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Cajun Crawl – Louisiana Style

  • Destination: United States RV Tours
  • Duration: 27 days

March 19 – April 14, 2018

Two Person / RV $6,095
One Person / RV $4,295
Additional Guest $2,495

March 23 – April 18, 2020

Two Person / RV $TBD
One Person / RV $TBD
Additional Guest $TBD

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CAJUN TREASURE? THERE’S NO MYTH! CULTURE, FOOD, MUSIC & MORE

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!

Louisiana’s ‘je ne se que’ keeps us coming back for more…

The eclectic state of Louisiana is the embodiment of diversity, making it the perfect place to visit for those who are overdue for some entertainment, fabulous food, and nonstop festivities. Adventure Caravans RV Tours and Rallies heeds the call for fun with its 27-day Cajun Crawl, a must for the fun-loving adventurer in everyone. Reserve your spot today on our next scheduled rendezvous through the motley Pelican State, which includes stops in some of Louisiana’s most celebrated cities, including Shreveport, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and New Orleans, and some better kept secret gems like Monroe, Natchitoches, Vidalia, Alexandria, and Houma.

Adventure Caravans’ Cajun Crawl kicks off in Natchitoches, Louisiana’s oldest settlement, and the location for the filming of Steel Magnolias. The Get Acquainted Party and Orientation is followed by three full days of painting the town crawfish red, starting with a guided trolley tour of the ‘Steel Magnolia’ filming trail, along with a visit to St. Augustine Church, the site of the movie’s famous wedding scene. Then, it’s forward and onward through the state with other included stops to the notable buildings and homes in the town’s Historic Downtown District.

Not to forget, the Fort St. Jean Baptiste Historical Site, the first permanent European settlement in the expanse of territory later included in the Louisiana Purchase. Meant as a trading and military outpost against the Spanish, the fort is a replica based on blueprints of the original 1716 structure. Other stops in Natchitoches include the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Bishop’s House and Seminary, the Oakland Plantation Cane River National Heritage Area, Melrose Plantation, and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum.

Along the way we head to the Oakland Plantation Cane River National Heritage, one of only 49 areas recognized by the U. S. Congress for its role in the formation of our collective American experience. Located in the state’s northwestern corner, this agriculturally rural site is home to many historic plantations displaying the distinctive Creole architecture influenced by its significant multi-cultural past. Also found on these laureled grounds are a national park, seven National Historic Landmarks, three State Historical Sites, and various homes, churches, and other significant structures. Historically, the site marks the location of the French and Spanish impasse, while today, continuing with its divergent presence, it is home to an array of cultures including American Indian, French, Spanish, African, and Creole.

The second leg of our Cajun Crawl takes us to Shreveport and Monroe. Located in North Louisiana, the region is also home to the Sportsman’s Paradise, coined for its tens upon tens of thousands of acres of lush landscapes and unique natural surroundings brimming with wildlife. The area also features salt marshes containing numerous channels and bayous also brimming with both salt and fresh water life, including speckled trout, red fish, flounder, croaker, and black drum. This region thrives with outdoor sports enthusiasts visiting to take full advantage of its hunting and fishing outlets, boating, along with those interested in studying and photographing this diverse natural habitat.

In Shreveport and Monroe proper, scattered casinos remind us that civilization is always within arm’s reach, and explore it we do! Our Cajun Crawl continues with visits to the Biendenharn Coke Museum and Gardens, and Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Center Refuge, which offers a 1700 acre lake, nature trails, a boardwalk and piers, observation decks, fishing, birdwatching, canoeing, boating, and the Conservation Learning Center with live animal exhibits and an arboretum. We also manage to get in some needed moments of relaxation time during our visit to the Landry Vineyards for a tour and wine tasting event, where visitors are treated to generous wine samplings and companion aperitifs. The sights and sounds of Louisiana continue throughout our visits to the Alligator Park and Exotic Zoo, the Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Museum, and our stroll on the Louisiana Boardwalk, which is followed by a lovely boat cruise on the Red River.

Days eight through twelve of our getaway are spent in Louisiana’s east-central region, and is scantly enough time for what follows. Our adventure kicks off at Duck Dynasty Warehouse and Gift Shop, a stop we make in route to our next destination. Built mostly to entertain the crowd of Robertson family fans, the gift shop features a grand array of Duck Dynasty show swag, including bobble-heads, t-shirts, key chains, and of course, the famous duck calls, where among them the World’s Largest Duck Call can be found proudly displayed. Vidalia, our next destination, is considered a city despite its population of just over 4,000 people. This is due mostly to its standing as the largest city in Concordia Parish, validating the panache this tiny, but historically gifted, city possesses. Later, we embrace the still tangible antebellum period by hailing a horse and buggy to properly tour the Longwood Antebellum Mansion and Natchez Pilgrimage site, where we lose ourselves in its grandeur and historic feel.

Our stay in Vidalia comes to a climatic end with a visit to the Frogmore Cotton Plantation and Gins. Entrenched among old, labyrinthine country roads, this 1,800 acre cotton gin is still active after its establishment over 200 years ago. The plantation has long since retired its old antique gins in favor of its current, more modern machinery, but they are still pristinely displayed for viewing. One compelling attraction of this historic site cannot be displayed or viewed, not in the conventional sense. We refer to its intricate and storied past. If cotton gins could talk, this one would certainly keep you up all night with one doozy of a tale after another. Thankfully, our expedition includes a most engaging account of the plantation’s legendary yesteryear.

Established initially in 1790 with only a log cabin, the area was previously the site of ancient Native American farmers, and later, was privy to many brutal civil war battles, some specifically took place on this land. The region has also been indelibly influenced by the French and Indian War, the marked effects of which are apparent to this day. We also hear about the influence the Spanish had on the region, along with England’s cotton industry, and the invention of the cotton gin. We are introduced to the inaugural log cabin and are then guided through 19 other historical buildings, all over 100 years old, including a church, cooking cabins, a sugarcane mill, a slave house and quarters, and the overseer’s cottage. The tour’s piece de resistance is the display of an integrally maintained, but retired, 1884 Munger cotton gin. Fittingly, we are later introduced to the harvesting methods and technology currently being used at the plant today. It is said that the technology is so comprehensively computerized and electronically run, it is considered a true technological marvel.

Evident in the leisurely transforming surroundings, our departure from Vidalia has us leaving the Cypress Bayou country behind in favor of the freshness and grandeur of Alexandria’s piney hill country, found deep in the heart of Louisiana. This marked change of scenery is the reason Alexandria is often referred to as “The Crossroads,” as it is where the Louisiana wetlands noticeably give way to its densely populated farmlands. In addition to the notable change in the environmental scenery, the city itself boasts its own varied and unique heritage. A few things in store for us are a tour of the River Oaks Square Arts Center and the Area Plant Nurseries, along with a dinner and tour of the Lloyd Hall Plantation, complete with a look at his collection of farm tools and classic cars.

Our visit to Kent Plantation House, however, is among the highlights of our stay. Found along the banks of the Red River deep in the heart of the state, the main house is considered the oldest standing structure in Central Louisiana. The site can be found on the National Register of Historic Places, due greatly to its ornate past. The plantation’s original owner Pierre Baillio II was granted the land in 1795 from, none other, than King Charles IV of Spain. The structure exemplifies French Colonial architecture and illustrates the distinct influence of the French, Spanish, and American cultures on the state and region. The buildings open for viewing include the mill house, the slave cabin, carriage house, barn, blacksmith shop, sugar mill, and the cemetery.

The good times keep rolling on more than just the crap tables in Lake Charles. Known widely for its animated nightlife and decadent gambling casinos, this dynamic city also boasts over 75 festivals and fairs yearly, making it the Festival Capital of Louisiana, as well as, yet another reason why fun-loving visitors return year after year.

A lively cheese and wine reception eases us into the festive atmosphere, upon our arrival. And, a visit from the Mardi Gras 12th Night Revelers further legitimizes our Adventure Caravans’ party-seeking agenda. A precursor to Mardi Gras, the 12th Night represents the last day of Christmas, and its Revelers, formed by a group of Mardi Gras devotees, dedicate themselves to promoting the true meaning, spirit and taste of the season throughout the entire year. They officially kick-off Mardi Gras every year at the annual 12th Night Revelers Ball, figuratively setting out the welcome mat for the season.

Destination spots for the next couple of days in Lake Charles include the Mardi Gras Museum, featuring the largest costume display in the world, the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, the Pinetail Wildlife Drive and Boardwalk, the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, and a beautiful carriage ride through the city’s Historic Downtown. We also enjoy a performance by the Diamond Dancers, lunch at the Seafood Palace, and a demonstration and tasting at King Cake and the Louisiana Spirits Rum Distillery, before departing for our next destination to explore. But, before we move on, we visit the natural wonderment of the Creole Nature Trail – All American Road, an unforgettable Lake Charles experience.

Often referred to as the Louisiana Outback, the Creole Nature Trail route winds through marshlands, prairies, and 26 miles of Gulf beaches. This protected organic area features unbelievably high populations of birds and alligators, making it an official natural wonder. This scenic byway also offers fishing, crabbing, shelling, hunting, and opportunities for nature-watching and photography, the likes of which would satisfy anyone, from the most seasoned and discriminating sportsman to the simple, relaxed nature-loving layman.

For those more interested in experiencing it all through the car window, the adjunct All American Road runs through the expanse of this organic heaven. Accessible by car, it is one of only 43 national scenic byways recognized by the US Department of Transportation. Birds, alligators, and other wildlife can be viewed up close, and the gulf beaches with opportunities for shelling and relaxation, can also be experienced up close. At least one or more of six “intrinsic qualities” outline by the department is required to be considered for this recognition, and of these six “intrinsic qualities,” you can count on finding at least three of them here: historic, natural, scenic, and recreational. It is a bountifully blessed area.

We continue on to the heart of French Louisiana to explore Lafayette and its surrounding areas. In addition to its unique cultural ambience, which is due in no small part to its 200 years of French influence, this city boasts about doing things a little differently here, reminiscent of Austin’s “Keeping it weird” mentality. Much like finding a small foreign country in the middle of a U.S. state, Lafayette and its native inhabitants have a culture all their own, along with an unquenchable joie de vivre (joy of life). This means that, the people, the food, and the festivals equal fun for all visitors. With no further ado, we hit the ground running upon arrival and make our way to as many places as our scant two days allow. We start with a comprehensive tour of the city, and then we stop at the Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center. We take a small breather in Vermilionville to visit its Cajun/Creole Heritage and Folk Life Park. While in there, we enjoy a Homestyle Cajun Meal, visit a fascinating 500 year old oak tree, and an above ground cemetery brimming with historic stories to share. Also, on our agenda are the Historic Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, and the Martin Accordion Workshop, where we strike a lighter note by enjoying some foot-stomping Cajun entertainment.

New Iberia and its surrounding areas await us next. We make our way to the Rip Van Winkle Gardens, on Jefferson Island, where our next adventure looms. First, we take a moment to fuel up for the experience, at Café Jefferson, located on the garden grounds. We order up a feast for our stomachs, before heading off to feast our eyes upon the splendid beauty of the Jefferson House. Its exquisite, minutely detailed architecture, and overall grandeur, are beyond description by mere words. The exterior of the house boasts sprawling decks and leisurely revolving ceiling fans. An intricately beautiful fountain adores the courtyard, and from there, Spanish moss can be seen languishing lazily off the leaves and branches of sprawling oak trees, while softly swaying with the gentle evening breezes. On the veranda, the colorful splendor of a peacock, or two, can often be seen, showcasing their mesmerizingly embellished fans. Leaving the beauty of the house is quickly offset by the breathtaking sights of the gardens. Located, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere, the sublime beauty of the natural surroundings is an unexpected oasis. The grounds exude a distinct Asian influence, with artifacts and additional fountains sprinkled about, as if leading us to the placid serenity of the lake. We eventually gather the strength to bid the area a farewell to discover, yet, another splendid sight.

The Avery Island Jungle Gardens are comprised of 170 acres of semitropical foliage, wildlife and a centuries old Buddha statue. Rolling hills stretch along Bayou Petite, replete with a variety of azaleas, camellias and bamboo. The garden’s perimeter features an expanse of hills and marshes housing deer, raccoons, and alligators. Known for its efforts and support of saving the Egrets, the garden’s Bird City was founded by E. A. McIlhenny (Mr. Ned) in the 1890s, after he witnessed the slaughter of thousands of egrets, to utilize their beautiful feathers for the mere purpose of decorating women’s hats. Mr. Ned’s efforts were the catalyst to what has become the Avery Island Jungle Gardens’ heroic tale of conservation and respect for nature, the evidence of which can still be seen today. After taking in the areas splendor, we make time to take in some additional must-sees before departing New Iberia, which include a Windshield Tour of the Historic District, spotlighting plantation homes along the Bayou Teche and the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. A Tour of the Konriko Rice Mill and Company Store follow, along with a stop at the St. Martin de Tours Church. Then, it’s onward for more!

The excitement is palpable upon arriving in Baton Rouge, the state’s capitol. A college town devoted to cheering on its LSU football team, this city has an abundance of national sites to offer visitors, too. We take in a guided tour of the city in a Luxury Motor Coach and drive by the old and new Governor’s Mansions. Tours of the Old and New Louisiana State Capitol Building are also on our short-list of imperative site visits, before heading over to the Capitol Park Museum to leisurely peruse the city’s colorful history. Last, but not least, we catch a tour of the pride of the state and people, the campus of Louisiana State University, or LSU, as it is more commonly referred to. Then, we head out again to continue our Cajun Crawl through the state of Louisiana, where our next stop is Houma.

The end of our Cajun Crawl through Louisiana nears, so we take the opportunity to slow it down a notch or two during our visit to Houma. This small city in the south central part of the state, shares many qualities with the state in its entirety, like its food, fishing, music, and hospitality, it is definitely the swamps, that set it apart from other cities its size. Our two day stint here will consist of a little rest and relaxation as we take in a Cajun Man’s Swamp Tour and the Greenwood Gator Farm Tour. Any leftover time before heading off to our final leg of this tour, is to be spent freely. Rest and relaxation are usually the majority favorite, because depleted energy reserves will not bode well for anyone when we reach our final stop, New Orleans.

Sure enough, the celebration starts upon arrival – wait. That is not exactly accurate. Better said, “We join in the nonstop celebration” once we arrive in New Orleans. And, wasting no time on niceties, we make a beeline to the city’s world-famous French Quarter, where we end up hanging our hats for the better part of the next three days. Take note, snap as many pictures as possible during the time here, juuuust in case. It is unbelievable how many visitors can’t remember much of what transpires here, once back home.

Like most people in the French Quarter, we embark on our journey mostly by foot. But, the party is never far. As a matter of fact, on this adventure, the party is everywhere! We happen to be surrounded by the French Quarter Festival! It’s a celebration of everything New Orleans, its food, its music, its history, and its wonderful people. The festival touts itself as the “The Largest Free Festival in the United States,” and for good reason. This three-day party of sheer entertainment and fun regularly attracts about three-quarters of a million people, (732,000 in 2014) and involves almost 2,000 musicians and several hundreds of hours of free musical entertainment. The party is capable of keeping guests engrossed for its entirety, as long as we are willing to allow it.

Adventure Caravans RV Tours and Rallies knows how to bring its adventure tours to an end with a bang. And the Cajun Crawl through Louisiana is no exception. It’s the RULE! This resounding bang is a first-class delivery of fun, fun, and more fun, packaged in one of the most celebrated festivals in the country, the French Quarter Festival, held in one of the most famous cities in the U. S., New Orleans. It’s an experience of a lifetime.

Departure day has arrived, and we head to our lunch site overlooking Lake Pontchartrain to convene with fellow adventurers. This is a bitter-sweet lunch, because it’s where we get to share a meal, some drinks, and lots of laughter as we exchange stories, but, we also know that it is for the last time before heading home. Knowing that we can meet again, however, once we are ready to embark on the next explorative tour of our choice, makes departing a little easier. Next up for a goodbye is the city of New Orleans, and the entire state of Louisiana.

The Big Easy sure does make it hard for us to leave. But, we must bid a sweet adieu to all, and return home. We will not soon forget the experience of the eclectic state of Louisiana. Its colorful residents, comprised mostly by Acadians, Cajuns and Creoles, and the historic influence left behind by the French, Spanish, African, and American Indian cultures, still palpable in the region, will continue to resonate in our minds and hearts. We will yearn for the taste of Cajun and Creole cuisine, and still hear the lively music, with a richly woven mix of rhythm and blues, country, zydeco, and jazz. And, we finally admit that no one knows how to throw a party quite like New Orleans. So, once home, we are left to dream of returning to the state that seeps in rich traditions, assorted ethnicity, and an unquenchable spirit of celebration.

So, sweet dreams, Adventurers. Until we meet again for our next experience of a lifetime.

As we must say goodbye on Day 27, we know you will enjoy this Cajun Crawl experience through Louisiana’s diverse landscape and history.

Itinerary

Day 1 -3
Natchitoches, LA
● Get Acquainted Party & Orientation
● Guided Natchitoches Motorcoach Tour
● Historic Downtown District & Homes
oldest permanent settlement in the United States
● Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum
● Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
● Bishop’s House & Seminary Dorm
● Lunch at Merci Beaucoup
Home of the Famous Meat Pie
● Tour Melrose Plantation
● Tour Oakland Plantation Cane River
National Heritage Area
● St. Augustine Church
Site of the Wedding Scene in the Movie ‘Steel Magnolias’
● Magnolia Plantation Narrative Drive-By Tour
● Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store
● Guided ‘Steel Magnolia’ Filming Trail Trolley Tour
● Fort St. Jean Baptiste Historical Site
Day 4 - 5
Shreveport, LA
● Chocolate Crocodile (learn to dip chocolate)
● Guided Shreveport Motorcoach Tour
● Gator & Friends Alligator Park and Exotic Zoo
● Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Museum
● Louisiana Boardwalk
Boat Cruise on Red River
Day 6 - 7
Monroe, LA
● Biendenharn Coke Museum & Gardens
● Landry Vineyards Tour & Tasting
● Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Center Refuge
Day 8 - 10
Vidalia, LA
● Duck Dynasty Warehouse & Gift Shop
● Guided Vidalia Motorcoach Tour
● Natchez Visitors Center
● Horse & Buggy City Tour, Natchez Pilgrimage &
– Longwood Antebellum Mansion Tour
● Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins
Day 11 - 12
Alexandria, LA
● Guided Alexandria & Surrounding Area Motorcoach Tour
● Guided Kent Plantation House Tour
● Silver Dollar Pawn Store
Home of the Popular TV Program ‘Cajun Pawn Stars’
● River Oaks Square Arts Center
● Guided Drive-By Tour of Area Plant Nurseries
– with a stop at Area Plant Nursery
● Dinner and Tour of Loyd Hall Plantation
– including his Collection of Old Cars and Farm Tools
Day 13 - 15
Lake Charles, LA
● Rank Wildcat Spirits Distillery Tour & Tasting
● Guided Lake Charles Motorcoach Tour
● Diamond Dancers Performance
● Mardi Gras Museum
– Largest Mardi Gras Costume Display in the World
● Guided Carriage Ride of Historic Downtown Lake Charles
– and Charpentier Historic District
● King Cake Demonstration & Tasting
● Lunch at Seafood Palace Restaurant
● World Famous Creole Nature Trail – All American Road
● Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge
● Pintail Wildlife Drive & Boardwalk
Day 16 - 18
Lafayette, LA
● Guided Lafayette Luxury Motorcoach Tour
● Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center
● Vermilionville Cajun / Creole Heritage & Folk Life Park
Home-style Cajun Lunch in Vermilionville
● 500 Year Old Oak Tree, Above Ground Cemetery &
– Historic Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
Martin Accordian Workshop Tour & Cajun Entertainment
● Guided New Iberia Motorcoach Tour
Tabasco Factory
● Avery Island Jungle Gardens
● Rip Van Winkle Gardens
● Lunch at Cafe Jefferson in Rip Van Winkle Gardens
● New Iberia Historic District Windshield Tour
● Konriko Rice Mill & Company Store
● St. Martinville – Home of Longfellow’s ‘Evangeline’
● Acadian Memorial Museum, Evangeline’s Grave
– Evangeline Oak Tree & Statue, St. Martin Square
● St. Martin de Tours Church
Day 19 - 21
Baton Rouge, LA
● Guided Baton Rouge Motorcoach Tour
● LSU Campus Tour
● Drive By of the Old and New Governors Mansions
● Louisiana Old State Capitol Building
● Louisiana New State Capitol Building
● Capitol Park Museum
Day 22 - 23
Houma, LA
● Cajun Man’s Swamp Tour
● Greenwood Gator Farm Tour
● Free Time to Explore Houma
Day 24 - 27
New Orleans, LA
● French Quarter Walking Tour
French Quarter Festival
● Guided New Orleans City Motorcoach Tour
– including Garden District, St. Charles Ave
– & Above Ground Cemetery
● Mardi Gras World
● Farewell Lunch Overlooking Lake Pontchartrain
● Hitch-up Continental Breakfast, Hugs & Good-byes

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Testimonials

  • “Exciting tours, delicious dinners, close to speedway—good seats. It was all good.”
    Rick & Gail Davies
  • “We liked everything! Great itinerary, delicious staff prepared meals, bus transport and parking so handy. This is the way to do Mardi Gras!”
    Kathy Michaud
  • “We had an enjoyable fun adventure in NYC.”
    Thomas & Shirley Lynch
  • “The trip was what we expected and more!”
    Joe & Margie Mirabella
  • “The things I liked best on this rally were, everything! Never could have done so much on our own.”
    Carolyn & Cheeze Cheezum
  • “We had a great trip. We went to many places & shows that we wouldn’t have done on our own. The Wagonmasters & Tailgunners were great! They went beyond the call of duty with all the great food, campfires, socials, etc!”
    Steve & Pat Fuchs

 

 

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Cajun Crawl – Louisiana Style

  • First let me say that Barbara and I enjoyed the rally.  We would give it a solid 10+ points.  We look forward eagerly to our next adventure.  We would enthusiastically recommend Adventure Caravans to friends or strangers.  It was fun!

    Frank & Barbara McCollum
  • “The entire team did a very good job. They were so helpful and lots of fun to be with. They bent over backwards to accommodate us. It was a great rally. The Rallymasters were lots of fun and so efficient. We had a very good time.”
    Jim & Jan Dawes
  • “This trip was absolutely amazing and wonderful! A new adventure every day, we loved every minute of it.”
    Pete & Fawn Olvera
  • “We had a ball! Our teams were great, we love all four of them!”
    Phil & Donna Laugen
  • “Excellent trip! We experienced so much in a relatively short period of time. The length of this trip was perfect for us. The amount of free time was perfect.”
    Frank & Roz Jaronzyck
  • “I would recommend this type of Alaska experience to everyone!”
    Dale Jobe & Carol Colburn
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