Summer Activities in the Midsouth

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1. Hear live jazz in New Orleans, Louisiana
Music is everywhere in the “the Big Easy.” Whether you head to a local club or watch musicians along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, be sure to enjoy this original American art form in its native setting.

2. Treat yourself to some Cajun cooking
Named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Canada to Louisiana in the 18th century, spicy Cajun cuisine is mainstay fare in southern Louisiana. Preparation is simple, favoring locally available ingredients. Ask a local where they go for great Cajun.

3. Explore the “other Grand Canyon”
Hike, bike, or drive through the country’s second-largest canyon, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo. You can even spend the night in a historic stone cabin perched near the edge of the colorful rocks.

4. Step into cowboy boots
No Texas wardrobe is complete without a pair of Western boots, and Houston is a prime place to buy them. Options range from the chain store Cavender’s to celebrity custom maker Wheeler Boots, or, if you’re on a budget, find a consignment shop on Visit Houston.

5. Go wild on the Creole Nature Trail
This 180-mile scenic route leads you into the splendor of Louisiana's renowned coastal wetlands, wildlife refuges, and rippling marshes. Along the way, you can see more than 400 species of birds and witness the primordial power of alligators in their natural habitat.

6. Stroll among sculptures in Dallas
Located in the heart of the city’s arts district, the Nasher Sculpture Center is home to one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world. Also, check out the monthly free event at the Nasher, featuring outdoor concerts and a movie.

7. Explore an archaeological mystery
Poverty Point was part of an enormous trading network in northwestern Louisiana 3,000 years ago. Its people left behind an engineering marvel – a system of monumental mounds and ridges built into the landscape for residential and ceremonial use. You can view the 400-acre earthworks, a Unesco World Heritage Site, via a walking trail or tram tour.

8. Admire a thought-provoking American elm tree in Oklahoma
The “Survivor Tree” in downtown Oklahoma endured a bomb blast 20 years ago at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, one of the worst terrorist attacks in the U.S. The tree is now part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, which educates visitors about the impact of violence and inspires hope and healing.

9. Wrap yourself around some good ol’ Texas barbecue
All across the Lone Star state, you can get your fingers messy on ribs, pulled pork, sausage, and brisket – smoked and slow-cooked to perfection. Ask locals to recommend a restaurant, or try this San Antonio resource.

10. Volunteer in your local community
Whether you prefer to walk the dogs at an animal shelter, serve food at a soup kitchen, or plant a tree with a conservation group, there are many ways to volunteer in your local community. You’ll find plenty of other opportunities at networkforgood.org/volunteer/ or volunteermatch.org/. Be sure to tag #cieegivingback when you post your photos! 

We’d love to see and hear about your adventures on Facebook.