Take a Louisiana road trip into Cajun Country.
Cajun culture thrives in the heart of Louisiana, and intrepid RVers can get a sampling of the food, music and customs of this vibrant people with a road trip along Interstates 10 and 12.
Starting on Lafayette, capital of Cajun Country, RVers can head west to the state’s vibrant capital, Baton Rouge, via Interstate 10. From there, a short drive on Interstate 12 take drivers to Livingston, home to the fascinating LIGO research laboratory, which measures the gravitational waves found throughout the universe.
Louisiana Road Trip to Lafayette: Discover legendary Evangeline
Lafayette is located in the heart of “Acadiana” and is the unofficial capital of “Cajun Country.” The term Acadiana has come to signify all that is great about south Louisiana. It encompasses the “joie de vivre” so well known in Cajun Country, the cheerful attitude exhibited by the people who live here and love of the land settled generations ago by their ancestors.
The metropolis of 120,000 displays an extraordinary mixture of tradition and progressiveness. Possessing a dynamic French heritage mixed with Spanish, American, Indian and African elements the city represents a colorful combination of lifestyles. Visitors should check out the Acadian Village, a 32-acre exhibit that creates an authentic Acadian village.
The Acadians developed the area following their expulsion by the British from eastern Canada in the late 18th century. The city was founded in 1821 and renamed Lafayette in 1884 for the Marquis de Lafayette, the French military leader who aided patriots during the Revolutionary War.
There’s a reason this area is called Evangeline Country: In 1847, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem “Evangeline,” an account of doomed lovers, Evangeline and Gabriel, who were separated on their wedding day during the expulsion of the Acadians from present-day Nova Scotia. According to the tale, Evangeline travels across North America to find her beloved, only to encounter a dying Gabriel at a hospital in Philadelphia.
Longfellow apparently heard the story of Evangeline and Gabriel at a dinner party with Longfellow’s friend Nathaniel Hawthorne. Until the 20th century, it was widely accepted that Evangeline and Gabriel were fictional characters. Modern researchers have concluded that even if Evangeline did not exist, there were plenty of women who lived like she did.
Baton Rouge: Home to Seafood, Tigers and More
This Louisiana road trip takes you east on Interstate 10 to Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana and the second-largest city in the state, home to an expanding population of nearly a quarter of a million people. Situated in the south-east section of the state, Baton Rouge sits alongside the Mississippi River where Port Allen, ships over 61 tons of cargo a year.
Baton Rouge is the home of one of the finest university campuses in the country. Louisiana State University is a joy to behold and has been one of Louisiana’s—and the country’s—top universities since it was built in 1860. Here you can spend an entire day seeing the works of art on show at the Union Gallery, admiring the exhibits at the Museum of Natural Science and relaxing at the Greek Theatre.
To remain in the spirit of LSU, catch a game of football at the LSU Tiger Stadium. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan or not. Tailgating, soaking in the atmosphere and listening to the roar of the stadium when the Fighting Tigers score a touchdown is an unforgettable experience.
If you have kids with you, then satisfy their curiosity at the Baton Rouge Zoo, which features over 900 different species of animals, from spectacled bears and bobcats to tigers and tortoises. The zoo includes a children’s play area and a train that takes you around the park, giving you a different perspective on the many animals and exhibitions. If the young ones are still not satisfied, then the Blue Bayou Water Park will keep them entertained for a few hours. This park is perfect for a summer’s day, when the baking Louisiana sun becomes too much. The Blue Bayou Park includes raft rides, water slides, wave pools and more.
If after a day’s activities and sightseeing, you’re probably looking for something to sate your hunger during this Louisiana road trip. Eat like the locals do at the Louisiana Lagniappe Restaurant, which serves up fresh Cajun and Creole seafood and steak dishes. Lagniappe is perfect for all occasions and their crab cakes, oysters and fried catfish give you a taste of Louisiana. Seafood is the dish of the day in Baton Rouge, and you can’t walk more than a few blocks without bumping into a tasty seafood restaurant. For something completely different, try the delicious Gyro Pita and Shish Kabobs, served up at the Albasha Greek and Lebanese restaurant.
Louisiana Road Trip to Livingston’s LIGO
Situated among the beautiful forests of eastern Louisiana, Livingston is an ideal destination for folks who love nature and small-town living. Making the area even more compelling is LIGO, which stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Although it’s name is a mouthful, the facility’s mission is simple: to measure the gravitational waves from the most energetic events in the universe. Visitors can take a tour of the sprawling complex and learn about fascinating aspects of our solar system and beyond.