Nowhere on earth is there a richer or more abundant musical legacy than in Louisiana. There are hundreds of places dedicated to dancing and listening to the various forms of music that are dear to Louisianians. So where do you find the music? New Orleans is a good place to start because today the birthplace of jazz has it all in terms of Louisiana music--jazz, Cajun, zydeco, rhythm and blues, gospel and rock and roll.
For authenticity of the early jazz clubs, visit Preservation Hall on St. Peter in the French Quarter. A newer venue is The Storyville District on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. To learn more about Louisiana's musical history, see the Louisiana State Museum Jazz Exhibit at the Old U.S. Mint on Esplanade or the Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane University. To give the whole family a taste of old New Orleans jazz, visit Jazzland, New Orleans' first Disney-style theme park designed to carry visitors back to the old days of jazz in New Orleans.
South Louisiana features Cajun and zydeco music. For Cajun, visit DI's in Basile, The original Mulate's in Breaux Bridge, Randol's and Grant Street Dance Hall in Lafayette. For Zydeco, visit Richard's in Lawtell, Slim's Y-Ki-Ki in Opelousas, El Sido's Zydeco and Blues Club in Lafayette.
North Louisiana's musical roots are steeped in country music. The Louisiana Hayride at the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport is a must-see for country music fans, and the Rebel State Historic Site in Marthaville is home to the Louisiana Country Music Museum.
Food and Louisiana go hand in hand. The state's cultural "gumbo" produces a winning recipe for fun with a celebration of a harvest that ranges from A to Z, starting with the oyster festival in Amite and wrapping up with the tamale festival in Zwolle. Some of these festivals can only be found in Louisiana where mudbugs are a staple and Poke Salad topped the record charts. A few of the more unique festivals include:
The Amite Oyster Festival and Rodeo in Amite, the oyster capitol of Louisiana -- Call (225) 748-5161
The Iowa Rabbit Festival in Iowa, LA featuring Cajun rabbit dishes -- Call (318) 382-3535
The West Carroll Poke Salad Festival in Oak Grove named in honor of native Tony Jo White, who wrote and recorded "Poke Salad Annie," and "Rainy Night in Georgia" -- Call (318) 428-2161
Louisiana International Goat Festival in Opelousas which includes a goat meat cookoff -- Call (318) 942-2392
Cochon de Lait Festival in Mansura where you'll find pig roasting at its finest -- Call (318) 964-2887
Mudbug Madness Festival in Shreveport with hundreds of pounds of crawfish and Cajun & Zydeco music -- Call (318) 747-5700
Jambalaya Festival in Sorrento with over 40 cooks competing in the "World Jambalaya Cooking Championship" -- Call (225) 622-1998
The Rayne Frog Festival in Rayne -- Call (318) 783-0759
The Annual Cracklin' Cookoff in Bourg -- Call (504) 594-6826
The Gueydan Duck Festival in Gueydan -- Call (318) 536-9328
Louisiana has a rich history of welcoming people from all corners of the world. For hundreds of years, the lighthouses that dot the Louisiana coastline were the first U. S. landmarks foreign immigrants would see upon their arrival- rivaling the Statue of Liberty in significance.
Here are just a few of the many interesting stories about Louisiana's lighthouses:
Benjamn H. Latrobe, architect of the United States Capitol, drew up the plans for the lighthouse on Frank's Island.
The lighthouse at New Canal Station probably holds the record for the most female keepers. No fewer than five served the station, most assuming their posts when their husbands died. Several of these women performed heroic acts during hurricanes and storms.
Keeper I.C.M. Erickson, of the South Pass lighthouse, set off across the river in a rowboat on April 8, 1923. The current swept him out to sea where he was picked up by an outbound freighter 15 miles from the station. He was taken to their next port of call in Mexico (nearly 700 miles away). Erickson was eventually returned to his station, and almost a year later was again carried out into the gulf as he attempted to cross the river. This time he never made it back to the station.
Many Louisiana lighthouses were deactivated during the Civil War to make passage difficult for Union troops.
The Sabine Pass Lighthouse was erected in 1849, shortly after the Republic of Texas joined the United States.
Louisiana offers a unique travel experience with unique accommodations to match.
Photos and wording courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism