For the last 20 years, satanic cults, monsters, and the undead have been congregating at The House of Shock to perform unspeakable horrors in the name of Halloween. Envisioned by a crack team of fright experts, including Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, this seasonal haunt has been featured in the Travel Channel's Halloween's Most Extreme, Rolling Stone, Maxim, and Top Haunts magazine's list of the Top 13 Haunts nationwide. The house's exhibits are so scary that they've caused some extreme reactions. Allegedly, one patron's heart stopped beating. After she was resuscitated and rushed to the hospital, it was determined she had technically been dead for a short period.
As a live metal band strikes its first ominous chords, the fright fest kicks off with a nightly horror show of pyrotechnics, death metal, live stunts, and masochists. Adrenaline levels soar as courageous guests tiptoe through the coffins, ornate gravestones, and crumbling mausoleums of an ancient graveyard. The house's professional actors don't just slink by waving chainsaws and body parts—they tear apart bodies and scare the dickens out of guests who brave the interactive horrors of a funeral parlor, a morgue, and a butcher shop's dreadfully rotten cuts of beef. The adventure reaches terrifying new heights in a controversial satanic church, where flickering candles and hellfire cast eerie shadows on demonic worshipers and their torture victims. The onsite Hell's Kitchen churns out thematic eats and adult beverages to help frightened guests regain their senses before they revert to a mental world where the only conflict is over which Teletubby wore it best.
West Baton Rouge Museum houses a chronological arsenal of artifacts and exhibits that represent Louisiana's rich history. In the Interest of Our Parish: Three Hundred Years of History in West Baton Rouge visually outlines the city's beginnings, from the building of river levees to a discussion of how the crawfish came to be the state bird. An outdoor neighborhood of six antique structures showcases historically decorated slave cabins plucked from the 19th-century Allendale Plantation, and the Reed Shotgun House opens its doors to provide patrons a peek at life as a 1938 migrant worker. The remainder of the museum's cache includes a model of a 1904 sugar mill and regular rotating exhibits, as well as a cash-crop garden and photogenic courtyard. Visiting families can opt to shuttle through the grounds with the informative lead of a museum tour guide or by following a careful trail of beignets from sight to sight.
Typically, when someone walks into a restaurant and leaves with a piece of artwork it's a misdemeanor. But at café @ artspace it's not just legal, but encouraged—as long as you pay for it. Since the café is attached to artspace—a hub for art exhibitions, poetry readings, and live concerts—there's always a selection of original artworks by regional artists on hand in the gift shop. These creations occupy diners as they wait for one of the café's golf-themed sandwiches or housemade desserts, which they can order from the menu or a chalkboard scrawled with the day's specials. Meals may be prepared to go or enjoyed in the café, where free WiFi allows diners to tweet photos of their silverware.
Preservation is as much a priority as presentation at LeMieux Galleries, which is why the displays that the shop crafts from thousands of frames and acid-free mats often involve leaving a buffer of air between delicate paintings and glass. Framers there ensure that stolen copies of the Declaration of Independence can be secretly enjoyed for generations to come with their careful framing techniques, which can preserve the natural edge of paper and safeguard the stitches of antique needlework. In more than a quarter century in the business, the store has displayed everything from souvenir magazines to jerseys within their frames, the styles of which range from sleek contemporary to the ornate gold moulding that grows unbidden in French palaces. LeMieux Galleries also exhibits sculptures, paintings, and ceramics by artists from the Gulf South.
The hands-on, participatory Children’s Museum of Acadiana entertains children aged 2 to 12 while boosting their understanding of art, human development, and cultural awareness. The Bubble Factory exhibit engulfs children in a life-sized bubble while they concoct massive bubbles of their own. Stuffee teaches future surgeons the proper placement and usage of internal organs without the use of tiny tweezers and an electric buzzer. Children stage their own TV newscast at the Le TV des Enfants exhibit, where they learn the ins and outs of being a camera operator, meteorologist, or a newscaster.
The guides at Cajun Tours and Cruises lead small groups on expansive adventures through the history and architecture of New Orleans. Experts meet groups at their hotels, houses, or couch forts at 9 a.m. to venture out on citywide jaunts. Eyes explore prime examples of Southern architecture, including Creole townhouses with asymmetrical arched openings and stucco exteriors, and shotgun houses with covered front porches and lacey Victorian ornamentation. Camera wielders click photos, freezing moments in the French Quarter, Jackson Square, and St. Louis Cathedral before wandering past the site where the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina. In City Park, guides dole out refreshments at the Pavilion, recounting how the sculpture garden was donated and how it once came to life on a full moon. After picnics, visitors hop rides on streetcars and cruise down St. Charles Avenue to take in more beautiful New Orleans structures, returning to their home bases at 4 p.m.