19 Fun Things to Do in Lafayette
Lafayette, also called Hub City, is located in the heart of Cajun Country and one of the coolest places to visit in Louisiana. Although it doesn’t receive the same buzz as nearby New Orleans, Lafayette is not a Louisiana destination to leave off your itinerary. Over the years, the city has built a solid reputation for its incredible food scene and laid-back atmosphere. Lafayette is rich with history, and the area contains several historic sites that celebrate Acadian culture.
Just minutes from the bayou, you’re never far away from Louisiana’s diverse ecosystem. Lafayette provides a fantastic base for outdoor activities such as swamp tours, nature preserves, and hiking trails to explore nature. The amount of wildlife is off the charts, and some of the best day trips in Lafayette bring you face-to-face with Louisiana alligators, snakes, and other reptiles.
If you’re looking for something on the cultural side, Lafayette has lots of entertainment to show you a good time. Whether you prefer a rowdy night at a dancehall or a quiet evening at a museum, Lafayette has something for everyone. There’s something for all ages, and your group is sure to find the Lafayette attractions for an unforgettable trip.
From downtown attractions to popular tour companies, I’ve gathered 19 awesome things to do in Lafayette to include in your itinerary. You’ll find places to learn about the local culture, escape to the outdoors, and indulge in Cajun cuisine. Read below to start planning your Lafayette itinerary.
19 Fun Things to do in Lafayette
Acadian Village | Lafayette Science Museum | Downtown Alive | See the Louisiana Alligator | Cajun Food Tours | Jefferson Island | Bayou Teche Brewing | Atchafalaya Basin Landing | Cypress Island Preserve | Lake Martin | Sky Zone Trampoline Park | Vermilionville | Swamp Tours of Acadiana | Parc Sans Souci | Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site | Avery Island | Hilliard Art Museum | Delcambre | Acadiana Dancehalls |
1. Acadian Village
Go back in time and wander through an authentic Cajun village to learn about Lafayette’s culture. To promote tourism in the 1970s, officials transformed 32 acres into a typical 1800s Acadian community. The park consists of rustic homes built by families who settled in Louisiana. Restoring the homes and dredging bayous took lots of hard work, but the village is now one of the premier Lafayette LA attractions.
Seven buildings belonged to families who had ancestors that lived in the homes, and their generous donation helps preserve Acadian culture. The structures display Acadian craftsmanship that utilized wooden pegs, cypress timbers, mud walls, and high-peaked roofs. Tours of the village are available, and large parties can arrange festive events on the grounds.
For more Acadian culture there’s also the Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural center. The Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette tells stories of the origins, migration, settlement, and contemporary culture of the Acadians (Cajuns) and other area groups. Admission to the center is free and its open Tuesday to Friday 9 am to 4:30 pm and on Saturdays 8:30 until noon.
2. Lafayette Science Museum
The Lafayette Science Museum is the perfect thing to do in Lafayette to escape a rainy afternoon. The facility contains many interactive exhibits that pique the interests of science geeks and those fascinated by the world around us. Curious minds can delve into subjects such as biology, palaeontology, geology, nanotechnology, and more.
Located in downtown Lafayette, the museum is easily accessible for residents and visitors who love science. Kids’ Special Programs, like Accidental Astronauts and Flight Adventures, do a tremendous job teaching various fields to children. The all-digital planetarium lets you explore the universe and discover the vast reaches of the galaxy.
3. Downtown Alive
Downtown Alive has hosted Lafayette’s original street party for over 30 years and always has a rowdy vibe. The downtown Lafayette attraction ranks among the best places in town to hang with the locals. Live bands entertain the energetic crowds that sometimes have thousands of attendees. Don’t be surprised to find yourself thrown onto the dance floor and grooving along to the music with a stranger.
Over the years, much has been added to the regular concert series, and it’s now a popular hangout for delicious food, fine arts performances, and public events. The free live music takes place on various Fridays of the year, and you’ll hear Creole, Cajun, Country, R & B, and other genres.
4. See the Louisiana Alligator
One of the coolest things to do when in Lafayette is to go see the Louisiana alligators in the wild. Touring the swamplands is one of the most fun things to do in Lafayette for nature enthusiasts. One way to see the alligators around Lafayette is through Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours. They transport yotravelforyourlife.com/louisiana-alligatorsu through the bayou by boat and teach you about its diverse ecosystem. Cruise beneath cypress and tupelo trees and watch out for the alligators at every turn. Don’t be surprised by close encounters with other wildlife as well such as snakes, frogs, herons, and owls.
The experienced tour guides explain the uses of Spanish Moss, the harvesting of cypress trees, and how Cajuns fish the swampy waters. Private bird watching tours are available upon request, and kayak tours allow you to paddle through Louisiana’s fertile wetlands.
5. Cajun Food Tours
Cajun Food Tours frequently ranks as the best thing to do in Lafayette and showcases the tastiest Cajun cuisine in town. Riding around Lafayette on a 14-passenger bus, the food tours escort you to the restaurants that whip up the most mouthwatering dishes in Cajun country. Lafayette earned the title of “Tastiest Town in the South,” and their selection of tours present the rich flavours of Louisiana.
The Original Cajun Food Tour includes five tastings at local eateries, and you’ll sample favourites such as boudin and gumbo. Combine Cajun delicacies and Louisiana history by joining the Breaux Bridge Food Tour. If you’re completely unsure of what to do in Lafayette, look no further than the All-Day Cajun Experience and spend the day eating like a local.
6. Jefferson Island
Between its mysterious history and tranquil gardens, Jefferson Island offers a unique day trip near Lafayette. Beautiful oak trees surround the 19th century Joseph Jefferson Mansion and overlook massive salt columns. The Victorian-style building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a prime example of the grandiose architecture of the Southern Plantation style.
Another highlight of Jefferson Island is the semi-tropical Rip Van Winkle Gardens. Stroll through 15 acres of beautiful flowers and exotic plants or sit beneath the shaded branches of oak trees. The gardens often host elaborate weddings, and the on-site restaurant enchants visitors with stunning views of Lake Peigneur.
7. Bayou Teche Brewing
Located in nearby Arnaudville, Bayou Teche Brewing is among the best things to do in Lafayette for adults. Founded by three brothers whose brewing days trace to an abandoned railcar, the brewery creates craft beers that pair with Cajun cuisine. After years of honing their brewing skills, the trio serves ales, lagers, IPAs, and more at their beer garden.
The Swamp Thing IPA, Biere Pale Ale, and Cinco de Bayou are just a few concoctions to sip on the banks of the Bayou Teche River. Bring your pets to the taproom and pair your brew with delicious slices of Cajun Saucer Wood Fired Pizza.
8. Atchafalaya Basin Landing
Atchafalaya Basin Landing is a beautiful launching pad for an exciting adventure into the swamps outside of Lafayette. The boat launch hosts airboat tours that cruise around the waterways and show visitors its pristine habitat. Gain a glimpse of the landscapes the Cajuns have lived for centuries and view wild creatures in every direction. Have your camera ready to take snapshots of massive alligators and a wide range of bird species.
Tour guides are experts on the beautiful surroundings and offer insight into life in the swamplands. The boat rides make delightful outings, and Turtle’s Bar serves refreshing beer after returning from a swamp tour.
9.Cypress Island Preserve
Cypress Island Preserve protects swamps and hardwood forests to facilitate a healthy environment for its delicate ecosystem. For nature lovers, one of the most peaceful things to do in Lafayette is wandering the hiking trails through these untouched landscapes. The visitor’s centre has all the info you need, and a boardwalk takes you into the swamp.
Open from fall to spring, the 2.5-mile levee trail offers lots of wildlife sightings and is suitable for all ages. Bring your camera or binoculars to see gators, birds, and other creatures around the lake. Pack a lunch and enjoy a relaxing picnic at the pavilion while listening to the sounds of nature.
10. Lake Martin
Located in the swamplands around 30 minutes outside of Lafayette, Lake Martin hosts a pristine ecosystem of native species. The lake is a paradise for bird watchers and one of the best attractions near Lafayette LA for nature lovers. Bird species you’ll often find roaming the lake include the Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, and Roseate Spoonbill.
Lake Martin is also a hotbed for reptile sightings, and you’re likely to find gators, snakes, turtles, lizards, and frogs. Much of the surroundings can be traversed by foot, and a few trails wander through the nature preserve. To explore the waterways, rent a kayak or canoe for a scenic day on the lake.
11. Sky Zone Trampoline Park
For adrenaline junkies, Sky Zone Trampoline Park gives you a rush with its high-octane activities. You won’t have any problem breaking a sweat and feeling refreshed afterwards. In addition to freestyle bounces, the facility includes fitness programs, dodgeball games, free climbs, and a Ninja Warrior Course.
Challenge your friends to a dual on the Skyjoust, show off your dunking skills on the Skyslam, and stick the landing in the Foam Zone. The staff accommodates large parties and tailors packages for groups searching for an active, fun-filled event.
Nestled on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion, Vermilionville is among the top things to do in Lafayette for history buffs. The 23-acre historic village portrays life for Acadians, Creoles, and Native Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Staff members greet you in traditional costumes, and they elaborate on the daily lives of individuals from this period.
The on-site historians and artisans teach you about Louisiana’s cultures, and live demonstrations bring history to life. Talented musicians play festive tunes, and cooking classes teach you how to prepare Cajun dishes. You can also join a boat tour on the adjacent waterways or watch blacksmiths in action.
13. Swamp Tours of Acadiana
Swamp Tours of Acadiana launch day and night tours on Lake Martin to show off the beauty of the natural environment. Tour guides offer an entertaining and educational outing while searching for native wildlife around the lake. Learn intimate details about the swamp from the guides and interesting facts about Louisiana history. From the boat, you’ll find a wide range of birds, enormous gators, snakes, turtles, and many other creatures.
Boats used for your excursion previously carried local fishermen cruising the waterways for crawfish. Private tours are available upon request, and you’ll have unbelievable photo opportunities during your adventure in the swamp.
14. Parc Sans Souci
If you don’t know what to do in downtown Lafayette, Parc Sans Souci is a beautiful place to relax and soak up the local vibe. Located on Vermilion Street, the park hosts concerts and has grassy areas to have a picnic, a great place to cool off from the humidity.
The park is also a common gathering spot for public events, and raucous festivals take place here throughout the year. Parc Sans Souci and holds the annual Festival International that celebrates French heritage and many of the Lafayette Mardi Gras festivities.
15. Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site
Located in nearby St. Martinville, the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site teaches visitors about Bayou Teche culture. As Louisiana’s oldest state park, the site has one of the more fascinating stories of any attraction near Lafayette. The Maison Olivier plantation dates to the early 19th century and once grew numerous crops on the banks of the Bayou Teche. Tour the architectural marvel to see how French and Creole styles intertwine.
Walk around to the Acadian homestead to find the barn, kitchen, blacksmith shop, and visitor centre. The museum educates visitors about Cajun, Creole, and Native American cultures and displays authentic artefacts. Before leaving the historic site, make sure to hear the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem that tells the incredible story of an Acadian woman separated from her lover.
16. Avery Island
Around 30 miles south of Lafayette, Avery Island feels like an exotic world far away from civilization. The verdant landscapes feature subtropical flora, Spanish moss, live oaks, and sit atop enormous salt deposits. One of the island’s primary highlights is the 170-acre Jungle Gardens that nurture all sorts of plants and wildlife. The nature preserve offers a refuge for birds and has radiant flowers such as azaleas and camellias.
Its other claim to fame is being the birthplace of the world-renowned McIlhenny Tabasco Company. The hot sauce brand took the Gulf Coast by storm in the mid-19th century and soon reached markets across the globe. Tours of the factory explain how to make the fiery concoction, and the country store has all sorts of souvenirs to take home.
17. Hilliard Art Museum
For a quiet evening indoors, the Paul and Lulu Hilliard Art Museum at the University of Lafayette opens your eyes to impressive works of modern art. The facility shows off masterpieces from local and world-renowned artists. Since the galleries rotate, you should call in advance to find out what’s currently on display. The museum also hosts public events that feature art demonstrations. Other fun programs include lectures, creative conversations, yoga in the galleries.
Around 35 minutes south of Lafayette, Delcambre is a cosy seaport that attracts foodies, artists, and nature lovers. The town hosts the annual Shrimp Festival, one of the year’s most popular events near Lafayette. The Bayou Carlin Cove Boat Landing gives anglers and boaters access to the vast waterways around Vermilion Bay.
You can watch shrimp boats reel in lots of seafood and buy fresh catches right off the dock. From the pier, spend the day fishing and snap pictures of the sunset.
19. Acadiana Dancehalls
The Acadiana Dancehalls of Cajun Country are fantastic places to hit the dance floor in Lafayette. If you’re looking for a good time, locals love grooving to zydeco music and sipping delicious drinks. Some dancehalls opened their doors over 100 years ago, and they’ve remained popular nightlife venues in South Louisiana.
Some restaurants double as dancehalls and let you munch on tasty Cajun cuisine while listening to tunes. El Sido’s, Grant Street Dancehall, and Randol’s are just a few dance joints to spend an exciting evening in Lafayette.
There are a lot of fun things to do in Lafayette. Let me know if there is something I should add to the list. Leave a comment below.
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