Neighborhood Tour
- Page 4
things to do + see in area 9
BY COLETTE DEAN
Special to The Advocate

Between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, not far off I-10, is Area 9: Ascension Parish. It’s the ideal place for a weekend getaway to experience what life on the bayou has to offer: the South’s history of River Road plantations and museums, culture, fabulous cuisine, festivals, and fun.

Ascension Parish spans both sides of the Mississippi River, just south of Baton Rouge. Two of its biggest cities — Gonzales on the east side of the river and Donaldsonville on the west side — have rich histories. The original inhabitants were members of the Houmas and Chitimacha tribes, and the earliest European settlers were mostly Spanish and Canary Islanders. The population became diverse over time with the influx of African slaves, Jews, and Italians. This cultural gumbo makes touring Area 9 a must.

Here are a few must-sees.

River Road African African Museum
406 Charles St.
Donaldsonville
(225) 474-5553

This museum’s mission is to educate visitors on the history and culture of African Americans in the rural communities of south Louisiana through the collection, preservation, and interpretation of art, artifacts, and historic buildings.

Tanger Outlets
2100 Tanger Blvd.
Gonzales

This is the land of good deals, from accessories and jewelry to apparel, footwear, and home furnishings. Tanger features over 60 brand-name shops such as GAP, Nike, and Ralph Lauren. There are several chain restaurants around the perimeter of the mall, so you can shop without dropping- from hunger, at least.

Houmas House
40136 La. 942
Darrow
(225) 473-9380

A circa 1840 Greek Revival mansion and plantation allows visitors to experience the life of a wealthy sugar baron. Tours include the historic house and 38 acres of lush gardens. The gift shop is worth a stop and contains the best collection of books about Louisiana — its history, people, architecture and culture — you’ll find in one place.

Lodging is available at one of the 21 cottages on the grounds, and elegant restaurants, like Café Burnside or the plantation’s signature restaurant, Latil’s Landing, are also available to enjoy.

Palo Alto Plantation
33534 La. 944 South
Donaldsonville
www.paloaltoplantation.net

Admission by appointment only Palo Alto, which translates to “tall trees,” was once a wedding gift from the wealthy Spanish plantation owner Oscar Ayraud to his daughter, Rosalie. Jacob Lemann later purchased the property. A Greek revival style structure built in 1850, the plantation house is a one-and-a-half story building on brick piers with a twelve-foot-
wide porch.

St. Emma Plantation
1283 La. 1 South
Donaldsonville
(225) 675-6550

Group tours by appointment only.

A Greek Revival house built in 1847, it was owned from 1854 to 1869 by Charles Kock , one of the leading sugar planters and a large slaveholder in Louisiana. St. Emma and Palo Alto plantations figured in a Civil War battle, known as “Battle of Kock’s Plantation” in the fall of 1862.

Fort Butler Civil War site
Veterans Boulevard
Donaldsonville
(985) 369-1950

A pivotal Civil War site, engineered by West Point, was built to guard the confluence of the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche, a major outlet to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a star-shaped, log and earth construction built and defended by area African-American slaves turned soldiers. Now the site is home of an annual re-enactment. Guided tours are by appointment only.

Cabela’s
2200 W. Cabela’s Parkway
Gonzales
(225) 743-3400

Cabela’s is a retail mainstay stocking a huge inventory of hunting, fishing, and camping supplies, plus boats and ATVs. Cabela’s offers free monthly community seminars such as “Archery Fitting and Shooting,” “Tasty Meals with Your Dutch Oven,” and “Women and Waterfowl.”

Depot Gallery of River Region
Art Association
1008 West La. 30, Gonzales
(225) 644-8496

River Region Art Association is now located in the Edenborn Depot, a railway station built in 1906 in Gonzales. An additional art gallery is open for tours at Houmas House Art Gallery. The mission of the association is to bring artists and arts advocates together to improve public awareness of all art forms. The association supports local artists, promotes the arts in the community, and provides educational opportunities for emerging and established artists, students, and the general public.

Ascension Community Theater
823 North Felicity Ave.
Gonzales
(225) 647-1230

This nonprofit theater company promotes the traditions of family and homegrown talent while educating, challenging, and entertaining the community at large, one show at a time.

Jambalaya Park and Amphitheater
1015 East Cornerview
Gonzales

A beautiful open theater and a gazebo are located in the park. They can be rented for a nominal fee.

Ascension Veterans Memorial Park
612 South Irma Blvd.
Gonzales
(225) 644-4470

Ascension Veterans Memorial Park is a contemplative environment where people can remember and honor the contributions of all United States veterans in defense of freedom worldwide. This park provides a distinctive setting through which Ascension Parish veterans groups can reach out to the community through education exhibits and events.

Lamar Dixon Expo Center
9039 S. St. Landry Ave.
Gonzales

The Lamar Dixon Expo Center is a multi-purpose event center built in 1999. Since then, the facility has been used to host indoor football, basketball, volleyball, equestrian events, rodeos, horse and cattle sales, outdoor shows, gun shows, flea markets, and concerts.

The center has helped grow popular festivals such as the Hot Air Balloon Festival, Flambeau Music Festival, and the Boucherie Festival, to name a few.

The Cajun Village
6490 La. 22
Sorrento
(225) 675-8068

The Cajun Village Cottages include eight Acadian-style houses dating back to 1900. They were found in and saved from the historic area of Baton Rouge known as Spanish Town and moved to Sorrento. Restored with original wooden floors and decorated with authentic antiques, the cottages now house specialty boutique shops featuring antiques, pottery, muscadine wines, and Cajun odds and ends. The Coffee House serves beignets, café au lait, and red beans and rice, among other treats.

The public is invited to view the hefty live alligators fenced on the village grounds and watch the gator feedings on Sundays at 4 p.m., April–September.

Dubois Winery
417 E. Ascension St.
Gonzales
(225) 450-3120

Housed in a 100-year old Gonzales dwelling, the Dubois winery offers free tours and tastings of handcrafted wines, “from our hearts to your hands.” Wines and other items are for sale in the gift shop. Open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment.

Victorian on the Avenue
117 Railroad Ave.
Donaldsonville
(225) 473-1876

This bed-and-breakfast was built in 1890 and restored by Kent and Donna Schexnaydre in 2003. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Homes.

Cabahanosse Antiques and Gifts, Bed and Breakfast
602 Railroad Ave.
Donaldsonville
(225) 474-5050

The name “Cab-a-nosee” is a Choctaw Indian word meaning “sleeping place of the ducks” and was the main street name when the town plan for Donaldsonville was drawn for William Donaldson in 1806. The bed-and-breakfast is home to four elegant suites and offers a peaceful getaway under 100-year old live oak trees, a short walk from fine restaurants, historic sites, churches, and museums.

The first floor of Cabahanosse is an antiques and gift shop featuring an eclectic collection of 18 different vendors with displays overflowing with glassware, linens, home and garden