New Year, New Tourism Offerings Along the Louisiana Coast

Louisiana Coast, January 2017 – Visitors to the Louisiana coast come to this unique area for many reasons, including the area’s rich cultural heritage and fascinating history. Of course they also flock to the coast for the abundance of outdoor activities and to get some good old-fashioned R&R. In 2017, coastal Louisiana expands its tourism offerings with a major milestone anniversary that promises a year’s worth of celebration, a unique art exhibit of a world-famous painter, and the opening of some charming new bed & breakfasts, giving fans of this area even more reasons to visit in the coming season. The city of Lake Charles turns 150 this year, and residents and visitors alike will be participating in a year-long celebration of this major milestone. Although 2017 marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of Lake Charles being officially settled and incorporated as a town, the area’s history goes back more than 235 years to when the first settlers—the LeBleu family—arrived from Bordeaux, France. The town got its name from an early pioneer named Charles Sallier, who married Catherine LeBleu, built his home on the lake and, you guessed it, gave it his name. Festivities to honor the sesquicentennial will include the unearthing of a time capsule, the opening of a historical exhibit that will unveil more about this town’s fascinating past, and a lakefront parade and celebration – sure to be as colorful as Lake Charles’ story. The community will also be launching “150 Acts of Kindness,” an effort to celebrate the anniversary through random acts of kindness and love to family, friends and strangers alike. One of the most famous 20th century American artists hails from the Louisiana coast, and the Bayou Teche Museum in New Iberia is ushering in the new year with the opening of a major exhibit on the life and work of George Rodrigue. Born and raised in New Iberia, Rodrigue began his career in the late 1960s painting classic Cajun landscapes, and achieved national fame in the 1990s with his iconic Blue Dog paintings. Pop culture fans will recognize the Blue Dog from Xerox and Absolut ads, where Rodrigue’s work stood alongside greats like Andy Warhol. The exhibit, entitled Rodrigue Comes Home, will feature many of his paintings as well as a reconstruction of his studio that includes every detail, right down to the paint-flecked floorboards. Visitors will be able to glimpse the workspace of this deeply beloved local artist, including the painting left unfinished by his early passing and displayed on the very easel on which he worked. The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visiting St. Tammany Parish—located just on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans—got a little easier (and a lot cozier) with the addition of four new bed & breakfasts. In scenic Old Mandeville, the Blue Heron B & B is located on popular Girod Street, close the town’s shops and restaurants and within walking distance of the Mandeville Trailhead and Lake Pontchartrain. The About Trace B & B is also close to the Mandeville Trailhead, where free concerts take place in the fall and spring, as well as Saturday and Thursday community markets and the 31-mile hike and bike trail, the Tammany Trace. Lake views are just one of the amenities at the colorful de la Bleau B & B, which is located directly behind The Barley Oak Old World Draught Haus fronting Lake Pontchartrain. In Slidell, Bayou Haven B & B sits on the scenic Bayou Liberty and offers complimentary transportation from New Orleans and Gulfport airports. Onsite activities at this charming inn including kayaking, paddleboats, fishing excursions, a day spa, Sunday jazz brunch, and lake and bayou cruises. 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. ### Lauren Frye lauren@gilliesandzaiser.com 212-724-7783 x3 Gillies and Zaiser LTCC-1-January 2017