Content Produced in Partnership with Louisiana Travel

Louisiana is more than just a destination, it’s a state of mind. Its friendly locals, endless celebrations, vibrant culture and free spirit ignite a newfound fire in your soul. It's in Louisiana that you'll find time moves at its own pace, so you can let loose and indulge in life's most amusing pleasures. And if the “getting there” is the only thing holding you back, these handy tried-and-true tricks will help you let the good times roll.

Southern University's Human Jukebox - Photo by Katelyn Krulek

Never Say No to a Good Time

Simply put, Louisiana knows how to have a good time. Whether it be at a jazz club, cocktail bar, theatrical show or musical street performance, Louisianans believe every moment of life should be celebrated. As visitors, we quickly learned that the secret to experiencing the magic is by seizing the opportunities that are already there.

The heartbeat of Louisiana is undoubtedly driven by the “pound of the drum and tap of the foot.” Marching to that beat is Southern University’s Human Jukebox. The Human Jukebox has been recognized as one of the best marching bands in the nation by USA Today and Time, among other accolades — and it’s easy to see why. Whether they’re performing on field, stage or street, the band is a grand depiction of the power that music holds over the Louisiana community, and catching them in action was by far one of the top experiences from our trip.

If you’re looking to ‘switch up the tempo,’ head to the Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans. Here lies the Music Box Village — a music and theatrical venue, unlike anything you've ever seen. And we mean that literally. With art sculptures, a rustic telephone booth, chains, bells, and wooden structures stretching towards the sky, the entire complex resembles an adult playground, and it gave us an out-of-this-world experience. We were swooned with euphoric harmonies and then summoned to experiment with sound. It’s an immersive auditory and visual journey that simply can’t be found anywhere else in the world. To truly experience the magic, though, you’ll have to see it for yourself. Attend one of the unique live shows or visit the village during its public hours.

Wearin' of the Green Parade - Photo by Katelyn Krulek

Keep Calm and Festival On

In case you haven’t heard, Louisiana is a mecca for festivals and events. They honor everything from Cajun and Zydeco cultural roots to jazz, soul food and handcrafted cocktails. Attending one of Louisiana’s 400 festivals or events is the perfect way to see the state in all her glory. And while each event pays tribute to some unique characteristic (whether that be running a marathon in a red dress or attending a prison rodeo), it’s the community experience that will truly feed your soul.

Wearin’ of the Green Parade is a perfect example of this. Some estimated 200,000 people travel from near and far to experience this monumental St. Patrick’s Day parade in Baton Rouge. Dozens of antique cars, convertibles, buses and trailers are decked out in pompoms, glitter, props and signs. We had the privilege of participating as one of the “Krewe” members who are responsible with tossing tons (yes, literally tons) of beads to the crowd below. The entire city — locals, visitors and even the mayor — line the streets of the city to watch the grand show with their arms extended towards the sky, waiting for “Krewe” members to contribute to the slew of jewelry hanging from their neck. It’s an overwhelmingly exciting experience to see thousands of people chanting, cheering, and celebrating during this St. Patrick’s Day festivity. Take our advice: If you want to see just how full of life Louisiana is, this parade is where you want to be.

You, too, can experience the magic of one of Louisiana’s festivals and events by searching their events calendar here.

Super Sunday Parade - Photo by Katelyn Krulek

Express Yourself (Without Limits)

Louisiana is all about doing the things that feed your soul. No matter where you’re from, what language you speak or how you identify yourself, Louisiana lets you be yourself. Locals and visitors alike often gather at block parties and events donning beads, wigs and embellishments collected from past parades and costume shops. Others use special apparel and song to pay homage to their deep cultural roots at annual festivities, like the Super Sunday Parade — one of the most significant days for Mardi Gras Indians outside of the Carnival season and Mardi Gras day. Reenacting traditions that date back to the 19th century, descendants take to the streets clothed in feathered and jeweled costumes, crowns and accessories. Led by the Big Chiefs, each tribe meets with other tribes and attempt to “outdo” their counterparts with symbolic dancing, fierce chanting and interpretive movements which flaunt the intricate designs of their attire.

Fashion isn’t the only way Louisiana likes to express herself. New Iberia, a small town southeast of Lafayette, could have very well been plucked right out of a Claude Monet masterpiece, and its photogenic characteristics should not go unnoticed. 19th-century mansions, mossy oak trees and vivid azaleas set the scene for artists to “paint en plein air” at the Shadows-on-the-Teche Plein Air Competition. Paying tribute to the community’s creativity, the competition week hosts an art talk, painting demonstration, awards reception and fine art sale, and quick draw competition.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Travel

Libations and Liberation

Whether it be a night on the town at a jazz club or a family-friendly tailgate, libations are a given in Louisiana — the Sazerac cocktail was, after all, invented in New Orleans. Unlike other destinations in the U.S., libations in Louisiana are considered an offering of sorts that brings together strangers and creates new friends. It’s a chance to let loose and free yourself from an uneasy state of mind (hence why New Orleans is nicknamed "the Big Easy"). It’s a common purpose shared among the locals you’ll meet along your journey and the many locally owned bars and breweries. We can attest that Cure (a classy bar in NOLA) is an establishment that honors these values. Their theory? A cocktail bar is a place that provides “medicine” and a thoughtful place for ladies and gentlemen to socialize in a dignified manner — the essence of libations in Louisiana.

Ready to celebrate the #OnlyLouisiana way? Start planning your trip today.