There's a very special feel about one of the Deep South's most characterful and colourful states. With the mighty Mississippi carving a broad path north from the Tunica Hills south to the Big Easy, large swathes of Louisiana are water, with rivers, lakes, swamps and bayous throughout the state. There are rolling hills and pine forests too - but the further towards the Gulf of Mexico you travel, the steamier things get.
One of the big draws on Louisiana holidays is New Orleans, a mesmerising city where the sound of music is forever in the air and French, Spanish, African and Caribbean cultures collide to dramatic effect. The French Quarter with its amazing architecture, wrought iron balconies and unique atmosphere is totally unforgettable. But there are other places you shouldn't miss: quaint St Francisville in Plantation Country; historic 17th-century Natchitoches; Lafayette, in the heart of Cajun country; and the capital city Baton Rouge for starters.
Other things you'll love on Louisiana holidays include taking a boat tour through swamp country in search of alligators; enjoying a mint julep on the veranda of a plantation home; stopping by museums dedicated to everything from Voodoo to World War II; and savouring the fantastic tastes only Louisiana can serve up. From étouffeé to warm beignets and andouille sausage to seafood po'boys, you'll be experiencing the true flavour of the South.
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Louisiana Holiday Highlights
Louisiana Holiday Highlights
Louisiana Holiday Highlights
Carnival season's official kick-off is on January 6. Weeks of parades, parties and revelry culminate on Mardi Gras day or 'Fat Tuesday', the day before Lent, an institution all over the state. Although the biggest celebrations are in the Big Easy, there are parades, parties, outrageous costumes (and behaviour!) pretty much everywhere you go. If you can't make Mardi Gras, you can tour the warehouse in New Orleans for a behind-the-scenes look at the design and building of the massive floats.
New Orleans and jazz are like an old married couple, and time spent listening to superb live sets among the clubs of Bourbon and Frenchmen Streets is a must on Louisiana holidays. But jazz isn't the whole story - Cajun, zydeco and blues are also very much part of the scene here, so you'll never be short of new sounds.
You can get a glimpse of the Old South at some of the state's glorious plantation houses. With graceful wooden verandas, elegant colonnades, ornate period furniture and superbly manicured grounds, these beautiful antebellum mansions provide a window into another time.
The Great Outdoors
Louisiana's Tunica Hills, its 22 State Parks and countless bayous, swamps and rivers provide plenty of opportunities for you to get out, about and active. Kayaking, hiking and horse-riding opportunities are everywhere, plus for sportsmen there's excellent fishing and an eight-month hunting season.
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
Take a drive across the longest bridge over water in the world. Cruising along the 24 miles of this impressive feat of engineering, surrounded by the endless expanse of the lake, makes for quite a surreal experience. The bridge sits just 5 metres above the water, making it feel more like you're sailing a boat than driving a car, and the length of the causeway seems to go on forever.
Small-Group Tour of Oak Alley and Laura Plantation
Take a trip outside of New Orleans and go back in time for a tour of two grand Louisiana antebellum homes, set on the banks of the Mississippi River. Learn about the plantation era as you watch guides in period costume bring to life the history of Oak Alley Plantation, admiring its unique architecture. Then tour the Creole Laura Plantation with its sweeping sugarcane fields and historically significant slave quarters.
Steamboat Natchez Jazz Dinner Cruise
Take in the beauty and romance of New Orleans from the decks of the Steamboat Natchez. Step aboard this authentic paddle-wheel steamboat, just one of only six that still operate on the Mississippi River, and take a cruise along the river, while enjoying an authentic Louisiana buffet dinner while live jazz music fills the air and the New Orleans skyline passes you by.
Mardi Gras World: Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Get a unique behind-the-scenes look at the makings of New Orleans infamous Mardi Gras with this all-access tour of Mardi Gras World in New Orleans. This guided tour takes you into the history of the festival and see how the flamboyant floats are made, as well as witnessing the hard work and artistic skills that goes into every float. Try on Mardi Gras costumes, pose with props, and enjoy a slice of famous King Cake after your tour!
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