One facet of Louisiana that makes it such an appealing visitor destination is its deep and colorful history. European explorers found their way to the region and inhabited the area very early relative to settlement of much of the rest of the continent. As a result, some communities in Louisiana are among the oldest in the United States. Before those explorers arrived, of course, people we now know as Native Americans populated the region. Reaching still farther back in time, ancient peoples left their mark on the area thousands of years ago. The state of Louisiana offers many ways to explore the region’s rich history, in hundreds of museums, historic structures, landmarks, artifacts and works of art. The careful preservation and restoration of these sites and artifacts has created many rare opportunities for visitors to experience Louisiana’s history and gain insights into the diverse cultures that continue to influence the state today.
As the largest city in Lafayette Parish, Lafayette, Louisiana mixes all the amenities of urban life, including universities and medical centers, with the unmistakable influence of the region's venerable Cajun and Creole cultures. Visitors can learn about the area's roots by touring either the Acadian Cultural Center or Vermilionville. Built as 19th century bayou villages, each folk life center operates as an interactive museum. This heritage is still prominent in the city's lifestyle cultural traditions.
Lafayette is said to have more restaurants per capita than any other American city, and many of them specialize in the distinctive, seafood-laden regional cuisine. Numerous music clubs feature homegrown talent, including both traditional and contemporary Cajun and Zydeco performers. Two popular festivals, Festival International de Louisiane in April and Festivals Acadiens in October, draw many thousands of visitors to town and anchor a calendar year full of celebrations of the area's vibrant culture.