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    The small towns of Louisiana are the backbone of Cajun heritage and they're where you can best discover the state's historic beginnings. Louisiana is home of the legendary Creole and Cajun spices as well as a unique Louisiana dance style and some of the friendliest people one can meet on a trip through the south.

    You’ll cross paths with alligators and other wildlife, dine at mom and pop barbecues, and cut a rug to the sounds of bayou music. You can also enjoy some of the many festivals that these lovely humble towns have to offer. The heart of Louisiana will leave you with a full belly and memories to last a lifetime.

    1

    Natchitoches

    An antique town full of American History and culture

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    Natchitoches is one of the oldest French settlements in Louisiana which boldly reflects its roots even today. There are several shopping centres on Front Street and the Historic District but none is as infamous as the oldest store, Kaffie-Fredrick General Mercantile, where you can appreciate the classic architecture and unique gifts to remember your visit.

    Educate yourself with a guided tour through the old French Fort St. Jean Baptiste and take a stroll through the Cane River National Heritage Trail. Satisfy your taste buds with Natchitoches' original cuisine, spicy meat pie, and end your evening listening to the sounds of trotting horses as you ride comfortably on the town's carriage tour.

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    2

    St. Martinville

    A home of poets and gators, parks

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    St. Martinville is the true definition of a Louisiana Bayou town with enchanting swamplands and towering trees. Spend hours touring through Evangeline Oak Park where you can enjoy a relaxing picnic under the famous tree made legendary by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, Evangeline.

    LeBlanc Swamp Tours offers an unmissable experience for those wanting the real Cajun experience where you'll spot alligators and turtles through swampland with beautiful moss-covered trees. Stop at Robert's Lounge to share a drink and a good conversation with the locals. 

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    3

    Breaux Bridge

    A hub full of music, antique shops, and Cajun cuisine

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    Breaux Bridge is a town vibrant with Cajun culture, known as the "crawfish capital of the world". If you visit this small town in May, be sure to catch the annual Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, offering an overload of signature spices and Cajun flavour.

    If you can't make the festival, you’ll be pleased to find the best po' boys, gumbo, seafood, and of course, boudin sausages at the quaint restaurant named Chicken on the Bayou. Once the sun sets over the serpentine Bayou Teche river, wet your whistle and get your feet moving at the infamous La Poussière cajun dancehall.

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    Foto: Amin Eshaiker (CC BY-SA 4.0) retusjert

    4

    Donaldsonville

    A pit-stop town for lovers of fine architecture

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    Donaldsonville is a quiet and historic town built along the Mississippi River. In the early 1800s, it was used as the pirate headquarters of Jean Lafitte due to its strategic location on the ‘Mighty Mississippi’. You can still walk the levee on this great river and watch the ships cruise in and out of the river, which makes for a peaceful sunset experience.

    Sift through the antique shops and marvel at the 18th-century architecture of the historic district. If you ever desired to see a New Orleans style cemetery (without the crowd), Ascension Catholic Cemetery is a sight to see. Grapevine Cafe is one of the favourite Creole eats in the town.

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    5

    Covington

    A modernised small town with the Louisiana touch

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    Covington is the perfect small town for younger travellers looking for fun days and nights in a rural setting. Get lost in the local and established artwork at St. Tammany Art Association, rent a bike at Brook's Bike Shop, and hit the scenic Tammany Trails.

    If you want to get close and personal with prehistoric creatures, you may be lucky enough to witness an alligator's first moments at Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery. Test your survival skills at the Futuristic scenario of the town's favourite escape room Escapology. When the day is winding to a close, shuck some shells at Half Shell Oyster House before closing the night with local and imported craft beers at Covington Brew-House & Columbia Street Tap Room.

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    Foto: Infrogmation of New Orleans (CC BY-SA 4.0) retusjert

    6

    Abita Springs

    A Louisiana town dedicated to the arts

    Abita Springs has a history dating back thousands of years as Native American land, and this heritage and history are proudly displayed for your viewing at the Abita Springs Trailhead Museum. If you want to indulge in more wacky museum exhibits, you can fulfil your desires at the Mystery House Museum. Continue your exploration, as well as enjoying a culinary experience, at the Abita Springs Art & Farmers Market.

    Before you leave, you must have a glass of wine at Milicevic Family Vineyard and tour the Abita Springs Brewery, home of the award-winning Abita Beer, brewed locally from the natural spring waters rumoured by the Native American Choctaw to have medicinal properties.

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    Foto: Saint Tammany (CC BY 2.0) retusjert

    7

    Bastrop

    A popular town for nature enthusiasts

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    Bastrop is best appreciated by spending a day – or even a full week – at Chemin-A-Haut State Park. The park offers everything you need to fully enjoy Louisiana's bayou as well as the comforts of home. The 503-acre park is riddled with hiking trails and offers fully furnished cabins. You can rent a boat, go camping, and take a dip in the in-ground swimming pool.

    If you take a short trip outside the town, you'll find the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge where you can continue your nature hikes and swampland kayaking. When hunger strikes, be sure to stop at one of the town’s oldest restaurants, Slayden's Barbecue, for an unforgettable meal.

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    8

    Houma

    Where swampland tours, art, and Cajun food are on the menu

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    Houma is a bayou town with character and fun for all. You'll have access to guided fishing tours, fan-boat adventures through the swamp, museums, and art galleries. Embrace the historic and well-maintained architectural beauty of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral. If you’re looking for some fun in the sun, then The SandBox is the place for you. It hosts weekly volleyball tournament and other activities, all within shouting distance to the outdoor bar. 

    The weekend is the perfect time to take in the Cajun music and meet the locals at The Jolly Inn Cajun Dance Hall and Big Mike's BBQ Smokehouse will have all of the Creole and southern cuisine you can handle.

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    Foto: dconvertini (CC BY-SA 2.0) retusjert

    9

    Lutcher

    Be welcomed with open arms at this peaceful rural town

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    Lutcher Louisiana is a town of rich history – a logging town that was founded on a sawmill. With a population of roughly 3,000 people, you'll surely be welcomed with southern hospitality. Sip wine at the 1800s-style The Carriage House Restaurant. Enjoy spectacular landscape and decadence at the Oak Alley Restaurant. Let the wind blow through your hair in true Louisiana fashion atop a flat-bottom fan-boat blazing through the swamplands.

    If you want a respectful lesson in Lutcher history, Louisiana's Creole Heritage Site is a must-visit. The saw-mill legacy is most vividly displayed during the Christmas season when the sky lights up from the Bonfire Festival topped off with a spectacular firework show.

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    10

    Eunice

    A musical town for musicians and music lovers

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    Eunice and cajun music history go hand in hand. Tour the 1920's art-deco Liberty Theatre where you can catch the Rendez-Vous des Cajuns every Saturday. It is a weekly radio show that broadcasts live traditional Cajun tunes (mostly in traditional French).

    Buy a handcrafted accordion at Marc Savoy's Music Center, where you'll also hear the sounds of the fiddle, steel guitar, piano and others serenade the evening audience. Serious history buffs will enjoy a stop into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame. Eunice is host to the largest Courir de Mardi Gras, celebrated annually, 2 weeks prior to Mardi Gras.

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    Colby Murray | Bidragsyter

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