Retire in the Cajun Coast, St. Mary Parish
Culture, history and the natural landscape of the area make St. Mary Parish, the Cajun Coast a great retirement destination for those wanting a slower paced lifestyle rich in outdoor adventure and cultural entertainment.
St. Mary Parish, the Cajun Coast, is part of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area and the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway. It is centrally located on the coast between New Orleans, Lafayette and due south of Baton Rouge with easy access via Highway 90, Highway 182 and Highway 70. The climate is subtropical with temperatures ranging from 53 to 90 degrees. On the comfort index, we are one of the most comfortable places in Louisiana.
The Chitimacha Native Americans located in Charenton are the only tribe in Louisiana still residing on aboriginal land. The tribe was federally recognized in 1916. The Chitimacha, “People of the Many Waters”, are known for their basket weaving skills of river cane.
Franklin, one of the prettiest small towns in Louisiana according to Lyle Saxon, is home to over 400 historic properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places including a 19th century boulevard of cast iron streetlamps and moss draped live oaks.
Patterson, named after Captain John Patterson, is home to aviation pioneers, Harry Williams and James Wedell, derring-do’s that dominated the 1920’s air races.
Morgan City and Berwick border the Atchafalaya River, a major distributary of the Mississippi River. The river is a gateway to the seafood industry and intersects with the intracoastal waterway, a maritime transportation route spanning over 3000 miles of waterways. Morgan City is home of the offshore oil and gas industry and the location for the original silent movie, “Tarzan of the Apes” starring Elmo Lincoln.
The history, diversity and lifestyles of its people contribute to the rich culture of the area which is celebrated throughout the year in the many festivals and special events. Mardi Gras is celebrated each February with parades. Spring kicks off with the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival and Wooden Boat Show, the Lawrence Park Porch Fest, and Songs on the Bayou Songwriters Festival. The Bayou BBQ Bash is celebrated in July and the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, the state’s oldest state-chartered harvest festival, is held Labor Day weekend. Fall festivals include Harvest Moon Fest, Patterson Fall Fest and Historic Tour and Chitimacha POW WOW. Most events are free to attend and family oriented, making St. Mary Parish, the Cajun Coast affordable.
Culinary experiences outside of fairs and festivals includes Cajun, Creole and South Louisiana favorites such as boiled crawfish, fried shrimp, étouffée and gumbo.
The beauty of the parish is found in its natural landscape. St. Mary Parish is the southernmost gateway to the Atchafalaya Swamp Basin, the largest overflow swamp in Louisiana and one of the last remaining wildernesses, according to the US Corps of Engineers. The Atchafalaya Basin is a major migratory flyway and home to one of the largest nesting areas of the American Bald Eagle. Eagle Expo is held every February for birding enthusiasts. Novice or experienced birders can explore numerous birding spots throughout the parish.
Golfers, regardless of handicap, have access to golf throughout the year. The Atchafalaya at Idlewild, an Audubon Golf Trail course, is picturesque with challenging elevations that allow for great golf. A plethora of wildlife call the course home. Uncommon are alligators, brown pelicans, black bears, raccoons, snakes, songbirds and more. Other 9-hole courses allow quick rounds on weekends and our central location provides easy access to other Audubon Golf Trail courses.
Fishing is abundant! Be it freshwater, saltwater, brackish or offshore are available within minutes throughout the Cajun Coast. The Atchafalaya Swamp Basin, the Gulf of Mexico, Bayou Teche, Lake Palourde, and the numerous waterways throughout the parish provide unlimited fishing opportunities.
The same waterways that serve as great honey holes for fishing are equally great places for paddling – whether it’s up and down the Bayou Teche, within the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge or in the Atchafalaya Basin – paddling will keep you active.
Recreational boating throughout the spring and summer is a favorite pastime of locals. Cruising along the waterways and stopping at one of the local marinas for food and dancing are plentiful from May to September.
Hiking, walking trails, bicycling, group fitness encourages heart healthy lifestyles.
For retirees wanting a richer arts experience, the Teche Theatre in Franklin offers some of the finest entertainment around. Local theatre productions of major plays, original works by Soulful Productions, movies commemorating Black History Month, and presentations by historians contribute to a robust arts experience. Community Concert Association in Morgan City showcases some of the finest traveling shows from dance and music to comedy and magicians. St. Mary Artist Guild manages the Everett Street Art Gallery and features member artists as well as artist shows of artists with a connection to St. Mary Parish.
St. Mary Parish, the Cajun Coast is a sampler of everything Louisiana has to offer, in a friendly relaxed atmosphere. You’re invited to grab a plate and join us!