Louisiana Travel During Covid-19

airboat swamp tours

While Covid-19 travel regulations are still in place, international and domestic flights are still mostly being utilized for necessary travel only. While that has driven the number of people traveling to Louisiana from other states and countries down, it has driven the number of travelers within our state up. Many Lousianians have used this time to travel around our great state to all of the outposts of timeless natural beauty that our own backyard has to offer. This month, we have put together a list of some of the most fun travel spots in Louisiana for you and your family to explore this summer.

Floating on the Whiskey Chitto Creek

Deep in the pine forests of Vernon Parish, the spring fed Whiskey Chitto Creek offers an entire day’s worth of fun. This lazy and shallow tributary that empties into the Calcasieu river traverses more than 70 miles of natural backdrop with small beaches and campsites scattered throughout. Known throughout Louisiana for its wild turkeys, largemouth bass, striped and spotted bass, deer and wildlife galore, it is a great spot for photographers and sportsmen/women to spot the creatures of the wild. Grab a canoe or an innertube from one of the region’s rental shops, and take an easy drift in the sun with a cold beverage. Guided tours are available by appointment from several different vendors. 

Off to the Races

If you prefer a faster paced activity, Louisiana has plenty of races you can watch and some you can even bet on! A short travel to North Louisiana might find you spending your day watching old fashioned, gritty car racing at it’s finest. The Boothill Speedway in Greenwood, LA is open to the public and practicing new guidelines since Covid-19. 

In South Central Louisiana, you can watch and bet on live horse races at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, LA. Evangeline Downs is the first and only race track, casino and hotel “Racino” in the entire state. They have recently issued a revised calendar of race dates in light of Covid-19 that can be found here.

Gators and Airboats and Cypress, Oh My!

In the heart of the Atchafalaya Basin lies a gem of a building offering travelers over 20 years of local history, folklore, and adventure. Since 1999, Tucker Friedman and his family at Atchafalaya Basin Landing Airboat & Swamp Tours have been regaling guests with tales of the bayou. Told from the point of view of the locals, their expert tour guides take you on a one and one half hour guided tour of America’s largest and most diverse wetland. They provide you with everything you need for the tour. Airboat Tours are family-friendly for everyone aged 3 to 103. 

Depending on the time of year, you may see live alligators, a brand new family of osprey chicks, a few bream fish hopping up out of the water, garfish, raccoons, egrets, and possums. The tours take you deep into the centuries old forests and give you a chance to get in touch with nature. When you return to dry land, pop a top at the world famous Turtle’s Bar, just steps away from the Basin Landing General Store. To book your tour, call 337.228.7880 today.

Basin Landing Airboat Swamp Tours is Now Open!

We have received so many phone calls asking when we would be re-opening our airboat swamp tours, so we wanted to make it official with this update. Basin Landing is back up and running our world famous Atchafalaya Basin tours seven days a week! We have taken the time that we were temporarily closed to change a few small things to make our tours as safe and comfortable as possible for our guests. In April, Captain Nick took viewers on the first ever virtual tour of the Atchafalaya Basin we have ever conducted. He visited with a few of our gator friends and took our Facebook followers on a live journey through the deep woods and canals for a half hour mini tour. If you want to see a preview of some of the sights you will see on a real tour, check out our virtual tour in the video section of our facebook page here: 


Covid-19 and Airboat Tours


One of the greatest things about being an outdoor entertainment company is that we are a natural fit for an exciting and safe way to enjoy nature after Covid-19 quarantine during Louisiana’s Phase One. We have implemented new seating policies that allow extra room between guests, and we will continue to sanitize life jackets and hearing protection equipment between each use, as we have always done. We have plenty of hand sanitizer and cleaning products in the General Store for our customers, and we clean and maintain our facilities daily. 


Book an Airboat Swamp Tour Today

After a period of quarantine, it may be a while before airplane travel returns to normal. We anticipate that many curious locals will be checking out an airboat swamp tour, possibly for the first time ever. In addition to being family friendly for guests of all ages, airboat tours make a very creative alternative to a graduation party or date night. Our family-owned business has been providing swamp adventures for over 20 years, and nothing makes us happier than meeting a new person in the Acadiana area who has never been on a tour before. 

Henderson, LA has a great deal to offer anyone who wants to make a weekend trip to South Louisiana. In addition to wonderful curbside food options like Crawfishtown U.S.A. and Pat’s Fisherman’s Wharf, we have lodging options such as hotels,cabins, and houseboats to keep you close to the action. Basin Landing has a general store with tackle, bait, and a $5 public boat launch that is available 24/7. Our fishing is world class, and the expansive views of the cypress knees are some of the most beautiful and relaxing in the world. 

Let our family take you and your family on a swamp excursion you will never forget. The #1 Rated Tour of the Atchafalaya Basin on Google, Trip Advisor, and Yelp, Basin Landing Airboat Swamp Tours truly is “The Adventure You Came For.” 

Tours run several times per day, are approximately one and a half hours, and cost $49 per person. We offer military and child discounts. Call 337.228.7880 or visit basinlanding.com for more information. 

Inquire About a Tour Today

4 Fun Ways to Enjoy the Louisiana Outdoors

airboat swamp tours atchafalaya

With warmer weather on the rise, everyone can agree that it’s time to get outside and bask in the sun. Spring blossoms earlier in the south, so we decided to put together a short list of our favorite things to do outdoors in Louisiana. Known as “The Sportsman’s Paradise,” our great state is home to a wide range of activities for all ages and interests. 


Open a Can of Worms
Fishing is a passion and pastime of many Louisianians. We have some of the best deep sea and freshwater fishing in the nation, and there’s a honey hole in driving range of every city in the state. Whether you prefer to kayak fish alone in the Atchafalaya Basin, or you hop on a 6 person charter to deep sea fish in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana offers some of the best angling you can get. 

Our favorite spots to fish from the banks are Toledo Bend State Park and Cypremore Point. If you are visiting early summer, don’t miss the Tarpon Rodeo in Grand Isle, LA. Got a craving for some blue point crabs? Catch your limit at Rockefeller Refuge in Grand Chenier. Got your own boat? Caney Lake in North Louisiana boasts the 15+ pound state record for a largemouth bass. With the falling water levels, the bream and sac-a-lait will be hopping in the Henderson Swamp! What are you waiting for? Grab your tackle and get outdoors!

Float on a Lazy River
Canoeing, kayaking and inner tube floating are great ways to cool down in our warm climate, and Louisiana is famous for our numerous navigable waterways. If you are looking for a relaxing way to spend the day with your spouse or kids, paddle your canoe or kayak into the Atchafalaya Basin and enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets that Cajun country has to offer. The Bayou Teche Paddle Trail covers 135 miles of swamp land with access points for kayakers of all ambition.  Whiskey Chitto Creek is famous among young spring breakers for their lazy, winding, shallow riverbed, making it a perfect spot to float your day away in an innertube. Grab an extra tube for your ice chest, and you are set for a half day adventure. 

Feel The Wind In Your Hair 
Airboat swamp tours are an affordable, safe way to experience thrilling adventures for any age group. Get up close and personal with the gators and other wildlife with a 1.5 hour guided trip around the Atchafalaya Basin by the #1 tour company in Henderson, LA. Captains Nick, Tucker and Craig will teach you about the world’s most ecologically diverse wetlands and chances are, you will spot a gator or two if you plan your trip at the right time. Ages 3 and older are welcome, and we can accommodate tours of any size. 

Take a Hike 
Springtime in Louisiana is the perfect time to get some fresh air on a hiking trail in one of our numerous forests. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there’s something for everyone on our trails. Louisiana has 24 official state parks where you can pack a bag lunch and spend the day exploring our natural beauty. If you crave something a little more urban, you can plan to spend several days walking around the manicured grounds of our older antebellum homes and bed and breakfast spots. 


Let’s face it, being indoors is fine during the winter and late summer. Springtime in Louisiana, however, is for adventure. Get rid of your cabin fever by booking a trip to experience all that our great state has to offer. 

A Brief History of Louisiana Mardi Gras

Of all the things Louisiana is famous for around the world, Mardi Gras is probably the number one association people make when they think of the boot-shaped state located at the mouth of the Mississippi River. While several different accounts continue to circulate about who celebrated this holiday first, many historians  and historical websites generally agree that it was born from a different Commonwealth holiday called “Pancake Day” or Shrove Tuesday. 
 
Explorer Pierre La Moyne discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River on such a Shrove Tuesday and named it Bayou De Mardi Gras. He named the actual place where he made landfall “Pointe De Mardi Gras.” His brother Jean Babtiste would later form a settlement in the crescent of the river, a hundred miles north of the mouth. He would name this settlement “Nouvelle Orleans.” In 1702, he also founded Mobile, Alabama as the first capital of French Louisiana.

Some records show that the first record of an organized Mardi Gras occurred the following year in Mobile, which was part of Louisiana’s territory at the time. This is why you find such French sounding destinations like “Dauphin Island” in or near  Mobile to this day. Back in New Orleans, slaves were escaping with the assistance of American Indians, who would collaborate together to become the first Mardi Gras Indians and start the ages old New Orleans tradition of “Les Flambeaux.” The New York Times would eventually write an incredible history of these “keepers of the light,” which can be found in their archives here. 

Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras Origins

Further west in South Louisiana, Cajun settlers celebrated their own version of Mardi Gras. It was less glamorous than its New Orleans counterpart, and mostly held in rural areas.

According to CODOFIL president and Louisiana folklorist Barry Ancelet, the traditional Cajun Mardi Gras, also known as the “courir de mardi gras” borrowed much of it’s origins from Catholic Medieval Europe, specifically the act of begging for food, which was at the time, an acceptable behavior. This act of going house to house and asking the head of the household for ingredients to prepare a later meal for the participants eventually led to the tradition of chasing chickens by the courir participants as a form of entertainment for the land owners. 
 
Though Mardi Gras season in Cajun Country became notably more quiet during the Great Depression and WWI/WWII, a revival began to surface in the 1960’s with a much needed boost from the increasing cultural significance of Cajun/French music, also in the midst of its own renaissance. Cajun artists like Floyd Sonnier, Herb Roe and Frances Pavy have dedicated a lot of their time to preserving the look of the original revelers in their substantive bodies of work. 

Visit South Louisiana
During Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras in Cajun Country will begin February 14th with events and parades throughout Acadiana popping up until Fat Tuesday, February 25th. If you are looking for a more family friendly, slower paced Mardi Gras, Acadiana has what you are looking for. Book an airboat swamp tour today by calling 337.228.7880. 

Things to do in South Louisiana During Winter

While South Louisiana is world famous for our sweltering summers and mild spring and fall seasons, we do occasionally have a bit of an actual winter. Frontal patterns and the natural humidity in the air can make 45 degrees feel much colder than it does in a drier climate, driving everyone indoors to find other ways to pass the time. This month, we will be taking you on a multi parish journey to find the best Louisiana winter travel spots on the I-10 corridor to stay toasty and laissez les bon temps rouler! 

Boiled Crawfish

One of the best things about late winter in Louisiana is early boiled crawfish. Crawfish season typically begins in late January and lasts until temperatures get hot in late May or early June. With their full-bodied seasonings and big flavor, crawfish are a little bit like spicy lobster. The texture is more tender and less chewy, and they are usually served with various sides like vegetables and sausage that have also taken a soak in the boiling pot.

This grand culinary prize requires a little more work, but ask any local…it’s more than worth the time. Some our favorites are Hawk’s in Roberts Cove, Crawfish Town U.S.A. in Henderson, and Crazy Bout Crawfish in Breaux Bridge. 

Fireside Dining

We don’t stock up much firewood in the deep south, but we love a romantic dinner by the fire as much as anyone else. Louisiana is known worldwide for its seafood, and there is no more indulgent presentation of that spicy Louisiana delicacy than a crawfish tail stuffed Filet Mignon. 

Take a trip down I-10 to Lafayette to visit Ken and Andrea Veron at Cafe Vermilionville, which is also on the national registry of historic places. Imagine yourself sipping a nice red wine by the fireplace in a 150 year old dining room while you devour the Steak Louis XII. If you aren’t hungry for a whole meal, check out their famous turtle soup, a fresh salad, or some crawfish beignets. 

Happy Hour at Turtle's Bar

One of the best known ways to keep warm on a cold Louisiana day is to have a nip of bourbon or whiskey! Our very own Turtle’s Bar boasts spectacular views of the Atchafalaya Basin in a lively and fun-filled atmosphere.

Open year round Wednesday through Friday from 3PM ’til and Saturday and Sunday from 11AM ’til, we carry a large selection of domestic beers and spirits, bloody marys, jello shots and more. Take a chance on our video poker machines, or bundle up with a blanket and your main squeeze on the back patio for unmatched scenery and relaxation.

Plus, you just never know when someone will be whipping up a complimentary gumbo or some delicious jambalaya out back. 

Fun With Kids in South Louisiana

There’s nothing like a house full of bored young ones to give you cabin fever. Luckily, South Louisiana boasts a ton of winter travel entertainment options for kids that parents can also enjoy. Recently opened to the public, Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ Surge Entertainment has fun by the busload for the whole family. A bowling alley, batting cages, sports simulators and games will keep you and your family entertained all day long.  If you would prefer to stay in St. Martin parish, Cajun Fast Track has a wonderful assortment of kid friendly activities like putt-putt, go karts and arcade games. 

Of course, late winter and early spring in South Louisiana are famously associated with Mardi Gras. While New Orleans Mardi Gras is more suitable for adults, Acadiana has several family friendly Mardi Gras parades and festivities suitable for even small children. Check out the Butte La Rose Mardi Gras Parade on February 22nd. For a traditional Cajun Mardi Gras (Courir), travel to the outskirts of rural Acadia parish, where you will see a tradition kept alive for two centuries. 

Atchafalaya Basin Airboat Swamp Tours: Our 20th Year in Review

2019 has been a year of growth and change for everyone at Atchafalaya Basin Landing. From the addition of Tucker’s son Nick to our team of airboat captains to a new brand and website, the maiden voyage of our newest airboat “The Henderson Hurricane,” our 20th anniversary has been a memorable and exciting year for all of us. We are incredibly grateful to our visitors for making us the #1 Swamp Tour in Henderson on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Google and Yelp. We are thankful to each and every person who visited us for a tour, our amazing fishing community, and our Turtle’s patrons who helped us to make so many wonderful new memories both on and off the water.

2019 Highlights

Some of the highlights of this year have been our back porch live music party celebrating La Fete du Musique, the installation of brand new signage on the levee road, a gator running off with (and returning) Tucker’s beloved LSU hat, hosting the Junior Bass Masters Tournament (our largest ever fishing tournament), hosting The King of Henderson tournament, over $5000 of giveaways for everything from concert tickets to airboat tours to weekend getaways, and a visit from @TheJurgys, a travel-loving family that has over 225,000 followers on YouTube. Because of the support of our Facebook community, we were able to max out our annual donation of $1000 to the Louisiana Cajun Navy.

Family Owned and Operated

We have always been a family business, deeply rooted in the Henderson community at large. The Friedman family has also grown this year by two new grandbabies, and we hope to pass our beloved airboat stories from the swamp down to their generation in a few years time. We consider ourselves blessed to not only love what we do each and every day, but to share the glorious beauty of the Atchafalaya Basin with visitors from all over the world.

2019 was a banner year for us, and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store. Our fleet of custom, covered airboats ran just about every single day that we had safe weather in 2019, and we are meeting ongoing goals of steady and sustainable improvement of our boats and facilities to provide the best experience for our guests possible. We thank everyone who stopped by for a tour, a cold beer, a t-shirt or just to say hello! Book a tour by calling 337.228.7880 today.

Our Favorite Cajun Recipes for the Fall

shrimp okra gumbo

Our Favorite Cajun Recipes for the Fall

If we get lucky, we start getting cooler weather in South Louisiana around this time of year. We often joke that there are only two seasons in the bayou: “Hot” and “Not.” With cooler temperatures come many more outdoor activities, football tailgates, nights at “da camp,” and a whole host of Cajun seasonal cuisine. We wanted to share some of our favorite fall recipes with all of you, we hope you enjoy them! We will start with a regional favorite to South Louisiana, a traditional shrimp & okra gumbo. 

Traditional Shrimp & Okra Gumbo

There are as many ways to make a gumbo as there are ways to make a hamburger, according to the internet. If you ever met one, chances are that you already know that Cajun cooks are typically more opinionated about food than the judges on Chopped. Some people like to put a little roux in their Shrimp & Okra gumbo, but our favorite recipe does not include a roux. Instead we prefer okra for all of its thickening power.
 
Serves 6-8
 
Ingredients: 
 
3 pounds of spoon sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 pounds of Okra, sliced and stemmed
4 quarts of shrimp stock (Shrimp Stock Recipe can be found here)
3 cups of Chopped Onion
1 cup each chopped celery and green bell pepper
1/2 pound small diced smoked sausage or andouille
1 heaping tbsp. of filé powder
3/4 cup of green onions (for garnish)
1/2 cup of parsley (for garnish)
1/4 cup of cooking oil (preferably vegetable, but not olive oil)
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
All Purpose Cajun Seasoning, Black Pepper, Salt, White Pepper
 
Special Instructions: Serve over your favorite rice, Cajuns typically use medium or long grain white rice, cooked in a rice cooker.
 
     1) In a large frying pan, heat up half of the cooking oil to a sauté temperature (medium high heat). Add okra and white vinegar (this reduces the slime that okra creates when it is blanched) and lower heat to medium, cooking for 30 minutes, or until okra is thoroughly wilted and cooked through. 
 
     2) In your large gumbo pot, sauté the remaining vegetables in the remaining cooking oil until transparent, about 20 minutes.
 
     3) Slowly whisk in seafood stock. Add your okra and the sausage/andouille to this mixture. Generously add Cajun seasoning, salt, black/white pepper and cayenne pepper to your liking. While the flavors will develop longer, you need to ensure that the base is seasoned to your liking at this point.
 
     4) When seasoning is blended in to taste, lower heat to a simmer. Cook covered for 45 minutes to allow flavors to get rich and layered. At the 45 minute mark, bring temp back up to a rolling boil. 
 
     5) In a large bowl, season the shrimp with 3 tablespoons of  Cajun All Purpose Seasoning. Drop seasoned shrimp into boiling gumbo, turn burner off. Close lid. Allow to sit, untouched for ten minutes. This will ensure perfectly cooked shrimp every time.
 
     6) Garnish with parsley and green onion. Serve over rice.

 

Crawfish Boil Leftover Potato Salad

 
One of the saddest times in Cajun country is the space between crawfish seasons. We figured out how to put a man on the moon, but we can’t seem to fool nature into giving us a year round crawfish season (yet). Whether you have simply never experienced the mind-blowing flavors of a true Cajun crawfish boil, or you are a bonafide Cajun who happens to be craving boiled crawfish several months out of season, this is the recipe for you. It’s all the powerful flavors and aromas of a crawfish boil, but you can make and eat it year round.
 
Serves 6-8
 
Ingredients: 
3 pounds of very small unpeeled potatoes (golf ball size)
1  four ounce bottle of Zatarain’s garlic and onion shrimp boil liquid
3 tablespoons of Zatarain’s regular crawfish boil liquid
4 tablespoons of All-Purpose Cajun Seasoning
One pound of Louisiana crawfish tails with fat
3 ears of corn on the cob, fresh (remove husks)
2 small onions
 
For “Crawfish Dip” dressing
Ketchup
Mayonnaise
Worcestershire
Cajun Seasoning
1 tablespoon of horseradish (optional)
One bunch green onions, in slivers
 
     1) In a soup pot, heat up 4 quarts of water (enough to cover corn, onions, and potatoes) and heavily salt, as you would for pasta water (1/4 cup). Add both Zatarains liquid boils and old bay seasoning.
 
     2) Add fresh corn on the cob (you can cut them in half to fit in the pot), potatoes, and onions. Boil on medium high for 18 minutes, or until corn is bright yellow and cooked. Add crawfish tails, and let simmer for 2 more minutes. Close lid. Let sit for 10 full minutes. Drain.
 
     3) In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes (halved after they cook, do not mash), corn (shucked after it cooks), and the onions (chopped in one inch pieces after cooked).
 
     4) In a mixing bowl, mix together one cup of mayonnaise, half a cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of Worcestershire and optional tablespoon of horseradish. Add Cajun seasoning to your desired level of saltiness.
 
     5) While still hot, add the “crawfish dip” to the corn, potatoes and onions and toss until coated evenly.
 
     6) Garnish with green onion slivers. Serve with Seafood Gumbo!
 
 

Cajun Bread Pudding 

(From Our Good Friends at RealCajunRecipes.com)

Bread pudding was the answer to what to do with leftover bread, which probably came about soon after the invention of bread. Bread pudding is a ‘common’ dessert, definitely not the high end haute cuisine but you would never convince Cajuns or your guest that it isn’t. Visit realcajunrecipes.com for a variety of bread pudding sauce toppings – rum sauce, whiskey sauce, lemon sauce, brown sugar sauce, and bourbon sauce.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cup milk

2 slightly beaten eggs

2 cups 1 inch cubed day old white bread, Evangeline Maid if you can find it

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

Directions

In an 8 x 8 buttered pan; add the 1 inch cubed bread. In a bowl, combine the, milk, eggs, brown sugar, and cinnamon, vanilla and salt and mix well. Pour the mixture over the bread, and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Why Does Louisiana Have Alligator Hunting Season?

Did you know why Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries holds an alligator hunting season in the late summer and early fall each year?

According to Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries, Louisiana’s program has been adopted worldwide by conservationists for its effectiveness in keeping alligators and crocodile ecosystems balanced. Gator hunting tags are divided into east and west zones, and each has its own 30 day season. The east zone opens the last Wednesday in August, and the west zone opens the first Wednesday of September.

“The goals of LDWF’s wild alligator harvest program are to manage and conserve Louisiana’s alligators as part of the state’s wetland ecosystem, provide benefits to the species, its habitat and the other species of fish and wildlife associated with alligators.” – louisiana.gov

Gator hunting was outlawed in 1962 due to over harvesting in the 1950s. The state began focusing on preservation efforts through research and ecological testing, resulting in a world class, biologically sound management and harvest program. Alligator populations quickly returned to normal between 1962 and 1972 while this program was implemented, resulting in a boom of hatchlings that quickly matured. It was determined that a new study was needed to manage the population, and Cameron Parish initiated a closely regulated commercial wild alligator harvest in September of 1972, leading to the early versions of the hunting season we now have in place.

Each year, approximately 35,000 hunting tags are given out to 2,000 hunters to maintain this ecological balance, providing significant economic and ecological benefits to our state. Alligators may be harvested from sunrise to sunset only, and may only be hunted with firearms (no shotguns), hook and line, or bow and arrow. Baited hooks must be cast no earlier than 24 hours before the season begins. All unused tags must be returned to the state within 15 days of the end of the season.

September and October is prime gator watching season, so book your tour today by calling 337.228.7880! To read more about gator season in Louisiana, visit: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/alligator-hunting-regulations-overview.