New Orleans has given us great musicians such as Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr.; chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, and John Besh; artists such as Ida Kohlmeyer and Lin Emery; photographers like Clarence John Laughlin and Richard Sexton; and it has also inspired writers such as William Faulkner, Anne Rice, and Stephen Ambrose.The city’s talent pool engenders creativity and makes New Orleans a unique cultural destination. Four years post-Katrina, we are experiencing a new New Orleans. The city’s unique cultural amenities continue to lure visitors from afar. But innovation and rejuvenation are key elements in expanding the allure of this great American city as it recovers. As start-up companies and entrepreneurs are gravitating to New Orleans, incentives are being created for businesses to relocate here. The city’s deep pool of local talent, coupled with low overhead and government incentives, create a rich playground for entrepreneurs and developers.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Alexandria, Virginia’s, unique combination of historic ambience and contemporary flair are reflected in its early-American architecture and variety of stylish new hotels, high-end boutiques, memorable restaurants, and colonial attractions. Founded in 1749 by Scottish merchants, Alexandria boasts beautiful 18th-and19th-century architecture, quaint neighborhoods, and a thriving arts scene. In 2010, Alexandria was voted “Third Best Arts Destination Among Mid-size Cities” by American Style magazine, just behind New Orleans. It is also one of the most dog-friendly cities in America.
In the Crossroads region, where the cypress bayou country melds into piney hill country, and wetlands give way to farmlands, visitors gravitate to such sister cities as Alexandria and Pineville with activities that appeal to the whole family. In friendly towns like Leesville, recreational activities abound, and the nearby lakes and bayous offer some of the best fishing and canoeing in the nation. Among the woods and waterways are portions of the magnificent Kisatchie National Forest near Alexandria, and at the region’s western end near Leesville lies the Toledo Bend Reservoir, which fishermen can spend a lifetime exploring. With a history profoundly marked by French, Spanish, African, Native American, and Anglo-American influences, there are storied places throughout central Louisiana, also known as Crossroads.