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Whether you prefer inshore, offshore or freshwater, there are plenty of opportunities to spend a day fishing in Louisiana.

Project Time Off is encouraging Americans to use their earned vacation time because, “taking time off is essential for strong relationships, a productive workforce and a fulfilled life,” according to its research. Couple that information with the Wall Street Journal Market Watch survey that revealed Louisiana is the happiest state in America. Investing your vacation time in Louisiana could reap some seriously blissful benefits.

What’s more, Louisiana offers an incredible array of diverse experiences in a small area—it’s more bang for your buck AND your sense of adventure! Whether you’re traveling on your own, with your partner or with the whole family, here are eight ways to maximize your vacation time and make some weekday memories in #OnlyLouisiana.

1. Go back in time

Evergreen Plantation

Design your own fun field trip at a museum, plantation or historical site. Try the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Natchitoches, a stop on the African-American Heritage Trail or the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans.  In Baton Rouge, many museums are free on the first Sunday of the month and there are even free things to do in New Orleans.

2. Take the long way

In Louisiana, just a half-tank of gas can change your scenery from fragrant pine forests to lush rolling hills to moss-adorned cypress trees. Let Robert Frost inspire you and take the road less-traveled with Louisiana’s Scenic Byways and these road trip ideas.

3. Stress-free festing

Many of Louisiana’s 400-plus festivals begin on the Thursday or Friday ahead of the more crowded weekend. Festival seasons peak in the fall and the spring and many offer free entry. The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, Lafayette’s Festival International de Louisiane and New Orleans’ French Quarter Fest are a few local favorites.

4. Long, delicious lunches

Go ahead and indulge in crawfish étouffée, fried oysters or boudin (or all three)—you can use your free afternoon to happily doze away your food coma. Or visit one of the many mid-week farmers’ markets for fresh, local produce.

5. Dust off your putter

The Audubon Golf Trail includes 16 courses across the state.  Golf mid-week when the fairways are less crowded and you can save on greens fees.

6. The perfect cast

If you prefer fishing poles to golf clubs, Louisiana fishing is among the best in the world and Bassmaster recently named Toledo Bend Reservoir the top in the nation. You can’t go wrong anywhere along the Gulf Coast or in the thousands of Louisiana lakes, rivers and bayous.

7. Dance the weeknight away

Zydeco or hip hop, jazz or Cajun, feel free to catch a late show when you don’t have to worry about a bedtime. Throughout the state, venues are known to host local bands on Wednesday and Thursday nights.  Study Louisiana’s unique sounds to get your hands clapping and toes tapping.

8. Any hour can be your happy hour

Follow the Louisiana Brewery Trail and find your favorite pint. At restaurants, order local wines, beers or spirits to go with your day-off meals–you’re on vacation after all!  

Posted: Wed, 04/13/2016