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Louisiana’s Unique History & Influences

Louisiana is where Jazz and zydeco music originated, Cajun cuisine was concocted, where industries flourished and where the Civil Rights Movement made an impact. Learn about Louisiana’s unique and storied history told at countless historic sites, museums and venues around the state.

You can’t find another U.S. state that can say it’s the birthplace of multiple musical genres that still thrive today. Hear the sounds of Cajun music at famous venues like Buck and Johnny’s, Fred’s Lounge and Mulate’s, dedicated to preserving Cajun culture. Over in Mandeville, the Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall is the oldest Jazz Social Hall in America, built in 1895 and hosting many famed performers over the years. Also located in Mandeville, Ruby’s Roadhouse turns out tunes in a building more than 100 years old, and has been known as a popular venue since the 1930’s. For jazz enthusiasts, a trip to New Orleans would not be complete without experiencing live music at Tipitina’s – founded in 1977 and inspired by the song “Tipitina” by Professor Longhair, who played at the venue until his passing in 1980. And there is no more traditional a jazz haunt than Preservation Hall in the French Quarter, offering true New Orleans jazz since 1961.

Cabildo in New Orleans

Delve into Louisiana’s history at museums across the state covering topics for every interest. The Cabildo, the site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremonies in 1803, features the three floors of exhibitions covering the history of Louisiana through rare artifacts, documents, paintings and more. Visitors can check out the “From ‘Dirty Shirts’ to Buccaneers: the Battle of New Orleans in American Culture” exhibit or peruse the works of famed artist, Clementine Hunter. On the opposite side of St. Louis Cathedral, The Presbytère  became part of the Louisiana State Museum in 1911. Its “Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana” exhibit features parade floats, costumes and historical throws as well as rare glimpses into the secretive social club society from which modern-day Mardi Gras krewes evolved. The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame honors household-name inductees such as Archie Manning and Shaquille O’Neal, plus other notable athletes like New Orleans-born Audrey “Mickey” Patterson, the first African-American woman to win an Olympic medal. A Super Bowl XLIV commemorative football signed by the Saints after their 2010 victory, the fastest car in the world in 1963 (a souped-up Ford Thunderbird), and vintage jerseys and cheerleading uniforms are just a few artifacts that make the museum a prime fan experience. Upstairs, the Northwest Louisiana History Museum tells the story of how Caddo Indians, French and Spanish settlers, free and enslaved Africans and rural southern whites created the region’s distinctive culture through displays of artifacts dating from the 1700s. In Baton Rouge, the Capitol Park Museum showcases two permanent exhibits: “Grounds for Greatness: Louisiana and the Nation” and “Experiencing Louisiana: Discovering the Soul of America.” A 48-foot wooden shrimp trawler and a sugar cane harvester give a glimpse into the state’s aquatic and agricultural assets, while an oil-well head and a scale model of a drilling are an example of Louisiana’s energy industry. And learn more about the state’s iconic music history, featuring Pete Fountain’s clarinet, Buddy Guy’s polka dot Stratocaster guitar, Clifton Chenier’s Grammy award and an expansive Louis Armstrong exhibit.

And learn the stories and contributions of varied cultures whose influence made Louisiana what it is today. Louisiana’s African American Heritage Trail features historic homes, state historic sites, museums and more noteworthy spots honoring their profound contributions to the cultural fabric of the state. Laura Plantation’s award-winning tour transports visitors into the Creole world of Laura Locoul, exploring the complex relationships of four generations of one family, both free and enslaved. View a permanent exhibit dedicated to telling the story of the enslaved population specific to Laura Plantation. Houmas House Estate and Gardens is a Greek Revival home that features The Great River Road Museum onsite. For those intrigued by the paranormal, Myrtles Plantation is considered one of the most haunted homes in the country where ghosts of former residents have been documented in photos, featured on national TV shows and witnessed by residents and tourists alike. Take a mystery tour or even stay the night.

Learn more and plan your trip at LouisianaTravel.com.

First published at Travel Industry Today

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