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.
Morgan City's unforgettably named Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival on Labor Day weekend is a dual celebration of its prime industries. But throughout the year visitors can easily see the impact of the oil and seafood businesses on this city in the middle of the Atchafalaya River's massive delta. Even in the heart of Morgan City's 19-block historic center, recognized as part of the state's Main Street Program, one can climb the flood barrier known locally as the Great Wall for a bird's eye view of the industrial vessels and shrimp boats plying the busy river before sampling a Cajun-style treatment of the fresh shellfish at a local restaurant. Tour a historic drilling rig and learn about Louisiana's ties to the industry at the International Petroleum Museum or get a close encounter with the area's natural heritage at the Swamp Gardens & Wildlife Zoo, which features alligators and black bears.