For visitors in Louisiana, I would then take them I-10 West to the McGee's Landing/Atchafalaya Tours in Henderson for a boat ride to see the nation's largest swamp. When people think of Louisiana, they think swamps and bayous, and we've got lots of both! Also many people who come to visit Louisiana have seen me or my fellow Zydeco artists perform in their home towns in the Midwest or the Northeast, so they invariably want to also visit St. Landry Parish and the Opelousas area, which is the birthplace and "The World Capital of Zydeco."
When it's time to eat, I'm taking them to Ole Tyme Grocery in Lafayette for po-boys, or maybe to Best Stop in Scott or Ray's in Opelousas for boudin. For dinner, we might head to Charley G's Seafood Grill or Blue Dog Café in Lafayette.
I don't know much about shopping, but my wife tells me there's great shopping in Louisiana. Her favorite spots in downtown Lafayette are the Jefferson Street Market/Galerie Lafayette and San Souci Gallery, both of which sell local art. I do like shopping for local music at Vermilionville Gift Shop. And when I'm in New Orleans
, I like to go to Louisiana Music Factory for more local music CDs.
Louisiana is a great family destination, too. My daughter loves going to festivals. I also like to take her the country to see my family and to give her a greater sense of our family history. Just an afternoon visit with my parents, aunts and uncles, whose first language is French, can be a very enlightening encounter. She loves to go to New Orleans as well. And I like to see her absorbing history in such an engaging environment. The French Quarter in New Orleans is great for that. Another good destination is St. Ann's Church in Mallet (near my childhood home in St. Landry Parish). It's one of the oldest Black Catholic churches in the country.
The Creole Country of southwest and south central Louisiana is home to a rich, fascinating culture. St. Landry Parish
and the Opelousas area is the third oldest settlement in Louisiana and home to a large population of French speaking Creoles. (It is where my roots are and the place I go for inspiration to write a song about my people and my heritage, like "You Should Know Your Way By Now" aka "Creole Country."
But outside of culture and history, food and music, Louisiana is just a beautiful place. Try catching sunrise or sunset at the Atchafalaya Basin — either will take your breath away. When I drive home from a long tour and I hit the basin bridge at sunrise, I remember why I love Louisiana so much!