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Sulphur, Louisiana

Cajun Coast/St. Mary Parish

Festivals, wildlife and fun await visitors to Southern Louisiana

Louisiana’s Cajun Coast is as smooth as the Atchafalaya River and as steamy as the swampland. It’s also got the spicy kick of a Saturday evening crawfish boil and the sweetness of a handcrafted pecan praline, so no matter your tastes, you’re sure to find something in St. Mary Parish that appeals to you.

St. Mary Parish supported sugar cane plantations, shrimping and fishing in its earliest days, and early settlers came from French-speaking Canada as well as Germany, Denmark and Ireland—many by way of the East Coast after the Louisiana Purchase.

The town of Franklin is home to the Arlington Plantation House and Gardens, a Neoclassical plantation built by Honore Carlin that features a large grand foyer, 15-foot ceilings, two six-foot crystal chandeliers and many other original architectural features. During the Civil War, the Carlin family converted their home into a field hospital for use by soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

City Life

Franklin’s downtown district is historic in its own right, with more than 400 historical properties constructed during the town’s early years, from the mid-19th century into the railroad years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Walking tours take visitors past the homes of Franklin’s founding families and business leaders, each reflecting varied styles of architecture.

It may not be visible from space, but Morgan City’s Great Wall is still an impressive sight. It stands 21 feet high and provides pedestrians with a bird’s-eye view of the Atchafalaya. This concrete floodwall is both a visual stunner and a functional structure, preventing deluge of vulnerable area during storms. While you’re in town, visit the International Petroleum Museum and Exposition. Here you’ll find an authentic offshore oil rig as well as a series of photos chronicling the history of oil exploration off Louisiana’s coast.

Morgan City celebrates its economic foundation each September with the Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival. For more than 80 years, people have gathered at Louisiana’s oldest state-chartered “harvest” festival to enjoy live music, children’s activities, a blessing of the fleet and a Cajun food contest. The event is capped with a spectacular fireworks display over the water.


Cajun Coast Visitors & Tourism Bureau

Into the Wild

St. Mary Parish’s location along the Gulf of Mexico makes the Cajun Coast the ideal spot for water recreation. Creeks, tributaries and rivers run through this part of the state down to the Gulf, carrying with them an abundance of fishing and boating opportunities. Each April, the Bayou Teche Wooden Boat show draws wooden boat owners and fans to the banks of the bayou in downtown Franklin. Cajun skiffs, runabouts, cypress dugouts and many other styles are frequently featured here.

A canoe ride through the Atchafalaya Basin provides stunning views of ancient cypress trees draped in moss, as well as wood ducks and the occasional alligator. Along the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, canoe pilots will catch a glimpse of antebellum homes, sugar mills and the home of the Chitimacha Tribe. This tribe is the only one in the state to still live on a portion of their ancestral lands.

The Chitimacha were well known for their intricate woven baskets, made from river cane and dyed with traditional plants. The Chitimacha Museum in Clarendon was established to help preserve the tribe’s traditions and culture through detailed exhibits. The tribe owns and operates Cypress Bayou Casino, which houses nearly 1,300 slot machines, high-stakes bingo and more than 35 table games for guests who feel that Lady Luck is on their side.

Head to the Attakapas Wildlife Management Area in upper St. Mary Parish, which is accessible only by boat due to its swampland habitat adjacent to the Atchafalaya, and fish for mullet, bass, bluegill and freshwater drum. Try your hand at crawfishing, or follow the hunting seasons for a shot at deer, rabbits, squirrels and waterfowl. The Atchafalaya Delta WMA is primarily open water habitat and supports waterfowl and alligators alongside common freshwater fish species.


Cajun Coast Visitors & Tourism Bureau

Animals on the Move

Bird watching is a popular pastime here, thanks to innumerable species of migratory and wading birds, and the St. Mary Loop is part of America’s Wetland Birding Trail. Be sure to stop at Brownell Park during the winter months for some great bald eagle viewing. Morgan City honors the nation’s bird with an Eagle Expo in February with boat tours, a raptor show and presentations from wildlife experts.

Greeting Gators

South Louisiana’s most famous four-legged residents are the American alligator and Louisiana black bear, the latter of which is a protected endangered species that is celebrated during the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival in the town of Franklin. The festival serves as an educational event as well as a community party, with music and food as well as field trips, exhibits and children’s activities.

The Cajun Coast, like the rest of Louisiana, knows how to throw a memorable Mardi Gras. All of St. Mary’s Parish hosts parades from the weekend before Fat Tuesday, all the way through to Ash Wednesday. Kids and adults alike enjoy floats made by “Krewes,” with music and beads filling the air as the procession meanders past.

Learn about this compelling celebration as you watch costumed revelers dance their way down the street. Observing this annual event is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the whole family.

For More Information

Cajun Coast Visitors & Tourism Bureau




Louisiana Office of Tourism