Viewpoint: July 6, 2012

For many of us, a summer vacation means traveling out of state, spending thousands of dollars on airfare, rental cars, hotels and amusement parks. As we leave town, people from around the world are coming here.

There is a reason that Louisiana is a popular destination for tourists. They want to experience our culture, our scenery, our music and food. Here's our vacation suggestion for the remainder of the summer.

Louisiana has 22 state parks - most have cabins or shaded campsites. There is river canoeing on the Bogue Chitto, fishing at Toledo Bend, waterfalls and granite scenery at Hodges Gardens, beaches on the Gulf, historic sites from Acadian villages, to Audubon's home, to one of the oldest prehistoric settlements in North America.

The majestic Atchafalaya, America's largest river swamp, is only minutes from Baton Rouge. Our parks have boardwalks and trails for hiking and biking, and bayous and lakes for boating and fishing. And best of all, they have a quiet natural beauty that helps us relax and truly get away from it all.