As wonderful as New Orleans is, there’s far more to Louisiana. From the tranquility of the nearby Northshore to the Cajun rhythms of Houma’s downhome musical welcome, this is the deep, wonderful south at its best.
Cajun Jumpin’ and Jivin’
The Jolly Inn in Houma, Louisiana is the place to be on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons when the band’s tuned up and the dance floor is full. The music is Cajun – a sort of spicy country sound that’s bound to get you moving. Not Fred Astaire? No worries. The band will welcome you to the stage, strap on a Cajun rhythm vest that looks and sounds a lot like an old washboard, and make you part of the entertainment! www.thejollyinn.com
Gotta Get a Gator
You can’t go to Louisiana without going gator hunting – with your camera, of course. The best way to get out on the bayou is with Annie Miller’s Son’s Swamp and March Tours, just outside Houma, where guide Jim Miller will not only take you deep into the bayou to see everything from bald eagles to alligators, but will also share incredible stories of his snake-collecting, alligator-charming mother. www.annie-miller.com
Your Lakeside Retreat
Lake Pontchartrain is the glittering blue body of water that separates NOLA from the idyllic peace of the Northshore. Drive over the causeway to find a collection of idyllic cottages in the Fontainebleau State Park offering both a refreshing change of pace and great family-friendly accommodation. Each beach-front, cottage-on-stilts is different, but all offer multiple bedrooms, living and dining rooms, fully equipped kitchens and – best of all – a broad screened porch just begging you to sit and stay awhile. www.reserveamerica.com/.../fontainebleau-state-par...
Get A Little Literary
If you haven’t read James Lee Burke’s mystery novels, set in rural Louisiana, you haven’t lived – but if you’re a fan of Dave Robicheaux and his buddy Clete Purcel, make a stop in New Iberia Parish, do the James Lee Burke tour, and have breakfast where they would, at Victor’s Café.
Louisiana is all about seafood and you won’t find any better than at Fremin’s in the small town of Thibodeaux. There’s an old-school charm about the place, with heavy leaded windows and gracious table service but it’s the cuisine that’s truly magical. Try the soft shell crab Lafourche – the crab is fresh and sweet, but it’s the brandy-cream reduction that puts the whole thing over the top. www.fremins.net