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 Cajun country 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!
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. Pack your dancing shoes
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. Check out Lafayette Travel's live music calendar to see who's playing when you visit.
3. Enjoy dinner with a side of live music
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. Head over to Randol's to enjoy some fresh Louisiana with a side of Zydeco! Visit early or late and you're bound to find folks on the dance floor. 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.
4. Venture out for great eats
Get an early start to your day and head out to Chickory's Coffee and Cafe for a boudin egg and biscuit sandwich or chicken and waffles that you won't forget! Located in Grand Coteau, Chickory's is known for an excellent chicken and sausage and gumbo, as well. If brunch is your favorite meal of the day, do yourself a favor and get over to French-Cajun inspired The Little Big Cup in Arnaudville for their boucherie brunch. Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. If you can't make it early, don't fret—the surf and turf buffet and regular lunch and dinner menus (French and English) will have your mouth watering from the moment you walk in the door. C'est si bon!
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, Cajun Country Swamp Tours or Swamp Tours of Acadiana. If you're feeling really brave, ask about the nighttime kayak tours! If bank fishing is more your speed, don't worry, there are plenty of spots to drop a line and enjoy the serenity of the lake.
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 Creole. 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. Experience unique lodging
Every community has its share of lovely traditional hotels and Lafayette is no exception, but if you're looking for a truly immersive experience for your next stay, consider one of the area's locally-operated guesthouses or bed and breakfasts. Crawfish Haven-Mrs. Rose's Bed and Breakfast is located in a quiet country setting surrounded by a crawfish farm. If you're interested in the aquaculture surrounding one of our state's favorite crustaceans, you can have your own crawfishing experience here! Blue Moon Guesthouse has been heralded as one of the best lodging experiences in the South. The European-style hostel is conveniently located near downtown and features a back porch saloon with live music. Check out more unique lodging options here.
8. 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.
9. Live Music Concert Series
By now you've picked up on the theme. Lafayette will feed your soul with food and plenty of live music. Every spring and fall, Lafayette takes its live music outdoors with not just one, but three-concert series. Enjoy live music each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in parks and squares across the city. Get up to date information and line-ups here.
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.