Louisiana is one of the most culturally rich places on the planet. Its fascinating history is reflected in its unique melting pot of people, food, art, and music. You’ll have no trouble feeling right at home in the Pelican State.
There is also no state in the nation more storied than Louisiana. Between 1541 and the present, its people have been governed by 10 different nations or governments. As a result, a mixture of French, Spanish, and African ancestry has given birth to world-famous cuisine, some of the world’s best music scenes, and traditions that zealously celebrate the joys of life. Louisiana has something great to discover at every turn.
This blog offers a peek at two of Louisiana’s most exciting cities: New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Read on to explore these fantastic GIFTED travel nursing destinations!
New Orleans is world-renowned for its culture, food, architecture, and music. The Big Easy has something for everyone – plenty of beautiful green space for outdoor enthusiasts, some of the world’s best restaurants for foodies, an enchanting nightlife and entertainment scene, and a huge variety of museums and iconic cultural landmarks.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is the heart and soul of New Orleans and the most famous neighborhood in the city, offering a great mix of old and new. Here, you’ll experience a snapshot of everything New Orleans has to offer: street performers, art galleries, award-winning and famous restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops, as well as historic and beautifully-designed landmarks like the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with beignets at Café Du Monde, visit the quirky Pharmacy Museum, learn about the history of Mardi Gras at the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture, cruise the Mississippi River on the Steamboat Natchez, and so much more!
Parks & Green Spaces
New Orleans offers thousands of acres of green space for you to enjoy, including parks, playgrounds, city squares, and riverbanks.
City Park is the largest park in the Crescent City – it is a 1,300-acre outdoor gem, created in 1854, making it one of the oldest urban parks in the US. Don’t miss the Besthoff Sculpture Garden inside, which is regularly ranked as one of the top sculpture gardens in the world.
Visit Audubon Park, a beautiful oasis in Uptown New Orleans (check out The Fly to experience an Audubon Park hidden gem). Charming Jackson Square is located in the center of the French Quarter, along with historic Armstrong Park/Congo Square nearby. If you prefer to be close to the water, Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi River is the place for you!
Jog, walk, take a fitness class, or just regroup before or after your shift at any of these lovely parks. Or, take a short drive from New Orleans to discover numerous picturesque Louisiana swamps offering a variety of tours that explore the endless waterways and breathtaking natural wonders in the region.
With over 45 museums throughout the city to explore, it’s easy to get lost in the history, culture and arts of New Orleans. Enjoy the famous National World War II Museum, which offers an incredible interactive experience covering all aspects of the war. The New Orleans Museum of Art, located in City Park, features over 40,000 works of art. The Backstreet Cultural Museum is home to eclectic collections of costumes, memorabilia, and other artifacts related to African American culture and history. The Louisiana Children’s Museum is a blast for all ages. And Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World is your chance to go behind the scenes of Mardi Gras and observe where the festival’s floats are made year-round.
There are so many more museums to explore – check out this list to see what else New Orleans has to offer.
New Orleans is a city filled with iconic, one-of-a-kind dishes that tell the story of Louisiana culture and history. At nearly every restaurant in the city, some form of dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, fried chicken, and boiled and fried seafood are served.
Other popular foods that are must-haves require a few stops. Go to Café du Monde to indulge in beignets. These delightful, deep-fried doughs covered in powdered sugar are great any time of the day!
Each morning, locally made French bread is delivered to Poor Boy (pronounced “po-boy”) shops to serve patrons that stop in for lunch or dinner. Try an iconic poor boy from local favorites Parkway Bakery & Tavern, Parasol’s, Gene’s, or Domilise’s. You also can’t be in New Orleans without having a Muffuletta from Central Grocery! Located in the middle of the French Quarter, stop into this old-fashioned grocery store to have an original muffuletta sandwich, filled with Italian salami and ham, olive salad, cheese, and garlic.
On a hot day, be sure to get a sno-ball from Hansen’s, a shaved ice treat that you can have in a variety of flavors, topped or filled with almost anything your heart desires!
With hundreds of amazing dishes to try, it’s no wonder why New Orleans, is one of the most visited cities in the world.
Baton Rouge is the capital city of Louisiana. It is centrally located, with Lafayette and New Orleans both just an hour away.
Baton Rouge is the perfect place to visit to discover the unique culture and personality of Louisiana. It offers world-class food, thrilling events and nightlife, and a beautiful Southern landscape just waiting to be explored.
GIFTED has created a traveler’s guide to Baton Rouge to highlight all the fun, unique activities Baton Rouge has to offer.
A Bit of History
Baton Rouge is the capital city of Louisiana. In 1699, French explorers named the area baton rouge (red stick) when they discovered a red cypress pole that Native Americans had placed in the ground to demarcate different hunting territories.
Outdoor Activities & Attractions
Baton Rouge is full of beautiful natural landscapes that are worth exploring. The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden is a collection of gardens, forests, and wetlands. The experience of the Botanic Gardens is best summed up by their own mission statement: “The Mission of the Botanic Gardens is to promote the importance of plants and their environment to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the citizens of Baton Rouge, the state of Louisiana and the world.”
The Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center contains 103 acres of land dedicated to connecting people to nature, with winding pathways leading through beautiful swampland and forests. There are also over 180 parks in the area, so taking a hike, planning a picnic, or going for a jog can easily be done. Check out the BREC parks website to find a park near your residence.
There’s also plenty of history and educational attractions in Baton Rouge. It’s worth going downtown to see the “New” State Capitol, Old State Capitol, and the Old Governor’s Mansion. The Louisiana Art & Science Museum features exhibitions of internationally renowned artists, a permanent collection, a planetarium, and much more. The Capitol Park Museum is an in-depth exploration of the compelling twists and turns of Louisiana’s political history as well as Louisiana culture.
University Life & Sports
Louisiana State University (LSU) and Southern University call Baton Rouge home. Both universities have dynamic athletic programs, and their gameday events & traditions are deeply rooted in the culture of the city.
If you want to immerse yourself in the sports culture of LSU, check out The Chimes on game day, located just a block outside of campus. It’s a bustling bar and restaurant with a fun university vibe.
To begin, we’ll start with two very popular nightlife areas for students and young adults: Third Street and Tigerland.
Historic Third Street is located in Downtown Baton Rouge, and features many bars, late-night restaurants and clubs all within walking distance of one another. Try Blend Wine Bar for an upscale experience, and Boudreaux & Thibodeaux’s for live music and a more boisterous crowd.
There is more to do at night than mingle with students, however. There are local craft breweries like Tin Roof and Southern Craft, both of which offer great educational tours and tastings. For a classically “hipster” vibe, try Radio Bar on Government Street. The Bulldog on Perkins Road offers a selection of 81 draft beers and over 200 bottled beers.
When it comes to music, the Baton Rouge music scene is booming. Teddy’s Juke Joint is a wonderful venue that’s been a hangout for blues lovers for over 40 years, and is located on 16999 Old Scenic Highway just outside of the city. It was founded by Blues legend Lloyd “Teddy” Johnson.
Baton Rouge is also home to the nation’s oldest blues festival (Baton Rouge Blues Festival), the Northgate Music & Arts Festival, as well as weekly concert series such as Live After Five that are held year-round.
Most of Louisiana is a foodie’s paradise, and Baton Rouge is no exception.
For classic Cajun and Creole cuisine, try Parrain’s Seafood, Beausoleil, Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, or Cecilia’s Creole Bistro.
For a more contemporary dining experience, the White Star Market is a new “urban gourmet food hall” located in Mid City Baton Rouge, and offers a diverse and unique selection of food & drink.
And we can’t talk about food in Baton Rouge without at least mentioning the iconic Louie’s Café, a 24-hour diner located just outside LSU’s campus.
Lafayette is the fourth largest city in Louisiana. It’s the perfect place to visit to discover the unique culture and personality of the state, and has also been named “the Happiest City in America.”
You may be surprised to hear that Lafayette offers one of the most unique and delicious cultural and culinary scenes in the nation. It is located in the heart of Acadiana, the name given to the area settled by Cajuns and Creoles in the 18th century.
Countless restaurants, music venues, and local residents carry on the cultural traditions of the past. You’ll find hundreds of restaurants that serve authentic Cajun and Creole dishes, and many local events with Cajun and Zydeco music.
Nearby, you’ll find the stunning Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest river swamp, containing nearly one million acres of beautiful swampland and forests.
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