The Neyland Report
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Even if you already took your summer vacation, maybe you deserve one last blast before summer has passed. Here in Louisiana, you do not have to go far to have a great weekend getaway. Everything from moderately-priced camping experiences to luxury accommodations will be poised to welcome early Fall visitors. There are dozens of options, but we have selected four of our favorites. Don’t just take our word for it – get packing and let’s go!

Houmas House After Dark

HOUMAS HOUSE is arguably the most exquisitely restored plantation property in the state. Owner Kevin Kelley has spared no expense with his historically authentic restoration of the main house. Being the creative genius he is, however, he has added buildings, restaurants, bars, and stunning overnight accommodations.
Where to stay: Houmas House Bed and Breakfast offers elegant rooms with all the modern convenience, but furnishings are beautifully old world. Be prepared; these are high end accommodations and priced accordingly.
What to do: Take a guided tour of the main house, and then stop by the art gallery nearby. Take your time walking among the manicured gardens, and make your way to the Turtle Bar for a brandy milk punch. Be sure to schedule a casual lunch in Café Burnside (try the Bourbon Shrimp), and dinner at Latil’s Landing. Papaya stuffed lobster anyone? Yes, please.
(30 miles from Baton Rouge)

Only in Louisiana could we build an entire tourist destination around hot sauce. Avery Island is the home of Tabasco. The sauce is made right there and you can watch it happen, but there is so much more to do there.
What to do: The tour of the Tabasco factory is fascinating, largely because it chronicles the five generation so the McIlhenny family, the founders and stewards of the brand. After that, be sure to take a self guided tour of the lush 170-acre Jungle Gardens, or a guided tour that focuses on the exotic plants and birds that inhabit the island. Your trip to Avery Island should also include the guided culinary tour through Acadiana. Eating your way through Acadiana makes for a good Cajun day.
Where to stay: We like the Louisiana Cajun Mansion Bed and Breakfast near Lafayette. It is about a 30-minute drive from Avery Island, and worth the trip. There are only three guest suites, but there are also “glamping” tent accommodations. Elegant and moderately priced, this place is not only beautifully decorated, but also dedicated to first rate service.
(84 miles from Baton Rouge)

NATCHITOCHES is perhaps best known as the town where “Steel Magnolias” was filmed. But that was way back in 1989. Today, Natchitoches is worth knowing for its authentic French Creole architecture and cultural history. Billing itself as the oldest city in Louisiana, Natchitoches is the kind of place you would take someone new to Louisiana, just so they could see a real historical Louisiana town.
What to do: The 33-block historic district is not only fascinating to see, but the shopping is pretty wonderful. There are guided tours of the district, and also of the sites where “Steel Magnolias” was filmed. Nearby Magnolia Plantation is a fascinating look at real plantation structures that housed slaves, and other original buildings, such as the chapel. The town is known for its famous meat pies. Insider’s tip: If you can manage to get to Natchitoches September 20 and 21st you can experience the annual Meat Pie Festival, a fun weekend of balloon rides, meat pie vendors, fireworks, live bands – Natchitoches  knows how to do it.
Where to Stay: Have the full Natchitoches experience and stay at the Judge Porter House, a turn-of-the-century Greek Revival style bed and breakfast right in the historic district. You’ll be very close to that great shopping we mentioned, and the candlelight multi-course breakfast is a meal you will never forget. Feels like 1900, but with 21st century conveniences.
(177 miles from Baton Rouge)

L’Auberge Casino and Resort – Lake Charles, LA

If you have never been to Lake Charles, it is high time. If you haven’t been there for a while, just know Lake Charles is on the move.
What to do: You may want to time your visit to coincide with one of the many festivals Lake Charles hosts. And, as you know, we know how to throw a festival in Louisiana. But any time of the year, you can visit the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, where you can see the largest collection of Mardi Gras costumes in the South. If you can get there the weekend of August 30, you can see Toby Keith at the Golden Nugget Casino. Lake Charles has a surprisingly tempting array of restaurants and a very active nightlife scene.
Where to stay: Since the idea is to get away from routine daily life, L’Auberge Casino Resort is a self-contained adult playground, complete with spa, casino, pools, dining, shopping, and an 18-hole golf course. Surprisingly affordable.
(126 miles from Baton Rouge)

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