Louisiana has eight new Cultural Districts: Grand Coteau, the Highland Community in Shreveport, Denham Springs, Donaldsonville, downtown DeRidder, Breaux Bridge, Ascension Parish and Old South Baton Rouge.

The new designation by the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism means designated property owners can apply for state historic tax credits for renovation projects. Also, sales of original works of art in the districts are tax exempt.

“For our 102-year-old building, we will be able to do renovations with assistance from the state of Louisiana,” Greg Thibodeaux, business manager at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, said.

Arts events organizer and gift shop owner Patrice Melnick is also excited about the town’s new status.

“This designation will help to highlight the arts in Grand Coteau, including literary, visual and performing,” Melnick said. “Grand Coteau is home to musicians Jude Taylor and Curly Taylor; to quilt maker Gwendolyn Miller and recycle artists Trish Ransom. And the Festival of Words and other literary events are flourishing.”

As of July 1, there are now 59 districts in 34 towns and 24 parishes across the state.

• ON THE INTERNET:http://www.crt.la.us/culturaldistricts

St. Francisville’s 'Night’

On the heels of the popular New Orleans event, the St. Francisville Merchants Association is hosting its own White Linen Night on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Shops and eateries along Commerce, Ferdinand and Royal streets will be open, and music and local artisans will be featured.

The event begins at 5 p.m. Trolleys to all the featured locations will be available.

• ON THE INTERNET: http://stfrancisvillefestivals.com

Honors for Lafayette

Lafayette is the town “Best for Food,” according to Rand McNally’s Best of the Road Rally.

Rand McNally, in collaboration with USA Today, picked Lafayette from more than 600 submissions in five categories - most beautiful, most patriotic, friendliest, most fun and best for food.

The judges traveled to Lafayette in early July, sampling the cuisine at Dwyer’s Café, The French Press, Blue Dog Café, Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro, Johnson’s Boucaniere, Don’s Seafood Hut, The Original Don’s Seafood and Steakhouse, Charley G’s, Randol’s, The Accidental Chef Cooking School, Hub City Diner and Pamplona. They also were treated to a seafood feast at Vermilionville. by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

In New Orleans

If you’re a beetle fan, you’ll want to catch Beetlemania at the Audubon Insectarium Sept. 3-4. There will be beetle races, storytellers, discussion of the role of beetles in Egyptian mythology and some John, Paul, George and Ringo beetle look-a-likes. Look for “beetle juice” and chocolate chirp cookies on the menu.

• ON THE INTERNET: http://www.audubon institute.org

The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau’s “Be A Tourist in Your Own Hometown” campaign runs through Sept. 30. The program collects and promotes summer specials on meals, attractions, hotels and more.

• ON THE INTERNET: http://www.touristathome.com

Travel + Leisure Magazine has named The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, as one of the top large hotels in the United States and Canada. The magazine evaluated rooms, facilities, location, service, restaurants, food and value. The magazine reported that the Roosevelt “embraces the elegance and drama of 1893 New Orleans.”

Music in Houma

Houma’s Downtown Alive After 5 kicks off 5-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, on the Courthouse steps downtown. Voodoo Bayou will play from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

For more information, call (985) 873-6408.

• ON THE INTERNET: http://www.houmamainstreet.org

Pizza in Bossier City

When visiting Bossier City, don’t leave town without stopping at Cascio’s Market Bistro. The bistro’s pizzaletta has been named one of the 50 best pizzas in America by Food Network Magazine.

The pizzaletta, created by owner Rocky Cascio, uses the ingredients normally found in muffulettas: Genoa salami, Black Forest ham, olive salad and provolone cheese. These are sandwiched between two pizza crusts and topped with mozzarella, provolone and crushed red pepper.

Cascio’s is located at 2750 Shed Road.

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 mail to Judy Bergeron, News Features assistant editor, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.