Louisiana

Old State Capitol, Baton RougeOld State Capitol, Baton RougeThe State of Louisiana is bordered by Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, and Mississippi to the east, while the Gulf of Mexico defines its southern border. In 1682, Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, named Louisiana in honor of Louis XIV, King of France, when he claimed the territory. Many Louisiana cities have an eclectic multicultural mix because of the influx of French, Spanish, and African nationals who settled there in the 1800's.

Geography

The State of Louisiana comprises two distinct geographical areas, namely the uplands and the lower areas with their swamps, coastal marshlands, barrier islands, and beaches. The average elevation is between 10 and 59 feet and even Driskill Mountain at its highest point soars to just 535 feet.

Climate

Louisiana BeachLouisiana BeachThe State of Louisiana benefits from a humid sub-tropical climate with long, hot summers and short, mild winters. Daily variations are influenced by conditions in the adjacent Gulf of Mexico, which is no more than 199 miles away even at the most inland point. Rain is an all-year affair, with slightly more rain in the warmer months. Temperatures range from 72 to 90 degrees in summer, with extremes of up to 95 degrees near the ocean.  Winter temperatures are mild, although the mercury can drop down to almost 32 degrees in the northern parts.

The area is vulnerable to tropical cyclones, especially around New Orleans. Major Hurricanes can have disastrous effects in low-lying bayous, marshes, and inlets. The State of Louisiana averages close to 60 thunderstorm days a year.

The following are but a few of Louisiana's attractions:

Imperial Calcasieu Museum

The Imperial Calcasieu Museum in Lake Charles has been hosting visitors for over 45 years, who come to view both its fine exhibits and the famous 400 year old Sallier Oak that's survived lightening strikes and hurricanes. The Historic Exhibit is especially popular – you may need an hour or more to fully appreciate what life was like in Louisiana between the 1850's and the early days of the 20th Century. Period Rooms include a country kitchen, a parlor, a pharmacy, and even a barber's shop. You will also find information about the original American Indian inhabitants and the State's involvement in the Civil War. The Gibson and Gibson-Barham Libraries hold many historic documents, works of art, and prints, while the Gallery Annex is home to original work by local artists.

Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo

LionsLionsThe Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe hosts over 500 creatures of many different species, including owls, geese, tarantulas, cottonmouth moccasins, warthogs, tigers, lemurs, lions, and a whole lot more. Boat rides are available and offer a relaxing way to view the animals that prefer to stay away from popular walking trails, while wagon rides provide a perfect opportunity for the whole family to while away a lazy afternoon together. 

National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum in Louisiana details the American wartime experience through a series of deeply moving exhibits and powerful interactive displays. The WWII Veterans who staff the museum will help you appreciate the supreme sacrifices made by so many Americans as they guide you through exhibits detailing events that took place on the Pacific Islands and during the Normandy landings. Static exhibits include a Higgins Landing Craft, a Sherman Tank, Jeeps, Halftracks, and a fully restored C47 troop transport airplane. Feature movies run all day in the Malcolm Forbes Theater.

Hodges Garden

The Hodges Garden Paved Wilderness Area in Florien highlights the State's bounteous floral species that grow here. Families who love the great outdoors and nature's bounty will revel in the extraordinarily wide range of different trees, bushes, and flowering plants of every kind. While the landscaping in the southern area is spectacular, those who prefer more natural settings are drawn more frequently to the winding pathways of the northern gardens. Available adventure activities include hiking and cycling along the trails, boating, fishing, and even overnight camping.

Steamboat NatchezSteamboat Natchez

Steamboat Natchez

The Steamboat Natchez based in New Orleans provides fascinating two-hour steamboat rides from the Toulouse Wharf. Built in the tradition of sternwheelers like the Virginia and the Hudson, her engines date back to 1925 and her copper bell was once melted down from 250 silver dollars for the J D Ayres. 

Military Museum

The Louisiana Military Museum in Ruston seeks to preserve the memories of past battles and those who bravely gave their lives. It houses artifacts from many wars, including the Spanish American War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, the Vietnam conflict, Operation Desert Storm, and even today’s global war on terror. The Weapon Exhibits are especially popular, ranging from swords through to the latest automatic weapons. Especially poignant are personal wartime keepsakes, such as medals, diaries, Bibles, and love letters.

Antebellum Homes

Louisiana's Antebellum Homes, houses that were built before the Civil War, provide fascinating insights into the way of life of the wealthy few who held all the cards in those troubled times. Most are ornate, with huge Grecian columns, covered porches, ornate entrances, grand staircases, and high ceilings.

There is, indeed, a great deal to see and appreciate in historic Louisiana, which offers a perfect stopover on a grand American tour.

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