Louisiana Travels for Dec. 16

Photo provided by Audubon Nature InstituteKohl the penguin gets a Christmas stocking filled with fish. Santa Claus will hand deliver presents to each penguin at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans during the 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. feedings Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22.
Photo provided by Audubon Nature InstituteKohl the penguin gets a Christmas stocking filled with fish. Santa Claus will hand deliver presents to each penguin at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans during the 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. feedings Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22.

Holiday events plentiful around Louisiana

In the midst of all the Christmas rush, make time to take in one of the many holiday events around the state. The list of happenings between now and year-end is an enormous one, so here are a few suggestions. Enjoy.

Penguin presents

The penguins at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans will be getting presents from Santa during the 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. feedings Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22. This is the second year Audubon Aquarium has organized this special holiday feeding.

Visitors are welcome to view the feeding from behind the viewing glass at the Penguin Exhibit on the second floor of the Aquarium. Families can enjoy watching Santa deliver specially wrapped presents and hand-feed the playful group of penguins during this especially lively feeding time.

äON THE INTERNET:

http://www.auduboninstitute.org

Creole Christmas

The Historic New Orleans Collection will join in Creole Christmas, presented by Friends of the Cabildo, on Thursday, Dec. 27, and Friday, Dec. 28.

The event invites locals and visitors to take a stroll through the French Quarter to visit five historical houses outfitted with traditional Christmas decorations. Participants will also enjoy Creole Christmas stories and seasonal refreshments. The Collection’s Williams Residence, the 1850 House, Beauregard-Keyes House, Spring Fiesta House and Gallier House will all be featured from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Friends of the Cabildo will end ticket sales at 3 p.m. both days. Admission is $25 per person, $20 for Friends of the Cabildo members, and tickets can be purchased online at http://www.friendsofthecabildo.org or on the day of the event at the 1850 House, 523 St. Ann St.

The Historic New Orleans Collection is located at 533 Royal St. in New Orleans.

Those who visit The Collection will see the festively decorated residence and courtyard of Gen. L. Kemper Williams and Leila Hardie Moore Williams, founders of the institution. The elegant townhome features a beautiful Christmas tree in the drawing room decorated with some of their original ornaments. The tour includes Christmas family photos of the Williamses from 1956 through 1961 as well as details of their family traditions.

Self-guided tours of all the historical homes begin at the 1850 House at 523 St. Ann St. on Jackson Square and are available all day from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., except for The Collection’s Williams Residence, which will be available for self-guided tours from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Parlor party

Visitors at Otis House Museum in Madisonville through Dec. 30 are invited to experience Christmas in a Victorian Parlor. Otis House Museum will be decorated in true Victorian style from the tree to the wreaths, fresh fruits and evergreen mantles. The Christmas tree is decorated with reproduction Victorian scrap ornaments, popcorn streamers, fresh fruits and vintage ornaments. The history of this Victorian celebration will be covered in detail as visitors make their way through the parlor and dining areas.

The Madisonville Garden Club donated their time, expertise, poinsettias, flowers, fresh fruits and greenery to complete the floral displays throughout the museum.

The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, and tours are on the hour, with no tour at noon and the last tour is at 4 p.m. The Otis House Museum is located inside Fairview-Riverside State Park one mile east of Madisonville on La. 22 in St. Tammany Parish. Otis House tours are $4 per person, age 12 and younger or seniors age 62 and older are admitted free of charge with register receipt. The site includes camping, a day-use picnic area on the banks of the Tchefuncte River, and Otis House Museum. For more information call (888) 677-3247.

Park tours

When in Natchitoches for the Christmas Festival of Lights, be sure to visit Cane River Creole National Historical Park’s Oakland and Magnolia plantations.

Guests can take in the park’s scenic beauty, vernacular architecture and rich histories. Kids can earn their Junior Ranger badges and collect Civil War to Civil Rights trading cards. There’s also a gift shop at Oakland, located in the historic plantation store building. The gift shop and bookstore has a wide selection of National Park merchandise, regional non-fiction titles, children’s literature, postcards, magnets, and locally made mayhaw jelly.

Park Rangers will be giving guided tours of the Natchitoches historic district on December 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29 and 31. The downtown walking tours begin at 2 p.m. at the Cunningham Law Office at 550 Second St. next to the Chamber of Commerce building. Each tour lasts approximately 90 minutes, with participants walking over half a mile. The downtown walking tour covers historical topics from the 18th century to the present day.

All of these programs and events are free to the public.

Cane River Creole NHP’s Oakland and Magnolia Plantations will be open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. seven days a week except on Christmas and New Year’s Day. To reach Oakland Plantation, take Interstate 49 to exit 127, Flora/Cypress. Head east on La. 120 toward Cypress. Once you reach the La. 1 intersection cross over La. 1 onto La. 494. The parking lot and entrance pavilion for Oakland are 4.5 miles east of La. 1 on the left.

To reach the grounds of Magnolia Plantation, take Interstate 49 to exit 119, Derry. Head east on La. 119. Cross over La. 1 and proceed for two miles. The grounds of Magnolia Plantation are on the right. The main at house at Magnolia is privately owned and not open to the public. For more information call (318) 356-8441.

äON THE INTERNET:

http://www.nps.gov/cari/

RV Park recognized

Pontchartrain Landing, a waterfront RV park in New Orleans is a four-time “A” grade winner, according to the latest consumer surveys by GuestRated.com.

There are 42 “A” rated campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the country, based on surveys submitted by more than 30,000 consumers. GuestRated.com has been conducting the annual online surveys on behalf of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds for the past five years.

äON THE INTERNET:

http://www.pontchartrainlanding.com

The Office of State Parks, the National Park Service and the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds provided items for this column. Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to travel@theadvocate.com or jbergeron@theadvocate.com or fax to (225) 388-0351.