Lafayette, Louisiana is the heart of Cajun Country, located a little over two hours from New Orleans. Set on the outskirts of the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, the area was inhabited by Native Americans before the Acadians settled it as Vermilionville in 1821. It was later named in honor of the French general.
The French language remains a large part of life here, influencing the food and music. This region is known for dishes like boudin, traditionally smoked sausages. On any given night, you can see live music. The area also has unique Mardi Gras traditions.
While visiting Lafayette, explore the small towns like Breaux Bridge. New Iberia and Avery Island are also a short drive away, located in neighboring parishes.
What to Do in Lafayette
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist– The parish was established in 1821 and the current church dates back to 1913. It was built in the Dutch Romanesque Revival style and contains German stained glass and a Canadian pipe organ. Visit the museum to learn more about it. 914 St. John Street
Children’s Museum of Acadiana– The museum for young visitors has been open since 1993 in downtown Lafayette. They have interactive exhibits on the building’s history, underwater creatures, and grocery stores. 201 East Congress Street
Hilliard Art Museum– Located on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the museum has changing exhibits featuring paintings, photos, and sculptures from around the world and also close to home. 710 East St. Mary Boulevard
LARC’s Acadian Village– This interpretive center educates visitors on the way of life of Lafayette’s early residents. It includes reconstructed modeled after the real homes of the 1800s Acadians. 200 Greenleaf Drive
Vermilionville– The folklife park represents life in Acadiana from 1765 to 1890 from the perspective of the Cajun, Creole, and Native American residents. There are costumed interpreters, live music, a cooking school, restaurant, and boat tours. Book your Tour of Historic Vermilionville before you go. 300 Fisher Road
The Original Cajun Food Tour– Eat your way through Lafayette on this food tour that visits the city’s beloved restaurants, led by a food historian. Sample local dishes like boudin, etouffee, gumbo, and local seafood.
Live music- On any given night, you can check out live music at one of Lafayette’s venues including Blue Moon, Rock & Bowl, Artmosphere, and Feed & Seed. There’s also a Dance Hall Trail.
Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Marina– Swamp tours leave from this outpost that also is home to Turtle’s Bar. From these airboats, you can see the bayou wildlife. 1377 Henderson Levee Road, Breaux Bridge
Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory– The small town is home to the McIlhenny Company, the creators of the iconic Tabasco hot sauce. They offer tours of the facility and also have a restaurant. Jungle Gardens is also on the island and operates a bird sanctuary. Highway 329, Avery Island
Bayou Teche Museum– Located a short drive away in New Iberia, this museum educates visitors on the landscape and culture of the bayou that runs through the area. 131 E Main Street, New Iberia
Shadows on the Teche– The 1834 sugar plantation in New Iberia now operates as a historic home museum with guided tours throughout the week. 317 East Main Street, New Iberia
Conrad Rice Mill– Tour the facility where rice is harvested and makes its way into stores and homes. The mill itself is the oldest rice mill in America. 307 Ann Street, New Iberia
Where to Eat in Lafayette
Randol’s Restaurant– The Cajun restaurant is known for dishes like crawfish etouffee, fried alligator, and chargrilled oysters. They also operate as a dancehall with live zydeco music most nights. 2320 Kaliste Saloom Road, (337) 981-7080
Blue Dog Cafe– Artist George Rodrigue and his iconic blue dog paintings have been honored at this local cafe since 1999. Don’t miss the Blue Dog Catfish and the seafood wontons. 1211 W Pinhook Road, (337) 237-0005
Pamplona Tapas Bar– The Spanish-inspired tapas bar carries wines from the country. They host a cocktail hour on most weekdays. Sample dishes like garlic shrimp, beef carpaccio, and brussels sprouts. 631 Jefferson Street, (337) 232-0070
Social Southern Table & Bar– The hip restaurant serves specialty cocktails and is known for its whiskey selection. But don’t miss dishes like the wild boar burger and brick oven flatbreads as well as the lively weekend brunch. 3901 Johnston Street, (337) 456-3274
Spoonbill Watering Hole– Set in a former gas station, the patio is a favorite place for happy hour with creative cocktails. Menu favorites include the burger, tuna tostada, and barbecue shrimp. They don’t take reservations, so go early. 900 Jefferson Street, (337) 534-0585
Central Pizza & Bar– The stylish restaurant serves wood-fired pizzas with traditional and unique toppings alongside salads, sandwiches, and carafes of wine. 423 Jefferson Street, (337) 534-0887
Dwyer’s Cafe– Opened in 1965, this diner serves breakfast and lunch including plate specials, burgers, waffles, and everything in between. 323 Jefferson Street, (337) 235-9364
Pop’s Poboys– The classic po boy is one of the offerings at this downtown restaurant, alongside funky versions of the sandwich, salads, and appetizers. 740 Jefferson Street, (337) 534-0621
Reve Coffee Roasters– The local coffee roaster has two shops in town selling their coffee drinks and light bites, including one on the university campus. 200 Jefferson Street, (337) 534-8336
Borden’s Ice Cream– Lafayette is home to the last location of the ice cream shop chain. The interior resembles an old fashioned soda shop with metal stools and memorabilia on the walls. 1103 Jefferson Street, (337) 235-9291
The French Press– As the name implies, the restaurant serves French-inspired dishes alongside American favorites for breakfast and lunch. They also have dinner on weekends. 214 East Vermilion Street, (337) 233-9449
Don’s Specialty Meats– The roadside Cajun meat shop has been voted one of the area’s best for its boudin, cracklins, and specialty meats. They have fresh meats as well as a deli counter. 4120 NE Evangeline Throughway, Carencro. (337) 896-6370
Buck & Johnny’s– Set in an abandoned motors building, this restaurant is known for its weekend Zydeco breakfasts and Italian dishes. Try the boudin and beignets. They host live music day and night. 100 Berard Street, Breaux Bridge, (337) 442-6630
Where to Stay in Lafayette
DoubleTree by Hilton Lafayette– Originally built as a Hilton, the hotel has hundreds of rooms located between the airport and downtown. They have a seasonal pool, in-house restaurant, and fitness center. You can also expect warm cookies upon check-in. 1521 West Pinhook Road
The Chateau Hotel– The Ascend Collection hotel between the airport and downtown has amenities like a seasonal swimming pool, fitness center, and business center. 1015 West Pinhook Road
The Juliet Hotel– The only downtown hotel has 20 rooms and suites. They offer breakfast and have free WiFi, a pool, a meeting room, and onsite parking. 800 Jefferson Street
Blue Moon Saloon and Guest House– The lively music venue also operates as a guesthouse with eclectic decorations in both bunk and private rooms. It’s located in the heart of downtown, steps away from other music venues and restaurants. Just come prepared with earplugs! 215 East Convent Street
Cajun Hostel– This hostel has multiple locations around Lafayette, including bunk rooms and rental homes. The hostel can also arrange car rentals and other activities.
Bayou Cabins– The funky bed and breakfast in Breaux Bridge has 14 rustic cabins on the banks of the Bayou Teche. It’s a short walk from the Cajun dance halls and accommodations include WiFi and breakfast. 100 West Mills Ave, Breaux Bridge
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This guide was created with assistance from Lafayette Travel and Louisiana Tourism.