The state of Louisiana is one of America’s most diverse, individual regions, with a reputation and a culture all of its own. Everyone knows about New Orleans, otherwise known as the Big Easy, and the art and music that emanates from the city. However, the center of the Cajun culture that makes Louisiana stand out is actually Lafayette. The city is at the heart of Acadiana, the area of French Creole culture - in fact, the word “Cajun” is a dialectic adjustment of the original term “Acadian”. For visitors to Louisiana, a spell in Lafayette is an essential part of the trip, as it is here that you will discover the thriving culture that sets Louisiana apart from other states. Below, we have set out a list of the essential things to do in Lafayette, Louisiana. On this list, you’ll find something for everyone so scroll down to find out more.
1. Immerse yourself in living history at Vermilionville Historic Village
There is no better way to get a taste of the history of any place than a walk through living history, and that is what is on offer at Vermilionville Historic Village. Here, you will see a range of houses showcasing the Creole, Cajun and Native American cultures that have gone into making Lafayette what it is today. Faithfully curated homes dating from as far back as the 1790s will give you a window to the past of this fascinating region; how people lived and how they worked.
Vermilionville Historic Village
Address: 300 Fisher Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508
Website: Vermilionville Historic Village
Opening hours: 10am - 3pm (closed on Mon)
Price: 8 USD for adults, 5 USD for kids aged 5 and over, free for younger kids
2. Enjoy local specialties at La Cuisine de Maman
If your French language is deserting you right now, then let’s translate the name of this charming restaurant inside the grounds of Vermilionville. In English, it’s “Mama’s Kitchen”, and the home-style soul food that you’ll find on offer here is filling, tasty and reasonably priced. Delicious, spiced gumbo with seafood or chicken and sausage, as well as Po’ Boy sandwiches, offer a hearty taste of the Cajun cuisine, and it’s all enjoyed in the most beautiful of surroundings.
La Cuisine de Maman
Address: 300 Fisher Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508, USA
Website: La Cuisine de Maman
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 11am - 2pm; Sat - Sun: 11am - 3pm (closed on Mon)
3. Catch a show at Heymann Center
Lafayette’s largest and most welcoming Performing Arts center, Heymann puts on a wide range of shows with something to appeal to all tastes and age groups. Music of all genres can be enjoyed with live shows from global stars in the worlds of Hip-Hop, Country and Western and lots more besides. Perhaps you’d prefer to indulge your funny bone with one of the regular stand-up shows hosted here, or if you’re around at the right time, you could even take in a bodybuilding contest! Whatever your interest, there’s always something happening at the Heymann.
Address: 1373 S College Rd, Lafayette, LA 70503
Website: Heymann Center
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4. Enjoy local culture at Vermilionville Performance Center
Louisiana, and the Acadian part of it, in particular, is famed for its music and culture, with Cajun-inflected takes on Country music as well as the world-famous New Orleans Jazz sound. A visit to the Vermilionville Performance Centre offers the chance to hear these sounds in their place of birth, and hear from local artists before they become national or global stars. There are few thrills greater than hearing a virtuoso artist in an intimate venue, and that’s what you’ll find on offer here.
Vermilionville Performance Center
Address: 300 Fisher Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508
Website: Vermilionville Performance Center
5. Soak up the atmosphere in Parc Sans Souci
As with many other spots in Lafayette, Parc Sans Souci is named with French influence (the park’s name translates to “No Worries” or “Carefree”). It’s an appropriate name, too, as the laid-back atmosphere of the park is ideal for a relaxing picnic or a walk in the grassy environs. An outdoor concert venue sits at the heart of the park, and it also features a landmark living sculpture - the letters “LAFA ETTE” are a permanent fixture, leaving space for you to stand with your arms raised making a “Y” shape for a photo opportunity celebrating the city.
Parc Sans Souci
Address: 201 E Vermilion St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Parc Sans Souci
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 11am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
6. Fun for kids at the Children's Museum of Acadiana
The Children’s Museum of Acadiana offers a truly incredible experience to families, with a range of educational exhibits focusing on cultural history and the celebration of diversity. The most popular exhibits include “Architecture Alley”, which is designed to encourage exploration through a variety of construction materials, and the “Happy Paws” hospital, which focuses on veterinary medicine and is the perfect choice for any animal-loving child. Located in downtown Lafayette, the museum is easy to find and offers complimentary parking to visitors in order to foster a simple, fuss-free, and highly educational experience from start to finish.
Children's Museum of Acadiana
Address: 201 E Congress St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Children’s Museum of Acadiana
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 1pm - 5pm; (closed on Mon)
Price: 7 USD
7. Gain worldly knowledge at Lafayette Science Museum
Lafayette Science Museum is an incredibly expansive, well-designed, and highly entertaining place to visit. As one might expect given the name, the museum focuses on science - and a very broad spectrum of scientific elements of that. The space includes exhibitions related to marine biology, paleontology, virtual reality, and much more besides. The museum states that science should be fun, and thanks to the plethora of options available on-site, it’s fair to say that this goal has effortlessly been met.
Lafayette Science Museum
Address: 433 Jefferson St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Lafayette Science Museum
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 9am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 6pm; Sun: 1pm - 6pm; (closed on Mon)
Price: 5 USD for adults, 3 USD for kids
8. Enjoy fine cuisine at The French Press
The French Press cafe in Lafayette genuinely does offer something for everyone. Visit during the day for breakfast or brunch and you’ll experience a relaxed, easy-going atmosphere while also enjoying the chance to sample the range of American and Cajun food on offer, such as a delicious twist on the Croque Madame. In the evening, The French Press turns its focus to providing a high-quality fine dining experience to its patrons, with a varied menu, attentive staff, and an elegant ambience.
The French Press
Address: 214 E Vermilion St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: The French Press
Opening hours: 7am - 2pm (daily) / Sat - Sun: 9am - 2pm
9. Indulge in Mexican fare at Agave
Located in Lafayette, Agave Cantina offers a lunch or dinner experience that no diner will ever forget - for all the right reasons! The restaurant focuses primarily on delicious meals, which is always prepared with the freshest of ingredients, sourced from the local area, and combines this with a fantastic vibe to create a magical evening. However, while the occasional live music and relaxed atmosphere are spectacular, Agave Cantina most stands out for its fusion of Mexican flavors with traditional Cajun dishes in order to create a unique dining experience for anyone lucky enough to attend.
Address: 1919 Kaliste Saloom Rd #301, Lafayette, LA 70508
Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 11am - 10pm; Sun: 11am - 9pm; Mon - Wed: 11am - 9:30pm
10. Coffee and sweet treats at Rêve Coffee Lab
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Rêve Coffee Lab in Lafayette offers the perfect experience for those seeking to enjoy fantastic food and beverages in a relaxed, charming atmosphere. Given the name, it should come as no surprise that the headline attraction at Rêve Coffee Lab is, indeed, the coffee. There are countless varieties on offer, all of which are handcrafted by a dedicated staff. If you want to sample something sweet to go with your chosen coffee, then Rêve Coffee Lab delivers in this regard too - baked goods and gourmet ice cream are also available on-site, and they complement the coffee to perfection.
Rêve Coffee Lab
Address: 1042 Camellia Blvd #6, Lafayette, LA 70508
Website: Rêve Coffee Lab
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 6:30am - 7pm; Fri: 6:30am - 9pm; Sat: 8am - 9pm; Sun: 8am - 9pm
11. Enjoy delicious soul food at Pop's Poboys
Although Pop’s Poboys has only been in operation since 2015, the establishment has already garnered an impressive reputation for the quality and range of food it is able to provide. Whether you’re looking for a simple sandwich, are keen to grab a salad with extra added crispy oysters, or just want to sample the impressive Mimi’s Mac & Cheese, Pop’s Poboys will never disappoint. You can eat on-site and enjoy casual surroundings while sampling some of the finest food in Lafayette.
Address: 740 Jefferson St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Pop’s Poboys
Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 10:30am - 9pm; Mon - Wed: 10:30am - 2pm (closed on Sun)
12. Eat, drink, and knock down pins at Rock 'n' Bowl
Rock ‘n’ Bowl is designed to offer everything you could possibly want from a night out, all from the comfort of the same venue. Bowling is, of course, part and parcel of any evening, and you’ll also have the opportunity to catch one of the popular live music acts that have brought this experience such strong reviews from customers. If you’re looking to grab a meal to complete the evening, then Sainte Marie restaurant will never disappoint. All in all, if you want to bowl, dance, and have a great time with friends and family, Rock 'n’ Bowl in Lafayette will always be worth considering.
Rock 'n' Bowl
Address: 905 Jefferson St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Rock ‘n’ Bowl
Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 11am - 12am (closed on Mon & Tue)
13. Enjoy the tastes and sounds of Prejean's Restaurant
From the charming rustic decor to the incredible Cajun food, Prejean’s Restaurant in Lafayette is a non-stop delight. The cuisine focuses heavily on seafood, with a range of options available; the Corn and Crab Bisque has, in particular, received particular acclaim from satisfied diners. There are also options for vegetarians and those who would prefer to eat gluten-free, so you can be sure your entire party will be able to find the perfect food to enjoy alongside the live Cajun entertainment and charming atmosphere.
Address: 3480 NE NW Evangeline Throughway, Lafayette, LA 70507
Website: Prejean’s Restaurant
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 7am - 9pm; Fri - Sat: 7am - 10pm
14. Walk through history at Acadian Village
The Acadian Village in Lafayette offers a genuine opportunity to step back in time and walk in the footsteps of early Bayou settlers. The village is an open-air museum that allows you to tour 19th-century Acadian homes, as well as the blacksmith, an art museum located in the home of resident dentist Hypolite Salles, and a historical doctor’s office in the neighboring building. The surrounding area - which will soon include a butterfly garden - is beautiful, so you and your family should enjoy exploring the whole site during your time on the site.
Address: 200 Greenleaf Dr, Lafayette, LA 70506
Website: Acadian Village
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Sun)
Price: 10 USD
15. Immerse in modern art at Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum
The Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum is, technically, an art museum - but the museum has sought to extend far beyond this remit, and bring the artwork to life. As well as viewing the incredible artwork housed at the museum, you will also have the opportunity to sketch for yourself and explore other “hands-on” activities. Regular exhibitions featuring the works of Lin Emery, Denise Gallagher, Gisela Colon are also commonplace, so you can be sure that any return visits will offer a different - but always wonderful - experience every time.
Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum
Address: 710 E St Mary Blvd, Lafayette, LA 70503
Opening hours: Tues, Thu & Fri 9am - 5pm; Wed: 9am - 8pm; Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
Price: 5 USD Adults, 4 USD Seniors, 3 USD ages 5-17. Under 5s go free.
16. Learn about the past at Acadian Cultural Center
The Acadian Cultural Center focuses on Cajun history, and it offers a variety of different attractions and exhibitions intended to allow you and your family to truly immerse yourself in this fascinating history. You will have the opportunity to learn more about the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia and their eventual settlement in Louisiana while exploring the site - which includes authentic and reproduced artifacts and a museum, - aided by a historical film that is shown to visitors every hour.
Acadian Cultural Center
Address: 501 Fisher Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508
Website: Acadian Cultural Center
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 9am - 4:30pm; Sat: 8:30am - 12pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
Price: Free, but donations are welcome
17. Have a taste of Japan at Tsunami sushi bar
Tsunami, which is located in Lafayette, focuses predominantly on Japanese cuisine - so if you’re a fan of sushi, sashimi, and similar delights, then you will definitely want to visit. However, while Tsunami undoubtedly excels in Asian cuisine, there are grill options - such as steaks and fish - that can also delight the palate of any visitor. As an added benefit, you can also take sushi classes at the restaurant itself; a great idea for anyone seeking to learn more about the art of Japanese cooking.
Address: 412 Jefferson St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 11am - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 11pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
18. Appreciate artisan work at Sans Souci Fine Craft Gallery
The Sans Souci Fine Craft Gallery houses the works of over 250 artisans who are members of the Louisiana Crafts Guild. The sheer variety of different pieces on show is incredible, ranging from traditional pieces to more modern and contemporary styles. Materials, too, demonstrate variety - from textiles to metal to exquisitely crafted jewelry, there is so much to admire and enjoy. The pieces are housed in the Sans Souci building in downtown Lafayette, which itself is found in Sans Souci Park, so you can explore the wonders both inside the building and in the surrounding area during your visit.
Sans Souci Fine Craft Gallery
Address: 219 E Vermilion St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Sans Souci Fine Craft Gallery
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 11am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
Price: Free, but pieces are available to buy
19. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon at Lafayette Farmers and Artisan Market
If you are looking for the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Lafayette, then look no further than Lafayette Farmers and Artisan Market. The market is known for its incredible food - ranging from take-home meals to desserts you can enjoy on-site - to the stalls selling high-quality arts, crafts, and gifts. Pets and families are welcome, so you can take the whole family along and sample the local wares and perhaps even dance along to the incredible on-site music!
Lafayette Farmers and Artisan Market
Address: 2913 Johnston St, Lafayette, LA 70503
Website: Lafayette Farmers and Artisan Market
Opening hours: 8am - 12pm (Saturdays only)
20. Find feathered friends at Lake Martin Rookery
Lake Martin Rookery is a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The area is known for its abundance of natural wildlife, and you and your family will have the option to explore at your leisure or take one of the guided tours if you’d prefer a more in-depth discussion of the flora and fauna on display. Boat tours on the lake itself are also available, and provide the opportunity to potentially spot an alligator in the wild, and the peace and quiet of the entire area allows you to enjoy nature at its most glorious.
Lake Martin Rookery
Address: Rookery Road, Lafayette, LA 70517
21. Visit the spectacular Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
A glorious towering red and white brick building, The Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist is one of the most stunning buildings in Lafayette. The cathedral, which is found on the aptly-named Cathedral Street, is included on the National Register of Historic Places, and offers a tranquil experience to anyone wishing to visit. In particular, the artistic works are impressive, and include stained glass windows depicting the like of Saint John the Evangelist, as well as numerous oil paintings, are well worth the visit alone. As well as exploring the building itself on a guided tour, you can complete your visit with a trip to the on-site museum and gift shop.
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
Address: 515 Cathedral St, Lafayette, LA 70501, USA
Website: Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
22. Swing by the historic Alexandre Mouton House
Once the home of the Governor of Louisiana, Alexandre Mouton House - which is named after the lawmaker - is a historic building and museum in Lafayette. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a traditional Acadian house with a number of connecting buildings. In the modern world, the house is home to a number of antique collections, as well as works of art and an incredible array of Mardi Gras paintings. A fantastic historical day-trip, you can explore the entire area, view the exhibits, and even explore the nearby cathedral and grounds.
Alexandre Mouton House
Address: 1122 Lafayette St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Alexandre Mouton House
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Mon & Sun)
Price: 5 USD for adults, 3 USD seniors, 2 USD students
23. Bounce away your troubles at Jump Zone
Jump Zone in Lafayette offers an exciting day out for the entire family. The facility offers the chance to enjoy the indoor play areas, which are filled with inflatables which are perfect for jumping, bouncing, and playing, as well as the on-site concession stand that offers snacks and treats that everyone is sure to enjoy. In addition to the inflatables, you can also try rock climbing and basketball, and toddlers will love the excitement offered by the Train Station.
Address: 2416 Ambassador Caffery Pkwy, Lafayette, LA 70506
Website: Jump Zone
Opening hours: Vary by day; check Open Play page for details
Price: 10 USD for kids ages 3 - 12; 8 USD ages 1 - 2
24. Enjoy local music and food at Artmosphere
Artmosphere Bistro in Lafayette is open throughout the day; yes, if you wish, you can sample breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner at this fantastic establishment. You’ll have the opportunity to scribble on chalkboards, experience live music from local bands, and - last but not least - enjoy the fantastic Cajun food, which can be enjoyed from indoor or outdoor seating options. Complete with a lively atmosphere and friendly staff, any visit to Artmosphere is always sure to be a treat.
Address: 902 Johnston St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Opening hours: 11:30am - 2am (daily)
25. Try out the daiquiris at Frankie's Daiquiris
It’s fairly obvious what you should expect from Frankie’s Daiquiris: daiquiris. However, what you may not be expecting is that Frankie’s Daiquiris serve their beverage of choice in a rather unconventional manner: via a drive-thru window. Yes, all you need to do is pull up to the site, order from the expansive menu, and then drive to the collection window to receive your (sealed shut) drink. You can then drive back to where you are staying, and enjoy; the drinks themselves are truly fantastic (and the menu expands far beyond daiquiris to mixed drinks, jello shots, and much more besides) and the whole - admittedly rather unusual - experience is sure to live long in your memory.
Address: 110 14th Street Between West & East Bound - Hwy 90, SE Evangeline Thruway, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Frankie’s Daiquiris
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 12pm - 12:30am; Fri - Sat: 11am - 2am; Sun: 11am-12am
26. Enjoy the food at Gator Cove
With a name like “Gator Cove”, you may feel a frisson of concern that you’ll encounter an alligator or two during your stay. But fear not, Gator Cove is a fantastic establishment that focuses on extraordinary food rather than close encounters with reptiles. Famed for its Cajun seafood dishes - which include favourites such as fried alligator tail, bite-size catfish, and chicken and sausage gumbo - you and your family will be able to relax thanks to the easy-going atmosphere, and delight in one of the most authentic “Louisiana” experiences you’ll ever have the chance to enjoy.
Address: 2601 SE Evangeline Thruway, Lafayette, LA 70508
Website: Gator Cove
Opening hours: Sun, Tue, Thu & Sun: 5pm - 9pm; Fri & Sat: 5pm - 10pm (closed on Mon)
27. Satisfy your sweet cravings at Poupart Bakery Inc
Poupart Bakery Inc styles itself as the only authentic French bakery in the area, so look no further if you want to sample authentic sweet baked goods, fresh bread, soups, sandwiches, and much more besides. You’ll have the opportunity to eat in, which provides the chance to delight in the quaint decor, or take out your food if you’d like to enhance your visit by exploring the charming surrounding area. As well as the breakfast and lunch, you can also try a range of beverages to add a little something extra to your visit, with French roast coffee as a particular highlight.
Poupart Bakery Inc
Address: 1902 W Pinhook Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508
Website: Poupart Bakery Inc
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 7am - 5:45pm; Sun: 7am - 4pm (closed on Mon)
28. Relax among nature at Girard Park
Girard Park in Lafayette is a tranquil oasis that offers the opportunity to see nature at its finest. You can stroll through the trails and explore the local flora and fauna from the bridges, admire the beautiful water fountains, and simply relax and immerse yourself in the natural world. If you’re looking for a little more activity during your time at the park, you can take your kids to the playground or basketball court, or engage in the most quintessential park-based activity there is: feeding the ducks.
Address: Girard Park Dr, Lafayette, LA 70503
Website: Girard Park
29. Enjoy donuts with a difference at Cajun Market Donut Company
For a sublime bakery experience, you simply can’t go wrong with a visit to Cajun Market Donut Company. The establishment, which has been open since 2014, is located within the bookstore of the University of Lousiana, which should make it easy enough to find, even for newcomers to the city. As you would expect, the exquisite donuts are the main reason to visit, but you can also try cinnamon rolls, kolaches, and Cajun-stuffed bread, should you decide to pay the Cajun Market Donut Company a visit.
Cajun Market Donut Company
Address: 1812 W Pinhook Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508
Website: Cajun Market Donut Company
Opening hours: 4:30am - 12pm (daily)
30. Taste perfectly smoked meats at Johnson's Boucaniere
For a meat treat, Johnson’s Boucaniere in Lafayette should always be your first port of call. The restaurant specializes in smoked meats such as garlic pork sausage and pork tasso, but you can also try barbecue meats and boudin if you would prefer. You can dine within the restaurant if you wish, though take out is available, or you can split the difference and choose to enjoy your meal from the comfort of the outdoor seating area. With breakfast, brunch, and lunch options available, any fan of delicious meat dishes visiting Lafayette should be sure to include Johnson’s Boucaniere on their “must-visit” list.
Address: 1111 St John St, Lafayette, LA 70501
Website: Johnson’s Boucaniere
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 7:30am - 3pm; Sat: 7:30am - 5pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
Experience all that Lafayette has to offer
Your stay in Lafayette will be many things - colorful, often noisy and always fun. As you’ll have noted from the above, there’s plenty of choices when it comes to dining out and enjoying the hospitality of this phenomenal city. In between delightful traditional meals, there are also lots of chances to stretch your legs and see the attractions that Lafayette has to offer. One thing is for sure: you won’t run short of options to amuse yourself during your time in this city.
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