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Ascension Parish, Louisiana is an attractive tourist destination for the diversity of it’s cultural resources, heritage, and culinary tradition. Located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the parish is uniquely situated for day trips from either city. It is also close enough to both airports that longer visits are a breeze. So, the next question to ask is: what are the best things to do and see when you visit Ascension? I’ve compiled a short list below that should entice you to come pay us a visit!
1. Eat local: Ascension Parish is known as the Jambalaya Capitol of the World, and for good reason. It is a standard dish in all households here and is also a staple on menus in local restaurants. We even have our own Jambalaya Festival every year! Most restaurants in the area serve traditional Cajun and Creole food and feature fresh Louisiana seafood on their menus.
2. Tour a plantation: Ascension Parish was once one of the most lucrative places to operate a sugar plantation in antebellum Louisiana. The fabulous wealth acquired by the planters allowed them to build stately plantation homes. Although many have been demolished over the past 150 years, some still remain, like Houmas House and Bocage. They are definitely worth a visit!
3. Visit Donaldsonville: A sleepy little town on the west bank of the Mississippi River, Donaldsonville sits at the fork of Bayou Lafourche and the river. It is the largest historic district in Louisiana outside of New Orleans and was once the state capitol, way back in the early 1800s. It is quaint, the food is good, and it’s a step back in time.
4. Go to a festival: Louisiana is known for its outdoor festivals. We hardly need any excuse at all to throw up a few tents, boil some crawfish, and listen to some live music. Ascension Parish is no exception: it has 3 major festivals (Jambalaya Festival, Swamp Pop Music Festival, and the Hot Air Balloon Festival) as well as smaller festivals like the Cajun Village Fall Fest.
5. Drive the great River Road: Louisiana’s fabled Great Mississippi River Road consists of a corridor approximately 70 miles in length located on each side of the river between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. While driving on it, you pass several antebellum plantations and really get to soak in the natural beauty of the area, with thousands of acres of sugarcane fields, ancient live oaks. There are even a few areas where you can drive up the levees and watch the barges and ocean-going sea vessels cruise up and down the river!
For help with planning an itinerary, please visit the Ascension Parish Tourism Commissions website.