When you make a list of all the unique things Louisiana has to offer visitors, you quickly see the long-lasting influences of our French, Spanish and African ancestry. Our past is well-preserved in our architecture, music, food and lifestyles—which include our amazing festivals—and of course in our museums of history and fine arts.
It is not an accident that Louisiana clings to the phrase "Laissez les bons temps rouler," meaning "Let the good times roll". Let yourself get lost in the traditions passed down through generations. Come visit us during Mardi Gras when costumed riders parade and magnificent balls are thrown from New Orleans and Baton Rouge to Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Shreveport and beyond. Peek back across the centuries, as you walk under lavish ironwork and through the lush courtyard gardens of a meticulous French Quarter hotel. Touch history with a tour of a plantation where the daily activities of the past are recreated. Let nature's mysteries inspire and awe you via a boat tour through a cypress studded bayou.
Here, in Louisiana, history and lore don't merely live in books on a shelf; they're reflected in our everyday lives.
The town of Washington, the third-oldest settlement in Louisiana, is a former French trading post that flourished thanks to the river the bayou that runs through it. The town was founded in 1720 on the banks of Bayou Courtableau, and eventually rose in prominence as a steamboat port that brought cattle, sugar and other farm goods from Cajun Country to markets in New Orleans. The last steamboat left Washington in 1900, leaving behind homes and warehouses that today form the heart of the town's historic district. In fact, 80 percent of the city is on the National Historic Registry.
See one of those historic buildings from the inside by dining at Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant, or choose from one of the city's bed and breakfast accommodations. Washington is also a destination for cyclists—check out the Washington-Breaux Bridge Trail or the Washington to Eunice to Sunset Trail for details for examples of how to see Cajun Country on two wheels.