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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Top Places to Visit in the Louisiana Coastal Region

 


With the Exception of New Orleans, not many people go below the heavily traveled Interstate 10 traversing Southern Louisiana. This area is made up of mostly marshlands with a few awesome places scattered throughout.



After many trips to this coastal region, I have found places that are unique and find myself visiting often. I am sharing a few of my favorites below. 



Beaches

 Louisiana has beaches? Yes!!! Most people do not know that Louisiana has miles and miles of sandy coastline.




Holly Beach
, Little Florida, and Mae’s Beach are located to the far west.

These beaches located in Cameron Parish were once referred to as the “Cajun Riviera”. Due to many unlucky hits from hurricanes over the years, the beaches and water are not as clean as they once were. Buildings and houses are few and far between.

This area is a great place for shell collecting and camping on the beach. My favorite thing about this area is that you will most likely have it all to yourself.


Address:

Located along HWY 82 in Cameron Parish


Admission:

Free




Cypremort Point Beach 

  This half-mile stretch of sandy beach, located in Cypremort Point State Park is perfect for swimming, kitesurfing, and fishing.

Address:

306 Beach Lane Cypremort Point, LA 70538

 

Admission fee:

$3 per person

Free for seniors (62 & older)

Free for children (3 & under)


Grand Isle Beaches

See below




Rip Van Winkel Garden 

The Rip Van Winkle Gardens, located in New Iberia, is twenty-five acres of semitropical Balinese style paradise that surrounds the Joseph Jefferson Home.

Address:

5505 Rip Van Winkle Rd, New Iberia, LA 70560

Admission:

Home Tours: 10:00 am-4:00 pm. Tickets: $12.00 Sr. & Groups $10.00



Avery Island

 Avery Island is best known for the Tabasco factory and Jungle Gardens


The Tabasco factory

Take a tour to see how the famous Tabasco sauce, that has been around since 1870, is made.

 

Jungle Gardens

This bird watcher’s paradise is also a 170-acre botanical garden located on Avery Island.

 

Address:

32 Wisteria Rd, Avery Island, LA 70513

 

Tabasco factory & Jungle Garden Admission:

$12.50 Adults

$9.50 Children (4 and under are free)



Grand Isle     

Grand Isle is a coastal town located on a barrier island with the same name. Located about a two-hour drive from New Orleans, this quite fishing town is the perfect place to get away from it all.      

While there, dine on Fresh seafood at one of the small local restaurants, spend the day catching Mahi Mahi with Captain Danny, enjoy birdwatch, or stroll along the ten-miles of coastline.

Be sure and check for updated status before going since the damage from Hurricane Ida was extensive and businesses may still be closed.



New Orleans

New Orleans, known as the "Big Easy," is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. It is known for vibrant nightlife along Bourbon Street, spicy creole cuisine, Carriage Rides, the French Quarter, and the legendary Mardi Gras festival.




 Fontainebleau State Park

Located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Fontainebleau State Park is an old sugar mill plantation turned into a beautiful park with sandy beaches, hiking trails, and a massive fishing pier.

Address:

62883 Hwy. 1089

Mandeville, LA 70448


Admission:

$3 per person

Free for seniors (62 & older)

Free for children (3 & under)


Happy Travels!


 






 


















Saturday, April 16, 2022

Tropical Backyard Garden in Arkansas – After Snowstorm and Negative Nine-Degree Weather for a Week

 




 


In February 2021, we had ice, snow, high winds, and negative nine-degree weather for a week. This is not something that you would ever expect to experience in southern Arkansas.





While we did enjoy playing in the snow, I was concerned about the damage it was causing.



I knew that the palm and banana trees would suffer, but I was not sure about the more native plants and trees. Six out of the eight palm trees died. Most of them being over ten years old.  



I cleaned up and set back to see if anything would put back up.









Slowly, the banana trees and a few other plants started to grow.




The crape myrtles, loquat, and some bushes struggled to put out new growth in July. Normally, this would happen in April. 

 









Everything continued to struggle throughout the summer, but by August, my lush paradise had returned. Well mostly..... things were smaller than normal and some of the trees still had dead limbs mixed with the green ones. The hibiscus and sun coleus that I had wintered in the greenhouse performed extra well, making up for the lack in the rest of the garden.  







This past winter was mild as usual and the trees and plants continue to recover. We have added new hardscapes and plants to the garden this year already.  I am hoping this summer will be better since I am already seeing a lot of green and new growth from the established plants and trees.


Happy Gardening!!!


   





 


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Best Beaches & Beach Towns in the Florida Panhandle


Where are the best beach towns and beaches in the Florida Panhandle? Well, it depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. Are you looking for family fun, couples retreat, the whitest sand, uncrowded, or a place to relax?


The Emerald Coast, pretty much all of the panhandle, has some of the whitest sand in Florida. Most of the water is a beautiful turquoise, hence "The Emerald Coast". 


Let's get started exploring! (Popular questions answered at end of post)


Perdido Key

Starting at the western edge of Florida is Perdido Key. It is a barrier island with white sand dunes, turquoise water, and tons of wildlife. Like it's popular neighbor, Gulf Shores (16 miles to the west), the beaches are lined with condos. It is less crowded than Gulf shores and the state parks seem to always only have a few people. 

 

Pensacola Beach


Beautiful beaches and plenty of nightlife. The Pensacola Beach area is always crowded, but on the far east side is a secret paradise (Navarre Beach). Navarre Beach is one of my favorite beaches in the panhandle. Tons of beautiful white sand, turquoise water, watersports, and restaurants, without the crowds.

Check out:

 Pensacola Beach Activity Guide 

 

Fort Walton Beach

Fort Walton Beach has nice white sandy beaches and just enough other things to keep you entertained when not at the beach. Great place to relax, but still have things to do.

Check out:

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park


Take a trip into Destin (5 miles to the east) and check out the amazing beaches along the way.

 

Destin

What’s not to love about Destin! It has stunning beaches, restaurants galore, shopping, watersports, and anything else you can think of. It is one of my favorite places in Florida. It is also one of the most crowded places. Be prepared to literally crawl in traffic and give yourself about 45 minutes extra to get anywhere.

Check out:

 Destin Activity Guide 



 30A

30A is a 24 mile stretch along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A, located between Destin and Panama City Beach. This area is amazingly beautiful, especially towards the Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach end. Be prepared to drop some cash if staying in the area and make reservations early. Lodging is limited to mostly upscale condos and homes.

Check out:

Grayton Beach State Park




Aly’s Beach   






Rosemary Beach    



Read more about Rosemary Beach


 

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach has a reputation as being a college party town. I have been there many times and I like it. I just don’t go during spring break. Beautiful beaches with plenty to do and see.

Check out:

St. Andrews State Park     



 

Mexico Beach



Mexico Beach is a small place that seems to be in the middle of nowhere. If you are looking for uncrowded beaches, this is your place. Lodging is minimal and nightlife is almost nonexistent. Long walks on the white sand beaches, shelling, and relaxing are what this small town is all about.

*The area was hit hard by a hurricane in 2018 and is a slowly rebuilding. We loved the Driftwood Inn, which was totally destroyed. I hear they are rebuilding, so keep a watch for it.

 

Port St Joe

Reaching Port St Joe coming from the west means you have officially found the “Forgotten Coast”. Nature, sand, water, and more nature describe the area. Most lodging consist of beach houses.

Check out:

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park 



Cape San Blas



 

Apalachicola



Apalachicola is small fishing town popular for it’s charming Inns and fresh seafood. It has beautiful waterfront parks, but no beaches. No worries though, St George Island beaches are just a 20-minute drive away.

 

 

St George Island


St George Island is reached by about 15 miles of bridges. You know you have found a special place when you hit the end of the main road to the island and see the lighthouse. The island is 22 miles long and one mile across at its widest point. White sand is everywhere and people are few.


Check out:

Saint George Island State Park


Carrabelle


Carrabelle is small with limited lodging. The beaches are usually empty and there is little to do other than beach related activities.

 

The Rest of the Panhandle


Alligator Point, Bald Point State Park, Mashes Sands Beach, Shell Point Beach, and St Marks are at the far east part of the panhandle. The beaches are not pristine and the water is blue with a brownish tint instead of turquoise. These areas are great for tent camping, fishing, and experiencing nature. I saw my first eagle's nest at St. Marks. They are massive!



So, which one do I like best? All the the towns and beaches along the Panhandle coast are unique and each has things I like over the others. But, here is a quick rundown of my thoughts on questions I have been asked.

Where are the pretties beaches?  I hate to answer this one, but Destin. The sand seems to be whiter and the water a deeper turquoise. It is breathtaking to look at!

Which beach towns are best for families? For an overall experience, Destin. The amount of thing to do and places to eat are crazy. This place is great for all ages. (but very crowded)  Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach are also good choices.

Which beaches are less crowded? Any beach east of Panama City Beach. Think about going off season to beaches on the west end. January through March is a little cool, but you will have the place to yourself. 

Where is the best place to find seashells?   Mexico Beach, St Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, and St George State Park.

Where is the best place to birdwatch?  St Marks

Is Rosemary and Alys beach really that special?  Yes! You will not see and experience anything like it anywhere else in the United States.

Where is the best place to snorkel in the Panhandle? Pensacola and Destin both have a couple of place to snorkel from the beach.


Hope this helps make your trip planning a little easier! 


 Happy & Safe Travels!