There are so many things to do in Lafayette Louisiana that it’s even giving the “Big Easy” a run for its money!
Lafayette LA, affectionately known as the heart of Cajun country, has plenty to offer visitors including history, culture, music, and amazing food! Lafayette is a can’t miss destination when visiting southern Louisiana!
Lafayette’s history begins with the Acadians. Upon being expelled from New Brunswick, Quebec, and Nova Scotia the Acadians settled into Lafayette in the mid 1700’s. Over time the French culture they brought with them morphed into what is today known as Cajun culture.
With its vibrant history, you won’t be hurting for options when it comes to things to do in Lafayette LA. The distinct French Canadian influence is still alive and thriving. The streets are lined with stylish restaurants and the city is filled with a ton of tourist attractions. Dine in one of the many casual bistros which walking the historic streets. Or take one of the many tours which will give you a glimpse into this creole country!
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12 Things to Do in Lafayette Louisiana
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Named the happiest city in America, Lafayette has some of the most amazingly friendly locals. Plus, the restaurants are some of the best in the world, and the music scene is on another level. Additionally, Lafayette plays host to over 80 events annually. So, any time to visit is a good time.
Get ready to have a fantastic time, because our list of the best things to do in Lafayette will all but guarantee a memorable trip!
If you’re looking for things to do in Lafayette then be sure to head downtown!
During the day the streets are bustling with people heading to work, grabbing lunch or perusing through the local shops. At night the energy is contagious, the streets are full of tourists and locals alike exploring the city. Sidewalks are lined with vendors waiting to sell you delish street food like Cajun tacos and Creole fare. Plus, bars are overflowing with patrons living their best lives while listening to local musicians.
Take a stroll through downtown during the day and check out the Alexandre Mouton House. This former home to Louisiana’s 12th governor, is now a museum and will transport you back to the 1800’s.
Once you’ve finished perusing the museum, wander over to Wurst Biegarten, a beer garden with over 60 beers on tap! While you’re there be sure to grab some authentic Jamaican food from their outdoor market.
Lafayette Swamp Tours
A visit to southern Louisiana without a swamp tour is akin to going to Hawaii and missing out on the beaches.
The best way to navigate the murky waters of Lake Martin and Cypress Island is with a certified tour guide! Try Cajun Country Swamp Tours for eco-friendly tours. Their first priority is to bring no harm to the natural environment or its inhabitants. The owner Walter Guchareau even holds a degree in zoology and botany so you know he has a lot of knowledge to drop!
Tours weave through stunning cypress trees growing out of the Bayou. Passengers can observe wildlife in its natural habitat and see everything from herons, to turtles, and alligators.
The natural swampland is stunningly beautiful and will leave you in awe.
Jungle Gardens – Avery Island
This 170 acre botanical garden is located on Avery Island and stretches along Bayou Petite Anse.
Jungle Gardens is a lush tropical conservatory with stunning botanical attractions. Depending on the season, visitors can even catch a glimpse of deer, alligators, and thousands of snowy egrets. Avid bird watchers will not leave disappointed as the garden is home to myriad species like song birds, herons, and coots!
Nature enthusiasts will fall in love with the endless landscape sprinkled with camellias, and azaleas. Remember to take in the picturesque beauty of the stunning 300 year old live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. If you’re feeling lazy grab a blanket and steal a patch of grass in their shade.
However, don’t leave before checking out the 900 year old Buddha perched on a lotus flower in its own plush garden! And don’t miss out on Bird City. A hatchery home to thousands of nesting egrets.
Tabasco Factory – Avery Island
Avery Island, which is actually a salt dome, is also the location of the Mcilhenny family’s world famous Tabasco company. Locals refer to the salt dome as the place where salt meets pepper!
Visitors can take a tour through the Tabasco museum and factory. Hot sauce lovers can see the entire process of turning pepper plants into Tabasco, and walk through the Mash Warehouse where over 15,000 barrels of the hot stuff is stored. Be sure to take a peak into the blending room to see how they mix up their iconic recipe.
End the tour in the tasting room where you can try all the different varieties of Tabasco hot sauce. Also, if you’re up for a special spicy kick, check out the on-site restaurant for a Tabasco infused Bloody Mary!
Feast On the Best Cajun Food in Lafayette
If you’re still looking for fun things to do in Lafayette LA why not eat your way through town? Here are our picks for the best cajun food in Lafayette!
The Social Southern Table and Bar
The Social Southern Table and Bar is known for its fresh farm to table ingredients. Lined with wooden walls and dim lighting the ambience is understated yet contemporary.
Try the Chicken Fried Green Tomatoes dressed with a creamy jalapeño sauce. If you want seafood opt for the mouth-watering Gulf Shrimp Pesto. Layered with spicy greens, crisp ham, and parmesan it is to die for…
The Social was also voted the best Bourbon Bar by Bourbon Review. With a selection of over 100 whiskeys, bourbons, and scotch I guarantee you will not be disappointed!
Take in local culture at Prejeans, a restaurant featuring delightful live music and delectable fares.
Order their famous Gold Medal Winning Crawfish topped with their award winning crawfish etouffee, a deliciously spicy cajun stew. Pair it with the Terra D’oro Moscato for added flavor! Or try their Eggplant Pirogue Louis stuffed with seasonal jambalaya topped with their special Louis sauce.
Prejeans also has live music every night and even hosts a musical brunch every Sunday. So, it’s totally possible to listen to funk music by local bands while enjoying traditional brunch staples with a cajun twist!
The French Press
With his James Beard Foundation Award nomination, chef Justin Girouard has made The French Press a must-try restaurant in Lafayette. Influenced by his Cajun, Italian, and French heritage the dishes are equal parts stunningly beautiful and exquisitely tasty.
Try the Cajun Benedict for a flavor packed breakfast. Or order the boudin and poached eggs on toasted french bread smothered in a zesty andouille sausage gumbo and topped with scallions. If you’re feeling more adventurous go for the Boudin Ball Po’boy. This classic Louisiana sandwich is elevated to the next level with boudin balls, ham, and cheddar and swiss cheese. It’s topped with candied bacon too, so you can’t go wrong with this one!
Lafayette Children’s Museum of Acadiana
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Lafayette with children then head over to the Children’s Museum of Acadiana!
This hands-on museum is packed with entertaining exhibits for children of all ages. There’s the Bubble Factory where kids can create bubbles big enough to actually stand in!
Can’t get your kids to separate plastics and paper at home? No worries, head to the Reuseum, an interactive exhibit where children learn the importance of recycling by creating artwork using recycled materials.
For the mini history buffs opt for “201 E. Congress, A Site History”. Here kids learn how historic buildings are turned into different venues, including the Children’s Museum.
The museum is at the top of the list of things to do in Lafayette LA for families. It will keep the kiddos entertained for hours on end, and maybe even tucker them out!
Lafayette’s Parish Brewing Co.
The goal for Parish Brewing Co. is simple – make tasty craft beer.
What started as a 50 gallon a week brewery is now a powerhouse producing over 2,000 gallons a week! A team of 30 employees create various craft beers ranging from pale ales to coffee stouts to aged strong ales.
When it comes to things to do in Lafayette you can’t leave without tasting their best selling beer, the Canebrake. It’s a wheat ale with hints of sweet honey from Louisiana grown sugarcanes and citrus from cascade hops. Trust us…
The Parish Brewing Co. even hosts free brewery tours every Saturday. So make a day out of it and explore one of Louisiana’s most famous Brewery!
Cajun Dance Halls in Lafayette
If you’re looking for things to do in Lafayette that will give you a truly local experience, then be sure to check out the dance halls.
For centuries southern communities have gathered in dance halls to mingle and meet new people. Normally empty buildings fill up and come alive over the weekends. Vacant parking lots transform into packed rows of cars and pick-up trucks just as the sun settles in for the night. People gather and listen to traditional cajun inspired music and dance the night away. All while chatting with friends and family.
Although most dance halls have slowly stared to vanish, there are a few that still exist.
The Grant Street Dance Hall
The Grant Street Dance Hall has two rooms, so you can choose depending on your mood. The Club room plays current jams, and The Saloon caters to more traditional music tastes.
For a truly traditional experience, opt for the latter and dance the night away while listening to the enticing sounds of the banjos, drums, and bass guitars. You can even learn some true southern dance moves like the two-step or line dancing!
For more info check out their facebook page.
The Cowboy Nightclub
The Cowboy Nightclub has been serving Lafayette with Zydeco and classic country bands for over 30 years!
This rustic barnyard oozes with southern charm, and the bar staff turns the southern charm way, way up! Plus, the drinks are fresh, inexpensive, and delicious.
Acadian Village in Lafayette
If you want to truly know the history behind Lafayette then check out the Acadian Village. Established on farmland in the 70’s the 32-acre park details the impact the Acadians had on this city.
Roam the Cajun Village to travel back in time to the 1800’s and see what life was like. Some of the artifacts here are actually donated by ancestors of the families that once lived in Lafayette, and are 100% authentic. Also, don’t leave before checking out the Barnard house. It’s the oldest structure in the village!
Lafayette Science Museum
When it comes to things to do in Lafayette this science museum is on the top of the list!
It’s fun for children of all ages as well as adults. Visitors can explore geology, marine biology, and paleontology through fun and educational interactive exhibits. They can even learn about planets and stars while taking in a visually stunning planetarium show! The museum is also home to over 1,000 paintings and sculptures by local artists.
Tours are self guided but the knowledgeable staff are always there to answer any questions you may have. So don’t be shy!
Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site
Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site gives visitors insight into how the multitude of cultures mixed and melded over time in the area.
Southern Louisiana was shaped by so people from so many different lands including, Acadians, Creoles, Native Americans, Africans, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and more. One such example is language. French was once the predominant language, and is even used to this day by many locals, though it has morphed over time into what is commonly known as Cajun French.
Obviously, language wasn’t the only aspect of life influenced by the myriad people of the region. Food, farming, and architecture are all additional examples.
Lafayette’s Music Scene
The beauty of Lafayette’s music scene is unique to the area. It’s a partnership between the attendees and the musicians. Everyone is encouraged to participate and get in on the action! The result is creative energy not found anywhere else in the world. The music is a mix of Zydeco— The blues of Louisiana and Cajun— folk music of the Acadians.
The Blue Moon Saloon is a bar situated on the porch of the Blue Moon Guest House. It is known for its honky-tonk tunes and eclectic ambiance. It is a place where people from all over the world come together to enjoy Cajun jam sessions. Locals and travelers bring their instruments and set up for an impromptu concert showing off their musical skills. The saloon was also voted one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine!
Artmosphere is a one-of-a-kind bistro. They serve up some of the best food in town like their MacDaddy Mac and Cheese. Their specialty drinks like the Old Fashioned and Sweet Tang are always on point. What truly makes this place special though is that it’s also a music venue. They play host to talented musicians six nights a week. Everything from Creole, Cajun, and Zydeco. They also have amateur open mic nights every Wednesday. So if you’re feeling adventurous hop on stage and give it a shot.
Well with that we’ve completed our list of the top 12 things to do in Lafayette LA. If you visit any of these attractions while in Lafayette please let us know. We hope you enjoy your time in this beautiful city AKA the heartbeat of Acadia.
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