If you are looking for fun things to do in Lafayette, LA, then you are in the right place!
Many people wonder if Lafayette, Louisiana is worth a visit, and I am here to tell you that it is!
Located in Southwestern Louisiana, in the state’s “Cajun Country,” Lafayette is an eclectic mix of Spanish, French, and Caribbean cultures. This melting pot of cultures brings a unique charm to the area offering up loads of exciting things to see and do.
Seeing how Lafayette is located about two hours west of New Orleans, many people might assume the two have the same vibe. Well, that assumption is incorrect!
This area of Louisiana has a distinct French Canadian culture thanks to the Acadians who first settled there. These first settlers were originally from areas of eastern Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island and settled in this region in the mid-1700s.
They brought a unique blend of traditions and beliefs that later morphed into the Cajun culture we all know and love today.
Explore the Acadian culture, stuff yourself with Cajun food, and catch live Zydeco music while exploring this fabulous city.
A visit to Lafayette offers an amazingly unique and fun time for anyone willing to have a good time!
While you can see Lafayette on a day trip from New Orleans, I recommend spending several days in the city to experience all that Lafayette has to offer.
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Things to do in Lafayette, LA
1. Acadian Cultural Center- Jean Lafitte National Historic Park
To learn more about Cajun culture, your first stop should be the Acadian Cultural Center inside the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park.
The center is dedicated to teaching about the culture and history of the Cajun people and is free to visit.
The Acadian Cultural Center focuses on the movement and origins of the original Acadian settlers to this area of Louisiana Bayou Country.
While visiting the Acadian Cultural Center, you can listen to a self-guided audio tour that explains the history of the people and the region.
I love how the museum highlights unique aspects of the culture, like live music events, storytelling, and more!
2. Acadian Village
To dive deeper into the Acadian culture, be sure and visit the Acadian Village on Greenleaf Drive.
Acadian Village is a 32-acre park established in the 1970s dedicated to preserving Acadian history.
Visitors to Acadian Village can enjoy seeing an 1800s Cajun village with eleven buildings. There are seven authentic 19th-century homes in addition to a Blacksmith Shop, a chapel, and a General Store.
With numerous events planned throughout the year, it is easy to plan your visit around a fun demonstration, interactive exhibits, or a living history museum special event.
One of my favorites is the annual Christmas event, Noel Acadian au Village, when visitors are treated to live music, pictures with Santa, holiday shopping, and more.
Be sure to visit Acadian Village’s website for more information.
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3. Avery Island
Hot sauce lovers will want to add a visit to Avery Island to their list of things to do in Lafayette, LA!
Home to the McIlhenny Tabasco Company, many people say Avery Island is where salt and pepper meet. That is because Avery Island isn’t an island. Avery Island is a salt dome that extends over eight miles beneath the Earth’s surface!
Granted, Avery Island is located just outside of Lafayette (about 20 miles south of the city), but it is well worth some of your valuable vacation time!
As the famous Tabasco Hot Sauce maker, the McIlhenny Tabasco Company is still family-owned today, making it a true Louisiana treasure.
During your visit, you can take a self-guided tour of the museum and the factory to learn about making hot sauce.
Of course, the tour’s highlight is tasting the delicious hot sauces!
Trust me. After smelling their aromas all day, you will want to taste the hot sauces, so visit the tasting room!
For more information, visit the Tabasco Visitor Center website.
4. Jungle Gardens
While you are on Avery Island, be sure to visit the 170-acre botanical garden, Jungle Gardens.
Ned, one of the members of the McIlhenny family, started the garden in 1895 as a bird city for the endangered snowy egrets. After inheriting and running the family’s tabasco sauce business, he built a home on Avery Island. The Jungle Gardens, open to visitors today, is Ned’s private estate.
Decorated with exotic botanical specimens that Ned procured from around the world, Jungle Gardens is home to numerous plant and animal specimens.
Some of the top attractions at Jungle Gardens include a Buddha statue that is said to be over 900 years old, a “bird city,” an incredible bamboo forest, and numerous species of wildlife. Some wildlife to look for include alligators, deer, birds, coyotes, and even black bears!
Visitors can take one of the available birding and wildlife tours and choose self-guided or fully-guided tours.
For more information, please visit the Jungle Gardens website.
5. Lafayette Science Museum
The Lafayette Science Museum has entertained visitors since opening its doors in 1969.
Home to both permanent and traveling exhibits, the Lafayette Science Museum offers hands-on science experience to the young and young at heart!
Take the opportunity to explore the interactive exhibits focusing on geology, marine biology, space explorations, paleontology, and more during your visit to the museum.
The convenient location in downtown Lafayette makes this a fabulous addition to your Lafayette itinerary.
One of the favorite interactive exhibits at the Lafayette Science Museum is its all-digital planetarium.
The marine biology area is also a favorite among visitors to Lafayette, Louisiana.
They even offer a virtual planetarium experience called “Acadian Skies,” which allows you to see the beautiful constellations that make up the night sky over this area of Louisiana.
Be sure to visit the gift shop during your time at the museum as well.
For more information, please visit the Lafayette Science Museum website.
6. Vermilionville Living History Museum
Vermilionville Historic Village is a living history museum and park committed to educating people on the history of South Louisiana.
Sitting on 23 acres of land on the edge of the Vermillion Bayou, the museum highlights the Native American, Cajun, and Creole culture between 1765 and 1890.
You can take a self-guided tour of the original period buildings and participate in the stories told by the working historians in the village.
The historians also put on live demonstrations and workshops on local crafts such as canning and preserving, spinning and weaving, blacksmith demonstrations, and more.
After exploring the village, stop at the on-site restaurant to eat some delicious local cuisine and catch some live zydeco music, which takes place on Sundays in the main building.
For a complete list of events, operating hours, and prices, please visit the Vermilionville Historic Village website.
7. Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum
The Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum is the art museum for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
The Hilliard Art Museum was established in 1964 and is named after its founders, Paul and Lulu Hilliard.
As one of the top attractions in Lafayette, the Hilliard University Art Museum features an incredible 33,000-square-foot building home to over 11,000 square feet of exhibition space.
Collections at the Hilliard University Art Museum consist of over 4,000 pieces of art from countries such as Asia and Europe. Some of the pieces go back to the 18th century.
You can see pieces in all media, including paintings, ancient Egyptian art, Japanese woodblock prints, sculptures, etc.
A section of the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum is dedicated to local Louisiana artists from South Central Louisiana and the greater Louisiana area.
For more information, please visit the museum’s website.
8. Acadiana Center for the Arts
The Acadiana Center for the Arts is a non-profit organization that has been in business since 1975.
The Acadiana Center prides itself on providing education in South Central Louisiana to support the arts through festivals, exhibits, performances, and more.
Visitors to the Acadiana Center for the Arts can enjoy visiting their art gallery and museum to learn more about the visual and performing arts.
Of course, the Acadiana Center also has live arts performances and cultural classes throughout the year.
Check their website for a complete listing of events, touring arts performances, student arts expo, cultural classes, and more.
9. Cypress Island Nature Preserve
Nature lovers will want to head out to the Cypress Island Nature Preserve, located on Lake Martin near the small town of Breaux Bridge, to immerse themselves in the beauty of South Louisiana.
When you’re ready to explore the Cypress Island Nature Preserve and its hardwood forest land, you can do so by walking, canoeing, or kayaking.
If you want to get out on the water of Lake Martin, but don’t have a boat, don’t worry!
There is a kayak rental shop at the end of Lake Martin Road. These kayaks are the perfect way to create self-guided boat tours and get you out on the waters of Lake Martin.
Of course, if you don’t know the area around Cypress Island, we recommend taking one of the offered guided boat tours. You don’t want to get lost in Cajun country!
Many flora and fauna are found in and around Lake Martin and Cypress Island.
This can be attributed to the fact that the area is less swampy than lots of the land in Southern Louisiana.
During your tour of Lake Martin, be on the lookout for the local wildlife.
This area is known to have alligators, birds, and amphibians!
There is a visitor center on-site where you can learn more about Cypress Island.
There is also a boardwalk area to enjoy during your visit.
10. Children’s Museum of Acadiana
If you are visiting Lafayette with kids, then you should plan a visit to the Children’s Museum of Acadiana.
The museum is full of hands-on interactive exhibits designed to teach kids about the real world. The experiences here include health, money, and food, to name a few.
Children learn at the Children’s Museum of Acadiana by experimenting with math, money, health, and food during play.
When you combine these fun things with the museum’s many exhibits and special events, you have the makings for a great attraction in Lafayette, Louisiana.
For more information, please visit the museum’s website.
11. Rip Van Winkle Gardens at Jefferson Island
Head about 30 minutes south of Lafayette, Louisiana, to Jefferson Island, and you will find the beautiful Rip Van Winkle Gardens.
The Joseph Jefferson Mansion was built in 1870 and is a gorgeous Southern Plantation style home that is the centerpiece of the Rip Van Winkle House and Gardens.
The incredibly maintained gardens include statues and fountains throughout the 15-acre garden.
A crowd favorite at the gardens is the peacocks that roam the property.
If you are interested in learning the history of the gardens, you can do so by watching a short film that plays near the garden’s entrance.
Please visit the garden’s website for the most up-to-date information on hours and ticket prices.
12. Downtown Lafayette
Downtown Lafayette is the perfect place to spend the day exploring, especially if you want a little retail therapy.
The Downtown Lafayette area has loads of boutique shops and retail chains. With shops ranging from antique costume shops to wine bars, there is something for everyone.
Downtown Lafayette is also the perfect place to try some local cuisine. You can explore some local Cajun dishes or explore new Cajun favorites when you visit Lafayette.
One of the historical shops in downtown Lafayette is Poupart Bakery, one of the oldest authentically french bakery in Lafayette, Louisiana.
If you visit Downtown Lafayette on Saturday, then be sure to check out the Lafayette Farmers Market at Moncus Park.
The Downtown Lafayette area is known for its different architectural styles throughout history.
13. Cajun Food Tours
One of the best ways to get to know a local culture is by taking a food tour. Lucky for you, Lafayette, Louisiana, offers a great tour thanks to Cajun Food Tours!
Embark on a tour with Cajun Food Tours to have the opportunity to learn about Cajun and Creole food while also being introduced to the local culture.
Not only that, but you get to ride around on their customized tour bus!
Featuring local Cajun dishes such as boudin, cracklins, etouffee, gumbo, and king cake, this food tour has something for everyone!
Stops include Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn, Cajun Market Donut, and more! The stops range from local joints to more upscale restaurants.
This is one of the fun things to do in Lafayette, LA, and is a great way to try some authentic Cajun cuisine and learn about local restaurants.
14. Take a Swamp Tour
The area around Lafayette, Louisiana, is surrounded by swamp land, so it only makes sense to take a swamp tour during your visit to Lafayette.
For your swamp tour, you can choose a kayak tour similar to the one we mentioned on Jefferson Island, or you can jump on an airboat to explore the area.
This is a great way to see the flora and fauna that are found in South Louisiana or to try your hand at some fishing.
If you’re lucky, you might even get the opportunity to learn about crawfishing during your visit to the American Southern Gulf Coast.
15. Cajun Jam
If attending a free music festival is on your list of things to do in Lafayette, Louisiana, then you should try to plan your visit during the Cajun Jam.
This live music festival focuses on Cajun music and local culture.
These Cajun music festivals include two live music festivals, Cajun Jam at the Moon and Cajun French Live Music Jam.
Both are an opportunity for some of the best musicians in the Lafayette area to come together and show off their skills.
16. Parish Brewing Company
Beer enthusiasts should plan a visit to Parish Brewing Company during their time in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Parish Brewing Company has been producing craft beers since 2008 when it opened its doors.
In addition to taking a free tour of the facilities, you can also head to their tasting room to sample some of the beers they have on tap.
17. Lafayette, Louisiana Festivals
Like many places in Louisiana, Lafayette loves their festivals.
Of course, like New Orleans, Lafayette celebrates Mardi Gras, but they also host other festivals.
Two of the most popular festivals here are the Festival International de Louisiane and the Acadiens et Creole.
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About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.