Pick Your Passion
Creole and Cajun cuisine, jazz and cultural festivals
Swanky Southern style and hospitality
Get To Know Louisiana
Louisiana is a state that holds its own with a distinctive culture and lively atmosphere influenced heavily by its Cajun and Creole roots. Dive deep into Cajun cuisine, swinging jazz, and rich history amongst a backdrop of Creole architecture and the Mississippi River. Let’s jump into what should make Louisiana your next bus vacation.
A Brief History of Louisiana
In 1803, the U.S. made a $15 million property transaction that doubled the size of the country — a transaction commonly known as the Louisiana purchase. French and Spanish settlers in the region contributed to the formation of the Cajun and Creole people who populate the state today. The original French colonizers of Louisiana brought with them the tradition of Mardi Gras, which is celebrated annually in New Orleans before Lent. The tradition dates back thousands of years to the pagan celebrations of spring and fertility and was integrated with Christian traditions in ancient Rome. Translating from French to mean “Fat Tuesday,” partakers in the celebrations would binge on all the rich and fatty foods stored in their homes before several weeks of fasting during Lent. Today, Mardi Gras is a hallmark tradition in Louisiana, including a parade of floats, flying beads, and lively music.
There's no shortage of things to do in Louisiana.
A Look at Culture in Louisiana
A marriage of French, Spanish, African and Native American ethnic groups gave way to the Cajun and Creole cultures that heavily influence Louisiana today. Every aspect of Louisiana’s culture has been touched by facets of tradition from each ethnic group who make up the Cajun and Creole people, contributing to what could be argued as the most vibrant and distinctive culture in the U.S. This distinctive culture can be smelled while walking through the French Quarter in New Orleans, where the scent of freshly fried Boudin balls and sweet Beignets permeate throughout the French and Spanish architecture. Swanky, southern jazz music can be heard playing in clubs and bars down Bourbon Street. It’s impossible to escape the rowdy Cajun culture and warm hospitality in Louisiana — not that you’d ever want to. From its jazz and blues music, religiously celebrated Mardi Gras festival and Creole-French language to its Cajun cuisine, which gives the state its very own brand of southern fare, Louisiana is a truly unique place that everyone should experience at least once.
Must See List
- Bucket list item, Mardi Gras, the greatest free party on earth
- Family friendly Mardi Gras CAAWS Mystic Krewe of Mutts Parade
- See a rodeo, a lumberjack show, pig race, ride camels and enjoy live music at the State Fair of Louisiana in Shreveport
- Eat gumbo at The Louisiana Gumbo Festival in Chackbay
- Eat gumbo at The Bridge City Gumbo Festival
- Eat crawfish at the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival
- Eat gumbo at the World Championship Gumbo Cookoff
- Sample all local favorites at the South Louisiana Blackpot Festival & Cookoff
- Eat gumbo at the Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival
- Eat Po’boy’s Darrell’s in Lake Charles
- Eat the the Hallelujah Crab at Juban’s in Baton Rouge
- Eat Beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans
- Marilynn’s Place in Shreveport
- Eat the Catfish DeSiard at Waterfront Grill
- Eat meat pies at the Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen in Natchitoches
- Eat cracklins at The Best Stop
- Eat barbecued shrimp at Pascal’s Manale
- Eat strawberry pies at Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival
- Sip Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt New Orleans hotel
- Listen to live music at the French Quarter Festival
- Enjoy top jazz talent at Jazz Fest
- Eat French delights at the French Food Festival in Larose
- Enjoy 300,000 Christmas lights at the Christmas Festival of Lights in Natchitoches
Top Cities To Visit in Louisiana
Situated along the Mississippi River is the most renowned city in Louisiana and one of the most unique cities in the country, New Orleans. The city is dense with history and culture that you’ll likely not find anywhere else. Once here, make it your mission to head to the French Quarter as quick as you can. Undoubtedly the heart of New Orleans, the French Quarter is decorated with French and Spanish Creole architecture and buzzes around the clock with a vivacious atmosphere. If you’re seeking a fun social outing, head to Bourbon Street, where the bars, restaurants, and jazz clubs come alive when the sun goes down. Outside of the infamous nightlife in New Orleans, you’ll find a multitude of things to do and see, such as Jackson Square, a historic park lined with buildings from the 1700s where musicians and artists put their work on display.
On your trip to Louisiana, if you find yourself craving a contemplative experience among museums and art galleries, head to Louisiana’s capital, Baton Rouge. Another city along the Mississippi River, Baton Rouge is a beautiful city rich with history. Along with many restaurants and parks that add to the city’s pleasant aesthetics, you’ll find a multitude of historic sites to explore. Visit the Old State Capitol that now serves as a museum inside the castle-like building. Or immerse yourself in naval history at the USS KIDD Museum inside the retired World War II-era battleship.
Located in northwest Louisiana, Shreveport makes a great destination spot, too. When your bus pulls in, make your way to the Sci-Port Discovery Center for an interactive experience including science exhibits, an IMAX theatre, and a planetarium. Enjoy a collection of rare European and American art and literature amongst lush gardens at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery or live it up in swanky southern style on one of the main riverboat casinos along the Red River. The aforementioned cities are only starting points when planning your bus excursion to Louisiana. Cities like Lake Charles and Lafayette are other great places to explore, where classic southern fare, casinos, and historic intrigue are well worth your visit.
Vibrant and beautiful, Lake Charles in Southwest Louisiana is a dream for anyone with a taste for adventure, beautiful scenery, and delicious food. Indulge your cravings along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail and partake in the most outstanding Cajun cuisine imaginable. Wander along the Creole Nature Trail and enjoy some quality time on plush sands overlooking the water. Lake Charles is gambler’s paradise, so you can try your luck at one (or all!) of the area’s lively casinos. It’s also home to over 75 annual festivals, including Mardi Gras and the Louisiana Pirate Festival.
Alexandria is renowned for its diverse cultures and rich history. Families love the Alexandria Zoological Park, featuring over 500 animals and a fun play area for the kids. Delve into folk art at the Alexandria Museum of Art and view countless exhibitions at the River Oaks Arts Center. Learn about its place in American history at the Louisiana History Museum, and tour the Forts Randolph/Buhlow State Historic Site along the Red River and learn about its ties to the Civil War. A visit to the sobering Alexandria Holocaust Museum at the corner of Fourth and Elliott is also a must.
Attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Taking place about two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday), Mardi Gras is an iconic, annual celebration. Throw yourself into a parade of drink, food, and fun through the streets of New Orleans for an experience you won’t forget any time soon.
Marvel at the Dinosaurs of the Swamp
Likely the closest thing you’ll ever get to Jurassic Park, Louisiana offers many airboat gator tours throughout the state. Companies like Cajun Pride Swamp Tours in Laplace or Cajun Encounters Tour Company in Slidell offer airboat rides through the swamps of Louisiana, where prehistoric reptiles can be viewed in their natural habitat and fed at the edge of the boat — by professionals only, of course.
Explore the National World War II Museum
Out of the many museums throughout New Orleans, the National World War II Museum is one of the most impressive and expansive institutions in the country. Gaze up at actual fighter planes used in World War II suspended from the ceiling or step back in time at the 4-D theatre. The museum also features an interactive submarine, a vast collection of military memorabilia, and an eatery for you to enjoy.
When to Go
Without a doubt, the best time for travel to Louisiana (mainly New Orleans) is from February to May. These months are when New Orlean’s many festivals and Mardi Gras celebrations are in full effect and when the weather is most comfortable. If you’re looking to save some money on your trip to Louisiana, the best time to visit is during the summer or fall months when room rates are lowest. Just be aware when visiting in these seasons, the heat and humidity are at their most intense. Or for those looking to avoid the stifling heat and the Mardi Gras crowds, reserve your trip during December or January when the cities are calmed and the winters are mild.
Travel in Swanky Southern Style
Culture and history coupled with the liveliness and southern charm of Louisiana are sure to create for you a unique experience that you’ll never forget. Purchase your bus ticket and start planning your Louisiana adventure today.