Music and Mardi Gras in New Orleans
“Let the good times roll” is New Orleans’s motto, and could make a good motto for your Louisiana family reunion as well.
- Though your reunion will most likely not take place during Mardi Gras, there is no need to miss out on experiencing New Orleans’ most famous holiday. At Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World, costumes, floats and craftsmen can be seen creating pieces for next year’s Mardi Gras and keeping the spirit alive all year long.
- If you’re looking for something a bit more historical, check out the National World War II Museum, a Smithsonian institution that recently tripled in size. Visitors can check out restored fighter planes and landing crafts or visit some of the many exhibits devoted to the Americans who served in history’s greatest conflict.
- A Louisiana family reunion wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Audubon Zoo. Visitors can gaze upon giraffes at the African Savanna exhibit, animatronic dinosaurs at Dinosaur Adventure, interact with hundreds of birds at Parakeet Pointe or even cool down at Cool Zoo, a water park located on the premises. There are also other Audubon facilities in the city, including an aquarium and an insectarium.
- A trip to the Big Easy would require a visit to the city’s famous French Quarter, covering over 100 square blocks with dining, shopping, historic architecture and plenty of entertainment venues. Of particular interest is Preservation Hall, which has some of the best jazz in New Orleans at only $15 a ticket and is open to all ages. Get there early, though; reservations are not accepted and it fills up quickly.
Historical Hotspots in Baton Rouge
While the state’s capital may not have the same name recognition as New Orleans, Baton Rouge still has plenty to offer your Louisiana family reunion.
- The LSU Rural Life Museum is a five-acre, outdoor museum that recreates a 19th century rural plantation in the heart of Baton Rouge. Complete with buildings such as a barn, log cabin and working blacksmith’s shop, your Louisiana family reunion can see why the British Museum ranks it as one of the best outdoor museums in the world. Nearby, you can wander among the flowers at the beautiful Windrush Gardens.
- If you can’t get enough of antebellum life or architecture, there are more than a dozen restored plantations open to the public in the area surrounding Baton Rouge. The tour guides don’t call this “Plantation Country” for nothing. Places to visit include Nottoway Plantation, the largest plantation home in the South, and Myrtles Plantation, a national historic site that is reputedly one of America’s most haunted homes.
- Louisiana Swamp Tours are also a popular option for visitors to Baton Rouge family reunions. Bring your group onto a boat and cruise around the bayou and its abundant wildlife. You might even spot a gator or two.
- Wildlife from beyond the bayou can be seen at the Baton Rouge Zoo, which boasts over 1,400 different animals in exhibits such as Parrot Paradise. The zoo is consistently ranked as one of Baton Rogue’s top destinations for families.
- Another popular site to visit in Baton Rogue is the restored World War II naval destroyer at the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial and Museum. Over 50 interior rooms of the vessel are open to the public. The museum also offers exhibits including two fighter planes and a collection of model ships.
Star Gazing and Shopping in Shreveport
There is more to Louisiana than the coastal areas. The Shreveport-Bossier city region of Northwest Louisiana mixes the Cajun heritage of the rest of the state with the spirit of neighboring Texas.
- For film fanatics, set out to follow the Northwest Louisiana Film Trail. With 21 stops at sites from films like The Guardian, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and TV shows such as True Blood, these famous filming sites won’t disappoint your Louisiana family reunion. Maybe you’ll even catch a glimpse of a celebrity seeking to escape the limelight. Sandra Bullock, Denzel Washington and Kevin Costner have all spent time in Shreveport in recent years.
- Movie buffs should also stop by the Robinson Film Center to see such props as the lifejacket that Kate Winslet wore in Titanic or the revolver carried by Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.
- Those who love to shop will find what they’re looking for at the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City. The boardwalk is scenically located along the Red River and features dozens of shops and restaurants, as well as live music and a movie theater.
- Shreveport bills itself as the best gaming destination in the South, so adults in your Louisiana family reunion group will likely want to spend some time in the evenings at one of the area’s five casinos. The kids won’t mind, though. They’ll be tired out from a day simulating space shuttle landings at the Sci-Port Discovery Center and watching alligators wrestle at the Gator and Friends Alligator Park in Greenwood, just 10 minutes outside of Shreveport.
Lake Charles Family Reunions
Lake Charles is said to be where pirate Jean Laffitte buried his treasure. While your Louisiana family reunion is unlikely to find any pirate treasure while visiting, they will certainly find plenty to do, see and eat.
- The whole area is known as “Cajun Country” because it is the center for traditional Cajun culture. A great way to experience that would be to follow the Boudin Trail, a collection of mom-and-pop makers of boudin, a traditional spiced sausage. Time of day doesn’t matter, as boudin can be eaten at any meal.
- Gambling is a big deal with Lake Charles family reunions, with three major casinos in the area, L’Auberge, Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino and Isle of Capri Casino. All offer attached hotels and additional incentives, including excellent restaurants, live entertainment, pools and spas.
- The area also boasts seven public golf courses, some of which are nationally recognized for their high quality courses. There’s even a special nine-hole course open just to kids under the age of 14, so everyone at your Louisiana family reunion can have fun on the links. Courses include Mallard Cove, Gray Plantation Golf Club and Lake Charles Country Club.
- If your Louisiana family reunion is looking to experience the natural beauty of the region, visit the Creole Nature Trail All American Road, which promises an alligator-to-human ratio of 10 to 1. It also offers beaches for fishing or hunting for shells and contains 300 species of birds, making it one of America’s top birding destinations.
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