Nearby Des­ti­na­tions

Where New Orleans - - THE GUIDE -

CA­JUN COUN­TRY

De­spite what vis­i­tors of­ten think, New Or­leans is not “Ca­jun coun­try.” That area lies mostly south­west of the city, com­pris­ing 22 Lou­i­si­ana parishes that sur­round the city of Lafayette. Lafayette it­self is home to Aca­dian Vil­lage, a faith­ful recre­ation of a 19th-cen­tury Ca­jun set­tle­ment, as well as Ver­mil­ionville, a liv­ing his­tory and folk mu­seum, and the Jean Lafitte Na­tional His­toric Park & Pre­serve. The charm­ing town of St. Mart­inville is con­sid­ered the Ca­juns’ an­ces­tral home; it’s where you’ll find the Evangeline Oak, com­mem­o­rat­ing the hero­ine of Longfelow’s fa­mous poem. Avery Is­land is home to the Tabasco Pep­per Sauce Fac­tory; tours are avail­able of the fac­tory, as well as of the ad­join­ing Jun­gle Gar­dens and Bird City. www.lafayet­te­travel.com.

JEF­FER­SON PARISH

Just over the parish line from New Or­leans, Jef­fer­son parish of­fers a va­ri­ety of di­ver­sions and en­ter­tain­ment. The cities of Jef­fer­son Parish each have thier own at­tributes. Me­tairie is a choice res­i­den­tial area with a bustling busi­ness com­mu­nity—and great shop­ping at its many malls. “Old Me­tairie” is an oak-lined en­clave of his­toric homes, restau­rants and up­scale bou­tiques. Ken­ner is home to the Louis Arm­strong In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Jean Lafitte is a pi­ci­utresque fishing vil­lage and home to the Jean Lafitte Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park and Pre­serve, which of­fers vis­i­tors an up-close glimpse of the swamp’s plant life and wa­ter­fowl. Grand Isle is an is­land com­mu­nity at the very tip of Lou­i­si­ana. West­wego (di­rectly across the river from the Audubon Zoo) home to Bayou Seg­nette State Park, which of­fers camp­sites and cab­ins. Ad­ven­tur­ers will like the parish’s swamp tours and abun­dant fishing; cul­tures vul­tures will flock to the Jef­fer­son Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter. www.jeff­parish.net.

LAFOURCHE PARISH

Founded in 1807, Lafourche was one of the Lou­i­si­ana’s orig­i­nal parishes when it be­came a state in 1812. Si­t­u­ated along Bayou Lafourche, which ex­tends to the Gulf of Mex­ico, the area is rich in fish and wildlife, mak­ing it an ideal lo­ca­tion for early Aca­dian set­tlers. The Jean Lafitte Na­tional Park Wet­lands Aca­dian Cul­tural Cen­ter in Thi­bo­daux, the parish seat, of­fers in­sight into Ca­jun life, while swamp tours pro­vide an up­close look lo­cal flora and fauna. Thi­bo­daux is also home to the Lau­rel Vil­lage Sugar Plan­ta­tion and Mu­seum (the largest sur­viv­ing 19th–cen­tury sugar plan­ta­tion in the U.S.) and Ni­cholls State Univer­sity (aka “Har­vard on the Bayou”). www.vis­it­lafourche.com. 985.537.5800.

ST. TAM­MANY PARISH/NORTHSHORE

Across Lake Pontchar­train is St. Tam­many Parish, bet­ter known lo­cally as the Northshore. Af­ter the Civil War, the area—with its nu­mer­ous wa­ter­ways, nat­u­ral springs and pine-scented air—boomed as a re­sort des­ti­na­tion for well-heeled New Or­lea­ni­ans. Since the open­ing of the Pontchar­train Cause­way in 1956, the Northshore has be­come Lou­i­si­ana’s fastest-grow­ing parish, yet still re­tains much of its rus­tic­ity and charm. Man­dev­ille, the city di­rectly off the Cause­way, of­fers great shop­ping, while Slidell (to the east) is known as “The Camel­lia City” for its flora and outdoor ar­eas. Cov­ing­ton, the parish seat, has al­ways drawn artists. Other Northshore com­mu­ni­ties in­clude Madis­onville, Abita Springs, Fol­sum and Pearl River. www. louisiananorthshore.com .

TERREBONNE PARISH/HOUMA

Lo­cated about an hour out­side of New Or­leans, Terrebonne Parish is home to the city of Houma, “the heart of Amer­ica’s wet­land.” Steeped in Ca­jun cul­ture, Houma of­fers vis­i­tors a va­ri­ety of swamp tours and other outdoor ex­cur­sions (fishing char­ters, bird­ing trails, wildlife parks), an abun­dance of au­then­tic Ca­jun cui­sine and lively dance halls where you’re guar­an­teed to pass a good time, cher. www. houma­travel.com. 800.688.2732.

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