Lately I’ve been spending more time exploring my own state of Louisiana. I do enjoy the thrill of flying to a far off destination, but with school and football season in full swing, it isn’t always practical to venture far away. My home base is a suburb of Baton Rouge, LA and I decided to check out a few places that are three hours or less from home.
I hopped in my car and headed in almost every direction, driving past sugar cane fields and through swamps. These short trips reminded me of the beauty to be found here in Louisiana and why I love calling this place Home. Here are a few of the destinations I’ve been exploring:
Downtown Baton Rouge – I always forget just how much is going on in the Baton Rouge area. Downtown has really become a hotspot for entertainment, with free concerts, a wide variety of cuisine, and even a few luxury hotels. Last week I had my first glimpse of the new Hotel Indigo Baton Rouge and sampled a few of the dinner offerings at the King Bar and Grill located off the lobby. Of course, there are a number of museums located downtown, historic sites, and the beautiful Mississippi River.
Marksville – Paragon Casino Resort is only a 1 1/2 hour drive from my home. We’ve visited this resort as a family a few times and find it to be an easy getaway for a family, a couple, or a group of girlfriends. There’s so much to do at the resort, that you may not want to venture outdoors, but don’t forget that this area offers more than just a casino. There are some small, quaint museums showcasing agriculture in Louisiana to the history of quilts in the area. There are also plenty of down home restaurants serving Louisiana country cooking. If you are looking for alligators, you can find them in the lobby of Paragon or venture out into Spring Bayou where the gators glide across the water, right in front of your boat. After all the exploring, Spa la Vie at Paragon Casino offers the best spa in the area.
Lake Charles – This Southwest Louisiana city was recently named one of the top places to retire in the US. I visited to experience the area’s premiere food and wine event, Rouge et Blanc. While in town, I was able to meet many of the personalities that make this area an attractive place to live and visit. L’Auberge du Lac is a casino resort that towers from across Lake Charles and was my lodging while in the area. Lake Charles is also one of the top places for a family friendly Mardi Gras experience.
Natchitoches – I’ll admit, I have an ulterior motive for visiting Natchitoches since my son goes to the state high school here. Downtown Natchitoches sits on Cane River Lake and is such a beautiful place. In fact, the movie Steel Magnolias was filmed here. There are numerous bed and breakfasts in Natchitoches to choose from and this city is frequently on romantic getaways lists.
New Orleans – Visiting New Orleans is a given at some point for residents and visitors of Louisiana. It’s been a top destination in the state, overshadowing everywhere else in Louisiana. New Orleans is beautiful and strange at the same time. At one time, there were over 3,000 bars in the area. Recently, my husband and I spent a weekend at the Roosevelt Hotel for a romantic getaway. We could have chosen one restaurant for a nice meal, but instead opted to have our own progressive dinner, stopping at different venues along our path to sample some of our favorite dishes from our favorite restaurants.
Lafayette – If you are searching for true Cajun Country, then Lafayette is the city you’ll want to visit. It is the home of the Ragin’ Cajuns and the CajunDome. To truly experience the beauty that is quintessential Louisiana, be sure to take one of the many swamp tours offered in the area. This is also the place to entertain your ears with true Zydeco music.
These are just a few of the major destinations for day trips and weekend getaways in South Louisiana. There are so many smaller cities and towns that offer the hospitality and culture we in Louisiana are proud of. To plan your visit to Louisiana, begin with LouisianaTravel.com.