It’s time to take a trip beyond The Big Easy and learn that the waters of Southern hospitality, charm and culture really do run as deep as the Mississippi.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Intriguingly named after a French-American pirate, this fantastic project is a storybook brought to life.
The park itself – actually made up of six separate sites throughout the New Orleans area – aims to tell the tale of significant places and people that contributed to the rich culture of the region, and plants a foot firmly in the belief that ‘the past is never dead’. With bayou boat tours, hands on exhibitions, battle re-enactments and jam sessions with local jazz bands there’ll be plenty here to entertain.
Having shot to fame in recent months for its cameo in HBO’s southern set show, True Detective, it’s no surprise that visits to Fort Macomb are suddenly on the rise.
Though the stronghold now stands abandoned, it once stood proudly alongside forty-two identical towers built in a bid to keep out the enemy in the War of 1812. You might need a permit to walk around the interior however, but if you fancy a historical double header, pop over to its twin, Fort Pike, located just a few miles away.
A home of huge significance for more than one reason, this restored site on the mighty Mississippi’s west bank is open for guided tours that maintain honesty and integrity at their heart. With the ‘big house’ and former slave quarters intact, a visit here is sobering to say the least.
Book lovers will also jump at the chance to walk around the birthplace of lovable trickster Br’er Rabbit, originally of West African origin and the inspiration behind Disney’s Splash Mountain.
Oak Alley Plantation
Named for its delightful and distinguished passageway of grand old oak trees that extend for 800 feet up towards the classically Creole abode, this plantation was owned by the so-called ‘King of Sugar’ Valcour Aime – at one time to wealthiest man across all the Southern states.
The keen eyed amongst you might recognise the plantation house from the recent Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained, whilst slightly older readers will note it also appeared in ‘Interview with the Vampire’. The beautiful grounds make for a superb stroll at any time of year and the more fanciful can indulge in an overnight stay. Be warned though, the house has been known to have several ghostly sightings.
Why even visit New Orleans if you’re not going to hop over to the ‘Crawfish Capital of the World’ for a genuine taste of Southern hospitality? Aside from the outstanding array of authentic Cajun cuisine and the relentlessly funky Zydeco music scene, the tight-knit town itself is like a leap back in time that emphasises joie de vivre over all things.
If you’re in an outdoorsy mood, try a Cajun Country Swamp Tour. These eco-friendly forays into the eerie and beautiful wetlands are a nature lovers dream. You could even find yourself getting up close and personal with a baby ‘gator.
1 hour 50 minutes