20 Best Things to Do in Lafayette, LA

Lafayette, LA skylin
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Mark the city of Lafayette on the map as your major destination in a leisure trip to south-central Louisiana.

Known as Vermilionville when it was founded in 1821, Lafayette is centrally located in the Acadiana region, the largest economic corridor between New Orleans and Houston, Texas.

Lafayette’s Acadiana region, also called Cajun Country, flaunts a mix of cultures—American, African American, English, French, and Spanish—owing to its long and colorful history.

A stretch of the 70-mile long Vermilion River also meanders across the 55-square-mile area of Lafayette, creating and enhancing many points of interest in the city.

The city also features swamps and bayous feeding into the Vermilion River that further broaden the city’s attractions, as could be seen in the following list of the best things to do in Lafayette, LA.

Marvel at Vermilionville Historic Village's Old Buildings

Arrow signs in Vermilionville Historic Village
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A tour of this village is an apt segue from visiting the Acadian Cultural Center, as both are wedged next to each other on Fisher Road.

The Vermilionville Historic Village is a Creole and Cajun living history museum with restored historic buildings.

Exterior of Maison in Vermilionville Historic Village
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Among these builds is a reproduction of La Chapelle des Attakapas, which was rendered in the circa 1700s style of Catholic churches at Pointe Coupée and St. Martinville.

Exterior of a woodshop in Vermilionville Historic Village
gsloan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The village likewise showcases Maison Mouton, a reconstructed basic Acadian house circa 1810, with a detached kitchen.

An Acadian/Creole restored house, Maison Boucvalt, built in 1860, is another attraction at the Vermillion Historic Village.

Interior of a wood workshop in Vermilionville Historic Village
gsloan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Lafayette Science Museum

Exterior of Lafayette Science Museum
Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This museum on Jefferson Street is a fun place to visit even as it explores such heavy subject matters as geology, paleontology, and marine biology.

The Lafayette Science Museum, which also features a planetarium, creates an engaging experience for visitors through its interactive exhibits and good-natured staff.

Here, unlike in other museums, you are encouraged to take selfies with their displays like its resident grizzly bear and dinosaur head.

Elephant skull in Lafayette Science Museum
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The dinosaur-themed exhibit “Natural-Born Killers” is among the crowd-drawers in the Lafayette Science Museum.

This exhibit lets its viewers make a comparison among many of the apex predators during the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cenozoic Periods

Skeletons exhibit in Lafayette Science Museum
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The other attractions of this museum include its “In Search of Earth’s Secrets” and a digital planetarium where you can go on a cosmic adventure without leaving your seat.

Also, check its virtual aquarium featuring every imaginable fish species.

Skeletons exhibit in Lafayette Science Museum
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Enjoy the Waters of Girard Park

Trees and grass of Girard Park
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Water-based recreational activities can be enjoyed in this 33-acre city facility on Grand Park Drive.

Girard Park’s amenities include an outdoor pool, a children’s splash pad, a water fountain, and a fishing pond.

Fitness facilities are also among the attractions in this park, which offers a workout station and a 1.25-mile trail for jogging.

Design on Girard Park's field
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Park visitors can likewise access a practice wall and courts for tennis, as well outdoor courts for volleyball, petanque, and basketball plus a backstop ball diamond and a 9-hole disc golf course.

Girard Park also features a kids’ playground with baby equipment, besides having the Parc Independence playground designed for children with special needs.

People under a shed at Girard Park
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Tour the Hilliard Art Museum

This museum on East St. Mary Boulevard is part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The collection of artworks in the Hilliard Art Museum spans from the 18th century to the 21stcentury.

The museum also features an exhibit focusing on Louisiana artists and runs a variety of exhibition schedules.

It also holds guided tours, lectures, and programs that promote inter-disciplinary learning in liberal arts and sciences.

With all these efforts, the education-oriented Hilliard Museum stands as an advocate for filling the cultural needs of the highly diverse population of Louisiana.

Take the Kids to the Children's Museum of Acadiana

Exterior of Children's Museum of Acadiana
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Located on East Congress Street, the Children's Museum of Acadiana (CMA) is where you’ll find hands-on participatory exhibits.

The museum’s range of interactive exhibits is so designed to teach practical knowledge and crafts to children.

The CMA also extends special services and holds performances and workshops like its S.T.E.A.M. Kids Sundays.

Children attending this event are exposed to interactive STEM activities augmenting their school learning.

Each activity in the S.T.E.A.M. Kids Sundays, which is held on the last Sunday of each month, takes only about 15–30 minutes.

CMA also has a laudable special program for families and their children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) available for free.

In addition, the museum offers a summer camp program inspiring kids’ creativity through exploration and experimentation in a nurturing and safe environment.

Take a Boat Tour of Vermillion Bayou

A partnership of the Lafayette Parish Bayou Vermilion District and the Jean Lafitte Acadian Cultural Center is offering boat tours of the local tidal river known as the Bayou Vermilion.

On this tour, you will ride on a traditionally constructed boat called Cocodrie (meaning alligator in French).

The Lafayette Parish Bayou Vermilion District, the administrator of the Vermillion Historic Village, runs this fascinating boat tour wherein you will also be briefed on the river’s history, geology, and ecology.

Other boat tours are available in Lafayette, including a water adventure over swamps and bayous aboard a high-speed airboat.

One Lafayette service provider for boat tours is Bayou Boat Rentals and Champagne Cruises on Pinhook Road.

Go Fishing in Beaver Park

Waters of Beaver Park
William Dillingham / Shutterstock.com

This 70-acre park spreads adjacent west of the Vermillion Historic Village and partially borders the Vermilion River.

Beaver Park has a fishing pond where kids can probably land their first catch of bass, with the sight of an alligator or two as another a surprise.

A children's playground in Beaver Park
ccpixx photography / Shutterstock.com

A paved boat landing in this park allows convenient and free access to the Vermillion River.

The other recreational facilities of Beaver Park include ball fields, covered picnic areas, a large pavilion, and a children’s playground with baby equipment.

Learn about the Cajuns at the Acadian Cultural Center

A lush woodland off Fisher Road aptly serves as the home of the Acadian Cultural Center.

Entrance to this facility of the US Park Service is free, and a visit here provides enriching knowledge about the Acadians and their journey to settle in Louisiana.

The Acadian Cultural Center features a museum where the artifacts detail Cajun life past and present.

Visitors of the center can also watch an hourly showing of a 35-minute film chronicling how the Acadians settled and found prosperity in Louisiana.

At the Acadian Cultural Center, you will also have the chance to learn from its programs and exhibits about the language, customs, and contemporary culture of the Acadians who eventually emerged as the Cajuns of Louisiana.

Catch the Action at the Cajundome Arena

Exterior of Cajundome Arena
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This sports arena and events venue on Cajundome Boulevard, with 13,500 seats, is one of the largest in Louisiana.

Along with its adjoining football field, the Cajundome Arena is home to the University of Louisiana sports teams—Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.

The home games of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as those of the University of Louisiana football team, however, are not the only events hosted in the Cajundome facility.

Concerts and special events like the bouts of the World Wrestling Entertainment are also held in the Cajundome.

In addition, the 11-day outdoor Cajun Heartland State Fair traditionally held from late May to early June, is held annually at the Cajundome’s grounds.

Pick a Playground at the Acadiana Park

A wooden bench in Acadiana Park
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Many outdoor recreational activities await you at this 110-acre park off East Alexander Street.

Acadiana Park offers facilities for tennis, soccer, softball, baseball, and basketball.

Likewise, it boasts an extensive Frisbee golf course with a 36-hole layout spread all over the park.

A downed tree along Acadiana Park's trail
William Dillingham / Shutterstock.com

A covered picnic area with grills and a kids’ playground with baby equipment are also among the offerings at Acadiana Park.

In the woodland north of these facilities, more recreational options are available at the Acadiana Park Nature Station.

Under this station’s management is a 150-acre parkland with hiking trails, canoe and kayak launches, and a campground.

On weekends of each month, the station holds guided educational tours on the 6 miles hiking trail of this park.

Lace-Up to Roll on at Fun Nation

Strap a pair of roller skates at Fun Nation on Congress Street, which has been providing family-oriented entertainment for more than 50 years.

Its well-kept floor also holds an adult skate night when grown-ups can fully enjoy Fun Nation’s neat lights and cool music.

For everyone’s enjoyment, Fun Nation also provides a spacious indoor playground and a large arcade.

It also has a concession serving snacks and is equipped with flat-screen TVs.

Skate at Planet Ice

Exterior of Planet Ice
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Show your skating form on the rink of Planet Ice on Johnston Street or take its instructional program if you haven’t yet mastered gliding on the ice.

Besides ice skating instructions, Planet Ice also hosts competitions on figure skating.

Hosting hockey tournaments, as well as hockey training for adults and youngsters, are also among the offerings of Planet ice.

This amusement center also has a food concession stand, and party rooms for family socials like birthday parties.

Try the Boiled Crawfish at Cajun Table

Boiled crawfish, a must-taste food fare when visiting Lafayette (or Louisiana for that matter), is best sampled at the Cajun Table on Ambassador Caffery Parkway.

This restaurant opened in 2017, but before its opening as a brick-and-mortar eatery, Cajun Table has been operating as a food truck for several years.

Having lunch or dinner at the Cajun Table promises the sensory experience of having a home-style Cajun meal while listening to the restaurant’s background zydeco music.

Besides its Louisiana classic boiled crawfish, this restaurant offers its tempting Fish and Shrimp Platter, and Swamp Wings.

Visit the Acadian Village

A wooden church pew in Acadian Village
ccpixx photography / Shutterstock.com

Located on 32-acres off Greenleaf Drive, this Lafayette attraction mimics an 1800s Cajun village complete with a blacksmith shop.

Out of the village’s 11 buildings, seven are authentic 19th-century homes displaying the early Acadian homebuilders’ ingenuity.

This can be seen in the homes’ wooden pegs, hand-hewn cypress timbers, mud walls, and high-peaked roofs.

The Acadian Village came about through the efforts of the Lafayette Association for Retarded Citizens (LARC).

The design team of the LARC Acadian Village had to fashion a shaded community out of a10-acre farmland.

For authenticity, a bayou runs through the re-created Acadian Village, which is also now hosting special events, such as weddings, showers, and birthday parties.

In so doing, the Acadian Village not only preserves a Louisiana heritage but also helps attract visitors to Lafayette and enliven the community.

Dine at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

A former pizza joint before expanding to a restaurant and brewhouse chain, BJ’s Lafayette location is on Ambassador Caffery Parkway corner Old Camp Road.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Lafayette draws from over 30 different beers on tap including its award-winning brews.

Always on tap on BJ‘s are its 11 original craft beers, such as the Lightswitch Lager, Goliath Imperial Red, Prickly Pear Honey Wheat, and Grand Cru.

All these bears can pair perfectly with any entrée of your choice from the extensive food menu of BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Lafayette.

You can pick from its signature pizzas of about 20 varieties ranging from deep dish to tavern-cut to made-to-order combinations.

The menu list of this Lafayette foodies and beer-lovers’ favorite destination also includes nutritious, low-calorie entrees which are slow-roasted for healthier eats.

To deliver wonderful entrée choices, the restaurant use ingredients like Peruvian quinoa, whole grains, plus lean meats.

For a more traditional option, try the Parmesan-Crusted Chicken which is the best-seller at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Lafayette.

Tour the Alexandre Mouton House

Front view of Alexandre Mouton House
Richard Byrd, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Alexandre Mouton House, now known as the Lafayette Museum, is a historic residence built by Jean Mouton, one of Southwest Louisiana’s earliest settlers.

His son, Alexandre, made this his home around 1925.

Alexandre Mouton became the 11th Governor and the first Democratic Governor of the state.

Exterior view of Alexandre Mouton House
QuesterMark, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can get a guided tour and see various antiques and treasured artifacts that reflect the life of the families who owned these valuable items.

Take snapshots of this well-peserved structure and stroll the beautiful grounds and gardens nearby.

You can also book meetings and catered events at the Alexandre Mouton House for a unique experience.

Buy Local Products at the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market

If you’re looking for products that are purely Lafayette, then head out to the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market.

You’ll find lots of local businesses that lets you experience the city’s unique community flavor.

The market is open every Saturday and is located at Moncus Park.

Get naturally grown produce directly from farmers like fruits and vegetables you’ll be sure they’re chemical-free; you can also buy grass-fed meats and dairy products all guaranteed fresh.

Browse through various wares made by local artisans and deliciously baked goods and food specialties.

Catch the Boudin Cookoff

Louisiana is known for all things boudin.

No wonder Lafayette has been proud of a yearly tradition called the Boudin Cook-Off held at Parc Sans Souci.

The event is held in October and was first thought of by Robert Carriker, a history professor, to showcase and celebrate the talents of boudin makers across Louisiana.

You’ll catch competitions and attractions that highlight this culinary delicacy.

Try samples of this mouthwatering Cajun Country specialty and for sure you’ll never forget your trip to Lafayette.

You can also get loads of other regional specials like cheesy boudin balls, pork chop sandwiches, specialty sausages, smoked meats, and much more.

It’s all about food and fun at the Boudin Cookoff.

Have a Live Oak Trail Tour at St. John Cathedral and the Twentieth Century Oaks

Stunning view of  St. John Cathedral
Damon Shaw / Shutterstock.com

You’ll be fascinated to know that the old oaks in St. John Cathedral and the University of Louisiana do have pieces of history behind them.

The St. John Cathedral Oak is the most famous live oak in the city area, with an estimated age of about 450 years old.

You’ll find this oak tree on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on St. John Street.

Facade of St. John Cathedral
Dietmar Rauscher / Shutterstock.com

Dr. Edwin Stephens, the first president of the Southwestern Louisiana Institute, which is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has also been amazed at this old oak tree.

In 1901, at the age of 27, he planted 18 young live oaks near the campus entrance and named them the Twentieth Century Oaks in connection with the beginning of the new century.

You’ll still see these oak trees standing tall and providing a cool shade to passersby; take pictures or simply relax under these giant trees.

The St. John Cathedral Oak and Twentieth Century Oaks are unique gems you’ll find in the city.

Celebrate Different Cultures at the Annual Festival International de Louisiane

Artist performing at Festival International de Louisiane
Jon Lebkowsky, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Festival International de Louisiane, or what is simply known as Festival International, is a five-day city celebration filled with fun, food, and entertainment.

The event is held every April and turns the city into a festive mecca of cultures.

It aims to promote and champion the Francophone and international community ties in the city.

Crowd cheering at Festival International de Louisiane
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Catch wonderful and top-notch music performances by French, African, Belgian, and Louisiana talents.

Kids will have fun with activities like face painting, arts and crafts, music, and more.

You’ll also find an array of diverse artistic pieces by various artists and craftspersons at the arts and crafts market.

An old man playing violin at Festival International de Louisiane
David Simpson (cajunzydecophotos), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lively festivities become more enjoyable with gourmet food to taste and try; explore international dishes that will excite your palate, or have your fill of local Louisiana cuisine.

Festival International de Louisiane is an event that would make your stay in the city memorable.

Final Thoughts

The good times looms as the banner that would unfurl in a visit to the Louisiana city of Lafayette.

The colorful history that molded Lafayette’s character over the centuries as Cajun Country has created social and cultural points of interest not found elsewhere.

Moreover, the generations of Acadians that settled in Lafayette have wisely nurtured Louisiana’s natural environment, thereby enhancing the city’s appeal to the fun-loving tourists.

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