Lafayette, Louisiana, is situated along the banks of the Vermillion River in the southwestern corner of the state. As the seat of Lafayette Parish, the city is an important center of government, culture, history, and the arts. With the nickname of "Hub City," Lafayette is known for its place at the center of Acadiana culture. Acadiana is a mixture of Cajun and Creole cultures that are found almost exclusively in this part of the state. The community is also known for its many parks and open public spaces, which can be enjoyed year-round because of the area's mild winters. Home of the Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns, the athletic teams of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the city has a strong passion for both indoor and outdoor sports, especially fishing. After your belongings arrive at your new home in Lafayette, you may want to get out and see your new surroundings. Figuring out where to go in a city of this size could be daunting, but this list of 10 places is a great start. Each of these places is its own adventure, and you can visit any of these Lafayette destinations on your own or bring along one of your new neighbors to enjoy great company and plenty of fun.
When you want to see what life was like for some of the earliest townspeople in the Acadia area, the Acadian Village is an ideal way to spend the afternoon. Acadian Village features a blacksmith shop, a general store, and two event venues. The non-profit historical organization also has many historic homes which are interspersed alongside the winding bayous. Acadian Village hosts exhibits and demonstrations of things that were common in the 19th century but are outdated today, such as weaving cloth and churning butter. Many people come to Acadian Village to have their portrait taken. During the holiday season, you can visit while the houses and buildings are fully decorated with sparkling lights and other festive decor. You can take your own guided tour or come with a group for a pre-arranged tour with one of the guides. Acadian Village welcomes community groups, school groups, and more. (Photo Credit: http://www.acadianvillage.org/)
When you want to learn about the history and culture of the Cajun, Creole, French, and Native American people who inhabited the area around Lafayette, be sure to visit Vermilionville. Part history museum and part folk life park, Vermilionville provides you with the opportunity to learn about history and culture in a hands-on way. The center offers fun, interactive activities for families, children and adults, including natural egg dyeing during the spring and carving a jack 'o' lantern in the autumn. There are regular demonstrations of skills and techniques of farm life at Vermilionville. You can watch a blacksmith turn iron into horseshoes or watch a woman spin a sheep's fleece into a fingering weight wool and then knit a pair of socks with it. Vermilionville also offers regular music performances in its performance center. It has a weekly Cajun Jam that is led by some of the area's best folk and Cajun musicians, and it is free and open to musicians of any skill level. Vermilionville is open six days a week and encompasses 23 acres with 19 separate facilities on the property.
Cajun Food Tours
If you are new to Cajun food, you are a self-described foodie, or you simply want to taste a variety of Cajun foods, the Cajun Food Tours deserve a place on your weekend to-do list. The Cajun Food Tours feature six stops over the course of three-and-a-half hours. You will ride a customized bus across Lafayette, and the driver and tour guide are sure to offer intimate details about each of the dining establishments you will visit. You will learn about the history of each eatery, its owners, and its philosophy around food. The Cajun Food Tours are available for adults and children, and the maximum group size is 14.
Acadiana Center for the Arts
Enjoy a fun night out on the town in Lafayette when you attend a performance at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. This performance center features dance, theater, film, and musical performances from local artists and professionals. They also book tours of musicians, theater groups, and dancers from around the country and the world. The Acadiana Center for the Arts hosts regular jazz events, which will allow you to get a taste of the most popular genre of music in southern Louisiana. The Acadiana Center for the Arts also hosts many family-friendly performances, so you can bring the youngsters in your household to enjoy a fun musical or play. There are also visual arts galleries at the Acadiana Center for the Arts with rotating exhibits across all types of media.
Avery Island is a combination of a 170-acre wildlife refuge, historical site, and production facility for the world famous Tabasco sauce. While visiting Avery Island, you can explore the swamps and marshes where the family-owned operation grows the peppers that are used in the sauce. As a salt dome island, Avery Island is known for its many exotic and native plant species. Many birds visit the island, especially during the spring and autumn migrations. In the sanctuary, you can spot alligators, raccoons, deer, and egrets. You can also stop by the Tabasco museum on Avery Island and learn about how the sauce is made, used, and stored. The museum features some fun memorabilia and information about the biggest fans and most famous users of the time-tested condiment. (Photo Credit: http://www.tabasco.com/avery-island/)
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is located in the heart of Lafayette. As a functioning church, the Cathedral hosts regular Sunday services and other services for holy days and holidays. The Cathedral also has many different community ministries that welcome community volunteers. If you would like to know more about the history of the Cathedral, you can stop into its museum and get a tour as a part of a group. The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist also has a gift shop of religious books, jewelry, and other small items.
Acadian Cultural Center
At the Acadian Cultural Center, you can learn more about the Acadian people. This park and history museum include changing exhibits on topics such as the history of this French Canadian group that was forced to leave their homes in Nova Scotia and resettle in Louisiana. Other exhibits include information about the origins, history, deportation, and resettlement of the Acadian people. There are many artifacts, including clothing and photos of some of the Acadian settlers. You can also visit during one of the dulcimer jams. The Acadian Cultural Center is free and is closed on federal holidays and Mardi Gras.
Lafayette Science Museum
If you love science, are curious about the universe, or simply enjoy exploring, visit the Lafayette Science Museum. This family-friendly museum has a variety of permanent exhibits, such as the Crawl Space, where you can learn all about bugs. There is a planetarium with regular special events and films about the sun, the solar system, the stars, the Milky Way galaxy, and the rest of the universe. Other exhibits featured at the Science Museum cover various themes such as dinosaurs, the ocean, meteorites, space travel, and fossils. (Photo Credit: http://www.lafayettesciencemuseum.org)
Olde Tyme Grocery
Olde Tyme Grocery is a casual diner featuring the famous New Orleans-style po'boy sandwich. The chefs offer a wide assortment of po'boys, including shrimp, fish, and more. You can also choose sides such as sweet potato fries, cheddar biscuits, and coleslaw. Olde Tyme Grocery offers catering and food for special events and observances such as Lent and Mardi Gras. Olde Tyme Grocery is a family-owned and operated restaurant, and the staff will even deliver your order to your home.
Bon Temps Grill
If you’re coming to the Bon Temps Grill, be sure to bring your appetite. The restaurant calls itself a neighborhood bar and grill, but the menu features a great assortment of Cajun, Creole, Southern, and American dishes. You can choose the pan-seared tuna BLT or a daily selection of grilled fish with savory sauces. Bon Temps Grill also serves cocktails, beer, and wine, and the wait staff is happy to make a recommendation for something to go along with your meal.