• 72°

River Parishes Staycation: Nautical by Nature itinerary explores natural wonders

LAPLACE — The River Parishes Tourist Commission invites neighbors and visitors alike to explore the natural wonders of the River Region that stretch along the east and west banks of the Mississippi River.

Even locals can enjoy an expedition of swamps, bayous, lakes and gardens that lie not far beyond their own backyards.

Louisiana’s River Parishes provided this four-day Nautical By Nature itinerary to focus on the splendor of natural beauty.

DAY 1

Your Nautical By Nature experience begins in Luling with a tasty Cajun breakfast at Catahoula’s Restaurant. After breakfast, you travel to Des Allemands for a charter fishing trip with Precision Fishing Charters. Catch fish around the beautiful inland islands and bustling deep waters where speckled trout, red drum, black drum, sheephead, flounder, shark and red bull reds are abundant.

Your next stop is the Cajun Crab Connection, where you will see first-hand how live Louisiana Blue Crabs are caught and processed for shipment locally and throughout the United States while viewing the beautiful Lake Des Allemands.

Just minutes away from the Cajun Crab Connection in Paradis is Grumpy’s Restaurant. Enjoy lunch in a ‘60s style setting, and feel free to play your favorite Elvis Presley song on the jukebox. Your next adventure is in Luling on an exciting airboat tour with Swamp Adventures. You will journey deep into the forested wetlands of the bayous and swamps and visit with alligators, herons and other wildlife.

Unwind from your airboat tour and take a stroll along the Mississippi River Trail on under the Hale Boggs Bridge. The top of the levee offers a fantastic view of the river and barges cruising on the river. End the evening in Destrehan with dinner at the Seafood Pot Restaurant.

DAY 2

This morning, have a full breakfast and delicious donuts in Norco at Coffee & Norco Restaurant. After breakfast, explore the Mississippi River flood control system, the Bonnet Carre Nature Trail, the Wetlands Watcher’s Park and enjoy the view of the River on the Bonnet Carre Spillway beach.

Travel to Destrehan and make a stop at the German Coast Farmers’ Market on the grounds of Ormond Plantation. Talk to vendors with fresh vegetables, fruit, bread and other unique items, and watch a variety of cooking demonstrations by local farmers. Walk over to Ormond Plantation Restaurant for lunch, and enjoy a delicious meal in an intimate atmosphere. After lunch, explore the grounds at Destrehan Plantation that features 200-year-old oak trees.

Continue your outdoor mission with a walk or a bike ride on the Mississippi River Levee. Today’s journey ends with a seafood dinner at Port Side Restaurant & Bar.

DAY 3

Day 3 begins in LaPlace with breakfast at the Huddle House Restaurant. Choose from a selection of hot cakes, waffles, omelets and breakfast platters. After breakfast, travel to the Manchac Greenway Turtle Cove Office, board a boat, and cruise to the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station. This excursion includes viewing the beautiful wetlands on the Pass Manchac, a tour of the Turtle Cove Research Station, and a journey into the wilderness on the Turtle Cove Nature Trail.

Your lunch is at Bec’s at the Lake Restaurant on the covered patio downstairs, just a minute or two from Lake Pontchartrain.

Your tour on the Manchac Greenway continues on a relaxing Cajun Pride Swamp Tour amid the primitive beauty of moss-draped Cypress trees. Your next adventure is a kayaking trip on the Manchac Greenway off of Shell Bank Bayou with Wild Louisiana Tours.

Your stroll on the Mississippi River Trail today will be on the Mississippi River Levee in LaPlace or Reserve. Enjoy your walk before having a delicious dinner at Pier 51 Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar.

DAY 4

Day 4 of your Nautical By Nature experience begins with breakfast at Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant and lunch at the Carriage House Restaurant at Houmas House. Before visiting the gardens, stop by the St. James Parish Welcome Center Nature Trail and take a walk on the boardwalk.

Over time, several gardens and ornamental plantings were established by the many residents of Oak Alley Plantation. Visitors have had the opportunity to witness many of these but most notably the formal gardens and alley of oaks. Site interpreters will utilize the layouts created of the east and west garconnieres, created in the locations of the original garconniere structures to conduct conversation series. This interpretation will be in addition to signage throughout each garden.

The West Garden shares the history and horticulture of Louisiana plantation gardens from 1840 to 1860. It is an interpretation, using period plants and human relationships to tell stories of Oak Alley’s designed landscape. The East Garden is an interpretation of early 20th century garden design trends that responded to increasing interest in America’s past, particularly it’s garden heritage.

The Gardens of Houmas House, spanning 38 acres, are a panorama of indigenous Louisiana plant life and  exotics. The Gardens are planned to reflect the uniqueness of each part of the year with an extensive color renewal each April and November.