Deep in Cajun Country: A Travel Guide to Southern Louisiana

Stock-Cajun-Country-Louisiana
For many outsiders to Louisiana, the state is geographically divided into “New Orleans” and “not New Orleans.” It’s an understandable oversimplification, but a shame because there are many nuances to the state’s food, music, culture, and landscape. The Bayou State’s southern half — specifically the coastal parishes south of I-10 — is the most authentically Cajun region in the country. Here are just a few of our favorite places to play, eat, and stay:

Play

Just forty minutes north of New Orleans, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, St. Tammany Parish is home to ample small town charm and truly off-the-beaten-path outdoor opportunities. Bayou Adventure offers kayaking rentals and guided tours for travelers looking to explore the local waterways at a leisurely place. As a testament to its authentic Louisiana weirdness, it’s also a bait shop run by an ex-judge who previously ran her “court” out of the back room. (No, seriously.)

Bayou-Adventure

Few things are more iconic of Louisiana’s bayou landscape than airboats and alligators. For something a little more exciting, visit Des Allemands — a hiccup of a town along US-90 — where Airboat Tours with Arthur offers rides on the area’s bayou and marshland. In addition to copious gator sightings, the area is rich with hundreds of species of birds, amphibians, and other reptiles. Plan your visit in the warmer spring or summer months for the best wildlife spotting opportunities.

Eat & Drink

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many residents were displaced from the downtown New Orleans core. Among them: some of the city’s premier chefs, who gathered in droves to sleepy suburban towns like Covington. The town is now home to some of the state’s best restaurants such as Oxlot 9 where the menu is all about representing the most locally sourced and inspired food possible. Think: crawfish etouffee, homemade gumbo, and stuffed blue crab, all with a gourmet flare.

ox lot 9 v2

As in many American cities, boutique restaurants focusing on just one or two delicacies are cropping up throughout Louisiana. Botsky’s (no website) in Lake Charles is like an ice cream bar for hot dog aficionados. Pick your meat, bread, and toppings from a list of favorites like turkey franks, brats, and traditional beef hot dogs. Or look to the daily specials board for local favorites like alligator sausage or more outside-the-box offerings like their foie gras brat topped with grilled onions and mushrooms. As a bonus, a handful of draft Abita varieties rounds out the menu.

Southern Louisiana’s boudin (pronounced boo-DAN with a distinct dropping of the “N”) trail is a chain of more than 35 kitchens, restaurants, and grocers serving their unique version of the state’s signature sausage. Down a handful of Prilosec and head to the unassuming B&O Kitchen (no website), where their menu is inspired by all things boudin. Especially noteworthy are their smoked boudin and deep fried, pepper jack cheese-stuffed boudin balls. If you happen to visit in November, they also make a mean boudin-stuffed turducken (yes, that’s a real thing).

Stay

In Covington, attached to the aforementioned Oxlot 9 restaurant, Southern Hotel provides upscale, boutique accommodations worthy of any metropolitan traveler. The sleek decor blends traditional Southern touches with chic furnishings to create a look and feel that’s equal parts plantation home and West Elm catalog. It’s the ideal base for travelers looking to keep downtown New Orleans at arm’s-length. From here, the restaurants and culture of the city and the more adventurous diversions of the bayou are all just a short drive away.

Southern-Hotel

In the burgeoning port city of Lake Charles, L’Auberge Resort & Casino is among the most modern and welcoming gambling establishments in the South. The property is replete with unique, noteworthy amenities including an upscale barber shop with free whiskey tastings for all patrons and the Contraband Bayou Golf Club, designed by legendary golf course architect Tom Fazio. At the Jack Daniel’s Bar & Grill, lovely southern belles in short shorts serve dozens of draft beer offerings amid kickass live, local music on the weekends. The tasteful lodge theme and well-appointed accommodations draw overnight travelers from throughout Louisiana and eastern Texas every night of the week.

Food & Drink

21st Amendment is Bringing ‘Tasty’ IPA Back

The can art no longer features an illustration of McDole swimming in a sea of hop cones. Now, it’s Benjamin Franklin’s turn to bathe in the verdant sea.
Fashion & Style

Keep it Cozy with These Seven Warmest Winter Socks

Winter means padding around your pad in the softest, warmest socks possible.
Culture

Fall Reading List: 10 Books to Read in October for Chills and Thrills

Poe, Dante, and King... the boys are back in town.
Outdoors

Elite Sniper School: Shoot at a Mile-long Target in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Fewer than 10,000 people in history have joined the "One Mile Club."
Travel

The Woodman’s Treehouse Has Everything You Want, Including a Pizza Oven

The ultimate escape for a weekend of reliving your childhood, there’s also hammocks, a slide, and a rooftop hot tub.
Travel

4 of the World’s Smallest Countries and Why You Should Visit Them

From breathtaking to downright weird, these tiny countries are well worth a visit.
Travel

Belize Announces World’s First Nationwide Hide-and-Seek Competition

Cave exploring, trekking Mayan ruins, snorkeling with whale sharks — everyone comes out a winner in this competition.
Travel

Avoid Jet Lag By Learning How to Sleep Anytime, Anywhere

With a little help from some of the world’s most adept sleepers, here are of our favorite tips.
Travel

Why Fall is the Best Time to Visit Chattanooga Tennessee

Like rock climbing? How about beer? Fried chicken? Well, then it is time to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Outdoors

HoverGlide Is a Clever ‘Floating’ Backpack Designed to Save Your Spine

It might sound like infomercial-flavored nonsense but it's rooted in sound science.
Travel

Romotow Is a Futuristic Travel Trailer With a Hidden ‘Party Deck’

One button turns this sleek travel trailer into an eight-person, off-grid party pad.
Travel

New Brightline Train Will Connect Vegas to Southern California in Just 2 Hours

Soon you'll be able to spend a lot more time feeding your face at the casino's questionable seafood buffet.
Travel

A New Class of Retro Designer Motels Recalls California’s Bygone Surf Era

Embrace an endless summer of sick surfer hair, salty beach air, and some of the world's best breaks.
Travel

Ski Butlers are a Thing. We Went to the Rockies to Find Out What they Do and Why

Why the saviest skiers and smartest shredders enlist the help of a ski butler to service and set up their gear.