Devoted to preserving Cajun culture by sharing it with the public, Cajun Pride Tours’ knowledgeable and passionate guides lead groups on tours that explore area swamps, plantations along the Great Mississippi River Road, and the historic districts of New Orleans. They also stroll along city streets in the French Quarter in New Orleans, the Garden District, and areas that display the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. On boat trips, groups can spot friendly gators while floating through the Manchac Swamp—a protected area that prohibits any hunting, fishing, or tickling of the native wildlife. A short drive past the swamps drops tourists off near the area’s plantations that are notable for their history, architecture, landscaping, and insight into Creole culture.
Twenty-five minutes south of New Orleans, the tour guides of Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours guide memorable expeditions into the heart of bayou country. They maneuver swamp boats through brackish water and groves of mossy cypress trees, pointing out alligators, snakes, and other wildlife along the way. This Louisiana swamp tour is located in a National Wildlife Preserve.
With its imposing, slate-gray façade, the 170-year-old U.S. Custom House may be the last building in which you’d expect to hear the delighted squeals of children. But behind the steely columns, the building erupts into 23,000 square feet of colorful displays and fluttering, scuttling insects, courtesy of the Audubon Society and Insectarium. In the Asian garden, hundreds of butterflies dodge shafts of sunlight to alight on tropical ferns and the shoulders of young visitors. And at the Insects of New Orleans gallery, visitors can ogle the pink katydids, cockroaches, and lovebugs that contribute to the city’s heritage.
These bug-filled displays are all part of the insectarium’s mission to conserve Louisiana’s indigenous species and inspire stewardship in its visitors. While adults can sate their curiosity with the vast array of exotic species, curators gear many displays toward young guests by making them lighthearted and interactive: the Field Camp’s entomologist answers questions about how to collect bugs or break up flea-circus strikes, and at Bug Appétit, chefs dole out insect-filled delicacies to adventurous palates.
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.
Starting at the elegant white columns at the New Orleans African American Museum, the Tremé walking tour shepherds groups of up to 23 wanderers through the culturally significant neighborhood. For two hours every Monday, Friday, and Saturday, guests traipse through 300 years of richly saturated history, learning more effectively than sipping the contents of a blender full of history textbooks. Patrons tread across original handmade bricks that cover the ground in parts of one of the oldest African American communities. They also meander through Congo Square and St. Augustine Church as the knowledgeable guide sprinkles in anecdotes about the rise of jazz, creole architecture, and the New Orleans civil-rights movement.