27 Things You Need To Know About Louisiana Before You Move ThereFrom Hollywood stars to fruit festivals and everything in between, there's plenty to love about the Bayou State.
1. Their National Monuments Are Hard To Pin Down
Source: Flickr user The Sean and Lauren SpectacularThe Saint Charles streetcars that wind their way through the busy streets of New Orleans are more than just transportation—they’re on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, they’re the nation’s only mobile national monuments. Take that, Statue of Liberty.
2. They’re Proud Of Being Known For Silly Things
Source: Wikimedia user Russell LeeThrow a random dart at a map of Louisiana and you’re likely to land on a town that claims to be the something-or-other capital of America (and/or the world): Rayne is The Frog Capital of the World and Gueydan is The Duck Capital of America. Even Church Point is known as The Buggy Capital of the World, and holds a festival each summer to celebrate it. Speaking of which…
3. There Is A Festival For Literally Everything
Source: Flickr user Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other SideThere’s a reason Louisiana is often called the Festival Capital of America: With over 400 each year in each of the 64 parishes, no other state can keep up. What do they celebrate, you ask? Anything. Every crop harvest, every homemade food, and every type of locally played music you can think of. From the Strawberry Festival of Ponchatoula to the Holiday Festival of Lights in Natchitoches and the Red River Revel in Shreveport, if people are at all fans of something it will be celebrated, with fireworks, food, loud people and bright lights.
4. You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Bridge
Source: Flickr user princeddSince the late 1960s the nearly 24 mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway has been considered the longest bridge over water. In 2011, however, the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China claimed to be longer. Blood was spilt on both sides (okay, not really), but ultimately Guinness declared the Causeway the longest continuous bridge over water. So there.
5. They Know Their Food Sounds Weird, But Don’t Really Care
Source: Flickr user AdamSelwoodAll the mythical tales of gumbo and fresh boudin and boiled crawfish probably don’t come close to preparing your palate for Southern dining. You don’t just eat here, you devour. And Louisianians are even known to perfect dishes they aren’t known for creating. The Turducken, for example, is the “Inception” of Thanksgiving dishes: a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. The Cajun Turducken is a taste bud-obliterating experience that may actually make you think you’re dreaming.
6. They Have Mountains Too
Source: Wikimedia user Billy HathornOkay, mountain. Singular. And it probably should be called more of a hill. But you can walk the trail to the top of Mount Driskill, sign the guest logbook as proof of your Herculean efforts, and bask in the glory of standing 535 feet above the Louisiana ground. Which is barely 100 feet taller than the state capitol building. They know.
7. They’re Mother Nature’s Blind Spot
Source: Flickr user Editor BWhile other states are known for a particular kind of weather, Louisiana isn’t lucky enough to have that predictability. You could be in shorts and a tank top one day, chilly in a hoodie and jeans the next, and running through the rain the day after that. It’s like Mother Nature forgot Louisiana was there and threw some random temperatures at the state at the last minute.
8. Their Beaches Are Nothing To Sneeze At
Source: Flickr user princeddThey’re just not in the place you’d expect. The state does have coastal beaches that aren’t really up to snuff against neighboring states, but some of Louisiana’s bigger lakes help alleviate the sandy sadness. Take Fontainebleau State Park on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, for example, and its multitude of nature trails, sunny beaches and family activities waiting just for you.
9. No, They Aren’t All Obsessed With Swamp Creatures
Source: Audubon Zoo Facebook pageIf living in a state with a city known as the Frog Capital of the World kinda freaks you out, don’t worry: Thanks to places like the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Louisianians can seek refuge from the barrage of gators and frogs and see animals from all over the planet like orangutans, white tigers and sea lions.
10. But The Mascot Is Pretty Hardcore
Source: Flickr user coffee shop souljaThe silly-looking birds of the Gulf Coast region were a point of fascination for the first governor, William C.C. Claiborne. It’s a bit gruesome, but bear with me: Instead of letting its young starve when food is scarce, the brown pelican rips at its own flesh to provide sustenance for its babies. The extremely protective avian started showing up on legal documents and official letterheads of the state, and the rest is history.
11. Everyone Is A Bunch Of Tree-Huggers...
Source: Flickr user Lee J Haywood... which is because if they let go, they’d fall to the ground. I’m not saying climbing so high up a tree you begin to see the bottom cloud layer forming around you is a rite of passage in the South. That would sound horrible and terrifying. But I’m also not saying it isn’t a rite of passage.
12. The Wilderness Is Prettier Than You'd Think
Source: Flickr user finchlake2000It’s not all industrial factories in flat fields and hollowed out shopping centers down here (thanks for the brutal mid-90s honesty, True Detective). Once you start looking, you can find real beauty, like this simple shot of a back road near Columbia Lock & Dam.
13. They Prepare For The Worst And Hope For The Best
Source: Flickr user Editor BAnother obvious bullet point: The state's known to be a hurricane’s playground every now and then. But it’s a way of life down here, like tornadoes in the Midwest and earthquakes in California. The most powerful storms can be devastating, but the weakest are really just like a particularly bad summer storm. Louisianians brace and prepare either way.
14. They Helped Invent A Beloved National Food Chain
Source: Flickr user Lars PlougmannIf it wasn’t for Troy M. Smith Sr.’s trip to Louisiana in the 1950s and his inspiration to add a drive-in with speakers to his root beer stand and steak restaurant, the Sonic Drive-In wouldn’t exist today. Had some popcorn chicken & an M&M Blast recently? You’re welcome, America.
15. They Shut Everything Down For Sports
Source: Flickr user Loco SteveIn particular: Football. Take the 2009 Super Bowl XLIV for example, when the Saints squashed the Colts after coming off a season with a 13-0 win streak. The Monday following the win numerous businesses were closed and classes were cancelled. Even non-sports lovers can get behind that.
16. Breakfast In Louisiana Will Fill You Up All Day
Source: Flickr user Navin75Southern cuisine is known for its rich flavors and generous portions, and if you thought that didn’t include your morning meal you’re dead wrong. The deservedly uber-famous breakfast/lunch/snack/dinner/anytime restaurant Café Du Monde in New Orleans proves that, and with aplomb: Their sole menu items boil down to beignets and coffee. They nail both.
17. No One Knows What They’re Saying
Source: Flickr user NuminosityThanks to the history and diversity, there’s always a unique sound coming out of someone’s mouth in Louisiana. You could hear French (or its many confusing variations like Colonial French and Cajun French), Creole, and even a healthy mix of other languages like Spanish and German.
18. They Know How To Sing The Blues
Source: Flickr user Shreveport Bossier: Louisiana’s Other SideWhile a multitude of musical types and genres have drifted in and out of the state, only a specific few never really leave: Cajun and Creole music, jazz, and blues. Originating in the state’s early history, with contributors from every walk of life, these unmistakable Louisiana sounds have matured into international chart toppers, collectors’ items, and Grammy winners.
19. They’re One Shaky-Cam Away From A Found Footage Movie
Source: Flickr user Ken LundLouisiana doesn’t have the most pleasant early history, and some say it’s that destructive past behind all the stories of paranormal activity in the state. Why not find out for yourself on tours of nightmare-inducing places like St. Louis Cemetery and the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans, Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, and even the old state capitol building in Baton Rouge.
20. They Embrace Our History (For Selfish Reasons)
Source: Flickr user Alaskan DudeIf you doubt that oak-lined plantation houses are the first thing most people think of when they imagine the South, just ask everyone who deals with the tidal waves of tourists every year. Perhaps most popular destination is the Oak Alley Plantation, which features a tourism-boosting bed & breakfast, gift shop, café and tour of the property.
21. They’re Almost Famous
Source: Flickr user Ryan J. QuickThanks to a tax law that essentially ends in a cheaper production for movies and television shows filmed in the state, Louisiana has been booming recently with the Hollywood elite. Were you in Baton Rouge last summer? You may have caught the filming of The Maze Runner. Checking out New Orleans this year? You may run into crews working on True Blood or the new season of American Horror Story. It’s a great stimulus for the job economy—and for an opportunity to chase Channing Tatum across Tulane for a selfie.
22. They’re Going Through A Beer-aissance
Source: Flickr user Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other SideSeven craft beer companies have opened Louisiana in recent years, from Parish Brewing Company in Broussard to Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville and Great Raft Brewing in Shreveport. All are part of the Louisiana Craft Beer Trail and provide tours to learn the ins and outs of your favorite ales—and the chance to taste ‘em all for free.
23. Mardi Gras Is Like The Super Bowl, Only Bigger
Source: Flickr user brad.coyWe prepare for weeks in advance, going out to pre-parades and getting our catching hands ready, and then the big day comes and (like every sports fan whose team is at the Bowl) we collectively lose our minds. Parades, parties, balls, costumes, beads, face painting, cross dressing, masks, all fun with just the right amount of slightly terrifying.
24. Any Food You Don’t Need A Bib To Eat Isn’t Worth Eating
Source: Flickr user Editor BSay the words “crawfish boil” to any Louisianian and a greedy spark will appear in their eyes, followed by the words “When and where?” The boils reach their peak during the spring and summertime and are normally eaten communal style: Thrown steaming-hot onto a huge table along with potatoes and corn on the cob. Is your mouth watering yet?
25. Louisiana Is “The Sportsman’s Paradise” For A Reason
Source: louisianatravel.comNot only is Louisiana obsessed with collegiate level sports, Louisianans love playing basketball, golf, baseball, even hockey, and you won't have to go far to find everything you need to start a game yourself. And then there’s the endless water sports: Stand-up paddle boarding, wakeboarding, skiing, etc. Your paradise awaits.
26. Bikers Visit From All Over The Country To Use Louisiana's Trails
Source: Lincoln Parish Park Facebook pageYou might not be surprised the state is full of trails with gorgeous backdrops for your cardio workouts, but you might be surprised at how highly esteemed they are. One of the most challenging is a 10-mile loop in Lincoln Parish Park near Ruston, rated by mountain bikers all over the US as one of the top trails in the country.
27. And It’s A Camper’s Paradise Too
Source: Flickr user OakleyOriginalsLouisiana’s state parks aren’t shy about putting the state’s gorgeous wilderness on display. You can get up close by exploring the riverbeds of Kisatchie National Forest, spending a day on the lake at Hodges Gardens State Park, and then have a relaxing night around the campfire under the stars.