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Marksville, Louisiana

Welcome to Louisiana

Louisiana pulses with an energy all its own. Visitors feel it everywhere, from the diverse towns in the northern half of the state to the colorful Creole and Cajun parishes in the south. At different points in Louisiana history, the region now known as the Pelican State served as a colony of Spain and France, and as a final home for Acadian refugees from Canada. These cultural influences continue to blend in the region’s cuisine, music and customs.

Louisiana’s heart beats through its music, whether it’s the soulful lament of the blues, the upbeat tempo of zydeco or the rousing brass of New Orleans jazz. Along with these sonic textures, the lilt of diverse languages is heard everywhere.

And then there’s the cuisine. An explosion of flavors animate popular entrees like gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish étouffée, topped off with the famous sweet beignets. Gaze up from your plate and get an eyeful of the region’s compelling architectural flourishes, from the wrought-iron balconies of New Orleans to castlelike Old Capitol in Baton Rouge.

Great Outdoors

Louisiana state parks offer a wide range of outdoors activities. Bird lovers can take wing to Sam Houston Jones State Park, situated in the heel of the Louisiana boot. Here, more than 200 species of birds pass through at various time of the year. Visitors have the unique opportunity to catch sight of bald eagles nesting at South Toledo Bend State Park.

Closer to the toe of the state, Tickfaw State Park features a boardwalk that leads visitors to four different ecosystems. Right on the arch of the state, the Jungle Gardens on Avery Island are populated with towering oaks covered in Spanish moss. No visit to Lake Charles is complete without a trip on the nearby Creole Nature Trail.

Cities and Towns

You can’t talk about Louisiana without mentioning its most famous city, New Orleans, which wears its larger-than-life history and culture on its sleeve. You’ll find a little bit of everything in the Big Easy. The vibrancy of the French Quarter contrasts with the solemnity of Lafayette Cemetery and the National WWII Museum. The opulent homes of the Garden District are juxtaposed by the slave quarters seen on plantation tours. From the good times of Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street to the memorials dedicated to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is a city of contradictions.

A distinct energy fills the city. The art, architecture and great outdoors help set the scene, and friendly locals bring it to life. Tantalizing foods tempt the taste buds, as regional melodies pour into the street. Explore the city on a steamboat ride on the Mississippi or amble through antebellum neighborhoods in a horse-drawn carriage.

Far from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans, you can stroll back in time with a visit to Natchitoches in northern Louisiana. Established in 1714, this town was settled almost a century before Louisiana became a state. Brick streets, European architecture and grand old mansions create a charming antebellum environment. Nearby, the Cane River National Heritage Area preserves natural and cultural elements of the region.