The "Town Between the Bayous: Historic Tour of Homes" will take place Sunday, March 19, showcasing five sites in the St. Landry Parish town of Washington.

The tours will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with check-in at the last home on tour no later than 2:30 p.m.

Visitors can see The Eagle Hotel, Camellia Cove, the Martin Demaret House, the Harbourage House and St. John's Episcopal Church, which all date to the 1800s.

The Washington Garden Club and the homeowners are hosting this self-guided tour.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at St. John's Church or any of the sites. 

The tour will benefit the restoration and maintenance of historic St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Garden Club headquarters.

Oakley to close temporarily

Oakley House at Audubon State Historic Site in St. Francisville will close beginning Monday, March 20, for lead abatement of the building's exterior.

The project will take about a year, a news release said.

The park grounds and visitor center will remain open to the public, with visitors being charged the grounds-only entrance fee of $5 (age 4 and older) and free for children 3 and younger. Programming at the park, with the exception of the daily house tours, will still occur, according to the release.

The 200-year-old Oakley House was the temporary home and inspiration to artist John James Audubon in the 1800s. The site is 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge on La. 965 in West Feliciana Parish.

For more information, visit or call (888) 677-2838.

Hilton gets update

The 1,622-room Hilton New Orleans Riverside has completed a $6 million renovation to the Grand Ballroom, Grand Salon and first- and second-level meeting spaces.

The hotel, located next to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, has a relaxed French-inspired design. The first-floor Grand Ballroom features a new color palette of blue, gray and gold in geometric patterns; 12 elegant new chandeliers, and warm neutral accents. The Grand Salon has been refreshed with new coffered ceilings and contemporary circular lighting fixtures.

The second-level Exhibition Center now has a soothing blue palette and is named “Churchill,” paying tribute to the Winston Churchill Statue donated to the city in 1977 located in front of the hotel entrance. The space has geometric striped carpet in blue, gold and gray; high, recessed ceilings; and oversized rectangular lighting fixtures. A new pre-function area includes slate gray armchairs, modern bronze side tables and abstract wall paintings.

Vote for Audubon

Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, both in New Orleans, are finalists for the USA Today Readers' Choice Best Zoo and Best Aquarium awards.

Vote online for Audubon Zoo at or for Audubon Aquarium at Participants are allowed to vote once per day until 10 a.m. Monday, March 27. The winners will be announced Friday, March 31.

The nominees, all accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, were "hand-picked by a panel of zoo and family travel experts," according to a news release from Audubon Nature Institute.

Pontchartrain makes 'it list'

The Pontchartrain Hotel, 2031 St. Charles Ave., in New Orleans' Garden District, is on Travel + Leisure's It List, the annual editors' choice awards of the best new and renovated hotels.

"Amid a wave of fashionable openings, the Pontchartrain best captures NOLA’s spirit and history. The 1940s glamour of vintage keys and chandeliers juxtaposed with seemingly incongruent pieces, like a portrait of Lil Wayne, make it elegant and cool in equal measure," the magazine says in its March issue.

Travel + Leisure editors and contributors chose 44 properties, from the Seychelles to Beijing to New Orleans, for this year's list.

Crawfest up north

The inaugural Crawfest at Betty Virginia Park in Shreveport will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 25. Admission is free to the family-friendly festival.

In addition to crawfish boiled on-site, other concessions will include beer, burgers and sodas. There also will be live music, local artists displaying their works and a kids' activities area.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the South Highlands Neighborhood Association for improvements to the park.

For more information, visit

Follow Judy Bergeron on Twitter, @judybergeronbr.