One facet of Louisiana that makes it such an appealing visitor destination is its deep and colorful history. European explorers found their way to the region and inhabited the area very early relative to settlement of much of the rest of the continent. As a result, some communities in Louisiana are among the oldest in the United States. Before those explorers arrived, of course, people we now know as Native Americans populated the region. Reaching still farther back in time, ancient peoples left their mark on the area thousands of years ago. The state of Louisiana offers many ways to explore the region’s rich history, in hundreds of museums, historic structures, landmarks, artifacts and works of art. The careful preservation and restoration of these sites and artifacts has created many rare opportunities for visitors to experience Louisiana’s history and gain insights into the diverse cultures that continue to influence the state today.
A network of bayous and shipping channels converge on Houma, creating a crisscross of busy waterways within the city. Many streets are two-lane avenues split down the middle by canals plied by small vessels, and the sight of shrimp boats docked just before their skippers' homes is as common as the family minivan parked in front of other American households. Houma is widely considered the de facto capital of deep bayou country, and here the many pleasures of the region's robust culture are easily accessible. The city is the jumping-off point for countless charter fishing adventures, birding expeditions and swamp tours along the ecologically rich wetlands stretching out toward the Gulf, while the Native American tribe of the United Houma Nation is headquartered here and hosts frequent cultural events. Boisterous Mardi Gras celebrations consume the city each year, while dance halls and restaurants showcase the region's Cajun heritage every day.