The state of Louisiana is host to one of the most unique cultures in the United States. Its blend of Cajun, Creole, and African flavors inspires an entirely new culture, one that is only found in Louisiana. Unfortunately, many of us who live here often take it for granted. We complain about inept drivers, poor infrastructure, and too-greasy food. However, it is the place we call home, and we should take joy in what our home has to offer to us. Over the winter break, consider visiting some of the following places in Louisiana.
1. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans
Located in the Garden District of New Orleans, this cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in the city. It is not segregated, so it is the resting place of people from 25 different countries. There are 1,100 family tombs and over 7,000 people buried in it. One notable person buried there is Judge Ferguson of the Plessy vs. Ferguson court case, which ruled that "separate but equal" is constitutional, leading in what would come to be called the Jim Crow laws. Lafayette I also inspired horror writers like Anne Rice.
2. Bourbon Street, New Orleans
If you enjoy the nightlife but would rather not hang out in an old graveyard, Bourbon Street might be more your style. It is one of the most famous highlights of New Orleans and its reputation for debauchery. It is lined with bars, nightclubs, and souvenir shops. The bars on Bourbon Street stay open much later than 2 AM as well. There are musicians who play fabulous music like jazz and rock 'n roll. Of course, Bourbon Street does have its downfalls, so make sure to visit in a group, especially if you are female.
3. Tiger Stadium at LSU, Baton Rouge
As a native of Baton Rouge, it is hard to miss the giant stadium while crossing over the Mississippi Bridge. It is located at the renowned state university, boasting home to the LSU Tigers. It is the sixth largest on-campus stadium (max capacity is close to 100,000). It is known for being an intimidating venue for football, giving it the nickname Death Valley. Experiencing an LSU game is a must-have!
4. Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie
Many plantations have fallen ruin to the passage of time, but Oak Alley Plantation is a restored beauty. In 1925 Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Stewart participated in "adaptive restoration." The plantation was given modern plumbing and an updating kitchen. Now it is host to tours, events, and a 501(c)(3) foundation.
5. Abita Mystery House, Abita Springs
The Abita Mystery House is the creation of John Preble. Though the house is modern, it is set up in an old-school style. It's quirky, possessing all sorts of oddities and unusual attractions. Pushing buttons starts animated displays, and its gift shop sells homemade folk art. Its Southern theme is sure to attract the curious traveler, and its reasonable price of admission ($3) is also sure to please.
6. Dr. Charles Smith African-American Heritage Museum, Hammond
What is most interesting about this particular attraction is that the museum is located in Dr. Charles Smith's own yard. He has a passion for sculptural art and uses it to educate visitors on African-American culture. Every sculpture is deeply symbolic. There are tributes to historic African-American figures such as Maya Angelou, Harriet Tubman, and a West African queen. Visitors are always welcome to Dr. Charles Smith's phenomenal home!
7. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Reserve, New Orleans
Mostly a self-guided walk tour, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Reserve features information on topics exclusive to Louisiana: alligators, Battle of New Orleans, and Cajuns. The park also offers summer camps and Junior Ranger programs for youth. There are online tools for education, virtual tours, and social media. You will be sure to find something to enjoy at one of the park's six locations!