When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Lafayette, in the heart of French Louisiana, is the unofficial capital of Cajun country or Acadiana.
Founded in 1821 under the name of Vermilionville, the town was renamed a few decades later in honour of the Marquis de Lafayette.
Although English is the language of instruction in Louisiana schools, the population proudly maintains its French language. You will be charmed by the accent of French-speaking Louisianans, which is similar to that of the Acadians in New Brunswick, Canada.
Come experience the legendary Cajun joie de vivre and culture through their traditional music and unique, world-famous cuisine.
Acadian Cultural Center
This is the perfect place to learn more about the origins, migration and culture of the Acadians (Cajuns) of Louisiana. A 25-minute film shares their history from their deportation from Nova Scotia, Canada to their settlement in south Louisiana: a must-see! Children can explore the different exhibits and earn a badge with the Junior Ranger program.
Admission is free. Open Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. until noon.
Cathedral of St. John The Evangelist
This cathedral is the mother church of the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette. It is the 3rd church structure built on the site. The land was donated in 1821 by Jean Mouton, a wealthy Acadian planter and the founder of the town of Vermilionville. The large red and white brick Romaneqsque Revival-style structure was completed in 1916. Note the magnificent stained glass windows, lovely oil paintings and Casavant organ. You can also tour the cemetery and the museum. Be sure to take a picture of the more than 400-year-old oak tree on the cathedral grounds.
The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and until noon on Fridays. Mass is held on Saturdays at 6:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Sundays at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:05 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6:30 a.m. and 12:05 p.m.
A visit to Lafayette is an opportunity to travel back in time at one of the town's historic villages. Vermilionville Historic Village is a living history museum that preserves and promotes the culture of the Acadian, Native American, and Creole people of the region. You will learn all about Cajun history and get a glimpse of life in 18th century Lafayette.
Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (admission closes at 3 p.m.).
LARC's Acadian Village
Acadian Village is a historic recreation of an Acadian village staffed by interpreters in period costume. Most of the houses on the site are authentic 19th-century homes. The oldest and most impressive is of these, Maison Bernard, dates from 1800. If you visit in December, you will have the chance to experience the Noël Acadian au Village Christmas festival.
Open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tabasco Factory Tour & Museum
Tabasco brand products are manufactured by McIlhenny Company, founded by Edmund McIlhenny in 1868 on Avery Island in Louisiana. It is here that the original recipe for the famous red pepper sauce was first developed and passed down from generation to generation. You can take a cooking-themed guided tour of the factory or learn about the history and production of the famous sauce with a self-guided, 10-stop factory tour. The museum and gardens are part of the tour. There is also a restaurant and a lovely gift shop where you can sample some of their many products and pick up some souvenirs of this non-to-be-missed attraction.
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Several companies offer the opportunity to explore the swamps and bayous by boat. McGee's Swamp Tour provides 90-minute Airboat Rides and Swamp Tours. A Cajun tour guide will share his personal experience and provide a host of fascinating information as you explore the diverse natural beauty of America's largest and most mysterious swamp system, Atchafalaya Basin Swamp! Careful, the alligators are watching you! You can also stop for a bite to eat at nearby Crawfish Town USA (see Where to Eat).
Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
If you wish to visit the bayous, you can also go to the small town of Breaux Bridge , just outside Lafayette, by the shores of Lake Martin. You will be greeted by typical Louisiana scenery: cypress trees as far as the eye can see, alligators, huge turtles and chattering birds. The harmony between the vegetation and the wildlife adds a touch of magic to the scene. Don't forget your insect repellent, as there can be a lot of mosquitoes!
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Borden's Ice Cream Shoppe ($)
Before leaving Lafayette, if you're having a hard time beating the heat, do what the locals do and pay a visit to Borden's Ice Cream Shoppe, a real Lafayette institution. They make their ice cream the old-fashioned way and offer a wide variety of flavours.
Open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Olde Tyme Grocery ($)
For local fare at very good prices, this popular downtown restaurant is sure to please. It's the perfect place to grab a sandwich in a casual, fun atmosphere. The Cajun spices, the seafood and their famous Poor Boys will make your visit a memorable one.
Open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Blue Dog Cafe ($$)
Enjoy Cajun cuisine at its best. The restaurant is decorated with the works of artist George Rodrigue, famous for his iconic "Blue Dog" paintings, and has a festive ambiance with live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and during Sunday brunch. Chef Ryan Trahan was recently crowned Louisiana Seafood King!
Currently closed. May reopen in 2021.
Bon Temps Grill ($$)
With its great service, lively urban Cajun atmosphere and delicious menu, Bon Temps Grill is a popular neighbourhood spot where friends and family enjoy good times together. The menu showcases seafood and Cajun cuisine, with many specialties for you to try such as Andouille Gumbo and Crawfish Etouffee.
Open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Crawfish Town USA ($$-$$$)
This restaurant is in Henderson, near Breaux Bridge, about 25 km from Lafayette. If it's in season, you must try the Boiled Louisiana Crawfish: you won't be disappointed!!! There is also a market next to the restaurant that sells fresh seafood, meats, local prepackaged products and seasonings, and much more.
The restaurant is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The market is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday-Saturday until 7 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
*** Hours may vary ***
- Very Favourable