Paradise on the Coast: St. Mary Parish
The Cajun Coast is a naturalist’s heaven with wetlands, parks, bayous, and lakes to enjoy. Since exactly fifty percent of its total area is water, it is easy to see how St. Mary Parish got the nickname of “Cajun Coast.” For the adventurous outdoor lover, you will find some of the best hunting and fishing around. The Cajun Coast offers a network of bayous and waterways, which provide easy access to the swamp for canoeing, kayaking, and even airboat tours. This is perfect for nature lovers, wildlife photographers, and bird watchers. You can explore the haunting beauty of the Atchafalaya on a swamp tour one minute, then stand in awe at the majesty of its antebellum homes, plantations, and historic communities the next.
With its friendly, relaxed atmosphere, the Cajun Coast is a sampler of everything Louisiana has to offer. Visitors can enjoy the historic towns of Franklin, Patterson, and Morgan City. There you will find great dining, unique museums, and fun festivals held throughout the year. Take a drive along LA Hwy 182 to discover the serendipity of the area.
Golf enthusiasts will enjoy the Atchafalaya at Idlewild Golf Course in Patterson. The course has been listed fifth in the nation on Golf Digest’s ”Roundup of Best Public Courses under $75,” and Golfweek has ranked it among the top 50 in the US. Play a round of golf on one of the wildest terrains, but be careful – sometimes the alligators are out, and they do like golf balls!
Venture over to Franklin April 21 – 22 to celebrate one of the Cajun Coast's most famous residents: the Louisiana black bear. The Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival features food, music, educational seminars, children's activities, arts and crafts, and fireworks on the Bayou Teche.
While you are in Franklin, be sure to stop in at the Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Festival, held the same weekend, April 21 -22, at Parc Sur La Teche. Cajuns once created wooden boats by hand, and that talent is celebrated as wooden boat owners and enthusiasts gather along the historic and scenic Bayou Teche.
For more information on outdoor activities and events happening in St. Mary Parish this spring, visit www.cajuncoast.com.
By Kandice Dequeant, a teacher of culinary arts and freelance journalist living in Lafayette.