LAKE CHARLES, La. -- From the bars on Bourbon Street to the swamps filled with alligators and other wildlife, there are numerous reasons to consider Louisiana as a vacation destination.
Nelson's News on wsbtv.com teamed up with LouisianaTravel.com to present some of the activities Georgia vacationers can enjoy in the Bayou State. The top reason for nature lovers may be the Creole Nature Trail.
The Creole Nature Trail is a 180-mile trail of bayous, marshlands and beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. It's in southwest Louisiana and stretches from the Lake Charles area down to the coast.
"We have the Creole Nature Trail, which is an All-American Road," Megan Hartman from the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau said. "We have a lot of people from international travelers to locals and everyone in-between that come to do the Creole Nature Trail and experience the wildlife and the flora and fauna that we have along Louisiana's Outback."
The U.S. Department of Transportation notes an all-American road must feature multiple intrinsic qualities that are nationally significant and have one-of-a-kind features that do not exist elsewhere. The road or highway must also be considered a "destination unto itself." That is, the road must provide an exceptional traveling experience so recognized by travelers that they would make a drive along the highway a primary reason for their trip.
With 300 species of birds, 28 species of mammals, 35 species of amphibians and reptiles and millions of butterflies, the Creole Nature Trail is a nature lover's paradise.
"Depending on the season, the time of year that you're doing the Creole Nature Trail, you're going to see different things," Hartman told wsbtv.com. "People go down the Creole Nature Trail and go crabbing for blue crabs during the summer months. You're going to see alligators during the spring and sometimes in the summer. We're located on two migratory flyways and so during the winter and fall months, there are tons of birds and waterfowl and different wildlife that experience that habitat."
After spending some time spotting the birds and gators, visitors can spot some seashells on the beaches, too. There are 26 miles of Gulf beaches. Beaches along the Creole Nature Trail aren't lined with hotels and condominiums. These beaches are much quieter and are considered shelling beaches because of the abundance of shells that wash in from the ocean.
"You can go wade fishing on the beaches," Hartman said. "You can drive up on the beaches, use your four-wheeler on the beaches, so, it really has a lot of opportunities to experience the beaches in a way that you might not experience in other parts of the country."
The Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau recently released the Creole Nature Trail app, too. The app feature maps, directions, videos and information about the Trail. Visitors without the app can stop by the Bureau and borrow a GPS unit that offers the same features.
"This innovative, user-friendly tool really takes the experience of Louisiana's Outback to the next level of interactivity," said Shelley Johnson, executive director of the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Visitors gain a deeper understanding of the area through being fully exposed to all the treasures found along the trail."