Poverty Point World Heritage Site in northeast Louisiana was recently inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
It is the 22nd UNESCO site in the U.S. Other domestic sites include the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon, while international sites include Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids and the Roman Coliseum.
Poverty Point, a Louisiana Office of State Parks property named for a plantation that occupied the site in the antebellum period, is an ancient American Indian earthworks site that was created about 3,400 years ago. The network of six mounds, six concentric semi-elliptical ridges and a central plaza were used for residential and ceremonial purposes, and the landscape was the largest and the most elaborate of its time in North America.
In addition, recovered artifacts displayed at the on-site museum, such as projectile points and other stone tools made from raw materials that originated as far east as the Appalachian foothills of what is now Alabama and Georgia and as far north as the Tennessee and Ohio river valleys, indicate Poverty Point’s hunter-gatherer residents were part of an extensive American Indian trading network.
Already designated a Smithsonian Affiliate and a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior, Poverty Point is located near Epps about 50 miles east of Monroe. Visit www.PovertyPoint.us and LaStateParks.com for more information.
The Louisiana Craft Brewery Trail has grown from seven to 11 breweries statewide. Trail sites are Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, 40 Arpent Brewing Company in Arabi, Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, Chafunkta Brewing Company in Mandeville, Covington Brewhouse in Covington, Gnarly Barley in Hammond, Great Raft Brewing in Shreveport, NOLA Brewing Company in New Orleans, Parish Brewing Company in Broussard, Red River Brewing Company in Shreveport and Tin Roof Brewing Company in Baton Rouge. VisitLouisianaBrewTrail.com for details.
LouisianaTravel.com, the state’s primary consumer tourism website, now features a blog offering visitors information on popular travel interests, itinerary suggestions and insider tips. Contributors to the Only in Louisiana blog include staff from the Louisiana Office of Tourism as well as representatives from the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and convention and visitors bureaus statewide. Visit the blog at LouisianaTravel.com/blog.
The Louisiana Office of State Parks released an updated version of the Pocket Ranger, a mobile app for visitors to state parks and historic sites that is accessible at www.stateparkapps.com, on the App Store and Google Play using the keywords “Louisiana State Parks.” Facility improvements at Louisiana parks properties include:
- A disc golf course opening at Bogue Chitto State Park in March. (Lake Bistineau, Lake Claiborne, Lake D’Arbonne and Sam Houston Jones also offer disc golf.)
- Community gardening at Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site, with harvest going to the local food bank.
- A 12-mile off-highway vehicle trail in a 540-acre wooded area adjacent to South Toledo Bend State Park.
- Fontainebleau State Park cabin repairs, which are progressing on schedule. Replacement furnishings will be ordered in the spring, with an estimated reopening in summer.
- Lake Fausse Pointe cabins, which reopened on March 26 following repairs to cabin flooring and the nearby sewer system. The park offers 18 cabins, 10 of which are located on the Borrow Pit Canal and 8 on an inlet of Lake Fausse Pointe. The two-bedroom cabins each sleep up to 8 people, and offer full kitchens and bathrooms. With attached piers or boat docks, the cabins offer easy access to fishing and other watersports.
- Bayou Segnette State Park floating cabins are under construction with 11 of the 16 planned cabins framed and floating in the bayou.
Visit LaStateParks.com for details.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum opened in a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Natchitoches. More than 300 legendary Louisiana athletes, coaches and other sports figures are enshrined in the hall, and their stories are told via exhibits, artifacts, photos and interactive media. The museum also explores regional history from early American Indian civilizations to the present. Visit the museum website for details.
Atchafalaya River Basin visitors can enjoy a night in the swamp at one of 30 primitive campsites accessible only by boat. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources created the campsites on undeveloped, publicly owned properties to allow public camping without worrying about trespassing on private property. Sites are located in Iberville, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes. Find maps, GPS coordinates and safety tips at http://dothewildthing.dnr.la.gov.
Louisiana Tax Free Shopping, which refunds state sales tax on traditional retail purchases,has an app to aid international tourists. The app helps iPhone and Android users locate participating shops and tax refund centers. Redemption centers are located at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk in New Orleans, Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, The Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Capitol One National Bank in Lafayette and The Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets in Bossier City. Visitwww.louisianataxfree.com for details.
Louisiana State Parks and other government conservation agencies have createdtwo new paddle trails in northeast Louisiana. The Bayou Macon Paddling Trail connects Poverty Point Reservoir State Park with Poverty Point World Heritage Site in West Carroll Parish. The second trail on Bayou Bartholomew in Morehouse Parish accesses Chemin-A-Haut State Park and tours through 1,000-year-old cypress trees. Visit the Boating and Swimming section ofwww.explorelouisiananorth.org for information and maps.
The Zydeco Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway will soon have interpretive signs to mark its route. The byway—one of 17 statewide—stretches through St. Landry, Acadia and Evangeline parishes. Highways along the byway will be marked with large blue signs featuring an artist’s depiction of an accordion player. Other Louisiana Scenic Byways that either have or will soon receive themed interpretive signage include: Myths and Legends Byway through Allen, Beauregard and Vernon parishes; the Boom or Bust Byway through Caddo, Bossier, Webster and Claiborne parishes; the Flyway Byway in Jefferson Davis Parish; and theBayou Teche and Wetlands byways that run along the corridors of Bayous Teche and Lafourche.
Bayou Teche Corridor visitors now have an enhanced brochure to guide their exploration. The tourist commissions in St. Landry, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes partnered to redesign and expand the corridor brochure, which is now available in French. The 125-mile bayou connects Port Barre, Arnaudville, Breaux Bridge, St. Martinville, New Iberia, Franklin and Patterson. For details, visitwww.BayouTecheCorridor.com.
Two new distilleries in south Louisiana offer tours and products made with Louisiana ingredients, and a third distillery is under construction.
- Donner-Peltier Distillers in Thibodaux offers six rum, whiskey, vodka and gin products. Facility tours are offered on Saturdays or by appointment for groups, while a tasting room and gift shop are open Monday through Saturday. Visit www.dpdspirits.com for details.
- Louisiana Spirits is home to Bayou Rum and is said to be the largest privately owned rum distillery in the U.S. The factory sits on 22 acres of land in Lacassine and features a 109-year-old farmhouse. The factory is open Monday through Saturday, and guided tours and tastings are offered Tuesday through Saturday. Visit www.bayourum.com for details.
- Cane Land Distilling has begun construction on a 60,000-case capacity rum and rhum distillery in Baton Rouge. The facility on River Road will use Louisiana ingredients to craft their liquors and will include a visitor center and tasting room when it opens later this year. Visit www.canelandrhum.com for details.
Megabus.com, a national express bus company, has started daily bus service connecting Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Houston, with one-way prices ranging from $14 to $27. The service offers three trips per day between downtown Baton Rouge, the New Orleans French Quarter and downtown Houston. Trips take less than two hours between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and less than five hours between Baton Rouge and Houston. Riders can enjoy free Wi-Fi service. Visitwww.megabus.com for details.
Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, the state’s first and largest craft brewery, has opened a new visitor center and brewhouse. The new center will offer free product samples and tours including guided and self-guided itineraries. The additions are part of a $15 million expansion. For details visitwww.Abita.com.
Alexandria Zoological Park is expanding its Land of the Jaguar exhibit to span three acres and include rivers, waterfalls, lush vegetation and structures reflecting South American historical architecture. The expansion is said to be one of the most extensive in the zoo’s 87-year history. For details visitwww.thealexandriazoo.com.
The TABASCO factory on Avery Island now offers tastes of Cajun cuisine and culture as part of its tour offerings. The food tours include six tastings and are held Tuesday through Thursday at 1 p.m. The tours last about three hours and are $49.99 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 337.373.6139. TABASCO is also undergoing renovations and expansion, a new visitors center, a pepper plant greenhouse and an expanded behind-the-scenes factory tour will be accessible to visitors in 2015. Visit www.tabasco.com for more information on the pepper sauce factory’s offerings.
Jungle Gardens on Avery Island offers free touring information by smartphone in English and French. Guests can access assistance including recorded commentary, maps, photos and videos, depending on the visitor’s type of handheld device. The app can be accessed athttp://myoncell.mobi/3376064063. Visit www.junglegardens.org for details.
NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale will host New Orleans’ first INDYCAR series race April 12. INDYCAR is the premier open-wheel racing series in the U.S. The park’s 2.75 mile road course is just 14 miles southwest of downtown New Orleans. Organizers are already planning three days of festivities leading up to race day. For details visit www.nolamotor.com.
L’Auberge Casino and Hotel Baton Rouge, which overlooks the Mississippi River just south of Louisiana State University, has a 30,000-square-foot gaming floor with 1,500 slot machines and 51 table games. Amenities include 205 guest rooms, a multipurpose event center that can accommodate concert or banquet seating for up to 1,400 people and several dining and drink options. Contact Christy Chachere with Visit Baton Rouge at 225.382.3577 or[email protected] for details.
Joie de Vivre Café is downtown Breaux Bridge’s newest restaurant and hub for family-oriented culture and live music. The venue hosts Cajun jams every Saturday, a children’s Cajun jam on the last Sunday of each month and monthly zydeco dance house parties, film showings, poetry readings and art exhibits. Visitwww.cajuncountry.org for details.
The Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau has developed a St. Mary Parish travel guide app. It includes information on accommodations, dining, attractions and events; guides for birding and history enthusiasts; walking tours in Morgan City and Franklin; recommendations on stops along the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway; and social media tabs to connect to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. The app is free and available for iOS and Android.
St. Emma Plantation near Donaldsonville is open for tours by appointment. The 1847 Greek Revival antebellum mansion on La. Hwy. 1 was home to one of the region’s largest sugar plantations in the mid-19th century and remains furnished with an extensive collection of Empire-period antiques and furnishings. For details visit www.tourascension.com.
Whitney Plantation in Edgard recently opened to the public. Visitors can tour the elaborate mansion and period outbuildings on the site, and extensive information on the slaves who lived and worked at the plantation is offered. For details visit www.whitneyplantation.com.
Prehistoric Park in Henderson is south Louisiana’s first dinosaur-themed attraction. It features two dozen life-sized fiberglass and steel dinosaurs in 12 acres of simulated environments accessed by a half-mile sidewalk. For details visitwww.prehistoric-park.com.
Ardoyne Plantation near Houma is one of the largest and most elaborate remaining examples of rural Victorian Gothic architecture in Louisiana and is open for public tours. The sixth-generation sugar plantation mansion, where family descendants reside and share stories, is filled with original furniture and antiques. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places. Visithttp://ardoyneplantation.com for details.
Greenwood Gator Farms near Houma offers daily tours. The farm is home to thousands of alligators of all sizes, and between 5,000 and 10,000 alligators are hatched there annually. Tours are available to individuals and groups, and a pavilion on-site can host special events. Visit www.greenwoodgatorfarm.com for details.
Regional Military Museum in Houma recently moved to an adjacent facility that doubles its exhibit area. The new building features military aircraft, vehicles, uniforms and weapons. Notable items include one of two of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Air Force One planes from 1956 and three replica HAWK missiles. Many of the museum’s docents are military veterans. For more information visitwww.regionalmilitarymuseum.com.
The Jeanerette Museum experience now includes a 2.5-mile walking tour. Maps, available from the museum and the Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, guide visitors along historic Main Street to view ornate homes and local businesses. For details visit www.iberiatravel.com.
A new rookery has opened at Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island near New Iberia. Rip’s Rookery includes five islands and hosts five species of wading birds amidst three acres of wetlands inhabited by alligators. The rookery is adjacent to the 25-acre botanical garden and nature retreat that was the summer home of acclaimed actor Joseph Jefferson. Admission to the rookery is free. Visit www.RipVanWinkleGardens.com or call 337.359.8525 for details.
The Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission and its media partner, Firefly Digital, have launched an online magazine, Allons, to market Lafayette tourism in a way they believe is both interactive and unique. Allons provides a variety of insights into places, sounds and attractions to those interested in visiting Lafayette. Visit www.lafayettetravel.com for details.
The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino has opened adjacent to L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles. The $700 million property features 740 rooms and suites, 30,000 square feet of meeting space, an 18-hole golf course, eight dining options and many retail offerings. Visit www.goldennugget.com/lakecharles for details.
The Isle of Capri Casino Hotel in Lake Charles received a $15 million Tower Hotel renovation, which included nine parlor suites, 240 junior suites, the hotel lobby, the Lakeside Ballroom and fitness center. The hotel lobby now has a “steampunk” design inspired by the Victorian era, which combines artisan-designed wood, metal and leather furniture. The Lakeside Ballroom offers more than 4,000 square feet of space and breaks down into four smaller rooms to fit specific group needs. Visit http://lake-charles.isleofcapricasinos.com for details.
L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles has completed a $20-million hotel room renovation project, unveiling 754 renovated luxury rooms and suites. Renovations include the addition of two new room categories—royale and marquis suites—which are larger in size than luxury class rooms. They are decorated with stately furnishings and elegant artwork from Louisiana artists. Visitwww.llakecharles.com for details.
The Brimstone Museum and Henning Cultural Center in Sulphur unveiled a permanent exhibit detailing the history of the Sulphur Mines, the West Calcasieu Parish mining community and the Frasch mining process. The exhibit also showcases families who contributed to economic growth in the region, and a module gives visitors the opportunity to add business locations and points of interest that represent Sulphur’s history. The museum also functions as a local tourist information center. Visit www.brimstonemuseum.org for details.
The Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau now offers a free app available in the App Store or Google play that allows users to access an area calendar of events. Users can filter by category and subscribe for alerts based on personal interests. For details visit www.visitlakecharles.org/apps.
Calcasieu and Cameron parishes’ Creole Nature Trail All-American Road has a GPS Ranger handheld video tour and smartphone application. The free app is available for download from the App Store or Google Play for Android. The Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau headquarters, located at 1205 N. Lakeshore Dr. in Lake Charles, also lends GPS units at no cost. The tour app is available in English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. An English closed-captioned version is also available. Visitwww.VisitLakeCharles.org or call 800.456.7952 for details.
Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point will open this spring, offering interactive displays, colorful dioramas and exhibits on the marshes, swamps, wildlife, food and music of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes. For details visitwww.visitlakecharles.org/adventurepoint.
The newly opened Pintail Wildlife Drive Boardwalk offers stunning views of the marshlands of Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. The boardwalk features expanded areas ideal for photography and viewing in locations known for waterfowl. The walk also provides several free viewing scopes and an interpretive kiosk at the entrance. The boardwalk is located at 1428 La. Hwy. 27 near Bell City. Visit www.CreoleNatureTrail.org call 337.598.2216 for details.
Lake Charles’ Charpentier Historic District now has an app for three self-guided tours in English and close-captioned as well as in French, Spanish and German. The 40-block area is on the National Register of Historic Places. Choose from a 30-minute, one-hour or ghost-themed tour. For details visitwww.visitlakecharles.org/historic.
The Lady of the Lake, a three-deck yacht in Lake Charles, is available for corporate functions, special events and conferences. The boat can accommodate 150 people. Dinner cruises are also in the planning stages. Visitwww.LakeCharlesDinnerCruises.com or call 337.912.0342 for details.
The Art Shop at 706 Ryan St. in Lake Charles offers bicycle rentals for touring more than 40 blocks of the city’s architecturally rich Charpentier Historic District. Bikes are available in a variety of styles and prices and include locks, helmets and maps of the area. Call 337.564.6403 for details.
Kayak Rentals offers an up-close way to experience the Calcasieu River near Lake Charles. Paddlers can travel from the West Fork to Sam Houston Jones State Park, where they will find picnic, pavilion and restroom facilities. A variety of kayaks are available, and prices include support gear and transportation to the drop-off location. Rentals are available daily. Call 337.540.3925 for details.
Top Rod Fishing Charters now offers coastal and inland fishing originating out of Lydia in Iberia Parish. Captain Elvis Jeanminette, a professional angler for 20 years, will take participants out to catch bass, redfish and speckled trout. For details visit www.toprodfishing.com.
Iberia Parish visitors can access electronic and printed tools for assistance before and during their travels. The Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau recently launched a blog at www.iberiatravel.com and added an app with attraction listings and maps to the website. The agency’s printed pocket guide is now available in French, as is a section of the main website.
Four New Iberia locations will soon have interpretive panels featuring several aspects of the town’s history. The panels will be located at Shadows-on-the-Teche Plantation, Epiphany Episcopal Church, Bayou Teche Museum and City Hall. The local convention and visitors bureau has also redesigned its pocket guide and Main Street walking tour brochures. Visit www.iberiatravel.com for details.
The recently unveiled improvements to the public boat launch at New Iberia City Park include new 90-foot piers, new restrooms and enhanced parking, lighting and signage. The launch into Bayou Teche is located on Parkview Drive. For details visit www.iberiatravel.com.
Bayou Teche Museum in New Iberia will host a special exhibit featuring the works of noted Louisiana artist George Rodrigue Jan. 15 through April 15. Rodrigue, a New Iberia native who died in 2013, is known worldwide for his Blue Dog series of paintings and his early works, which were primarily landscapes depicting Cajun Louisiana in the 19th and early 20th centuries. For details visitwww.bayoutechemuseum.org.
An extensive facelift of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airportcontinues, with $300 million in modernization projects completed thus far. Improvements include the creation of a consolidated rental car facility that will increase rental inventory to 1,800 cars. Airport officials also expanded Concourse D to add six new gates, put new flight information, display boards and free Wi-Fi in the terminal and renovate/add restrooms, signage and other amenities while redoing the terminal’s exterior decor. Additional improvements scheduled include the creation of a new state-of-the-art terminal on the north side of the property. The improvements are already paying off, as several carriers have added or will soon add flights to domestic destinations. For the fourth consecutive year, the airport has experienced increased passenger volume and is considered one of the fastest growing airports in the U.S. Visit www.flymsy.com for details.
TransitHub is a free mobile app that provides New Orleans residents and visitors with a way to track public transit in real time. The goal is to improve rider experiences and to make streetcar and bus travel more convenient. Visitwww.transithub.com for details.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority’s new Loyola Streetcar Line runs from the Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street along Loyola Avenue. The $45 million line is about a mile and a half long and includes stops near the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The project is expected to attract new investment along Loyola Avenue. The authority also recently announced an anticipated French Quarter streetcar expansion. That 2.5-mile segment will run from Canal Street along Rampart Street until Rampart changes to St. Claude Avenue and continue to Press Street in the Bywater neighborhood. In addition, a segment will turn off St. Claude Avenue down Elysian Fields Avenue toward the river and tie in with the existing Riverfront streetcar line. A map of the line is available atwww.norta.com.
A new berthing agreement between the Port of New Orleans and Norwegian Cruise Lines means at least one ship will sail regularly out of New Orleans through 2018. For details on excursions visit www.ncl.com/port/new-orleans/cruises.
City Sightseeing New Orleans is the newest way to explore the Big Easy—via open-top double-decker buses. The tours stop at major attractions including Jackson Square, the French Market, the Audubon Insectarium, the National World War II Museum, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Bourbon Street, Basin Street Station and Mardi Gras World. One-, two- and three-day passes are available, and tours are offered in seven foreign languages via headsets. Visitwww.CitySightseeingNewOrleans.com for details.
French Quarter Bike Tours has added four-wheeled scooters, wheelchairs, rolling walkers and infant strollers to its pool of available rentals. The company is located at 941 Decatur St. and is open daily. Visitwww.frenchquarterbiketours.com for details.
The National World War II Museum in New Orleans opened the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. This $35 million structure showcases the military weaponry and industrial requirements undertaken during World War II and was designed to accommodate six airplanes used in the war. In addition to the machinery on display, many personal war stories are highlighted through interactive exhibits within the pavilion. The museum also opened Campaigns of Courage, a 31,000-square foot interactive pavilion interpreting the experience of the average American fighting the war. Visit www.nationalww2museum.org for details.
The Audubon Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas recently opened a Maya Reef exhibit where visitors can snorkel and dive in a recreated Mayan Reef. The plaza in front of the Aquarium is being renovated and will be complete with a water feature by 2015. Next year, the institute’s Audubon Zoo is getting a lazy river to expand the Cool Zoo, which will wrap around an expanded elephant exhibit. A ropes course will be added near the giraffe exhibit, and a petting zoo will be added as well. For details visit www.auduboninstitute.org.
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum, the award-winning museum of culinary culture and history, has reopened in its new location, the former Dryades Market on O.C. Haley Boulevard. Plans for the new facility include the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Leah Chase Louisiana Gallery and the Gallery of the States, which will feature culinary exhibits about the South and the District of Columbia. For details visit www.southernfood.org.
The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk recently reopened its doors as the nation’s first outlet center in the heart of a downtown area. The facility underwent a $70 million renovation that expanded its footprint nearly 250,000 square feet. The space is leased by a mix of national and local retailers including Last Call Studio by Neiman Marcus, Coach Factory Store and Kenneth Cole. For details visitwww.riverwalkmarketplace.com.
Irvin Mayfield’s New Orleans Jazz Orchestra has broken ground on its New Orleans Jazz Market. The new facility in the former Gators Department Store will serve as a performance space and feature music education experiences, a New Orleans jazz archive and tributes to current and past jazz masters. The market is scheduled to open in the spring of 2015. For details visitwww.thenojo.com.
The New Orleans Northshore region—specifically Tangipahoa, St. Helena, St. Tammany and Washington parishes—established the Louisiana Quilt Trail. Visitors can take a self-guided tour and view nearly 100 painted quilt blocks that adorn residential and commercial exteriors. Each square contains important facts and historic events and occasions associated with its location. Tour brochures are available at local tourist commission offices in parishes on the trail or by visitingwww.LouisianaQuiltTrail.com. There is also an official Quilt Trail Shoppe at 146 W. Oak St. in downtown Ponchatoula.
The City of Opelousas has a free walking/driving tour brochure for its historic downtown area. The guide identifies nearly 100 significant homes, businesses and historic structures and offers users a fold-out map. The guide is available at the Opelousas Tourist Information Center in Le Vieux Village, the St. Landry Parish Welcome Center on Interstate 49, the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center and the Opelousas Public Library.
San Francisco Plantation recently reopened to visitors following a more than $1 million restoration project, the circa 1849 antebellum plantation’s most extensive restoration in 40 years. The mansion on the Mississippi River in Reserve received new paint, a new roof and front gallery repairs, as well as a foundation stabilization project that releveled a sagging corner of the structure. For details visit www.sanfranciscoplantation.org.
St. Landry Parish has two new antique shops located in historic small downtowns. REvisited Antiques and Adornments opened in Grand Coteau, and offerings include carpets, china and jewelry. Remember When Antiques opened in Sunset, with home décor and vintage furniture among its inventory. For details visit www.cajuntravel.com.
The St. Tammany Tourist and Convention Commission recently launched two new apps for local adventure seekers. The Play Northshore app focuses on outdoor activities, and the Eat Drink Enjoy app focuses on local eateries, craft breweries and wineries. For details visit www.louisiananorthshore.com.
The St. Tammany Fishing Pier in Slidell has reopened after renovations, offering anglers access to an artificial reef in Lake Pontchartrain for a minimal fee. The pier is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily during summer months and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during winter. For details visit www.louisiananorthshore.com.
Muddy Bottoms ATV and Recreational Park offers all-terrain vehicle riding plus rental cabins and RV and camping areas near Sarepta. The 5,000-acre site includes an on-site general store, a food court, a water playground, an amphitheater and a bath house. For details visit www.MuddyBottomsATV.com.
Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium is reopen after a year of extensive renovations. Additions include new seating and expanded air conditioning. The venue was the home of Louisiana Hayride, a 1950s and ’60s radio-broadcast concert series that is considered the launch point for the careers of artists such as Elvis Presley, Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Cash. Visitors can tour the Auditorium, which also is used for special events. Visitwww.shreveportmunicipalauditorium.com for details.
Country Lane by Star C Ranch is a new RV and bed-and-breakfast facility in Tangipahoa Parish that caters to horse enthusiasts. The site in Roseland offers camping, a pool and more than 20 miles of horse riding trails spread throughout 485 acres. Visitors can use guides and the facility’s horses for trail rides, or they can board their own horses via on-site stalls and paddocks. Visitwww.StarCRanch.net for details.
The Bayou Country Children’s Museum in Thibodaux offers children ages 2 to 12 hands-on exhibits about sugar cane, alligators, Mardi Gras and the pirate Jean Laffite, among other subjects. Visit www.bccm.info for details.
Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie has opened a new slave cabin exhibit that demonstrates what life was like for the plantation’s field laborers. The exhibit consists of five structures (with a sixth under construction) that contain period-accurate furnishings and artifacts tied to laborers’ daily lives. Those interested in previewing the new exhibit can watch a video about it atwww.oakalleyplantation.com/new-exhibit-slavery-at-oak-alley.
The Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a brochure and website offering a self-guided tour of 26 sites featured in the first three seasons of Duck Dynasty. Visit www.duckcommandertour.com for details. The brochure is available at the CVB.
Spirit’s Food and Friends, an institution in Alexandria’s Garden District since 1967, has reopened in a new facility a few blocks from its original Texas Avenue location. The new location offers a larger dining room and bar, and the menu still offers a mix of Louisiana and American cuisine and live music three nights weekly. For details visit www.spiritscenla.com.
Wildwood Pizza recently opened on Texas Avenue in Alexandria. Pizzas are made with homemade dough and are cooked in a wood-fired oven using local woods. For details visit www.wildwood-pizza.com.
The family-owned Bistro Byronz has opened a second Baton Rouge location. A longtime Baton Rouge staple that re-opened nine years ago offering Louisiana cuisine with inspirations from France and New York City and signature cocktails in the Mid-City neighborhood is now also located on Perkins Road at Willow Grove. For details call 917.370.0906.
After eight months of renovations, Café Reconcile has reopened its doors to the community. Though the menu is the same, the space has changed drastically. Guests will find a larger dining room, an outside courtyard and patio and the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Banquet Hall on the second floor. Visitwww.cafereconcile.org for details.
Marti’s Restaurant on the corner of Rampart and Dumaine streets reopened its doors in October 2013, offering hearty bistro fare in the classic French Quarter space. Except for a few core dishes, such as raw oysters, roasted oysters and aplateau de fruits de mer, the menu will change seasonally. Visitwww.martisnola.com for details.
The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, pays tribute to its storied past while celebrating the future with its new Fountain Lounge, a raw bar offering live music, creative cocktails and inventive small plates. The new lounge at The Roosevelt New Orleans, which is adjacent to the famous Sazerac Bar, celebrates its history by returning to its original name, Fountain Lounge, and features live entertainment with a focus on super premium and highly sought-after wines by the glass. Visit www.therooseveltneworleans.com for details.
Houmas House Plantation recently opened The Inn at Houmas House, a complex of several upscale, multi-unit bed-and-breakfast cottages adjacent to the antebellum mansion and its gardens. The cottages depict historic structures that were once at nearby Uncle Sam Plantation. Rooms offer large beds, Old World furnishings, marble bathrooms and porch areas. Visit www.houmashouse.com for details.
Southern Hotel reopened in downtown Covington after a multimillion-dollar restoration. The hotel originally opened in 1907 but closed in the 1960s. Since then it has housed several other businesses. After three years of extensive renovations, it offers 42 luxury guest rooms, a 2,400 square-foot ballroom, a meeting space, a fine dining restaurant, an upscale bar, a courtyard, a pool and a fitness center. Lobby and room décor include paintings, sculptures and historic photographs of Covington. Visit www.southernhotel.com for details.
The Cajun Cabin Guest Cottage is a new overnight offering in Arnaudville that is within walking distance to Bayou Teche, shopping and restaurants. Amenities include a barbecue and fire pit, a stocked refreshment area and assistance in setting up activities and tours in Cajun Country. For details visitwww.facebook.com/thecajuncabinguestcottage.
Oak Village RV Parks offers 22 recreational vehicle slots for visitors to New Iberia. The park has full water, electric and wastewater hookups, laundry facilities and showers. It is pet-friendly and conveniently located near shopping and dining options in the city. Oak Village is at 6020 Lee Station Road. Call 337.577.5001 or visit www.OakVillageRVParks.com for details.
Delcambre North Pier Marina offers 28 recreational marina slips at the Port of Delcambre in Iberia Parish. The marina is located at 307 Isadore St. Call 800.884.6120 extension 5 or visit www.NorthPierMarina.com for details.
L’Banca Albergo, “The Bank Hotel,”is the newest overnight provider indowntown Lake Arthur. Located in a former bank building, the property is a throwback to old New Orleans architecture, and the bank’s former vault is now a wine cellar. The hotel has eight luxury suites, and each room is personalized by name rather than number. Visit www.labankhotel.com for details.
The Sanctuary Bed and Breakfast has reopened in Grand Coteau. It offers three rooms for short and extended stays, and the inn can accommodate small groups for special events. Call 337.654.5272 for details.
The Cajun RVera Resort in New Iberia will open water features this summer. New amenities will include a heated pool with a swim-up bar, a splash pad and a lazy river. Visit www.cajunrvera.com for details.
The W Hotel on Poydras Street is transforming into a Le Méridien hotel as it undergoes a $29 million renovation debuting in December. The hotel will feature a Le Méridien lobby experience, 410 renovated guestrooms, a destination restaurant and bar and a redesigned second floor meeting space. For details visitwww.hotelneworleansdowntown.com.
The Sheraton New Orleans is undergoing a $5 million renovation that includes its George Rodrigue and Jack Robinson galleries. This renovation follows last year’s $50 million renovation. For details visit www.sheratonneworleans.com.
The Hamilton House Inn is the newest provider in West Monroe’s historic Cottonport District and Antique Alley. The inn, located at 318 Trenton St., offers five unique suites, spa-like bathrooms and a gourmet breakfast. Call Tonya Hamilton at 318.366.2412 or visit www.HamiltonHouseInn.com for details.
After a recent renovation, the Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Convention Center features new wallpaper, carpets, sofas, chairs and curtains in its 192 rooms and 10 suites. The lobby also underwent a major transformation in 2012 and welcomes flexible seating, free wireless Internet access and more. The décor offers a modern feel with Marriott’s platinum design package, while the lobby reveals the building’s historical significance by showing off exposed bricks and beams. (The building was once a sugar and molasses factory.) Visit www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/msyci-courtyard-new-orleans-downtown-iberville for details.
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans completed renovations of its Maison Orleans wing (the hotel’s exclusive club level) in addition to its Ritz-Carlton Suite (the hotel’s Presidential Suite). This makeover came shortly after the 2011 renovation of the hotel’s 415 deluxe guest rooms and 36 executive and junior suites. Visitwww.ritzcarlton.com for details.