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. Ver­mil­lion Parish, “the most Ca­jun place on earth,” draws out­door en­thu­si­asts with its hunt­ing, fish­ing and some of the best bird­ing in the coun­try. 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. www.lafayet­te­travel.com; www.ver­mil­lion.org, www.ca­jun­coun­try.org.

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. 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. 800.688.2732; www.houma­travel.com.

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