’s Jackson Square and the Court of Two Sisters. However, Coop’s Place is a good option for those looking for a delightful Cajun meal in the French Quarter that doesn’t feel too touristy. It’s a small dive-like restaurant that often has a long line snaking along the outside. No need to check-in with a host — just wait in line. Once inside, there’s a chill bar with affordable drinks and a diverse menu with local NOLA favorites like gumbo, shrimp creole, and jambalaya. Don’t cross the Cajun Fried Chicken off your list either — it’s amazing.
TOUR MARDI GRAS WORLD: NOLA is famously known for hosting the United States’ largest Mardi Gras Festival. However, visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras isn’t for all — it’s crowded and filled with lots and lots of drinking. If you’re visiting any other time of the year and you want a taste of Mardi Gras without the booze, head to Mardi Gras World, home to a massive studio where the Mardi Gras floats are created. Guides share the history of Mardi Gras, show you floats, and even allow you to try on Mardi Gras costumes and masks. You can get here via a free shuttle from 20 locations around downtown with the purchase of an entry ticket. And don’t forget to get your free taste of a King Cake at the end of the tour; it’s a Mardi Gras pastry, and whoever finds a small toy baby in their slice of cake gets a bit of luck for the next year!
EXPLORE MAGAZINE STREET: Surprise: New Orleans has so much more to do and see beyond the French Quarter. Head west to the Garden District and enjoy a few hours exploring Magazine Street. It’s filled with tons of shops that range from artsy galleries to cute boutiques to cool antique stores, and yoga and fitness classes abound in the charming, colorful buildings along the street. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to try out here, too. Looking for a more local experience in New Orleans…Magazine Street is where to go.
JAZZ ON FRENCHMEN STREET: Jazz and live music are integral parts of the culture in New Orleans, and Frenchmen Street is the place to experience them. It’s a three-block stretch in the Marigny neighborhood, right next to the French Quarter. Live music, especially jazz music, can be enjoyed here every evening in the many clubs and bars. But there’s also funk, Latin, blues, reggae and other music styles featured in some of the venues, too. The best part? Most places are free to enter. And if you need a break from the music (though, why would you?), head to the nighttime art market on Frenchmen Street. It’s open every day except Tuesday and features hip art, jewelry, crafts and clothing for purchase from local artists and vendors.
BRUNCH AT COMMANDER’S PALACE: Get a bit fancy and experience some true Southern charm at the Commander’s Palace for Jazz Brunch. The famous restaurant has a special brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday, plus live jazz to accompany your meal. It’s a charming affair at this New Orleans landmark, which has been operating since 1893. And if you can’t come for brunch (it is a bit pricey), make your way here for lunch and enjoy some southern and Cajun favorites.
TAKE A GHOST TOUR: Ask any New Orleans local and they’ll likely tell you that you can’t throw a stone in the French Quarter without hitting a haunted building. The city has been around for almost 300 years, and with that comes a sometimes dark past. A haunted tour of the French Quarter or the cemeteries, then, is a must. Most tours are walking tours and feature guides who tell the ghostly histories of hotels, cemeteries, homes, and other buildings in NOLA. Each tour has its own gimmick, like costumed guides — some wear tutus, others don old-fashioned garb, and even others have creepy vampire attire. But they all have one thing in common: They take their tours seriously and are super knowledgeable about the haunted and occult history of the city. There are a lot of tours from which to choose, but be sure to book in advance, as they fill up quickly each night with visitors interested in the cool haunted history of this historic American city. Be sure to ask your guide about the hotel you are staying in to see what ghosts roam the halls.
EXPLORE THE CEMETERIES: Cemeteries may not seem like particularly delightful places to visit, but they are in New Orleans. The dead of New Orleans have been laid to rest in intricately designed mausoleums and stone crypts above ground. They are most commonly referred to as “Cities of the Dead” and hold many of New Orleans’ most famous figures. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the most famous of the bunch and is the resting place of Marie Laveau, a legendary voodoo queen who was played by Angela Bassett in “American Horror Story: Coven.” Take note that you can only visit the cemetery with a tour guide, so be sure to book in advance. Not all cemeteries in New Orleans require tour guides, though. For instance, you’re free to stroll through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, which is best known for having the fictional tomb of the vampire Lestat in Anne Rice’s “Interview with a Vampire.”
Louisana State Capital: Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge is French for “red pole” or “red stick.” The region was given its name by French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, who discovered that the Houma and Bayogoula tribes in the area would delineate the boundaries of their hunting grounds with poles stacked with fish and animal heads. Iberville first took note of the practice in 1699, and named the whole region after those boundary-marking sticks; then, when a fort was built in the area in 1721, it, too, was called Baton Rouge.
LSU Tiger Stadium: To enjoy this place you must come during game season (Fall/September-October) and plan ahead of time to attend a football game. The party begins in the morning and people bring their trailer and do barbecue and then attend the football in the evening. The view and the feeling inside the stadium is one of its kind. But walking around the grounds and the enormous stadium facility on a beautiful campus is a good thing to do on a sunny day. Going to an LSU football game in this stadium is so much fun! The fans are so enthusiastic and the LSU band is amazing. If you get a chance, come a couple of hours early and enjoy the tailgating activities going on all over the campus.
Mike the Tiger Habitat: This enclosure may be in the middle of a crowded area, but the tigers they rescue to live here are coming from atrocious conditions. They take very good care of their animals here. The enclosure includes climbing and water features. There are also many safety precautions to keep people and the tigers safe. You can see Mike no matter where he is in his enclosure. Hopefully you’ll be luck enough to see the new Mike swimming and playing. What a magnificent animal!! The space is well maintained and they have historical information posted about tigers and the history of LSU. It’s a nice little learning experience in a nice easily accessible space. Our latest Mike passed away from cancer a few months ago and this was heartbreaking. The habitat is great – you really have to see it to understand that this is such a great place. I hope we can find another beautiful Mike soon so that the habitat can be enjoyed by another tiger.
USS Kidd: While in Baton Rouge, take the time to check out the museum and the Kidd. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and all employees in the museum helpful. This is a WWII destroyer. A small but fast warship mainly used for submarine hunting. Nice self-guided tour of just about the entire ship. Lots of helpful and knowledgeable “sailors” on board to answer your questions. Nice attraction on the Mississippi River. this is the real deal. The ship is well restored and staged, right down to the soundtrack on the ship PA system. The tour is self-guided (I saw only one docent) so read the tour brochure. Most of the ship is open for touring and staged so well you can imagine the brave sailors going about the business of shop-board living. I appreciated the sick-bay and the operating light over the wardroom table.
This is a great for older children. But if they have a thirst for history, this is the real deal.
LSU Rural Life Museum: It is a fascinating window into our past. They have everything from farming tools to 1850’s hearse that has been used in many movies and TV commercials. Several movies have used the Rural Life Museum as back drop’s for their outdoor scenes. This beautiful property, which includes a modern plantation, agricultural demonstration plots by LSU and the Rural Life Museum has lots of variety! An educational tour of Palmettos, giving you economic as well as native values of this plant ubiquitous to Louisiana, several Camellia plantings, including a brand new garden of international varieties, that should be beautiful in a year or two, and of course the museum! Non-natives will appreciate time spent defining northern Louisiana vs southern culture, and the collection of classic buildings from both regions, all brought on site, not reconstructed models. Learn about processing sugar cane, plantation medical care, and enjoy a gasoline engine-powered washing machine. Freshly washed clothes never smelled the same!
Louisiana State Capitol: It is one of the tallest building in Louisiana and tallest capitol building in USA. The view from top floor is magnificent and must go place in Baton Rouge. It is on the side of Mississippi river and the view of river and Baton Rouge from top of the building is very nice. Once you entered the lobby, its magnificence. Then to realize it was constructed during the height of the depression, made it even more unbelievable. The ability to go to the outside top catwalk was another highlight. Definitely worth taking the tour! Pelicans on the brass elevator doors! A tower rivaling the Empire State Building! Feel the bullet holes from the assassination, then view the shrine to Huey Long from the observation deck. Great stop! The Old State Capitol is beautiful, historic and presented in a captivating manner. Take a look at the exhibits of Huey P. Long speeches, as well as the story/ mystery (and gun!) related to his death. This is well worth your visit when you come to Baton Rouge. Plus, the downtown area has grown so, and so elegantly, there is a lot to do, after you’re through.
Arsenal Park: Beautiful park which contains Louisiana’s copy of the liberty bell along with some indian burial mounds and the old arsenal building. Enjoyed the shade all the live oaks provided on a hot June day. Lovely little walkways and benches to rest along the way. If you have younger children, this is a great place to let them run around. Depending on the season, one could watch white pelicans, ducks, geese, and other waterfowl in the lakes. On occasion the alligator can be seen as well as antics of nutera. Capitol Lake is right there and also a lovely view of the Capitol. The Rose garden is so beautiful when blooming.
Capitol Park Museum: The modern shiny silver building looks out of place for downtown Baton Rouge but like many things, it’s what inside that counts. It’s amazing how so much history and “all that is Louisiana” can be assembled in one large room and it not seem jumbled. The layout takes you through time with sights and sounds and there’s even a full-size shrimp boat. Upstairs are occasional special showings. Overall a very fine experience. Liked the overall structure of the museum: first floor dedicated to history and geology and the second floor for the culture of different geographical areas of Louisiana. And, of course, Mardi Gras is represented as well.
Flights to Baton Rouge from Tampa are inexpensive and ready available. Please give TravelKatz a call at 352-277-7300 so we can make this special city come alive for you.
Now, find your way to New Orleans and enjoy these interesting places…
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LOUISIANA: Bayou Bartholomew
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