St. Landry Parish, located just a short drive north of Lafayette, is home to deep Cajun and Creole culture. St. Landry Parish’s rich culture and history come from the diverse people who have called it home — Acadian, Creole, French, African, Spanish, Italian and Native American people have lived here for almost three centuries. The area's events and festivals celebrate everything from art, to Cajun and zydeco music.
These cultural influences can be found in the diversity of languages spoken in the area, to the music jam sessions where residents and visitors come together to play. The Louisiana State legislature recognizes the influence of St. Landry Parish's culture and designated four capitals: Eunice - Prairie Cajun Capital; Opelousas - Zydeco Music Capital; Sunset - Rubboard Capital; Grand Coteau - Sweet Dough Pie Capital.
Start planning your trip with this list of top 10 things to do in St. Landry Parish.
1. Bayou Teche Brewing
Straddling the St. Landry and St. Martin parish lines in Arnaudville, Bayou Teche Brewing is an international award-winning brewery whose beers are found in bars, restaurants and stores throughout the Southeast. This brewery with a big reputation has made its home in tiny Arnaudville (pop. 1,000) for nearly 10 years, and is headed by a trio of brothers whose ancestors — the original Cajuns — arrived from Quebec in 1780. Bayou Teche beers are, essentially, Cajun Country in a bottle. Experience it for yourself by visiting Bayou Teche Brewing’s headquarters. Brewery tours are held on Saturdays. The tap room is open daily, and there’s live music on weekends.
2. Courir de Mardi Gras
Far from the crowded streets, mega-floats and processions of marching bands is the Cajun Mardi Gras, known locally as Courir de Mardi Gras. Filled with Louisiana tradition, this Carnival celebration (culminating in 2019 on Fat Tuesday, March 5th) involves men, women and children dressed in traditional costumes who collect ingredients for a communal pot of gumbo. Cajun Mardi Gras parties happen throughout the region, but the one in Eunice is one of the biggest and best-known. Get the insiders tips for the Courir de Mardi Gras. One more reason to celebrate: Eunice’s Courir de Mardi Gras celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019.
3. Sweet Dough Pie Festival
One of the sweetest things about visiting St. Landry Parish is its fun festivals and awesome dining options. Find both in one place at the Sweet Dough Pie Festival in scenic, historic Grand Coteau. Every year pastry chefs and home cooks compete to create the best fruit pies, and are joined by artists, artisans, food vendors and musicians. The 2018 festival is held Oct. 27 at St. Charles Borromeo Church in the town of Grand Coteau.
4. Old Schoolhouse Antique Mall
Seasoned antique shoppers know: The best stuff is often found in the smaller, off-the-beaten-path spots. Lovers of all things vintage should therefore head to the town of Washington, where the Old Schoolhouse Antique Mall holds countless treasures of yesteryear.
5. Louisiana Orphan Train Museum
Visit the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum to understand the U.S.'s history between the years 1854 and 1929. The homelessness epidemic in New York City had reached catastrophic proportions, with more than 200,000 children counted among them. Due to the efforts of an orphanage whose mission was to rehome children in rural towns, Louisiana received approximately 2,500 homeless children via train. In Opelousas, where many rehomed children spent their adult lives, the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum stands as a monument.
6. Back in Time restaurant
Enjoy classic Southern comfort food while Zydeco music plays in the background at Back in Time. The winner of numerous local awards, this down-home, mom-and-pop Opelousas lunch spot is a throwback to Hollywood’s yesteryear. Check out the homemade desserts and huge selection of sandwiches.
7. The NUNU Collective
The NUNU Collective was founded in 2005 with the intention of developing a creative workspace and showcase for emerging local artists. Within a year of opening in Arnaudville, housed in the former Singleton Hardware & Lumber complex, NUNU became home to works by 40 artists. Fast-forward to 2018 and it’s going as strong as ever. Thanks to its location in a heavily Cajun French-speaking part of the state, NUNU also hosts “French tables,” get-togethers where locals and visitors can practice the language. There are French tables for both adults and children.
8. Bayou Teche Paddle Trail
The Bayou Teche is often cited as one of Louisiana’s most scenic waterways. On the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, you can see some — or if you’re really ambitious, all — of the 135-mile bayou running through St. Landry and three surrounding parishes. Cajun towns throughout the trail have convenient boat launches specially outfitted for kayakers and canoeists. Along your journey you’ll find a wildlife paradise of exotic birds, fish and massive cypress trees.
9. Evangeline Downs
Got a need for speed? Then look no farther than Evangeline Downs. This Opelousas horse racing track and casino has fast-paced thoroughbred action and more than 1,300 slot machines. Stay a while at the Evangeline Downs Hotel, close to the action and deep in the heart of Cajun Country.
10. Prairie Acadian Cultural Center
Head to the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center which is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve, in Eunice, honors the history of Cajuns who made central-southern Louisiana their home in the 18th century. Exhibits and artifacts tell the story of these ingenuous, industrious people that were forced from Canada many generations ago. The Cajun Mardi Gras Exhibit showcases costumes and photos from the Courir de Mardi Gras, and on Saturdays visitors are treated to music, crafts and Cajun cooking demonstrations.
This is just a list that will get you started! Discover even more trip ideas and things to do in the St. Landry Parish area and start planning your trip today!