Tomorrow is Mardi Gras! Which if you’re like me makes you think of New Orleans, King Cake, beads, jazz music, big parades, and a whole lot of fun. While I’d love to spend a Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Mardi Gras now makes me think of another NOLA: Northern Louisiana. Just a few hours away from New Orleans, it’s a whole different world.
The pace of life is a little bit slower, but my gosh if it isn’t beautiful. A few months ago I was invited on a press trip to visit some of the parishes that make up Northern Louisiana. We visited places like:
- Shreveport – The largest city in Northern Louisiana. This is the city where True Blood was based and filmed!
- Minden – A close-knit community that knows how to throw some amazing Mardi Gras balls and parades! I learned so much about the history of Mardi Gras while visiting this town and came to respect the holiday so much more.
- Natchitoches – The absolute cutest town with the hardest to pronounce name. It’s nak-a-dish. It’s where Steel Magnolias was filmed!
I was blown away by the natural beauty of Northern Louisiana, by the delicious comfort food, and by the gorgeous homes and opulent Southern decor. And my goodness if I couldn’t get enough of the Southern manners. Everything was ma’am, sir, please and thank you. I wish the rest of the country would adopt those customs!
If Mardi Gras has got you itching to visit Louisiana, I highly recommend venturing a little farther north to check out all that Northern Louisiana has to offer. There is so much history, and so much to see and do. Here’s some of the things I particularly loved.
The beauty of Northern Louisiana
Northern Louisiana knows how to do comfort food. Most of the things I ate were fried, everything was served with sweet tea, and pecan pie was always on the menu. I’m sure there’s great healthy places to eat, but if you’re visiting Louisiana why would you want to do that? Get the fried chicken, the meat pies, the seafood, and the grits. It is all so, so good.
We stopped at famous Herby K’s for our first lunch of the trip.
Fairfield Manor is a luxury B&B at its finest with some of the most incredible food.
Truthfully I’m not even sure where I got this slice of pecan pie. I got pecan pie at every restaurant I possibly could on the trip. I have no regrets.
The natural beauty
The South is just gorgeous, and Northern Louisiana is no exception. Everything is in bloom there and it’s just so calm. It’s the idyllic place to just get away, rest, and recharge.
A stunning sunset.
So. Much. Green!
This tree in Natchitoches might be the most perfect picnic-ing tree I have ever seen. If only I could find a way to move it and that lake to Omaha.
Northern Louisiana is such a perfect blend of old and new. There’s city murals and gorgeous theaters, and then there’s plantations and churches from before the Civil War. Everything is decorated so beautifully, a lot of it seems like it came out of a story book. The South has so much history, and you can see that history in its buildings.
The ceiling at The Strand Theater.
The amazing Fairfield Manor. I seriously cannot recommend this place enough!!
Hot Southern nights call for sleeping porches. I seriously want one of these.
A formal dining room. No biggie. 😉
Rocking chairs on grand Southern porches.
The drapes of my dreams. Also, I am not used to seeing cotton in a floral arrangement but it is everywhere there. It is grown there after all!
I’m in love with Natchitoches’s main street.
A gorgeous Rock Chapel in the middle of the woods.
Buildings that are so old you don’t need a sign to tell you that a lot has happened within those walls.
A highlight of the trip was getting to visit Melrose Plantation. That may sound weird, but for this Northern girl (now a Midwesterner by choice), it was another world. We got to explore the expansive grounds, learn about what life was like in that time, and if you’re like me, ask dozens of questions of the knowledgeable guides. I learned so much!
This house was known as The African House. The way it’s built keeps it cool from the beating sun.
A guest house on the plantation.
The Steel Magnolias house! Truth be told I hadn’t seen the movie before I was invited on this trip. My first order of research was watching it and I quickly became obsessed!
This is going to seem so odd that wallpaper is listed as one of the things I liked most about Northern Louisiana, but you guys, the wallpaper in the buildings I visited was UNREAL. The homeowners of the buildings I visited were not afraid to go grand, be bold, and make a statement. The walls were some of the most beautiful I have seen in my entire life and they were absolutely timeless. This trip inspired me to not be afraid of decorating with wallpaper when Josh and I buy a house.
I have no words.
I had never even heard the name Clementine Hunter before my trip to Northern Louisiana and now I’m a bit obsessed with this woman and her art. Clementine was not a slave, but a farm laborer who worked at Melrose Plantation. She didn’t know how to read or write, but taught herself to paint in her 50’s, using brushes and paint left by an artist visiting Melrose Plantation. She’d paint on whatever you would give her, and was instrumental in documenting and visualizing what life was like for slaves on plantations at that time. The more I learned about her the more I came to admire her and her work.
I would love to own a piece of hers one day.
Before this trip I didn’t know anything about Northern Louisiana, but in my short time there I learned so much. I love the history, the culture, and the beauty. I love that every new place you visit teaches you something new about the world and yourself. I’ve just started scratching the surface with Northern Louisiana and hope a trip back is in my future.
Questions of the Day: Have you been to Northern Louisiana? What part did you like best about my trip? What Southern food is your favorite?
Thanks to Louisiana North for sponsoring this post!