A TASTE OF GUMBO
The Best Way to Spend a Day in Each Southeast Louisiana Parish
Come visit Southeast Louisiana, one of America’s most memorable travel destinations and savor our rich history, live music, charming festivals.... and of course, the terrific food.
Ascension Parish is located right off I-10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, on both sides of the mighty Mississippi.
Rich in history, the Historic District of Donaldsonville is home to 50 blocks with some 640 buildings dating from 1865-1933. While you’re there, shop for antiques, get a good look of the Mississippi River at the Riverwalk, and visit the River Road African American Museum, which reserves and exhibits art, artifacts, and buildings as it is related to the history and culture of African Americans in the rural communities along the Mississippi River.
Enjoy great southern cooking at the Grapevine Café. Then, on the east side of the River, you can find shopping at Cabela’s and Tanger Outlet with over 65 outlet stores or enjoy warm beignets and café au lait, at The Cajun Village. It’s home to a multitude of unique boutique shops all housed in Historic Acadian Buildings, and two live alligators Big Boy and Nubby!
Right down the road is Ascension’s crown jewel, Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, where it’s home to some of the finest dining, accommodations, gardens, and home tours in the South. There are twenty-one cottages on the property, three restaurants from casual dining to fine dining, and 38 acres of beautiful gardens to spend time in. Come enjoy a mint julip from the Turtle Bar and tour the home.
The parish has many great local family restaurants, like The Cabin, Mike Anderson’s Seafood and Sno’s Seafood and Steakhouse. Gonzales is the Jambalaya Capital of the World and for more than 50 years has hosted the Jambalaya Festival every Memorial Day weekend. Check out the many festivals and events at TourAscension.com that are mostly hosted at Lamar Dixon Expo Center.
Ascension has a wide variety of accommodations including many brand hotels and bed & breakfasts. Ascension offers a gumbo of all cultures unique to the south. Come let Ascension’s little secret be your big adventure!
EAST BATON ROUGE
Spend a day in Louisiana’s Capital City of Baton Rouge. Start off downtown where the city center is filled with many historical attractions, lush community greenspaces and a riverfront destination to explore along the levee of the Mississippi River.
Make a stop at the Capitol Park Museum which houses several interactive exhibits on Louisiana culture, food, music and history. From there, cross the street and stroll through the Capitol Gardens to the Louisiana State Capitol for a look at the House and Senate Chamber ceilings made of Bagasse, a by-product of sugar cane. Venture up to its observation deck for an unbeatable view of Baton Rouge from the top of the tallest capitol building in the nation.
Lunch options include local hot spots like Capital City Grill and Poor Boy Lloyd’s, or try out the new “upscale food hall” concept at White Star Market, where groups can dine together while each choosing their own meals from a different local vendor.
An afternoon in Baton Rouge can be enjoyed by touring one of the city’s local craft breweries and/or distilleries. Tin Roof Brewery, a locally owned and operated brewery near the heart of downtown Baton Rouge, uses only the finest malts and the freshest hobs for their delicious and Southern-inspired, handcrafted brews. Tour the Tin Roof warehouse to see how these small business owners keep up with the rest of the brewing world and enjoy a taste of their brews in the tap room.
Or, spend your afternoon visiting The Rural Life Museum, home to an extensive collection of tools, vehicles, farming implements and more than 20 buildings used during the plantation era. Enjoy live demonstrations such as the production of cane syrup (during harvest time).
Baton Rouge comes alive at night. Stroll down historic 3rd Street and pop in one of its many bars and restaurants. Experience live music and food at the La Divina Italian Café, find a spot on a couch at one of the local listing rooms, or enjoy the music at the Oldest Blues Bar in Baton Rouge, Phil Brady’s.
Baton Rouge is the perfect destination for those looking for an Authentic Louisiana Experience! Discover more ways to #ExploreBatonRouge at VisitBatonRouge.com.
WEST BATON ROUGE
Located just minutes from Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge is “on the river, on the way” to one of the best experiences that South Louisiana has to offer.
Spend the morning taking a Guided Tour of West Baton Rouge Museum Grounds with open hearth cooking, spinning and weaving, blacksmithing, and woodworking demonstrations. The WBR Museum is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums and is included on the African American Heritage Trail. Learn about the rich sugar plantation heritage and Blues music culture of West Baton Rouge Parish while touring exhibits and eight historic buildings that interpret local history from the years 1830 – 1960’s including the French Creole Aillet House , Allendale Plantation Worker Cabins, the Arbroth Plantation Mercantile Store, the Reed tenant farmer’s shotgun house, a demonstration barn, a juke joint, and a 22‘ authentic model of a sugar mill that was built for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904.
After, stop by the Tourist Information Center and see Moby the 13 ft. 4 in. Alligator. Also obtain a list of the area restaurants from one of our Tourist Counselors and have lunch in West Baton Rouge.
Following your lunch, visit the Mississippi River Overlook and see the beautiful view of Downtown Baton Rouge. Then visit the Back Brusly Oak Tree. The majestic Oak tree is located at the intersection of West Mail Street and LaBauve Street, Brusly, LA. Estimated to be over 330 years old in the Bicentennial Year of 1976. Community gathering place for many years.
For your afternoon in West Baton Rouge, take a tour of the Addis Railroad Museum. One of the oldest structures in Addis, the beautiful building has had many different lives. Whether serving the public as a bank or a post office, the building has stood silent witness to the entire history of the town.
In West Feliciana you’ll drive through sugar cane fields into the rolling Tunica Hills. With the difference in terrain you will also see a different influence from French Catholic to English Episcopalian.
To start off the morning, visit one of West Feliciana’s earlier Plantation Homes built on Spanish Land Grants in the 1790’s. Be guided on a tour of The Cottage Plantation and its original out buildings. The Myrtles Plantation known for its mystery and hauntings and one of America’s most haunted houses. Each of these homes are located along US Highway 61.
Step into one of West Feliciana’s newer 1830’s plantation homes; Greenwood Plantation built from the columns up after a lightning strike burned the original home, Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site complete with 28 acres of formal gardens, statuaries, and alley of oaks, Audubon State Historic Site or Oakley Plantation, home to John James Audubon at the beginning of his Birds of America series and complete with a visitor center.
When you start getting hungry, West Feliciana has a great variety of restaurants like The Francis Southern Table & Bar, Audubon Cafe, Que Pasa, Magnolia Cafe and The Bluffs. Want a pre-arranged menu for your group? Call the St. Francisville Inn to make arrangements.
Spend the later part of the afternoon driving downtown through the Historic Main Street area and stopping in at the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum and Tourist Information Center. Here you can visit and pick up a downtown walking tour map, which will take you to landmarks including historic churches and cemeteries. Along the way stop into West Feliciana’s local antique, gift shops and galleries. Need a cup of coffee or glass of wine? Head down to The Birdman or The Wine Parlor.
In St. Francisville you will find a nice variety of Bed and Breakfasts as well as hotels. If you are able to spend the night in St. Francisville, enjoy rocking on a front porch and watching the fireflies.
Located in Livingston Parish is Denham Springs, a shopping destination. It is home to one of the most unique and successful Bass Pro’s in the United States and the Denham Springs Antique District was voted by Readers of AAA Travel Magazine as one of the top three areas to antique in the State of Louisiana. Just one exit down you will find Livingston’s newest development, Juban Crossing, with several retail stores, restaurants, and The Movie Tavern. For the more adventurous jump right over to Airborne Extreme Trampoline park or go floating down the Amite River at Tiki Tubing, also located in Denham Springs.
Next head to the town of Livingston to tour LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory). LIGO is used by the world scientific community and it is one of only two sites in the United States. Their recent discovery of gravitational waves garnered them the Nobel Prize for Science. The other facility is located in Hanford Washington. You can book appointments to tour the facility any day.
For lunch you can head to one of Livingston Parish’s delicious restaurants on the river (Hill Top, Charlies, just to name a few). They are only minutes away from Tickfaw State Park. Enjoy the great view and while eating some of the best seafood in South Louisiana.
Then visit the beautiful 1200-acre Tickfaw State Park. If you are a birding enthusiast you will have plenty to see. It was recently added to the Gulf Coast Birding Trail. You can also walk the beautiful trails along the Tickfaw River, do some canoeing, or even try your luck at some fishing.
In Tangipahoa, enjoy unique fairs and festivals, attend cultural events, explore local history on the back roads, and experience a catalog of fun and excitement year-round.
Tangipahoa’s Louisiana Treasures Museum features artifacts which were painstakingly collected through years of diving expeditions in the Manchac swamps and surrounding waterways. Ghosts of years past tell their stories through the glassware, arrowheads, relics, and legends described by Wayne Norwood while you visit the grounds of the museum.
In Louisiana’s Strawberry Capital, downtown Ponchatoula, get ready to enjoy the hidden treasures that abound in this quaint town, affectionately known as America’s Antique city. The perfectly preserved historic district incorporates storefronts offering a bounty of antiques, boutiques, and uniques! Be sure to snap a selfie next to Ponchatoula’s hottest social media spot – The Big Berry. Conveniently located off 1-55, just a short 45 miles northwest of New Orleans, this sweet spot is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Visit the 2nd weekend in April to experience the city’s hugely popular Strawberry Festival!
Near the Manchac area, visitors will find the nearly 80-year-old landmark known for its thick and thin catfish. Middendorf’s restaurant prides itself on preserving traditions while embracing modern amenities. Enjoy a steaming hot cup of gumbo or their famous thin fried catfish on the deck overlooking the calm waters of the divide between lakes Manchac and Pontchartrain.
Tangipahoa Parish is the ideal choice for a quick trip or a lengthy stay.
Between the historic Louisiana cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, New Orleans Plantation Country is one of America’s most beloved travel destinations.
Destrehan Plantation, an antebellum and Greek revival mansion, is the perfect place to begin your plantation country experience. Destrehan presents a plantation culture that focuses on the lives of the plantation owners and enslaved and free people of color who were instrumental in the construction
of the mansion. The Education Center houses an 1811 Slave Revolt exhibit and the Herbert J. Harvey, Jr. Legacy Room is a state-of-the-art museum that displays original artifacts and documents from the Destrehan family.
Next, make your way to the Historic Riverlands in Reserve, Louisiana. Through a variety of exhibits and a guided tour of Our Lady of Grace Church, the experiences of African Americans in the River Region during the Jim Crow era are explained and illustrated. The tour features Soul River, a musical journey of African American history that emphasizes how music genres were created based on what was going on in society.
Come lunch time, try recommendations of Truck Farm Tavern in St. Rose; Wayne Jacobs Smokehouse in LaPlace; Frenier Landing Restaurant & Oyster Bar in Laplace; or Clays Café in LaPlace.
Now satisfied from lunch, cruise the Manchac Swamp on a Cajun Pride Swamp Tour. Cajun Pride presents the ambiance of the swamp and sightings of alligators, exotic wildlife, and other amphibious habitats and species that reside in the swamp.
Spend the afternoon taking a scenic driving tour of the Mississippi River Road (Highway 18), which features a row of grand and elaborate plantations from Louisiana’s colonial and antebellum past. Along the River Road are: Whitney Plantation; Evergreen Plantation; Felicity Plantation; St. Joseph Plantation; Laura Plantation; Oak Alley Plantation. Countless stories live within the walls and grounds of the ten area plantations that make up New Orleans Plantation Country, which have held watch over the mighty Mississippi for centuries.
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East Baton Rouge
West Baton Rouge