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    Louisiana Top 10: itinerary among the best preserved swamps and plantations in America

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    Lluis Enric Mayans
    @lluisenricmayans
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    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    Among the Southern states, Louisiana is certainly the one that can boast some of the best and best preserved plantations and swamps of all. Since these two aspects are, in the collective imagination, the main factors that can push you to undertake an on the road in this part of the States, I would say that it is almost obligatory to include the state of New Orleans in your itinerary.

    Like all the top 10, this one too can be accused of being extremely subjective, however I hope it can be useful to give you a general idea of ​​what awaits you if you decide to visit the Bayou State (the nickname of the state of Louisiana).



    Index

    • New Orleans
    • Lafayette
    • Plantation Country: Louisiana plantations
      • Plantation tour
    • Swamps of Louisiana
      • Swamp tour
    • Baton Rouge
    • Breaux Bridge
    • Natchitoches
    • Avery Island
    • Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum
    • Chauvin Sculpture Garden

    New Orleans

    Take a stroll along the French Quarter it is certainly one of the main reasons to visit the city of New Orleans. The feature Bourbon Street, with its historic buildings with decorated wooden windowsills, night clubs, bars and pubs in which to eat the typical cuisine of the region and listen to the best live music, it will surely give you the opportunity to make a real full immersion in the characteristic local culture.

    If you want to take a walk surrounded by nature and experience the typical atmosphere of the bayou of the southern United States without leaving the city, you should definitely visit the City Park, which within it also includes the New Orleans Museum of Art and a nice botanical garden.



    Other neighborhoods that are definitely worth a visit are the Garden District, where magnolia trees and well-kept historic buildings will take you to take a real leap in time, and theArts District where, as you can guess from the name, art is the protagonist in all its forms.

    If you love history, don't miss a visit to The National WWII Museum, which showcases one of the largest collections of memorabilia and vehicles used during the Second World War and the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum, which inside a red-brick Victorian-style building exhibits a collection of American Civil War artifacts second only to that of the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

    To find out more in detail what this city offers you, you can refer to ours travel guide to New Orleans.

    Lafayette

    In this city that is the heart of the Cajun Country you will have many opportunities to rediscover the ancient traditions of this area of ​​Louisiana. You can in fact visit theAcadian Village: a typical Cajun village rebuilt as it must have been in the 800th century through the use of seven original wooden buildings of the time.

    Another similar attraction is the Vermilionville Historic Village, which takes up the original name of Lafayette; here too you can visit a typical village where costumed actors recreate the living conditions and customs of the people who lived in this region between the 700th and 800th centuries.


     

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    Plantation Country: Louisiana plantations

    When one imagines something typical of the southern states certainly one of the first things that can come to mind are the typical plantation structures. Here in Louisiana you will find many, and also very well preserved, so much so that there is an entire area of ​​the state that is commonly referred to Plantation Country. To mention them all would be, if not impossible, certainly dispersive, so here is a selection of the most beautiful and particular ones. Today you can take tours inside the properties, where you can still admire the original decorations and furnishings that, to a large extent, have been able to withstand the passage of time.

    Let's start this roundup with one of the best preserved in the United States, namely the Rosedown Plantation near the town of St. Francisville (12501 LA-10, St Francisville, LA 70775), also known for the beautiful gardens surrounding the estate. Built in 1834 by the Turnbull family, one of the wealthiest in the nation.

    Oak Alley Plantation (3645 Louisiana 18, Vacherie, LA 70090) is one of the most photographed in Louisiana. The peculiarity of this plantation is in fact represented by the long driveway along the sides of which run dozens of oaks that contribute to making the landscape unmistakable.

    Visit the Laura Plantation (2247 LA-18, Vacherie, LA 70090) does not mean just seeing a plantation, and all the buildings connected to it, very well preserved, but making a real full immersion in the Creole culture typical of this area of ​​the state. The tours of the plantation were designed based on a text of memoirs that traces the history of four generations of Creole families. This attention to historical accuracy earned it the title of "Best History Tour in the United States" awarded by Lonely Planet.



    A tour of the Whitney Plantation (5099 Louisiana Hwy 18, Edgard, LA 70049) is also recommended to understand the conditions in which slaves were forced to live since, of all those present in Louisiana, it is the only one that can be defined as a plantation-museum. This is because the places where the slaves lived and worked have been reconstructed and preserved. You will then be able to experience for yourself what it meant to work on a cotton plantation in the early 800th century.

    La Houmas House Plantation (40136 Highway 942, Darrow, LA 70725) is particularly renowned for its beautiful, very large and well-tended gardens and the cuisine that can be enjoyed at the restaurant inside. With the Nottoway Plantation (31025 LA-1, White Castle, LA 70788) you will go and visit what from afar may even seem like the White House! It is also the largest pre-war building to have survived intact to this day, and you can also decide to stay overnight inside.

    Houmas House Plantation
    Nottoway Plantation

    Search a room in Nottoway Plantation

    Finally, thrill seekers do not miss the opportunity to visit the Myrtles Plantation (7747 US 61, St Francisville), which prides itself on having the title of one of the most haunted houses in the entire United States.

    Plantation tour

    If you want to leave your rental car for a day you can consider one of these tours to visit the most beautiful plantations in the state.

    • Tour of the San Francisco Plantation and Houmas House in small groups from New Orleans
    • Tour della Whitney Plantation da New Orleans
    • Oak Alley and Laura Plantation Small Group Tour from New Orleans

    Swamps of Louisiana

    If the plantations were the first thing that came to your mind when thinking about the southern states, it may be that the second was the swamps (or swamps as they call them in these parts), which are a real characteristic of the landscape. of Louisiana. As for what has been said in the case of plantations, here too are only some of the many swamps in which you can come across on your on the road in the state.

    THEAtchafalaya Basin boasts the largest swamp record in the entire United States, it is even larger than the Everglades Park in Florida. It developed along the Atchafalaya River which, formed near the city of Simmesport, flows for more than 225 kilometers until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Just think that more than 65 different species of reptiles and 250 of birds live inside this swamp, as well as hosting the largest concentration of the characteristic American eagles (Bald Eagles) in all of Central America.

    La Honey Island Swamp it will not be as extensive as the previous one, but has on its side the fact that it is one of the swamps least affected by the presence of man in the whole nation. Here you can therefore enjoy nature in its most primordial and uncontaminated form. Mystery lovers will be thrilled to know that a legend has it that the Honey Island Swamp Monster, over two meters high, with yellow eyes and a nauseating smell, is in this swamp.

    If you are visiting New Orleans, the most convenient solution for you will be to visit the Barataria Preserve, where you can find numerous paths to walk on walkways built above the water level, or you can rent canoes to go into the forest between swamps and marshes. This swamp is part of the complex of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve, which contains six different parks and natural attractions physically separated from each other.

    Swamp tour

    As for the plantations, also in this case you can rely on comfortable tours already organized

    • Swamp and bayou tour with boat ride from New Orleans
    • Honey Island Swamp and New Orleans Bayou Tour
    • Airboat ride in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in New Orleans

    Baton Rouge

    The capital of Louisiana collects many testimonies of the history of this state. Let's start with the place of political power, that is State Capitol, which in all states always takes on interesting architectural characteristics and in Louisiana it is no less. In this case you can visit two of them: theOld State Capitol and the current one. As for the first, seeing it from afar, you will mistake it for a castle, both for its style and for its raised position as if to dominate the city. Even the current one Louisiana State Capitol in terms of style it certainly does not go unnoticed, given that with its 137 meters of height it is the tallest Capitol in the United States.

    The most curious and interesting attraction of the city is certainly theLSU Rural Life Museum, which rises on the outskirts of the city. Here, through 30 historic buildings, a typical XNUMXth and XNUMXth century Louisiana town has been rebuilt. The visit therefore takes place both outside, to understand how the life of a city was organized, and inside the buildings, where you can observe a remarkable collection of tools, clothes and historical accessories.

    Lovers of contemporary history should not miss the opportunity to visit theUSS Kidd Museum, a Fletcher-class destroyer anchored along the Mississippi shore that served during World War II and the Korean War.

    If you want to visit a plantation without moving too far from the city you can opt for a tour to the Magnolia Mound Plantation. Finally, take two steps into the Downtown of the city can be a good idea, strolling among the various clubs and typical restaurants that extend a few steps from the course Mississippi River.

    Search for a hotel in Baton Rouge

    Breaux Bridge

    Close to the city of Lafayette it is possible to visit the small agglomeration of houses in Breaux Bridge which, in addition to boasting of being the capital of freshwater shrimp, is also considered the gateway to cajun culture, to the traditions, music and cuisine of southern Louisiana. For this reason, do not miss to visit one of the many typical places of the city, where you can experience very special dishes and atmospheres.

    If you have not yet managed to see a typical swamp in the state, head to without delay Lake Martin and you will not be disappointed by the panorama that you will find in front of you. If you can, do not miss a stay or a visit to the historic bed and breakfast Magdalene House.

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    Natchitoches

    The foundation of this town dates back to 1714, and it is the oldest continuously inhabited urban agglomeration in the whole state. A visit in the pleasant is therefore recommended Historic District, which develops along the Cane River Lake, where you can admire very well preserved buildings and historic houses dating back to the colonial period.

    History buffs cannot miss a visit to the Fort Saint-Jean-Baptiste, an original fort dating back to the eighteenth century, in which careful historical re-enactments in costume are staged that effectively illustrate what was the life of the first settlers of the region and the dangers they faced.

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    Avery Island

    If every time you eat something you can't resist the temptation to add some Tabasco to your dish then you are in the right place, because Avery Island it is known above all for being the birthplace of the famous hot sauce; the first to be industrially produced in the United States. It is possible to pay a visit with tasting included to the factory, with an adjoining museum, where Tabasco has been produced for more than 5 generations.

    You can also combine the tour of the factory with a walk along the lush greenery Jungle Gardens, where you can see many animal species living in their natural habitat (including alligators). The curiosity is that inside the gardens there is a statue of Buddha dating back to 1100 kept in a small temple.

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    Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum

    In Louisiana the criminal adventures of Bonnie and Clyde, given that just near the town of Gibsland they suffered an ambush that was fatal to them. In the place where they died, today stands a plaque commemorating the event, while where once stood the Rosa's Cafe, where the two criminals had lunch for the last time, today there is a museum that tells about their life and exhibits a collection of memorabilia related to their criminal activity.

    Some details may seem a bit gory but, if you are passionate about the history of these two famous criminals, you must undoubtedly consider a stop to find out more about their life, also taking advantage of the availability of the museum manager, obviously very experienced and helpful. to disseminate information.

    Where to sleep near the museum

    Chauvin Sculpture Garden

    We have arrived at perhaps one of the strangest and most curious attractions in the state. It all started with the mind of Kenny Hill, a bricklayer who in 1990 began his personal journey into spirituality by building various statues inspired by religious themes. It is one of those places that one would expect to find perhaps traveling there Route 66, but in this case we are in Louisiana and for this reason it may have been a little less successful.

    To soar above all the other sculptures is the representation of a lighthouse accompanied by the most disparate figures, ranging from angels to cowboys, who almost seem to want to climb the entire structure. Inside the garden, which is now cared for by Nicholls State University, you can take a real trip to this place that mixes kitsch and religiosity.

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