Lafayette, Louisiana, also known as the Happiest City in America, is at the heart of Lousiana’s Cajun and Creole Country. It’s the perfect city to add to your bucket list if you want to find fields of rice and sugarcane, bayous and cypress swamps, discover authentic music, and delicious cuisine.
Lafayette is a town immersed in Cajun culture, which is what sets it apart from many of the other towns and cities in Louisiana. As a matter of fact, Lafayette has many unique experiences you can only find in this unique part of the world.
This area of Louisiana was settled by Acadians who were kicked out of Canada in the late 1700s when they refused to give up key aspects of their culture. They found refuge in southern Louisiana, and to this day keep their culture alive. Around town, it’s easy to pick up on the Cajun-French dialect that saturates the town –phrases like cher bébé, meaning darling, and names like Boudreaux and Thibodeaux.
Hosted annually in April, the Festival International de Louisiane is the largest international outdoor Francophone music and arts festival in the country. More than 300,000 festival-goers come to celebrate their French heritage through music, food, and art.
3. Cajun Music in Lafayette
Home to artists like Lost Bayou Ramblers, Pine Leaf Boys, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, The Magnolia Sisters, and Chubby Carrier and The Bayou Swamp Band, Arcadiana is fertile ground for local and internationally recognized musicians.
4. America’s Largest Swamp
America’s largest swamp, theAtchafalaya Basin, is bigger than the Florida Everglades. You’ll find this swamp features in the History Channel show Swamp People and Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid.
5. Cajun Food
Not to be confused with Creole, Cajun food is true southern soul food. Most recipes start with the holy trinity – green bell pepper, onion, and celery. A few Cajun dishes you must try are crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, rice dressing and chicken and sausage gumbo.
6. The Best Boudin and Cracklins in Lafayette
Boudin and cracklins were invented from resourcefulness on the Acadian’s behalf. They made it a point to utilize every aspect of the pig when cooking, which led to the invention of boudins and cracklins. This is a roughly half-pound, half-foot length of sausage available for purchase in most every local meat market and grocery store. Cracklins are fried morsels of pork fat with the pork skins.
7. Avery Island
Avery Island is where Tabasco sauce originates from, created by Edmund McIlhenny in 1868. You can tour the factory and museum and make sure to get a unique souvenir at the gift shop!
8. Popeyes Only Buffet in Lafayette
With over 2,600 franchises in the world, you can find the only buffet version of the fried chicken joint in Lafayette, Louisiana. Fill up your plate with buttery biscuits, red beans and rice, mac n’ cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, spicy chicken, and coleslaw.
Evangeline, a famous Acadian refugee, has her memory in everything. Now 100 years old, Evangeline Bread is still produced specifically in Acadiana, where half a million loaves are made weekly.
10. A One-of-a-Kind George Rodrigue
Painted by George Rodrigue, this painting depicts the poet Longfellow about the reunion of Evangeline and her lost love, Gabriel. Fans can see his artwork at galleries in Lafayette, New Orleans, and California, but this hidden gem can be seen in Asma Boulevard off of Kaliste Saloom Road.
Courir de Mardi Gras, meaning Fat Tuesday Run, is a unique tradition to Acadiana. This is where partakers where masks, pointed hats, and homemade costumes, then go door-to-door begging for ingredients to make a communal pot of gumbo.
12. Borden’s Last Ice Cream Shoppe in Lafayette
Borden’s dates back to the 1800s as a highly recognized dairy brand and mascot, Elsie the Cow. Visitors can visit the last standing ice cream shoppe for a blast to the past and ice cream malts, shakes, sodas, and scoops.
For more Louisiana related articles, click here.