Welcome to the St. Martin Parish of Louisiana! It's a short drive from New Orleans or Baton Rouge and the beautiful and historic towns of Breaux Bridge, Henderson, St. Martinville and more, welcome visitors with the deep Cajun culture. Taste incredible Cajun dishes, discover the plentiful wildlife and outdoor activities found in the Atchafalaya Basin, listen to live music all night then get ready for a brunch dance party in the morning - it's a party out here and you're invited! Check out these top things to do in St. Martin Parish.
This marina bills itself as the “gateway to the Atchafalaya wilderness,” referring to the massive maze of waterways that flow through much of south Louisiana. It’s a good description for one of the best-known spots for embarking on an airboat tour or renting a houseboat for an overnight excursion. Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Marina is an awesome base camp for your swamp adventures, with expert guides to show you around this magical landscape. Learn more about swamp tours.
The Atchafalaya Basin is enormous, covering 14 Louisiana parishes and serving as home to countless species of plants and animals — particularly bird life. There are seemingly endless opportunities for biking, birding, kayaking, hunting and fishing. Start your Atchafalaya travels online, and in person at the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Welcome Center on I-10 in Breaux Bridge.
If you find yourself in downtown Breaux Bridge on any given Saturday morning, zydeco breakfast at Buck & Johnny’s is a must for your travel itinerary. The restaurant is known for its Italian cuisine, but its breakfast menu is pure Cajun, with items called the zydeco omelet, eggs savoy and the don’t-mess-with-my-tasso (an omelet with grilled onions and Cajun-styled pork known as tasso). Music is provided by such groups as Leroy Thomas & the Zydeco Roadrunners and Lil’ Pookie & the Zydeco Sensations. Whoever’s playing, you’re guaranteed to leave with a full belly and some awesome stories to tell friends back home.
To hear authentic Cajun music in the place where it was born, La Poussiere should be on your shortlist. The dancehall was founded in 1955, and its very name tells a story: In the early days, folks would show up and dance through the night to Cajun bands, shaking dust (la poussiere in French) off the floor. Adding to La Poussiere’s reputation is its long list of notable musicians who have graced its stage (among them, Cajun music icons Wayne Toups and Steve Riley), and its numerous appearances in magazines and television documentaries.
Live Music Tip! Looking for more music options? Whether you just want to take it all in over a drink or you're ready to tear up the dance floor, this venue is sure to deliver a good time. Secondly, head to the Joie De Vivre Coffee and Culture Cafe in Breaux Bridge for a Cajun jam session where the essence of this distinct music genre can be heard in an intimate setting.
5. Antique Shopping in Breaux Bridge
Breaux Bridge, founded in 1829, is a city with deep history and local charm. You can pick up pieces of its history yourself when visiting Breaux Bridge’s antique stores. Start your shopping adventure at Breaux Bridge Antique Mall.
Pat’s Fisherman’s Wharf, located in Henderson, is the kind of place that locals have been coming to for generations. Founded in 1948 in a tiny garage (!), it’s a torchbearer of Cajun seafood in St. Martin Parish. Get yourself some alligator, seafood and okra gumbo, crab fingers and oysters on the half shell at this legendary local establishment.
For a glimpse into Acadiana’s artsier side, head to Louisiana Marketshops at the 115, located in Henderson. This is where you’ll find all-local crafts and one-of-a-kind items that make perfect gifts to take back home from your travels. Recycled treasures, jewelry, paintings…. The word “eclectic” was conceived to describe places like this.
The Acadians (better known today as Cajuns) have a fascinating and harrowing backstory. It’s not all pretty, but it is certainly powerful. Approximately 3,000 men, women and children were expelled from their homes in French-speaking eastern Canada in the 1750s and 1760s, during a period called the Great Deportation or the Great Expulsion. These families settled in south Louisiana and not only survived, but thrived; Cajun culture’s survival over the past 250 years is testimony to their resilience. At the Acadian Memorial in St. Martinville, you’ll find artistic and historical displays detailing the lives of the Cajuns, right in the area in which they settled.
There are numerous crawfish festivals throughout Louisiana, and this is one is not only a local favorite, but one that brings in crawfish connoisseurs from far beyond St. Martin Parish’s borders. Just consider the scale of activities going on. More than 30 zydeco, Cajun and swamp pop bands play this fest that takes place May 4-6, and the food — oh, the food — is pure Louisiana goodness. Dine on hearty étouffée, jambalaya, bisque and boudin, but save room for the festival’s namesake delicacy, which is guaranteed to send you home with a smile. Stick around for the crawfish races, the carnival midway, a crawfish étouffée cookoff and the crawfish eating contest.
Talk to enough fans of Louisiana beer, and Bayou Teche will likely come up. It’s one of the most popular labels in the state, and it’s brewed in the small town of Arnaudville. Visit the brewery yourself and take a complimentary behind-the-scenes tour, where you’ll learn all about how Bayou Teche makes its phenomenal beers.
St. Martin's area restaurants are perfect for diving into the Cajun food traditions rich in this area of Louisiana. From zydeco breakfasts heaping with crawfish étouffée or savory jambalayas with fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, you'll find a Cajun dish to fall in love with.