Louisiana has one of the most exciting, rich, and interesting cultural heritages of any state in the union. Between its creole roots, jazz history, and historic battles, the modern-day Louisiana is an ideal melting pot of American values. Don’t let the opportunity to educate yourself or your loved ones go to waste on your next trip to the Bayou State: consider the following 9 educational activities to learn more.
The Battle of Jackson is reenacted annually just outside of Jackson, Louisiana, offering a perfect opportunity to teach children about the American Civil War. Come early and visit campsites and performances that showcase how life was lived during the war. While you’re near-by, why not take a try to the historical section of Jackson to visit the museum?
The Frogmore Cotton Plantation and Gin has been in operation for over 200 years, and the 1,800-acre farm continues to provide Louisiana with cotton. Make sure to stop and watch the introductory video for a stone-faced look at the history of the plantation, including the slave trade and the French and Indian War. Choose from six different tours and make sure to come back to finish the ones you didn’t have time for.
Take your children to soak in modern art at the Sculpture Garden in Chauvin, Louisiana. Start at the foot of a 7,000-brick lighthouse before heading into the sculpture garden proper, where the bricklayer leaves behind his creations. The sculptures include depictions of cowboys, angels, soldiers, and children. If you’re lucky, the artist himself might appear to answer questions or provide commentary on his work.
That’s right: Louisiana is so proud of its musical heritage, it has an entire National Historical park devoted to jazz. Performances occur regularly on-site. Rangers lead frequent walking tours that “delve into the elements that helped create the music of jazz.” You’ll learn about key figures in the musical movement, see historical places of interest, and take part in the oral history project.
The R.W. Norton Art Gallery is known for its extensive collections, 15,000 volume library, surrounding botanical gardens, and educational tours. Take a self-guided tour through American art history, American history, cowboy artists, decorative arts, French art history, French sculpture, painting techniques, and many more. Or, if you prefer, join a tour with one of the guides. Each tour is customized and only covers a portion of the large collection, but will give you a great educational overview.
The Old State Capitol is a staggering work of gothic architecture that leaves an immediate and lasting impression. Stop by the museum to learn more about this 165-year-old statehouse. From the website: “A National Historic Landmark…the Old State Capitol currently houses a museum of political history, which contains several state-of-the-art exhibits…[it] has served the people of Louisiana as a historical, cultural, civic and educational institution.” Reach back and touch time with a visit to the Old State Capitol.
Learn about the by-gone era of railroad prominence at the DeQuincy Railroad Museum. The museum is a non-profit whose “mission is to acquire, preserve, and display railroad artifacts…to heighten public awareness of the role of the railroad industry in our area.” The collection includes a 1913 steam locomotive, a 1947 passenger coach, two vintage cabooses, and a collection of Gauge 1 model steam and diesel engines. If your child has any interest in trains, then this is a must-visit.
Learn about the surrounding swamp, bayou, and marshland that makes up Louisiana by getting up close and personal with a boat tour. Boat tours are available in most major Louisiana cities, and each offers the opportunity to see wildlife and learn about the history and culture of the state. You’ll see alligators, wild boar, snakes, and birds, as well as incredible fauna and foliage. Your tour-guide will be able to educate you on anything that you might want to know.
New Orleans has a long and storied history of voodoo practitioners, and a visit to the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum will go a long way to educating visitors about the history and culture of the craft. Take part in a museum walkthrough, cemetery tour, and get your fortune read by the on-site psychics. See artifacts and learn about this secret art like no-where else. Inside the museum, you’ll see relics, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts, all discussed by the friendly guides. For something a little off the beaten path but most definitely central to Louisiana, the Voodoo Museum is for you.