Top 10 Things to Do in Lafayette
Located in the heart of French Louisiana—the Acadiana Region—Lafayette offers the best of Cajun culture.
There's a good reason why Lafayette has been coined the "Happiest City in America." It's got everything to do with the people and a culture that exudes a joie de vivre found in few places. Located in south Louisiana, Lafayette is the heart of the region known as Acadiana and that's evident everywhere you go, from eateries and dance halls to outdoor adventures. Here are a few ideas to help you immerse yourself in the culture and find your happy place!
1. Cajun Food Tours
No trip to Lafayette is complete without sampling your fill of boudin, cracklins and other Cajun staples. Schedule a tasting trip with Cajun Food Tours and stop at six different eateries where you'll learn about the history of the cuisine and sample some of the best dishes in town, all for one low price.
2. Acadiana Center for the Arts
If you're a lover of the arts, the Acadiana Center for the Arts is a great place for you to check out neat visual art exhibitions and live concert performances. Plus, the Center hosts the montly ArtWalk throughout the Downtown Lafayette Cultural District.
3. Good Eats with a Side of Live Music
Just about anywhere you go in the Lafayette area, you'll hear the sounds of Cajun and Zydeco music and we dare you to try and keep your feet still. The area is home to many notable musicians including Chubby Carrier, Zachary Richard and Roddie Romero, just to name a few. You won't have to choose between eating out or catching a live music show in Lafayette—the are plenty of spots where you can enjoy both at the same time. Enjoy authentic Cajun cuisine at Prejean's paired with, you guessed it, live music! Taste everything from classic dishes like char-grilled oysters, po'boys and etouffee, to unique dishes like gator "wings," pork skin fried pickles and crawfish enchiladas. If a laid-back outdoor experience is more your style, head over to The Wurst Biergarten for a great selection of craft beers, casual dining and music from world-class local musicians like Cedric Watson.
Head over to Vemilionville, a living history museum and and folklife park along the Bayou Vermilion to learn about the culture of Native Americans, Africans, Creoles and people of African descent in the area from the time period 1765-1890. See how these groups interacted and how their influence played a part in what made the Lafayette of today. Dine at La Cuisine de Maman in a truly unique setting.
5. Get Outdoors at Lake Martin
Whether you prefer soft adventure or full-on nature immersions, the swampy ecosystem at the Cypress Island Nature Preserve will pique your interest. See native birds among the Spanish moss-draped Cypress trees on a hike around the lake's edge or explore by water on a kayak tour. Book swamp tours the entire family will enjoy with outfitters like Champagne's Cajun Swamp Tours.
6. Festival Fun
From music to food and many things in between, you'll find a festival to celebrate it in the Lafayette area. Every April, people from around the globe gather for the largest Francophone event in the world—Festival International de Louisiane. Hundreds of local and international musicians, visual performers and artists converge on multiple stages for an unforgettable five-day multi-cultural experience. Celebrate our Cajun culture the second full weekend of every October at Festival Acadiens et Creoles. This three-day fest celebrates all of the unique attributes and heritage of our region. For the most up-to-date event information for the area, visit LafayetteTravel.com.
7. Unique Lodging
Blue Moon Guesthouse has been heralded as one of the best lodging experiences in the South. The European-style hostel features a back porch saloon with live music that attracts visitors from near and far. The Guesthouse is conveniently located near downtown, and the Borden’s Ice Cream Shoppe (circa 1940) just across the street is the perfect spot to grab a sweet treat with a side of nostalgia.
8. Acadian Cultural Center
At the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve, you'll find the Acadian Cultural Center. The Center depicts the story of the Acadians who settled the prairies, bayous & marshes of southern Lousiana through interesting displays and exhibits explaining the origins and culture of these peoples. See The Cajun Way: Echoes of Acadia, a 35-minute film that shares their history of the Acadians' deportation from Nova Scotia in Canada to their settlement in south Louisiana, and how they became Louisiana's "Cajuns."
9. Explore Public Art
There's no shortage of public art in the area and the Lafayette Mural Project provides myriad opportunities for a walking tour of the Hub City and plenty of photo-ops. Here's a great blog post with information about mural artists and locations. And definitely don't leave town without posing as the "Y" in the YLafayette sign on Vermilion Street in downtown Lafayette.
10. Visit LARC's Acadian Village
If Cajun culture is your curiosity, Acadian Village is a must-visit. This living history museum demonstrates early-Acadian life in the 19th century. They offer large and small group tours, or you're welcome to guide yourself. If you visit during the holiday season, be sure to enjoy lights, rides, entertainment and a visit with Papa Noel at Noel Acadien au Village.
For the most complete and up-to-date information and Lafayette-area listings, visit LafayetteTravel.com.