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.
Now in its second year, the Baton Rouge Halloween Parade benefits Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital, the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, and the Big Buddy Program—whose children receive costumes collected during the 10/31 Consortium club's costume drive. These costumed children march in the parade each year, in keeping with the organization's efforts to preserve the practice of trick-or-treating.
The parade follows a surprise theme each year, and community individuals and Krewes, who drive and march along a downtown route, contribute and construct colorful floats. The 10/31 Consortium organizes this annual parade in an effort to nurture community creativity and inspire local youth.
During the narrated one-hour jaunt, the Spirit of the Red River Cruise careens aqueous explorers down the Red River and Cross Bayou toward a plethora of sights, ranging from historical bridges to local wildlife. The 35-passenger vessel comes equipped with a bevy of windows and an observation deck ideal for optimal water vistas. Glean fascinating tidbits from Captain Sandy Jackson, a long-time waterway navigator who highlights the area's history from its beginnings as a trading post to its current status as a riverboat casino haven for blackjack-engrossed egrets. The tour encourages participants to revel in up-close glimpses of the Old Railroad Swing Bridge, the Texas Street Bridge, and the Waddle "A" Frame Bridge as they engage in a heated game of bridge. The expedition often alights upon kingfishers, water snakes, turtles, alligators, great blue herons, and other local residents of the estuary that are usually spotted sunning themselves, stalking their prey, or opening up burgeoning lily-pad real-estate businesses.
The volunteers at Deutsches Haus have worked since 1928 to celebrate German culture and introduce locals to the country’s music, food, language, and history. The chirp of accordions and the crackle of bratwurst on a grill hint at events, including Oktoberfest and Volksfest festivals. Beers from German breweries such as Paulaner and Warsteiner run in straw-hued rivulets from mugs, and vendors dressed in dirndls and lederhosen sell traditional steins. During weekly meetings of the Schlaraffia, a jovial, international fraternity, guests belt out literary and humorous compositions to entertain one another or try to teach robots to laughs.
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.
Situated in a sweet spot along the bayou, Restaurant des Familles sates rumbling bellies with Cajun cuisine, including fresh and local seafood, chicken, and more. The dinner menu starts stomach engines with authentic turtle soup ($5 for a cup, $11 for a bowl), titillating the tongue while saving room for a feast or for the tongue to retract into the stomach. The crawfish-stuffed rainbow trout wears a buttery garlic sauce ($19), and the fisherman's jambalaya ($15) introduces shrimp, chicken, and sausage to one another over seasoned rice. Lunchtime Creole classics include the half po' boy, served with a cup of chicken or seafood gumbo ($12), and the prix-fixe Sunday brunch¬ ($28)—a 5-course menu—comes bearing gifts of limitless champagne (or a non-alcoholic beverage).