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Old 10-13-2010, 10:39 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
63 posts, read 175,723 times
Reputation: 36

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Going to be making my annual trip to New Orleans this month. This time I want to get off the beaten path and see what the real Southern LA. is all about. Please help!! I'm looking for the best town, or region to visit where I can see the real bayou and get off the beaten path. Thanks!!
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Pereira, Colombia
1,289 posts, read 2,184,346 times
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I hope you have a rental car, you must if you are considering this. I guess I'd be curious to know what your maximum distance is in which you would travel, but since you said South Louisiana I will tell you good places in the Southwest and Southeast. Those two areas are very different but equally unique and interesting. If you can do both places my suggestion would be to see the whole Southeast as day trips out of New Orleans, but to get a hotel in the Southwest, since you will be 2.5 hours from New Orleans once you're done exploring.

Southeast: From New Orleans, the closest wetlands experience is Bayou Segnette (watch that spelling), which is a part of the Jean Lafitte National Park. To get there you cross the Mississippi River and head south down Barataria Blvd. in Marrero, the whole trip takes about 20 minutes from downtown New Orleans. At the park you can hike through trails inside the swamp, you will be 10 feet from alligators, egrets, and other wildlife. There is no admission, but it's just a day hike, nothing too big. Another place in the totally opposite direction is across Lake Pontchartrain, heading to Abita Springs. You may or may not have heard of Abita Beer, but this little town is where it is made. They give free brewery tours. You can check their website for details, but it's well worth it! You see where it's made and how it all came together, and then for over an hour you are allowed to help yourself to as many beers are you want, their treat. For lunch head to Gina's in the little town of Independence and get the most authentic Sicilian food you've ever tasted, which comes from the vibrant community that was sent there to farm strawberries in the late 1800's/early 1900's.

Southwest: Lafayette is about 2 to 2.5 hours from New Orleans, depending on how crappy Baton Rouge drivers want to be. If you want to explore this area, I'd use Lafayette as your base. There are many fine hotels but the most authentic experience is the Blue Moon guesthouse. It is an old Cajun cypress house that has been converted into a hotel, hostel rooms, and most importantly, a bar with live Cajun music. Anyone who stays at the hotel gets free admission to the shows and 2 free drinks. It's a steal, and a great place to meet travelers from all over the world. The Blue Moon is also right in the downtown area, so all of the nightlife is a stumble away.

Lafayette is cool but the towns around there give you the real experience. Head to Avery Island, near New Iberia, to see where Tabasco hot sauce is made, as well as walk through the large botanical gardens and wetlands there. Turtle's Bar in Henderson, which you could do coming or going since it is east of Lafayette off I-10, is a great place to rub elbows with the locals and have a drink on the water in front of the Atchafalaya Basin. A lot of these little towns have gorgeous old downtowns.. my personal recommendations are Breaux Bridge, Abbeville, New Iberia and St. Martinville. In terms of one place you MUST go, if you make it to the southwest, check out Suire's Grocery in Kaplan, which has been featured in the New York Times. It has the most authentic Cajun plate lunches that you may or may not ever heard of. You cant go wrong with anything but my top three favorites are the Turtle Sauce Piquante, the Shrimp and Egg Stew, and the Crawfish Pasta. Hope that helped!
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Old 10-16-2010, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Louisiana
1,743 posts, read 3,084,787 times
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You'll find some of the prettiest bayou country as you head southwest out of New Orleans past Des Allemends, through Raceland then on into Houma and Thibodaux. If you're still itching for more, ride up Route 1 through Donaldsonville, White Castle and Plaquemine. Take the back roads over to Grosse TĂȘte then up to Livonia; eat at Joe's.
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