Sitting on the Mississippi River at the Western rim of the Atchafalaya Basin, Lafayette is a hugely popular city that offers an enormous variety of things to do.
Despite only being the fourth largest city in Louisiana, Lafayette is extremely popular. This is in many parts down to the city’s unique landscape, rich history, diverse cultures, and endless adventure attractions.
There’s so much to offer in Lafayette that you might actually find it hard to plan your vacation. With so many wonderful things to do, narrowing down the list of things to do and deciding which attractions are the best can quickly become overwhelming.
Luckily for you though, we’re here to help. If you’re planning a vacation to Lafayette, we’ve got you covered.
In this guide, you’ll find a list of the best things to do in the city. We’ll tell you what you need to know and show you the things you can’t afford to miss.
Let’s get started!
One of the main things you simply have to do when visiting Lafayette is head out on a Cajun swamp tour. Louisiana has a vast landscape covered with swamps and bayous. A lot of the best and most interesting swamps can be found in and around Lafayette.
Most Lafayette swamp tours will take you to the largest river swamp in North America. Covering a whopping 860,000 acres, the Atchafalaya River Basin consists of swamps, lakes, and water prairies. It cuts a 15-mile path across South Louisiana.
Taking a tour of the basin will give you a chance to explore the unique landscape, learn more about the area, and spot wildlife. Some of the creatures you might see include birds, black bears, alligators, beavers, mink, and otters.
One of the best ways to experience Lafayette is to explore the Downtown area. Downtown Lafayette is the heart of the city and the center of Acadiana. This is one of many areas that makes Lafayette unforgettable.
This lively area features unique local restaurants, sports events, live music venues, art galleries, museums, and so much more. Perfect for families, this area has something for everyone.
Despite being one of the city’s busiest areas, you’ll still be able to find secluded spots where you can enjoy local food, music, and a good coffee.
LARC’s Acadian Village is easily one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lafayette. It is a 32-acre private park that was designed to preserve Acadian history.
The village is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about Louisiana’s history. Taking you back in time, the village consists of a range of different buildings, constructed to look like an 1800s Cajun village.
Spread over 10 acres of farmland, the village offers visitors an insight into early 19th-century life. During your visit, you’ll be able to explore traditional houses and learn more about how the local community thrived.
You’ll love the scenery on offer too as a bayou runs right through the community.
If you’re looking for something unique, quirky, and entertaining, make sure you check out the Tabasco factory. Not many people realize it, but Lafayette is home to the original, and only Tabasco factory.
Found on Avery Island, this factory was the birthplace of Tabasco sauce. First made in 1868, the sauce had a huge impact on the area, creating hundreds, if not thousands of jobs. Of course, everyone loves how the sauce tastes too.
If you visit the factory, you’ll be taken on a guided tour. During the tour, you’ll learn everything there is to know about how Tabasco sauce is made. Interestingly, the recipe to make the sauce hasn’t changed much in 150 years.
Those of you traveling to Lafayette as a family might want to stop by the Children’s Museum of Acadiana. In fact, this museum is arguably the best attraction in the city for younger children.
This fun-filled museum has been designed solely with children in mind. It features a wide variety of entertaining interactive exhibits that children of any age will love.
Educating children through fun and laughter, there’s no doubt in our minds that your children will love playing and interacting with the museums’ exhibits. Examples of what the exhibits cover include food, money, and health.
Another excellent museum you should check out if you’re traveling with your family is the Lafayette Science Museum. In all honesty, you should visit this museum if you’re traveling with your children too.
This wonderful science museum covers everything from paleontology and marine biology to geology and astronomy.
The museum consists of both visiting and permanent exhibitions, so you can expect the museum to change every time you visit. This makes it an even better place to visit if you stop by Lafayette regularly.
Exhibitions are also designed with everyone in mind. There are interactive exhibits for children and more scientific exhibits for adults.
Louisiana is famous for its Cajun cuisine. This cuisine is unique to this part of the world, drawing more and more people to the state.
With that in mind, you have to try some of the best local dishes during your visit. Whilst a wide range of Lafayette restaurants and eateries serve delicious and traditional Cajun-style food, we strongly recommend taking part in a Cajun cuisine food tour.
Most Lafayette Cajun food tours take you on a bus tour around the city, giving you a chance to try authentic Cajun food from 5 or 6 of the city’s best eateries. This is easily one of the best things big foodies can do.
Those of you who love live music performances and theatrical productions have to spend an evening at Lafayette’s Acadiana Center for Arts. If you want to take in a performance during your vacation, there really is no better place to go.
Acadiana Center for Arts has a packed schedule of music performances, films, and theatrical productions. Shows run throughout the year, so you should be able to find a show you’ll enjoy during your trip.
Having said that, if this is one of the things you want to do most, we recommend checking the center’s schedule before booking your trip. Shows aren’t only entertaining, they are usually educational and cultural too.
Avery Island also has a neat attraction called Jungle Gardens. This tranquil part of the island is a lush open green space home to a wide range of different attractions and walking trails.
If you enjoy the great outdoors, this is definitely a place you’ll enjoy. The gardens cover approximately 170 acres of land. They consist of wildlife sanctuaries and botanical gardens. There’s even a historic Buddha statue and bamboo grove to take a look at.
One of the best sanctuaries at the gardens is Bird City. Ths beautiful sanctuary houses local birds such as egrets. It was made to offer protection to the local wildlife.
Another brilliant place to visit if you love wildlife is Cypress Island Nature Preserve. Cypress Island Nature Preserve is jam-packed with local wildlife.
It features a large swamp, flora, fauna, and offers visitors access to walking paths. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even kayak on the swamp. Those of you that don’t like kayaking, don’t worry, a simple walk along one of the many trails will give you the chance to see thousands of things.
During a walk around the island, you can expect to see a wide range of plants, nesting shorebirds, and alligators.
You might be pleased to hear that Cypress Island is completely free to visit.
The next attraction on our list of things to do in Lafayette is the Hilliard Art Museum. Established in 1964, the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum is one of the most popular art museums in Louisiana.
The 33,000 square foot museum features more than 11,000 square feet of exhibition space and consists of captivating exhibits. Some of the most popular exhibits include the works of famous artists such as Gisela Colon and Lin Emery.
The museum contains more than 4,000 different pieces of art, so you’ll want to spend a couple of hours here. Art pieces range from the 18th to the 21st century, and come from America, Asia, and Europe.
If you’re visiting Lafayette, at some point, you’ll want to spend some time exploring the key sights and most iconic pieces of architecture in the city.
One of the most iconic is the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Originally known by the name l’Eglise St-Jean du Vermilion, this stunning cathedral is one of the must-see sights in Lafayette.
It is a Romanesque Revival style church that features red and white bricks. It stands tall above the cityscape, so you can’t miss it.
After admiring the architecture from outside, make sure you take a tour of the cathedral. It is on a tour that you’ll learn all about its history.
A great wet weather plan to have at your disposal for when the weather’s not on your side is Rock ‘N’ Bowl. Rock ‘N’ Bowl is an off the wall thing to do in the city, so make sure you check it out.
Found in Downtown Lafayette, Rock ‘N’ Bowl is an all-in-one venue that offers food, drink, live music, and a bowling alley. The lively atmosphere and movie-like style of this venue will quickly make you fall in love with Lafayette.
If you decide to visit the venue, you can expect to hit a strike on the bowling alley, build up a sweat dancing, and satisfy your food cravings in the on-site restaurant.
One of the more unique things to do in Lafayette is to visit Vermilionville. Vermilionville is a quirky living history museum that focuses on Creole and Cajun cultures.
The best thing about the museum is that it educates you about the area by showing you exactly what it was like. This is a far more interesting way to learn, especially when compared to other museums that display reading material.
There are a dozen structures to explore in Vermilionville, seven of which are original. Through a self-guided tour, you’ll be able to learn about what the area was like during the 19th century.
You’ll also find live demonstrations and local flora and fauna exhibitions.
If you consider yourself a beer enthusiast, you need to visit Parish Brewing Company. Open in Lafayette since 2008, Parish Brewing Company is one of the best beer brands in Louisiana.
The company’s local craft beer can be found all over Lafayette, but nothing compares to trying a fresh beer straight from where it is made. The company owns a brewery and taproom that offers daily tours.
The taproom is open all day every day if you’d prefer to just sample the local beer. There are several local craft beers to choose from.
A tour of the brewery will show you how the beer is made, what is used, and the history of the company. You’ll obviously get to sample the beer too.
Lafayette has a busy festival schedule with various exciting and entertaining festivals taking place throughout the year.
You will have to time your visit right to be able to enjoy a festival, but some simple planning will make sure you don’t miss out. Celebrations vary but most of them include local foods, art, music, and plenty of color.
Two of the most popular festivals in the city are the Festival Acadiens et Creole and Festival International de Louisiane. Both of these festivals last at least 3 days. One takes place in April and the other in October.
To make sure you get the chance to join in with a festival, check the Lafayette festival schedule before you book your trip.
One of the most interesting and fun things you can do in Lafayette as a family is search for Lafayette street art. Lafayette is famous for its impressive street art that can be found all over the city, so keep your eyes peeled.
The most common area you’ll find street art is in Downtown Lafayette. Here, you’ll find a wide range of extraordinary murals. In terms of what the murals look like, you’ll find everything from landscapes and mosaics to animals and geology.
Some of the artwork is interactive too. For example, one mural spells the word Lafayette but without the ‘Y’. This is because visitors are encouraged to make the letter ‘Y’ with their arms.
If you have the time, you could even go on a Downtown mural tour.
The Acadian Cultural Center is another great location to visit if you want to learn about local history and culture.
The main aim of the center is to introduce visitors to Cajun culture. This is done through various exhibits and demonstrations that focus on the Cajun people’s culture and history. You’ll learn all about how the first people settled in Lafayette and what happened as the city and Louisiana went through hundreds of years of change.
Most exhibitions consist of reading materials, interactive exhibits, and old artifacts. There are also educational films played throughout the day.
If you like, you could even jump on a guided boat tour that leaves the center.
Lake Martin is a huge wildlife preserve found just outside the city center. This is one of the most loved local parts of Lake Martin and a place many locals go for a walk, picnic, or fresh air.
So much so, you have to visit the preserve during your visit to the city too. Lake Martin has a picturesque landscape, complete with lush forestry, open green space, and a large lake.
As you walk around the lake or relax in the open space, you can expect to see local wildlife and swamps. Those of you that like kayaking can do that here too if you like.
The final attraction on our list of things to do in Lafayette, Louisiana is to visit Alexandre Mouton House.
Also known as the Lafayette Museum, this house is a beloved historical landmark. It is famous for being the home of the 9th Governor, and first Democratic Governor of Louisiana.
This is a place you need to visit if you love history. Today, it is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Mouton Family. By visiting the museum, you’ll be able to learn about the history and architecture of the house and see the unique ways the family lived.
As you can see from this guide, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Lafayette, Louisiana. In this guide, we showed you 20 of the best things to do during your visit.
We looked at interesting museums, iconic sites, fantastic parks, lush gardens, the local cuisine, unique attractions, and so much more. In fact, we made sure that our list of things to do includes something for everyone, no matter what you like to do.
All you have to do now is use our list to decide what you want to do during your visit to the city.
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