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Lovely, Lyrical Louisiana

Lovely, lyrical Louisiana is like nowhere else in the world.

From Cajun to Creole, each culture (and its justifiably beloved cuisine) thrives in the Pelican State, which also offers tour groups the countless charms of the country’s most unique city, New Orleans. It’s a place where history comes alive in a slew of varied attractions, but it’s also somewhere always looking to the future, with new and freshly upgraded offerings sure to delight visitors. With so much to love about Louisiana, the only issue group leaders might encounter is getting groups to leave come tour’s end.

Popular Demand

The National World War II Museum

Designated by Congress as “America’s National World War II Museum,” this massive, three-building institution brings to life through extraordinary, interactive exhibits the American story in the global conflict that raged from 1939 to 1945. New as of November is “Expressions of America,” an immersive outdoor sound and light spectacular that transports viewers through history via next-level special effects, music and nine-story-tall projections. The National World War II Museum offers groups reduced pricing and is conveniently situated in downtown New Orleans. Travel planners may also arrange for box lunches, guided tours and more.

Houmas House

Houmas House, which is located in Darrow, just about 30 minutes southeast of Baton Rouge and an hour from New Orleans, gives visitors a look at an exquisite sugarcane plantation. Painstakingly restored to the antebellum era, though it traces its beginnings back to 1774, Houmas House boasts a mansion filled with a jaw-dropping array of antiques and historical artwork, as well as sprawling, carefully tended grounds. Special group packages include escorted tours of the Classical Revival-style home, combined with self-guided walks through the gardens and a buffet lunch at the on-site cafe.


One of Louisiana’s most unique attractions, Lafayette’s Vermilionville is a 23-acre folklife village that depicts, through costumed historical interpreters and artisans, the day-to-day doings of the area’s Creole, Cajun and Native American peoples up until the late 1800s. The site includes seven original homes dating between 1790 to 1880, as well as a wide array of artifacts such as tools, furnishings and housewares from that period. Vermilionville not only gives groups guided tours but can also provide an array of delightful add-ons that range from cooking demonstrations to dance lessons and lunch.

Shreveport Aquarium

Group travelers can meet more than 300 aquatic species and 1,000 individual saltwater and freshwater animals at the Shreveport Aquarium. Themed exhibits feature beautifully hued coral reefs, sultry tropical lagoons and even re-created shipwrecks. Groups are also sure to love watching the shark feedings, which include a talk from one of the aquarium’s experts, snapping turtle feedings in the spring and summer, and interactive tidepool and ray experiences that allow guests to touch stingrays, sea stars and anemones, and more.

Up and Coming

Vue Orleans

When Vue Orleans debuted in February 2022, it seemed destined to become one of Louisiana’s hottest new attractions, and it has clearly fulfilled that promise. At the foot of Canal Street, Vue takes groups through original films and state-of-the-art interactive exhibits that explore NOLA’s distinctive culture through the lens of history, food, music and more. After a high-tech elevator ride that provides its own fascinating view of New Orleans, visitors arrive on the 33rd floor, where a 360-degree indoor observation deck awaits. Head up another flight and experience the 360-degree rooftop platform, with stunning sights such as the Mississippi River and the French Quarter.

Poverty Point Virtual Reality Tours

One of the most important archaeological sites in the country got a big upgrade in December, when a new virtual reality app launched that allows group visitors to experience it as it was 3,400 years ago. Featuring nine experiences, the mobile app explores Poverty Point, a series of massive earthen mounds and ridges erected by Native Americans in what would eventually become Pioneer, Louisiana. While the reason for the earthworks has been lost to time, groups can now stand, for example, on the largest mound and see how it looked when it was built, bringing the past into the present as never before.

Goodman IMAX Dome Theater

Also in December, following a million-dollar makeover, Shreveport’s upgraded Sci-Port Discovery Center IMAX Dome reopened as the Goodman IMAX Dome Theater. The theater, which is located in a 92,000-square-foot, science-oriented complex that features interactive exhibits and a planetarium, now boasts a 4K laser-based projection system. Other enhancements include new sound and light equipment, all of which combine to present films with better clarity, color and contrast than groups have ever seen before. Thanks to the improvements, the Goodman IMAX is now able to show feature films as well as educational documentaries.

The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo

The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe offers more than 400 animals and 100 species, with enclosures grouped along two miles of pathways that connect them with gardens and grounds. Groups will enjoy the recently added budgie and tortoise exhibits, which allow opportunities to feed the critters. Even more upgrades are on the way, including a new sloth exhibit. Still to be built are an alligator feeding habitat with a viewing platform, smaller alligator habitats, a beaver habitat, an otter habitat and a turtle pond, all part of the estimated $1.2 million phase 1 of the zoo’s master plan.

Overnight Sensations

Horseshoe Lake Charles

The 60,000-square-foot, 253-room Horseshoe Lake Charles, a Caesar’s property that opened in December, gives groups a thrilling new place to stay and play in Lake Charles. There’s gaming galore, with almost 1,000 slot machines and table games, a World Series of Poker Poker Room and a Caesar’s Sports Book location. Multiple dining options are on the menu, too, from American cuisine to Italian and Pan Asian. Coming later this year: Gordon Ramsay Steak, the first Louisiana-based restaurant from the famed, multi-Michelin-starred chef.

Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center dates back to 1927, when it was known as the Heidelberg Hotel. Entwined in the fortunes of infamous Louisiana governor Huey P. Long — it was once used as the State Capitol during a power struggle between Long and Lieutenant Governor Paul Cyr — the property was reopened as a Hilton in 2006 following a $70 million renovation. Ensconced on the banks of the Mississippi River, just two blocks from the Old State Capitol, the Art Deco beauty offers 291 guest rooms and an old secret tunnel used by Long to visit his mistress.

The Southern Hotel

A gorgeous boutique property, The Southern Hotel, sits pretty in the historic heart of little Covington, just across Lake Pontchatrain from the Big Easy. Built in the Mission-style of architecture in 1907, it reopened to guests in 2014 following a two-year, $8 million renovation. The property, which includes public spaces filled with regional art, on-site dining, a plunge pool and a spa, features 40 guest rooms and two suites. Groups of up to 40 are welcome to buy it out, pending availability.

Memorable Meals

Lasyone’s Meat Pie kitchen

A Natchitoches institution since it opened in 1967, Lasyone’s is most famous for its hearty, fried pastries filled with either beef and pork or crawfish. But the restaurant also features loads of other Cajun and Creole favorites for groups to sample, such as shrimp and grits, gumbo, crawfish etouffee, red beans and rice, and po’boys. Frequented by famed folks from Charles Kuralt to Daryl Hannah, who filmed the classic movie “Steel Magnolias” in the town, Lasyone’s can seat large groups in the second-floor banquet room.

Palmettos on the Bayou

Palmettos on the Bayou, a sophisticated Acadian-style restaurant that has specialized in serving groups for more than two decades, serves up classic Creole cuisine from its digs on the Bayou Bonfouca in Slidell. Shrimp, duck and Gulf oysters are all mainstays on the menu, but just as delightful is the lovely waterfront location, surrounded by cypress and moss-draped oak trees. Groups, which are sure to love the weekend brunches featuring live music, should be sure to check out renowned Louisiana artist George Dunbar’s artwork, on display at the restaurant.

Pat’s of Henderson

Specializing in steaks, seafood and Cajun fare, family-owned Pat’s of Henderson has been one of Lake Charles’ most acclaimed eateries for more than four decades, snagging numerous local and state restaurant awards over the years. The lengthy menu pays homage to the proprietors’ Cajun heritage and includes everything from fried alligator to boudin, plus crab, catfish and crawfish dishes, and the “local favorites” fried shrimp and stuffed red snapper. Pat’s is also open weekdays for lunch.