Some of the most fun and memorable things to do in Lafayette Louisiana are listening to live zydeco music, exploring Atchafalaya Swamp, experiencing Vermilionville, visiting the TABASCO factory, and eating amazing Cajun and Creole food.
Lafayette Louisiana has been ranked as USA’s Happiest City, calls itself the “the Heart of Cajun and Creole Country,” and loves showing visitors a good time. Whether you visit all or some of the below suggestions, you will most certainly enjoy your Lafayette visit. Let me know what other Lafayette restaurants and attractions you found and liked.
Getting to Lafayette Louisiana: Three great choices to visit Lafayette include flying directly there, driving from New Orleans, or driving from Lake Charles and points west. Lafayette Regional Airport is a fun small airport which may double in size over the next few years. Lafayette is about a two hour drive from New Orleans and about a 70 minute drive from Lake Charles.
8 Great Happy Things to Do in Lafayette Louisiana
The historic Vermilionville district honors Acadian, Creole, and Native American cultures along Bayou Vermilionville. The primary attraction—Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park—is a historic village representing life in the region through the 1890s. Witness authentic and historical accurate artisan crafts made in front of you, visit the natural medicine garden, and explore the seven restored original homes. Other Vermilionville activites include canoe and kayak rentals, fishing, group and wedding venues, and an onsite restaurant—Le Cuisine de Mamam serving Cajun specialities like fried catfish, po’ boys, and gumbo.
2. TABASCO Factory Tour in Avery Island
Visiting the home of the world’s most famous hot sauce is one of the most popular and best things to do near Lafayette Louisiana (about a 45 minute drive). Recommended activities at TABASCO in Avery Island include self-guided tours of the TABASCO museum, factory tour (mmmm, smells so good!), and explore the grounds (I particularly like the extensive bamboo forest and gorgeous oak trees). McCool Travel tip: I was fascinated to learn about the “salt” dome that the TABASCO property sits on.
Eat at TABASCO Restaurant 1868 and kick up (BAM!) your red beans and rice (or other Cajun treats) with the entire product line of TABASCO sauces. The TABASCO gift shop is extensive and definitely worth a stop for souvenirs for others and yourself (my favorite item is the TABASCO lollipop).
3. Atchafalaya Swamp Tour
You must not leave Lafayette Louisiana without touring the Atchafalaya Basin (aka Atchafalaya Swamp). One of the most memorable and best Lafayette experiences is a swamp tour with Basin Landing Airboat Swamp Tours in Breaux Bridge. See gators, iconic oak-dripped cypress trees, alligators, bald eagles and ospreys, and more gators. You KNOW you want to see gators! Enjoy the airboat ride but also allow time to explore the fun gift shop.
4. Lafayette Louisiana is Live Music Nirvana
Lafayette is a superb place to watch and hear live music, especially zydeco and Cajun. There are dozens of places to listen to zydeco (and other genres) music every single night. Artmosphere Bistro is a popular spot, decorated with local art, serving local beers and creative cocktails, offering homecooked food, and providing live music that gets the crowd moving and grooving.
5. Lafayette Rock’n’Bowl
Another place for live music is Lafayette Rock’n’Bowl. Sure, you can go bowling in any city but only in Lafayette Louisiana can you bowl on a lane a few feet from a live zydeco band. This is such a fun place made better by the free flowing draft Abita.
6. Zydeco Breakfast in Breaux Bridge at Buck and Johnny’s
When we arrived at Buck and Johnny’s in Beaux Bridge there was a loooooooong line with dozens of people. AT 8 ON A SATURDAY MORNING. I knew this would be a fun place and memorable breakfast. Thankfully, our group had a reservation so we could bypass the long line at the door. Amazing live zydeco music and enthusiastic crowd dancing perfectly complemented our World Famous Zydeco Breakfast experience. McCool Travel tip: Order a margarita (YES, for breakfast) and add hot sauce to create what I shall hereafter call a Cajun Bloody Mary. Perhaps you have a better name for it.
7. Courir de Mardi Gras
Bead throwing, parade floats, and the commercial Mardi Gras funness is available during several downtown Lafayette events but head deep into Acadiana to experience the real thing. The primary reason for my latest trip to Lafayette Louisiana was to experience their traditional Mardi Gras—called Courir de Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday Run)—with traditions dating back to Medieval Catholic times in France. Most southern Louisiana villages and communities celebrate Courir de Mardi Gras so there are plenty of opportunities and variations.
8. 8 Great Places to Eat in Lafayette Louisiana
Among the hundreds of great Lafayette Louisiana restaurants, here are eight favorites along with suggested items to order.
- Randol’s Restaurant & Dancehall. Spiced crawfish in season in a must try. Watch or dance with the locals.
- Dwyer’s Cafe. Classic no-frills diner, great for breakfast or lunch. Love their outside wall mural.
- Social Southern Table & Bar. Try their Southern poutine and fantastic custom, craft cocktails. Popular for Sunday brunch.
- Blue Dog Cafe. Classic Cajun dishes and stay for some bread pudding.
- Central Pizza & Bar. Amazing gourmet pizzas.
- Pamplona Tapas Bar. Wonderful seafood paella. Love the mens restroom wallpaper!
- Agave. Mexican cuisine with a Louisiana Flair
- Zorba’s. When you want a break from the amazing Cajun cuisine, try a Greek salad here. The feisty chicken pita is fab. McCool Travel tip: place your order and then stroll over to the daiquiri shop for a high octane elixir.
Other Things to Do in Lafayette
I have not had the good fortune to visit the following great places in Lafayette but hope to do so soon.
- Louisiana State Arboretum
- Opelousas Museum
- Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival
- Festival Acadianes et Créoles
- Cajun Food Tours
- Lafayette Historic Azalea Trail
- Cajun Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- Festival International de Louisiane
- Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival
- Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island
- Zoosiana: Zoo of Acadiana
Please share your favorite Lafayette Louisiana discoveries in the comments below.
When planning your Louisiana vacation, see our Louisiana and #USGulfCoast travel articles: