Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans lies Louisiana’s River Parishes, a 30-mile strip of land unlike any other. The region’s culture is rooted in traditions from the Germans, Acadians, French, Spanish, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans who lived there, resulting in a diverse travel experience. As your groups tour the small towns, plantations, and swamps, they’ll experience authentic Louisiana living.

Just before the Civil War began, there were more than 300,000 enslaved people in Louisiana, and that period in history is represented at several plantations in the Louisiana River Parishes area. For example, Destrehan Plantation is a living history museum with interpreters who guide visitors across the property and through the history of the Destrehan family, the lives of the enslaved, and the plantation’s architectural features. Meanwhile, the Whitney Plantation is the only former plantation site in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on slavery and its impact today. Through exhibits and artwork, visitors can learn about the generations of enslaved Africans who tended to the plantation’s indigo, rice, and sugar crops.

In addition to learning about Louisiana’s history, groups should make time to explore Louisiana’s unique outdoors. Swamp tours are some of the most popular experiences in Louisiana, and the River Parishes region is no exception. In Shell Bank Bayou, get up close and personal with nature with the guidance of Wild Louisiana Tours. Kayak through the historic Manchac cypress swamp, which was once a destroyed logging ghost town. Cajun Pride Swamp Tours is another local favorite. Led by native Cajun captains, the tours are both a local history lesson and a wildlife safari. Keep an eye out for alligators, wild pigs, raccoons, and more.

After all that exploring, your group is bound to be hungry. Not only is there excellent jambalaya and gumbo at many area restaurants, but your group can also dine on catfish from Lac des Allemands, aka the “Catfish Capital of the Universe,” and follow along on the Andouille Trail to try the famous French-German sausages. If your group is interested in a hands-on culinary experience, visit Spuddy’s Cajun Foods in Vacherie, where you can make your own andouille and smoked sausage.

Main Image: Shell Bank Bayou; Credit: Chase Guttman/Louisiana’s River Parishes