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A beautiful morning at the beach in Wilmington, North Carolina
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Travel Spotlights: Southeast Region

Pristine beaches, forested state parks and lively cities fill the Southeast, home to comforting cuisine and legendary hospitality.

Music, Adventure and Southern Cuisine in Louisiana

From the mist-shrouded swamps to the rhythm of Cajun and Zydeco beats, Louisiana attracts visitors with its outdoor adventures, one-of-a-kind cuisine and rich cultural history. Considered the birthplace of Jazz, Lousiana’s music scene is thriving. Listen to street performers as you stroll through New Orleans’ French Quarter, or groove to bands at the iconic Teddy’s Juke Joint near Baton Rouge. Seeking tasty Southern food? Louisiana’s culinary offerings and fresh-caught seafood go hand in hand. Sample a crawfish boil, bite into a po’ boy stuffed with fresh oysters or savor a bowl of gumbo. For a sweet treat, you can’t go wrong with warm beignets or a classic bananas Foster. Beyond the urban sights and tasty delights, Louisiana’s great outdoors beckons to nature lovers. Kayak through bayous, take a guided boat tour through a swamp or hike through prairies teeming with wildlife.

Of course, no trip to Louisiana is complete without attending the lively escapades of a Mardi Gras celebration. Attend a parade, marvel at colorful costumes and collect strings of beads at this world-famous Carnival celebration that takes place throughout the state between January and March, depending on the timing of Easter.

Sunset over the bayou near Lafayette, Louisiana
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Louisiana Road Trip

New Orleans

New and old mix in this jewel of a city, home to distinct neighborhoods including the historic French Quarter, funky Marigny/Bywater and quaint Garden District. Grab a seat on the St. Charles Streetcar, pick a restaurant for a decadent dinner and shop in the boutiques on Magazine Street.

Monroe

Tour the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens to see where Coca-Cola was first bottled. Stroll around the lush gardens and pose for a photo with the brilliantly painted heron statue – it’s part of a city-wide public art project.

Shreveport

Fun is front and center here, thanks to casinos, year-round festivals, and stellar live music and food. Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, across the Red River in Bossier City, features shopping, restaurants and trolley rides. Be sure to catch a show at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, where legendary musician Elvis Presley launched his career.

Natchitoches

Nestled on the banks of Cane River Lake, Natchitoches is a charming community that’s more than 300 years old. Stay at a bed and breakfast in Natchitoches National Historic Landmark District, sample the city’s famous meat pies or take a horse-and-buggy tour.

Alexandria

Hike, bike and ride horseback through vast Kisatchie National Forest in the state’s center. The rolling hills, accented with longleaf pine forests, are popular for birdwatching, kayaking and camping.

Lake Charles

As the city’s name suggests, Lake Charles is home to a beautiful lake, but it’s also surrounded by marsh-lined inland waterways and Gulf of Mexico beaches. Search for seashells at Rutherford Beach, kayak the Calcasieu River and cast a line in the many canals and bayous.

Avery Island

Tour the Tabasco property to learn about the history and production of the island’s famous hot sauce. While there, stroll the company founder’s Jungle Gardens to see camellias, azaleas and an assortment of wildlife.

Lafayette

As the epicenter of all things Cajun and Creole, it’s no surprise Lafayette was named Southern Living’s Tastiest Town of the South. Check out local offerings at a farmers market, sample a menu from a gourmet food truck or relax at a family-style restaurant with live music.

Baton Rouge

In Louisiana’s exciting capital city, be entertained at a riverfront casino, and visit a floating museum focusing on naval history. Explore the ornate architecture of Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, including its stunning stained-glass dome.

Darrow

At Houmas House and Gardens, take a guided tour to learn about the history of this grand estate, enjoy fine dining at Latil’s Landing and relax in lush gardens. Pay a visit to the Great River Road Museum, also on the grounds.

Houma

Bring your appetite to Bayou Country, where the seafood is fresh and crawfish is king. Dine on po' boys, gumbos and seafood boils, then see alligators and other wildlife on an airboat swamp tour.

A brass band performing on the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana
Chris Granger

Live Music

Blending Caribbean, American, European and African cultures, New Orleans is a celebration of flavors, history and sounds. Jam to music day and night here in the birthplace of jazz at clubs, lively street performances and world-renowned festivals.

A street artist painting in Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana
Zack Smith

Shopping and Art

New Orleans is a magnet for creatives and a shopping paradise. See artists at work in Jackson Square, stroll down Julia Street and browse art galleries, or pick up one-of-a-kind souvenirs at local art markets throughout the French Quarter.

 A horse-drawn carriage ride through the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana
Zack Smith

Attractions and Tours

Tour New Orleans by horse-drawn carriage, streetcar or riverboat, and visit a variety of attractions such as museums like Mardi Gras World, Vue Orleans, and The Sazerac House or peruse shops teaching mystifying Voodoo traditions.

A mouthwatering bowl of seafood gumbo in New Orleans, Louisiana
Todd Coleman

Culinary and Cocktails

Eat your way through New Orleans, home to signature staples such as seafood gumbo and po’boy sandwiches. Satisfy your sweet tooth with beignets at Café du Monde, sample dishes in the French Market, dine on cuisine from award-winning chefs or sip a cocktail on Freret Street.

A man relaxing on a bench in New Orleans City Park
Paul Broussard

Outdoor Experiences

New Orleans offers visitors a variety of activities to enjoy outside. Relax beneath the shade of massive oak trees in New Orleans City Park, stroll through the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, or kayak along Bayou Saint John.

Alligator walks along Pintail Wildlife Drive on the Creole Nature Trail in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Creole Nature Trail All-American Road

The Creole Nature Trail All-American Road acts as a gateway to Lake Charles’ unique wilderness and local heritage. A network of backroads that offers access to Louisiana's untamed landscape, the trail is home to alligators, migrating butterflies and more than 400 species of birds.

View of Golden Nugget Lake Charles and L’auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Golden Nugget Lake Charles and L'Auberge Casino Resort

Lake Charles is home to two popular resorts, Golden Nugget Lake Charles and L'Auberge Casino Resort. Enjoy Las Vegas-style entertainment and fabulous restaurants, or indulge in a relaxing day of spa treatments and sipping cocktails poolside.

The 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lindsey Janies

1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center

History lovers should set aside an afternoon to explore the 1911 Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center, a public art gallery and exhibit hall featuring rotating presentations that highlight the destination’s history and works by local and regional artists.

Craft beer flight at Crying Eagle Brewing in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Thriving Craft Beverage Scene

Lake Charles offers a flavorful selection of local beers and spirits. At Crying Eagle Brewing, sip on a craft beer and take a brewery tour. Don’t miss a chance to sample Bayou Rum, the perfect complement to Southwest Louisiana cuisine.

Charming homes in Lake Charles’ Charpentier Historic District

Charpentier Historic District and Shell Beach Drive

Take a trip through time in the Charpentier Historic District and along Shell Beach Drive in Lake Charles. Marvel at the beautifully maintained 19th century homes with architectural details including gingerbread accents, turrets and iron fences.

More about Louisiana

Krewe of Harambe stilt walker at Mardi Gras parade in Shreveport, Louisiana
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Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana

In Shreveport-Bossier, history, culture and art connect two diverse cities. View public murals, explore Downtown Shreveport or go shopping along the Louisiana Boardwalk. Each winter, family-friendly Mardi Gras celebrations attract visitors with extravagant parades, balls and parties. Learn more
Photographing pink roses at The American Rose Center in Shreveport, Louisiana
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Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana

The American Rose Center in Shreveport is the nation’s largest park dedicated to roses. Featuring more than 20,000 rosebushes in a rainbow of colors, the park is also home to artistic sculptures and stunning fountains. Learn more

More about Louisiana

The main house of the Oakland Plantation in Cane River Creole National Historical Park
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Natchitoches, Louisiana

The oldest settlement in northwest Louisiana, Natchitoches offers a blend of culture, history and recreation. Travel along the Cane River Heritage Trail Scenic Byway where you can explore cultural sites and museums or shop unique boutiques in the historic downtown district. Learn more
Kayaking on Cane River Lake in Louisiana
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Natchitoches, Louisiana

The Red River once flowed through the center of Natchitoches before it formed the present-day Cane River Lake, which offers plenty of ways to get on the water. Spend an afternoon kayaking, take a boat tour or end the day with a relaxing riverboat cruise. Learn more

Photo: Brian Jarreau

More about Louisiana

Couple canoeing through swampland near Lafayette, Louisiana
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Lafayette, Louisiana

Considered the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Country, Lafayette is an outdoors enthusiast’s dream. Explore swamplands, watch for rare birds, spend an afternoon fishing or take a canoe trip as you paddle beneath the cypress trees. Learn more

Photo: Jamie Orillion

Dancing in the streets in downtown Lafayette
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Lafayette, Louisiana

While in Lafayette, grooving to Cajun and Zydeco beats is a must. Lafayette offers visitors a wide sampling of live music on any night of the week at a variety of venues and throughout the year at annual festivals. Learn more

Photo: Megan Bergeron

Charleston, South Carolina coast
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South Carolina

Myrtle Beach

Grab your coffee and savor the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean in Myrtle Beach – a great start to a day spent relaxing on the sand. Score more stellar views from atop the beachfront SkyWheel ride.

Charleston

In vibrant Charleston, lace up your walking shoes to tour the historic district or opt for a carriage ride’s relaxed pace. Save room for a feast at one of the city’s many award-winning restaurants.

Hilton Head Island

It’s all about outdoor relaxation on Hilton Head Island, with its grand resorts and seemingly endless beaches. Hone your golf or tennis game, and enjoy shopping and dining in Harbour Town.

Greenville

Stroll charming, pedestrian-friendly downtown Greenville for museums, theaters, boutiques and wow-worthy restaurants and rooftop bars. Walk across the Liberty Bridge for stunning views of the cascades in Falls Park.

Sea-to-Table Dining

Once the lair of Blackbeard the pirate, Murrells Inlet is now known as South Carolina’s seafood capital, a can’t-miss destination for fresh-caught delights. Dine on blue crab, scallops, shrimp and Brazilian black grouper while sipping a cold drink and enjoying the waterfront views.

Outdoor Adventures

Hop on a ferry from Hilton Head Island to a more secluded but no less enchanting island getaway. Bask in the underdeveloped, car-free world of Daufuskie Island for outdoor adventures such as horseback riding, hiking and fishing.

Mountain Excursions

Discover Blue Ridge Mountain beauty in northwestern South Carolina. Hike the Raven Cliff Falls Trail in Caesars Head State Park for stunning views of the cascading falls and surrounding mountains.

Small-town Charm

Wander, shop and dine alfresco in Aiken, historically renowned as a sporting retreat for wealthy Northerners, but also a welcoming quaint town for all. The city is a horse racing and polo hub, so time your visit with one of many notable events each year.

Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, Missouri
Explore St. Louis

Gateway Arch National Park

Missouri is a hub for Route 66 nostalgia, musical entertainment and outdoor fun. Explore bustling St. Louis and visit the iconic Gateway Arch National Park, home to the tallest monument in the USA. Take a tram to the top for incredible panoramic views of the city.

History Museum on the Square in Springfield, Missouri

History Museum on the Square

Springfield’s History Museum on the Square is a must-stop for any Route 66 aficionado. Explore the beginnings of the “Mother Road” through its golden years via interactive exhibits and galleries.

Succulent ribs at Sugarfire Smoke House in St. Louis, Missouri

Mouthwatering Barbecue

From savory burnt ends to slow-cooked pork, Missouri knows its barbecue. Indulge in Kansas City-style fare, known for its sweet, thick and tangy sauce, or bite into thick-cut St. Louis-style ribs smothered in a tomato-based sauce.

Dean Z performing as Elvis in Branson, Missouri

Branson Strip & Theatre District

Spend a few nights in Missouri’s Branson Entertainment District, where more than 30 theaters stage a variety of lively performances. Laugh at a comedy show, see amazing tribute artists or enjoy a magical evening with an illusionist.

The River of Life Farm in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains

The Ozarks

The beauty of southern Missouri’s Ozark Mountain region beckons to outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Hike the Ozark Trail, cycle at Shepherd Mountain Bike Park, paddle the Ozark National Scenic Riverways or experience glamping in treehouses at River of Life Farm.

The house where singer Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi

Elvis Presley Birthplace

Mississippi is known for its music history and traditions. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was born in 1935 in a two-room house in Tupelo that was built by his father. It’s now part of a compound that includes a park, statue, his childhood church and museum.

Exhibit at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Walter Anderson Museum of Art

Located in the quaint coastal city of Ocean Springs, this museum celebrates artist Walter Inglis Anderson, whose work highlights the region’s plants, animals and people in vivid detail through whimsical watercolors, drawings, oils, block prints, ceramics and carvings.

A nature trail in Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi

Tishomingo State Park

Mississippi’s great outdoors provides a wealth of adventures, from its barrier island beaches to rolling hills. In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Tishomingo State Park offers rock climbing, canoeing, walking along a wildflower-bordered trail and fishing in Haynes Lake.

Riding a motorcycle on The Natchez Trace Parkway through Mississippi

The Natchez Trace Parkway

After exploring Natchez, a charming Mississippi River city, drive or bike the Natchez Trace Parkway. This scenic and historic corridor extends to Nashville, Tennessee. Along the way, you can hike or ride horseback on trails through rolling hills, thick forests and cypress swamps.

Illinois Monument in Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi

Vicksburg National Military Park

This historic park preserves the site of one of the Civil War’s pivotal battles and the campaign leading to it. Visitors can tour battlefields and monuments while learning how the Union gained control of the Mississippi River after a three-month campaign in 1863 during the American Civil War.

Cave entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky

Mammoth Cave National Park

Escape into Kentucky’s vast wilderness, full of hiking trails and fishing spots. At Mammoth Cave National Park near Bowling Green, descend into the chambers of the world’s longest recorded cave system. Explore the rocky limestone crags and keep an eye out for bats and salamanders.

Touring a distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky

Explore Bourbon Country

Experience bourbon from its source, culinary traditions and Southern hospitality. Sample handcrafted spirits and visit distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, which features stops at renowned brands such as Maker’s Mark and Angel’s Envy.

Racing at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky

Churchill Downs Racetrack

Kentucky’s equestrian culture reflects the state’s untamed spirit. Famous for hosting the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs in Louisville is considered a quintessential Kentucky landmark. Attend a race if you can or tour the grounds and visit the Kentucky Derby Museum.

A young girl exploring the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky

Muhammad Ali Center

This award-winning museum is dedicated to preserving the history of famed boxer and activist Muhammad Ali. See exhibits, interactive displays, artwork and artifacts that focus on civil rights history. This is one of many cultural landmarks in downtown Louisville.

Outside the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum

Owensboro is considered the Capital of Bluegrass, and this museum celebrates the past and present of this unique style of country music. Discover musical greats in the Hall of Fame, see historically significant instruments and learn about Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass.

Exploring the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Alabama

U.S. National Park Service Attractions

Throughout Alabama, visitors will find federally designated sites that celebrate the state’s culture and history. Tour the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, see Russell Cave National Monument or experience Alabama’s beauty on a drive along Little River Canyon Rim Parkway.