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.
Founded as a railroad depot midway between the larger cities of Lafayette and Lake Charles, Jennings today offers plenty of reasons to stop and explore. Cajun heritage thrives in local restaurants, music venues and festivals. Birding, hunting and water sports abound in the countryside, while downtown offers a host of unique attractions. The Zigler Museum, in particular, has been stunning visitors with its world-class art collection housed in a colonial-era home. The Strand Theatre, a 1930's-era movie house, now showcases performing arts, including a long-running, live country music variety show held each month. The Gator Chateau gives the public an up-close alligator encounter in a protected habitat, and the W.H. Tupper General Merchandise Museum presents a time capsule of mid-century country life, including an exhibit on the history of the telephone. Today's farmers bring their produce, preserves and crafts to the Jennings Main Street Farmers Market each Saturday morning.