Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Lafayette, LA

  • Published 2022/12/10

Lafayette is a vibrant city in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, and is widely known as the happiest city in the country.

Nestled in the south-central portion of the state, Lafayette is the biggest city in Lafayette Parish.

Lafayette is located in the beautiful Acadiana area and boasts a lively culture influenced by its Creole and Cajun residents.

Lafayette is one of the areas where Cajun food originated!

Apart from being the happiest city, Lafayette is also called “The Sportsman’s Paradise” because of all its significant outdoor areas and warm climate, which lasts all year long!

Many outdoor enthusiasts flock to the city, and history buffs dive deep into the colorful origins of Lafayette.

If you want to experience the beauty and vibrance of Lafayette, you don’t need to worry about pouring all of your savings into your trip!

Here are the free things to do in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Admire the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

Exterior of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

Sittichai Sukreep /

Marvel at the exquisite architecture and grand interior spaces of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

This church on Cathedral Street was built in 1916 and continues to stand as one of the most stunning landmarks in the city.

With its Romanesque Revival architectural style, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another place and time.

The church’s plain white and bright red colors also strongly contrast with the other structures around the area, making it stand out more.

Front view of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

Dietmar Rauscher /

Perhaps the most striking thing about this church is its towering spire which soars so high that some may hurt their neck if they stare up at it for too long.

The interior area of this church will not disappoint you at all despite its already spectacular exterior.

You’ll feel transcendence when you enter the church and focus on its opulent ceilings and grand altar.

Admire the design and style of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist!

Statue in front of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

TheLionHasSeen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Discover the Origins of Acadians at the Acadian Cultural Center

Take a step back in time and discover the first settlers of Lafayette at the Acadian Cultural Center.

Located on Fisher Road, the Acadian Cultural Center is where you can learn about the city’s origins.

Here, you’ll check out exhibits that reveal the history of Acadians or the first people who lived in the natural areas in the region.

Roam the Acadian Cultural Center and look at all the displays that provide information about the Acadian settlements, their migration process, and their origins.

You’ll also discover more about the current culture of the Acadians who reside in the city!

If you’re lucky, you may even join some of the programs where they share all about fascinating Acadian traditions.

Visit the bookstore on your way out to buy handcrafted gifts for yourself or your loved ones!

See Blooming Azaleas at the Azalea Trail

As you explore the Azalea Trail, feast on all the gorgeous blooming flowers.

This trail is accessible through Evangeline Thruway and features a path filled with vibrant pink Azalea flowering plants!

The Azalea plant originally comes from East Asia and rarely blooms in other areas, so many people visit this trail and see this rare plant.

Walking through this trail, Azalea bushes filled with red and white flowers can also be found.

Some of the bushes you can find here are over 50 years old.

The flowers and plants on the Azalea Trail are a sight to behold, so bring your cameras.

Look at Captivating Artworks at the Acadiana Center for the Arts

Building sign of the Acadiana Center for the Arts

ccpixx photography /

Look at stunning works of art that reflect the varying cultures in the region at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.

The Acadiana Center for the Arts is a performance venue and gallery on Vermillion Street.

This center is the city’s central hub of culture and arts.

Here, you can roam around their art galleries and be wowed by all the captivating and exciting artworks!

Most of the works in their galleries feature aspects of Acadians’ life, history, and culture.

From stunning photographs to vibrant paintings, the galleries at this center display a wide range of artworks.

Whether you like looking at beautiful art pieces or learning about different cultures, the Acadiana Center for the Arts is a great place to visit.

Surround Yourself with Nature through Acadiana Park Nature Station

Fully immerse yourself in the natural environment as you explore the trails around Acadiana Park Nature Station.

The Acadiana Park Nature Station is on Alexander Street and offers visitors a wide range of fun activities.

Whether you want to hike through the nature trails or camp on the campgrounds, you can enjoy all the recreational activities here.

This preserve also offers programs and educational workshops where you can learn about the city’s natural environment.

Explore the trails and try to spot unique flora and fauna all around the area.

There are also play areas where your kids run around as you appreciate the beauty of nature and unwind while listening to the soothing noises of the environment.

Check Out the Iconic Blue Dog Artwork at George Rodrigue Studios

If you’re a fan of the iconic Blue Dog artwork, you should check out George Rodrigue Studios.

George Rodrigue Studios is an art gallery on College Road that features the works of the exceptional artist George Rodrigue.

George Rodrigue was a famous artist from Louisiana and is well-known for his Blue Dog art series.

At this art studio, you can check out different versions of his famous Blue Dog artworks and other paintings he made during his time.

You can set your sights on unique paintings depicting the state’s known landscapes, heroic citizens, and Cajun culture.

The George Rodrigue Studios is a must-visit if you are a fan of fun, vibrant paintings or artworks.

Learn more about the life and works of this outstanding artist.

Take in the Scenic View of the Pond at Girard Park

Water fountain at Girard Park

Sittichai Sukreep /

Relax and set your sights on the picturesque beauty of the tranquil pond at Girard Park.

Girard Park is a beautiful and historic park accessed through Girard Park Drive.

This park features a stunning pond filled with ducks and geese that you can feed with appropriate snacks.

The grounds of Girard Park

Sittichai Sukreep /

This is also a great spot to watch the sun go down over the city as you relax by the benches near the pond.

Play areas are also perfect for active kids, and walking trails if you want to take a peaceful stroll or jog.

You can freely explore Girard Park and even take pictures of the beautiful pond on its premises.

Sculptures at Girard Park

Sittichai Sukreep /

Snap Pics by the YLAFAYETTE Art Installation

Your visit to the city is not complete if you don’t stop by and take pictures with the YLAFAYETTE Art Installation!

The YLAFAYETTE Art Installation is located in a park along Vermillion Street and is a popular attraction to all city visitors.

This public art piece features all the letters of the word Lafayette as massive structures with the letter Y missing.

The missing letter in the word allows people to pose in the place of the Y, raising their arms to form the shape of the letter!

Stop by this art installation and take creative pictures with your loved ones.

Take turns being the letter Y, and have fun snapping photos at the YLAFAYETTE Art Installation.

See Alligators and Turtles at Cypress Lake

Spot mighty alligators, adorable turtles, and rare birds at Cypress Lake at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Cypress Lake is a body of water inside the University of Louisiana on University Avenue.

Due to its location, many people near the university and students often stop by to look at the lake’s creatures.

The students love this body of water at the university.

They hold a special event that centers around the lake annually, which lasts all week.

This lake features alligators, fishes, turtles, and even bullfrogs that you can look at when you visit the campus.

There are also majestic birds flying over the lake, making it a great place to go birdwatching.

Check out the animals hanging out by Cypress Lake at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette!

Remember a Tragedy at the 9-11 Memorial

Daytime view of the 9-11 Memorial

Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lafayette’s 9-11 Memorial is a touching tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

This memorial is on Congress Street and was built to honor those who lost their lives during the tragic event.

It features two steel beams taken from the debris at the World Trade Center, limestone from the Pentagon, and dirt from the crash site of Shanksville Flight 93.

The beams, stone, and dirt are all perched on top of a black pedestal with a plaque containing information about the monument.

Many people have attempted to vandalize this monument throughout the years, but numerous individuals still visit this landmark to honor those who lost their lives in the tragic event.

Stop by the Lafayette 9-11 Memorial to pay your respects or remember this historical moment.

Explore the Lafayette Memorial Park Cemetery & Mausoleum

Find a moment of peace and pay your respects to those who came before you at the Lafayette Memorial Park Cemetery & Mausoleum.

Dr. James Corneaux established the cemetery in 1953 along Pinhook Road.

It features a stunning chapel mausoleum that houses crypts that can accommodate traditional burials and cremation niches.

Take a stroll along the cemetery grounds and check out the tall trees with luscious foliage.

You can also take a break by the captivating fountain and catch your breath after walking around.

Likewise, pay your respects to the veterans buried at the Lafayette Memorial Park Cemetery & Mausoleum.

The cemetery rests the most number of veterans in all of Acadiana.

Explore the Intriguing Sculptures at the John M. Shaw United States Courthouse

Check out the eye-catching statues outside the John M. Shaw United States Courthouse.

The courthouse, nestled along Lafayette Street, features sculptures called “Urns of Justice” by its entrance area.

These sculptures depict heads with eyes covered with cloth, much like the famous lady justice statue.

These sculptures are unique because their foreheads and crowns aren’t where they should be.

You can stop by John M. Shaw United States Courthouse and get a closer look at these exciting statues.

Behold the Majestic St. John Cathedral Oak

Daytime view of the St. John Cathedral Oak

Sittichai Sukreep /

Marvel at one of the country’s oldest and biggest oak trees, the St. John Cathedral Oak.

This massive oak tree on Cathedral Street is alive, estimated to be around 500 years old!

It is said that this tree dates back to 1800 when the property it was planted on was donated to the church.

Standing at 126 feet and with a diameter of about nine feet, this tree is gigantic and an incredible sight.

You can visit this tree and admire its vast size and extending branches.

There is also a plaque next to the St. John Cathedral Oak, where you can read about its history and size.

Bond with Your Kids at Thomas Park

Take your kids to Thomas Park for a fun-filled day of play!

Thomas Park Playground is on Geraldine Drive and is a great destination when you want to bond with your children.

This 18-acre park features fun play areas where you and your kids can spend quality time together while having fun!

You can sit by the swings together, watch them as they slide, or even climb up the jungle gym.

There is also a tennis court within the park and a basketball court where you can engage in sports.

If you get too tired from playing all day, there is also a picnic pavilion where you can rest or even grab a quick bite!

Sit beside an Iconic Activist at the Rosa Parks Statue

Snap a selfie as you sit next to the Rosa Parks Statue!

The Rosa Parks Statue is on Lee Avenue inside the Rosa Parks Transportation Center, a bus and train station.

This statue depicts a monumental event in the history of the Civil Rights movement, which occurred in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955.

During this time, Rosa Parks, a known activist, was arrested for not giving up her seat on a whites-only city bus.

This sparked a mass protest, which involved a 13-month bus boycott.

All of these events led to the landmark ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, desegregating public buses, helping spark the Civil Rights Movement.

Stop by the Rosa Parks Statue and remember these critical points in the history of the Civil Rights movement!

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of things to see and do in the beautiful city of Lafayette.

Check out these free things to do in Lafayette, Louisiana, to have an exciting and memorable time in the city.

Schedule your trip today and get ready to make new and unforgettable memories with your loved ones!


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