Facebook - Visit Louisiana CoastTwitter - Visit Louisiana CoastYouTube - Visit Louisiana Coast

Visit Louisiana Coast - Media

History Comes to Life Along the Louisiana Coast

Louisiana Coast, September 2016 – Every year, travelers flock to the Louisiana Coast for the natural beauty, fresh seafood and friendly folks the area is famous for. But just as important is the fascinating history here, which spans centuries and is comprised of tales of war heroes and entrepreneurs…as well as smugglers and pirates. Visitors can immerse themselves in the area’s history by visiting historic sites and museums that tell the tales of the people behind the places. Following are a few examples of history coming to life along the Louisiana Coast.

The story of the Battle of New Orleans—the final battle of the War of 1812—is told to visitors year round at Chalmette Battlefield in St. Bernard Parish, part of Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve. The battlefield boasts a visitor center that interprets the story of this important battle, where U.S. Major General Andrew Jackson led a team of about 5,000 soldiers – regular troops, state militiamen, volunteers from many different cultures and backgrounds, and even a band of pirates – to victory against 7,000 British soldiers. Through exhibits and films, visitors learn how Louisiana’s citizens protected the United States as the War of 1812 came to a close. On Fridays and Saturdays, visitors can climb the 122 interior steps of the 100-foot obelisk that was built on the site to commemorate the battle. The visitor center also offers ranger talks every Tuesday through Saturday. Visitors can access the battlefield via automobile or by taking the Creole Queen cruise ship from downtown New Orleans.

The legend of Jean Lafitte survives in the history and mystery of Jefferson Parish, where the notorious pirate’s bayous and backwaters still meander toward the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors can explore Lafitte’s old stomping grounds at the Barataria Preserve, also part of the Jean Lafitte National Park, where a series of trails and boardwalks allow access to this historic wetlands area that served as the pirate’s base of operations. The swamps and bayous here stretch south to the Gulf of Mexico, making it a very successful port for smuggling and piracy. Nearby, in the town of Jean Lafitte, the Barataria Museum tells the 200-year story of life in the fishing communities along Bayou. Exhibits explore the people and industries of the region, including, of course, Jean Lafitte, who operated in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1800s. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., year round.

In Iberia Parish, set among live oak trees draped with iconic Spanish moss, sits Shadows-on-the-Teche, the first National Trust for Historic Preservation site in the Gulf South. Built in 1834 for sugar planter David Weeks, this classic revival-style home paints a vivid picture of plantation life for the four generations that made this property their home. In addition to touring the restored home, visitors can get an inside perspective on the historic significance of the plantation through the Weeks Family Papers, a collection of more than 17,000 invoices, receipts, business, legal, and personal letters that record the joys, sorrows, fears, sickness, celebrations, pain, prosperity and poverty of their time at the plantation. Guided tours are available once an hour between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., departing at 15 minutes past each hour. Shadows-on-the-Teche also plays host to special events throughout the year such as the plein air painting competition and New Iberia Beneath the Balconies, a series of theatrical presentations and musical performances on select balconies along the town’s award-winning Main Street.

Visitors to Vermilion Parish can get a glimpse of what business looked like more than 100 years ago at the Sam Guarino Blacksmith Shop Museum and Annex in Abbeville. The blacksmith shop was built in 1912 by Italian immigrant Sam Guarino, and was still in operation until December 31, 2003, when it officially closed its doors. The Guarino family donated the building, which is on the Historic Register, and all the historic equipment to the City of Abbeville, who spent several years converting it into a museum. Every part of the museum, including the original dirt floor, was moved a few blocks from its original location to the new location on State Street. The annex, located next door, features a short film on the Sam Guarino family and more artifacts on blacksmithing, the Guarino family and the area’s Sicilian history. Admission is free and by appointment only, which may be made by calling 337-898-4110.

Collectively known as the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition (LTCC), the coastal parishes of Louisiana promote natural, recreational and cultural experiences to residents of and visitors to these parishes. The LTCC is also an advocate for the sustainable development of coastal communities and protection of the area’s fragile wetlands.

Download our Adventure Guides
Louisiana Coast Adventure Guides