What's new bayou? Louisiana's latest options


NEW ORLEANS -- If your clients are planning a repeat visit to Louisiana, they'll find a number of new attractions ready to entertain them.

If it's a first-time trip, there will be more sightseeing decisions to make.

Being a tourist magnet, New Orleans, not surprisingly, continues to expand its leisure options. These include:

  • A 140-acre Jazzland theme park, situated 12 miles from city center, opened in May.
  • Jazzland, a new theme park near New Orleans, features open-air concerts, Cajun food and dance. Open-air concerts, Cajun food and dance, more music at Jazz Plaza, 31 amusement park rides, water ski shows, a children's area, a nightly Mardi Gras parade and plenty of shops offer entertainment for visitors of all ages.

    Phone: (504) 253-8100

    Web: www.jazzlandthemepark.com.

  • There's a lot new in the Audubon Institute realm. At the Audubon Zoo, a $3 million Louisiana Swamp Exhibit expansion opened, featuring an alligator museum, a white alligator exhibit, a swamp nursery for baby animals and a Gumbo Trail focusing on Cajun cuisine.
  • A 1,000-square-foot Seahorse Gallery is in place at the Aquarium of the Americas, which is part of the Audubon Institute.

    Another recent exhibit focuses on Pacific Coast sealife where visitors actually can feel the spray from an Orca's blowhole.

    Construction has started on a $10 million Audubon Insectarium. The target date for completion of the 30,000-square-foot insect museum is 2003.

    It will be located on Canal Street, not far from the Aquarium.

    Phone: (800) 774-7394

    Web: www.auduboninstitute.org.

  • In museum news, the National D-Day Museum opened on June 6, the anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
  • World War II events are recounted through personal stories and poignant exhibits.

    Phone: (504) 527-6012.

  • Two new art museums are scheduled to open mid-2001. Showcasing Southern art and culture, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art will house the largest collection of its kind.
  • Meanwhile, it has set up a temporary gallery in the city's Warehouse District.

    Phone: (504) 539-9600.

    The Louisiana ArtWorks, featuring exhibits by the state's greatest artists, will also be housed in the Warehouse District.

    Phone: (504) 523-1465.

    Across the state, new attractions are up and running. Among them:

  • Hands-on displays, including computerized virtual sports and an electron microscope; an Imax theater, and galleries devoted to physical science, the human body and technology are among the 200 exhibits at the Sci-Port Discovery Center in Shreveport.
  • Phone (318) 424-3466.

  • For clients who love the culinary arts, Chef Patrick Mould's Louisiana School of Cooking in St. Martinville, southeast of Lafayette, offers classes in preparing such local favorites as jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish etouffee and Acadian bread pudding.
  • After class, the cooks can feast on their creations, then walk off the calories by exploring this traditional French Louisiana town.

    For reservations, call (337) 394-1710.

  • For museum viewing with a difference, check out the UCM Museum (short for Unusual Collections and Miniature town and pronounced "You See 'Em" ) in Abita Springs, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.
  • Along with displays of Southern memorabilia and folk art, local artist John Preble has utilized found objects, homemade inventions and no small amount of imagination to create a miniature Southern town.

    It's all here -- cane pole fishing, pick-up truck driving, voodoo, fortune-telling, Cajun cooking, even UFO spottings. Preble describes UCM, which opened in August, as "an art environment" and "Louisiana's most eccentric museum."

    Phone: (504) 892-2624.

    Web: www.seelouisiana.com/UCM.

  • On the more idyllic side, the Creole Nature Trail at Lake Charles recently received National Scenic Byway status, making it one of only 14 drives nationwide so designated.
  • The 180-mile road leads through marshes, bayous and coastal lands. Those with fortunate timing can see wildflowers and animals such as alligators and rare birds.

  • Nature enthusiasts also will enjoy the recently opened Tickfaw State Park in Springfield.
  • Boardwalks lead through four separate ecosystems -- a cypress/tupelo swamp, a bottomland hardwood forest, a mixed pine/hardwood forest and the Tickfaw River.

  • At Brushy, in West Baton Rouge parish, the Choctaw Plantation and Railroad welcomes visitors.
  • Built in the late 1820s on Spanish land-grant property, the plantation offers tours by a train that replicates those once used to transport sugar cane to mills.

    The depot, scale house and farming equipment date back 100 years.

    Phone: (225) 749-2205.

  • From Alexandria, clients can take a boat ride along the well-named Red River while a narrator recounts the region's history from the Civil War and Reconstruction periods through the Victorian era and World War II.
  • For reservations, call (318) 442-4001.

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