New Orleans serves up an abundance of festivals, restaurants, all night bars, architecture, and incredible music, making it a blast for a weekend getaway. Those interested in delving deeper into Louisiana's history and culture will be rewarded for finding the time for further exploration outside the city.
Louisiana is known as the "Sportsman's Paradise" with an abundance of parks, forests, and lots of water where popular activities like fishing and canoeing are pursued. The Annual Bassmasters' Classic fishing competition takes place in the bayous and marshes south of the city every few years and the city has two key natural exhibits - the Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Zoo.
On the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, the second largest salt lake in the U.S., you'll find trails for biking and hiking such as the 31-mile St. Tammany Trace trail.
To get a feel for pre-Civil War Louisiana, head out the Highway 10 from New Orleans and visit the plantations on the River Road. Lining the banks of the Mississippi River, these mansions were built during the time of slavery when huge profits were reaped from sugar. You can book an overnight stay in a mansion in St. Francisville, located about thirty miles north of Baton Rouge, to get first hand experience in how wealthy Southerners once lived.
For some great Creole and Zydeco, visit Lafayette, the heart of Cajun country. About an hour and a half from New Orleans, this is a fantastic place to try a variety of authentic Cajun restaurants.
Take swamp boat tours and check out the distinctive wildlife and get up close to the Louisiana alligators. At Acadian Village, you can experience a 19th Century Cajun bayou community.
The state capitol of Baton Rouge is about 90 minutes from New Orleans by car. Baton Rouge is a thriving city with college-town flair, with both LSU and Southern University located here. Baton Rouge's semi-tropical weather also makes it perfect for golf, tennis and getting out on the river.
Baton Rouge has plenty of quality dining options for any type of group too, including great Cajun/Creole fare and beer selection at The Chimes, pizza at the fifty-year-old pizza parlor The Pastime, and the International Marketplace buffet at the Casino Rouge. There are also many excellent seafood restaurants as well, so be sure to ask about local favorites.