Sailing down the Mississippi in 1682, La Salle claimed a vast area, which included the present state, for France's Sun King, Loouis XIV. Today, Louisiana's premier tourist attraction is the Vieux Carre, better known as the French Quarter of New Orleans.
In spirit of its long-accepted name, the French Quarter's hundred blocks of Old World buildings, with leafy patios and balconies of iron grillwork, are more Spanish than French in design. And gastronomes assert that New Orlean's famous cuisine is not French but Creole – based on the spices of the delta, the bounty of the gulf, and the culinary arts of French, Indian, Spanish, and African cooks. And the music? Not French at all, but Dixieland jazz blaring every night from bistros on Bourbon Street. New Orleans, in its uniqueness, delights the eyes, ears, and taste buds of those fortunates who can sample its charms.
Rich in the fine antebellum homes, the stretch of the old River Roads that hugs the Mississippi from New Orleans to Baton Rouge meanders by such showpiece mansions as San Francisco Plantation house and the Houmas House. A skyscraper capitol in Baton Rouge stands as a striking counterpoint.
If you've brought your fishing gear, some of Louisiana's best freshwater angling spots await you in the northern half of the state. Toldedo Bend Reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border abounds in bass, crappie, beam, and catfish. In the north, too, prehistoric indian mounds rise at Poverty Point, a notable archeological site near Epps. And Shreveport, northern Louisiana's largest city, each spring stages a ten-day festival of art and flower shows and contests.
Lafayette is the heart of Acadiana, or Cajun country as most call it. The people of this region – southern Louisiana in general – have a culture that intensely upholds the language, joie de vivre, and Catholic faith of their French forebears who came here in the 18th century after being expelled from Acadia, now Nova Scotia. A wooded state park north of St. Martinville commemorates the area's most enduring tale, the tragic story of separated Acadian lovers told by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Evangeline.
Vast fields extend from the highway as you travel through southwestern Louisiana's prairies, the rice belt. In spring irrigation turns fields into lakes, which during the growing season become green seas of grain. Fall changes them into a golden harvest. Crowley celebrates the bounty of October with a fair that includes rice-eating and rice-cookng contests.
To the east, New Iberia claims to be the sweetest, spiciest, and saltiest spot in the South. A visit here – with its proximity to extensive sugarcane fields, a hop-pepper-sauce works, and huge salt domes – could definitely enhance the flavor of a day's outing.
Wildlife refuges along the shore attest to the popularity of Louisiana's coastal marshes as wintering grounds for flocks of wild ducks and geese. Charter boats from Grand Isle and other costal towns will take you deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
(poster text about Louisiana)