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Louisiana – Born on the Bayou

The name itself suggests the French leaning of this state. Louisiana, derived from Louis XIV, was until 1803 a French possession. In New Orleans and throughout the state you can still grasp that ethnic flavor, which makes Louisiana one of the most interesting US states to visit.

General Information

Louisiana can be topographically divided into two general regions: the uplands in the north and the alluvial south with the coastal area and many waterways and swamps. The most important river is of course the Mississippi which runs through Louisiana from north to south, mounding into the Gulf of Mexico. All in all, it spans 600 miles within the state borders. The higher regions away from the river are made up mainly of prairie and woodlands. However, highlands would be too big a word since the highest point in the state, Driskill Mountain, lies on a mere 535 feet above sea level. That, and the proximity to the Gulf, makes Louisiana the third lowest state after Florida and Delaware.

Louisiana has a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and short, mild winters. This is mainly due to the Gulf influence. In New Orleans, for instance, daytime temperatures do not drop below the 40s even in December and January and can climb well into the 90s in summer. Of course we are all aware of the disaster brought about by Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005. Hurricanes, generally not as strong, are another characteristic of the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico.

Louisiana, originally a French possession, was sold to the US in 1803 as part of the famous “Louisiana Purchase”. Nine years later, in April 1812, Louisiana entered Union ranks as a full state. To this day, about 5% of the population speak French as their primary language.

Greater New Orleans

New Orleans is certainly the best-known place in Louisiana. It is the state’s most populous city. Greater New Orleans, in the southeast portion of the state, is a great place to see. The spirit and culture of the region is unparalleled in the United States. The Big Easy, as New Orleans is called, is world-famous for its Mardi Gras, the carnival when the whole city comes to life.

But the artistic heritage of New Orleans can also be visited on a day-to-day basis, for example in the many galleries in the Warehouse District or the Magazine Street stores, among others. Several museums tell their tales about the cultural and artsy side of the city. These include the Ogden Museum of Southern Art that focuses on the region’s contribution to American art. The New Orleans Art Museum is another must-see for any culture-lover.

But New Orleans has so much more to offer. Who has not heard of Bourbon Street, this famous nightlife strip? Architecture enthusiasts can either visit the old mansions along St. Charles’ Avenue or the magnificent Creole cottages at Vieux Carre.

Across Lake Ponchatrain visitors can dive deep into nature in striking distance from the city. Mandeville and Covington are two artsy communities that make for relaxing times. St. Tammany Trace extends over 31 miles and is an ideal site for a bicycle ride.

Cajun Country

The southwestern region of Louisiana is known as Cajun Country. Originally settled by French Canadian refugees, the traces of their language and culture are still present throughout wide parts of the region today. The famous zydeco music has its home here, as well as many great culinary delights.

Lafayette houses both the Acadian Village, a living history site, as well as the Mississippi Mud Museum, which presents, among other things, a hundreds-of-years-old canoe. The nature of the region is simply breathtaking. The Atchafalaya Basin, for instance, features snowy egrets, beautiful landscapes of cypress trees, and great views.

Across Cajun Country, countless swamps invite for exploration. Places that provide an entry into this great landscape include Houma, Morgan City, Cocodrie, and Raceland. Various accommodations are provided in Cajun Country so that your stay will certainly be pleasant. A secret tip are the many Bed and Breakfasts with their typical Cajun cuisine.

The Crossroads

The mid-section of Louisiana houses two of the greatest historical trails in the US, the El Camino and Natchez Traces. Kisatchie National Forest, spanning 800,000 acres, with its rich habitat of wild animals, is a much-sought-for place for relaxation from the bustling cities of the south. Unspoiled wilderness awaits visitors, much like the calm waterways. An authentic Louisiana experience awaits everyone who goes to Alexandria. Natchitoches is where the famous meat pie stems from. The Crossroads region, the heart of Louisiana, is the perfect place for a relaxing family or couple holiday.

Northern Louisiana

The further north you go, the more fascinating and unspoiled does the natural surrounding get. But alas! Not everywhere does Mother Nature rule. Shreveport and Bossier City provide an abounding array of upper-class hotels and other rentals along with great casinos and a fascinating nightlife.

But if you look for more pacifying times, Northern Louisiana also has the right places for you in store. Bernice, West Monroe, Choudrant, and Columbia are but a few of these small places where visitors can be sure of a cozy bed and a home-made breakfast awaiting them.

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