Looking for a cultural gem in the heart of Southern Louisiana? On your vacation, save time to unpack all the fun things to do in Lafayette, LA. After your visit to this fascinating small city, you’ll wonder why this Cajun capital isn’t on every US traveler’s bucket list!
Lafayette’s location by the Atchafalaya Basin gives abundant wildlife spotting opportunities. It’s also the hub of Acadiana, so you’ll find endless historical insight at landmarks like Vermilionville Historic Village. Or look to modern culture and an eclectic arts scene at The Hilliard Art Museum. Keep kids happy at family-friendly attractions while the adults sample the Southern hospitality and mouthwatering local food scene.
Plan what to do in this crowd-pleasing Cajun city and spark inspiration with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Lafayette, LA!
Must-see places to visit in Lafayette, LA
Vermilionville Historic Village
Want to see Lafayette through the eyes of the early Acadian settlers? Step back in time at Vermilionville Historic Village. This living history museum will throw you into the city’s heritage with reconstructed 18th and 19th-century homes.
Until the end of the 1800s, the majority of the region was made up of Native Americans, Acadians, Creoles, and African descendants. Visiting the various homes that make up the Vermilionville Historic Village gives you a unique insight into their lifestyle, traditions, and culture. Witness cotton and weaving demonstrations or take a stroll around an Acadian healer’s garden.
The seven original homes at Vermilionville Historic Village also feature authentic artifacts dating from 1790 to 1880. Antique furnishings, decorative arts, and photographs accompany reconstructed decor to give you an immersive historical experience.
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
Located on Cathedral Street in Downtown Lafayette, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is a shining example of Dutch Romanesque Revival architecture. This stylish red and white church was impressive enough to get on the National Register of Historic Places. But thanks to its distinctive style, it’s also an important Lafayette landmark.
The impressive red brick facade of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is multiple tiers of turrets and spires. Its quaint fairytale appearance hides a grand interior. Step inside the Catholic church, and you’re submerged in an eternal world of marble archways and ornate decor.
The focal point of the church is the rich light flooding through the stained glass windows. This intricate artwork takes you through the life of St. John the Evangelist, the church’s patron saint.
Acadiana Center for the Arts
Get a taste of Lafayette’s buzzing arts scene at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Located in the Downtown Vermillion Historic District, the center is home to pretty 19th-century architecture and lots of unique personality. This community-funded cultural hub houses performing arts and gallery spaces.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts offers a chance to see contemporary pieces from local, national, and international artists. From mosaics to abstract painting, you’ll get to see the world through a colorful and creative lens.
The onsite James Devin Moncus Performing Arts Theater is a 300-seat courtyard theater. You’ll find a fantastic range of shows on offer here, whether you’re interested in dance, music, or Broadway musicals.
LARC’s Acadian Village
Find an extra dose of history on your Louisana vacation at LARC’s Acadian Village. This folklife museum looks at the lives of Acadians during the 19th century. Restored homes, local antiques, and live demonstrations make this open-air museum an informative and interactive way to learn more about the city.
To recreate the idyllic village, designers restored seven period homes and built four more across the ten acres of farmland. They also added a bayou to give the settlement a dreamy feeling.
On your visit to LARC’s Acadian Village, you can peek inside the houses of doctors, dentists, and politicians. Witness century-old techniques in the blacksmith shop or admire the pretty chapel.
Children’s Museum of Acadiana
If you’re traveling to Lafayette with little ones, they’ll have a great time at the Children’s Museum of Acadiana. The museum uses interactive play to stimulate your kid’s social, creative, and motor skills. Let them play at being grown-ups with 15 different exhibitions exploring real-world scenarios.
Whether your child is a budding builder, vet, or engineer, they’ll have a chance to play at their dream job while building the skills to make it possible. They can shop for their groceries, visit a cafe, and learn about all the talented people that hold our society together.
At the Children’s Museum of Acadiana, there’s a whole area devoted to bubbles, so you might find it hard to get them out the door again!
Lafayette Science Museum
Expand your intelligence and curiosity at the Lafayette Science Museum. Hands-on activities and interactive exhibits guarantee a visit here won’t be a snooze fest. Whether you want to know more about STEM subjects or culture, this museum will up your know-how in an original and engaging way.
You’ll have endless options to entertain and educate yourself at Lafayette Science Museum. Learn about electricity at the plasma globes and human conductor exhibit, or delve into dinosaurs at the paleontology exhibit.
The museum’s Acadiana 360 Virtual Tour gives you a VR experience of Cajun culture. You’ll get to attend a Mardi Gras parade and a crawfish boil before you take a tour of the swamp.
Hilliard Art Museum
The Hilliard Art Museum isn’t another place to look at art; they want their visitors to truly see art! The immersive and engaging experiences here encourage you to understand and interpret the pieces on display.
Although it focuses mostly on local talent, the Hilliard Art Museum also contains a diverse collection of global pieces, giving you a varied look at both local culture and perspectives from around the world.
The elegant plantation house offers a light and airy space to get your creative fix. The nine thousand square feet of exhibition space at the Hilliard Art Museum gives plenty of room to the rotating exhibits that change with each passing semester.
Acadian Cultural Center
Unearth more Acadian traditions on your Lafayette itinerary at the Acadian Cultural Center. Here, you’ll have a chance to learn about the origin, culture, and migration of the different groups that once lived in the Lafayette area. This folk museum is part of the beautiful Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, a reserve that protects the nature and culture of the Mississippi River Delta region.
When you arrive at the Acadian Cultural Center, you’ll watch an award-winning film about the Acadians’ deportation from Canada to Louisiana. During your visit, you can watch basket weaving and listen to stories from the wild wetlands.
Regular talks from rangers give you a rich insight into the history, nature, and culture of South Louisiana, while nearby boat tours will give you a real-life history lesson alongside fantastic wildlife spotting opportunities.
Located in nearby Broussard, LA, Zoosiana will give you an exotic animal adventure. With over 1,000 animals from 125 species, you get a rich and exciting look at the animals that roam our planet. The beautiful grounds with centuries-old oak trees make an epic home for this crew of creatures.
Incredible encounters at Zoosiana give you the chance to get up close and personal with your favorite furry friends. Hop on the Safari Express for a crazy train ride through the savannah. Look out for camels, deer, and exotic cats along the way. Keep gentle giants satisfied at the giraffe feeding station or find hungry llamas at the petting zoo.
Parc Sans Souci
Take a break from sightseeing at Parc Sans Souci. This park in central Lafayette offers the perfect excuse to get some fresh air. The hive of local activity comes complete with a skate park, splash pad, and dining spaces to keep everyone entertained.
Parc Sans Souci is home to the colorful Lafayette Sign. With its distinctive missing Y, the sign has become one of the top points of interest in the city. Artists and volunteers are invited to paint it on a rotating basis, while visitors are invited to take a selfie with their bodies replacing the missing letter.
The downtown park is also a cultural hub for Lafayette. The Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallery showcases the diverse crafts of over 225 artist members. In the summers, you can also attend a lunchtime concert series at Parc Sans Souci with live music and food vendors.
Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site
History and literature buffs will have a fascinating time at Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site. The site is named after Evangeline, a poem that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in 1847, and tracks the arrival of the Acadians after they were forced to leave Nova Scotia.
Located in St. Martinville, the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site is the oldest state park in Louisiana. Inside, you’ll find historic buildings and realistic reproductions.
Explore Acadian House, a wealthy Creole home decorated with original artifacts. You can also unpack the farming and culture of the time at the replica of an Acadian farmstead, where you’ll find small details of a family home, as well as a barn, an outdoor kitchen, and a bread oven.
Explore the wonders of nature at Jungle Gardens. The 170-acre botanical gardens are teeming with lush flora and fauna, making it a magical home for a diverse range of wildlife.
Located on Avery Island, Jungle Gardens is an unusual salt dome with rich natural resources that created the perfect environment to grow the peppers used in Tabasco sauce.
During your self-guided tour of the swamp and gardens, you’ll get to experience the abundant nature on offer. As well as beautiful lagoons, exotic plants, and giant oak trees, Jungle Gardens is home to loads of bamboo trees. It’s one of the oldest timber bamboo groves in the United States and one of the world’s most extensive collections.
Birdwatchers can rejoice with 170 different species taking to the skies. Also, on your adventure, you might spot black bears, alligators, and wild cats.
TABASCO® Factory Tours
Ready for a day out with plenty of heat? Find out more about Avery Island’s Tabasco heritage on the TABASCO® Factory Tours. Get an inside look at the factory and unpick how Tabasco is turned from seed to sauce. Whether you’re into branding or just a big foodie, it’s a spicy stop and one of the most popular day trips from Lafayette, LA!
Explore the origins of the sauce and the McIlhenny family’s legacy of using traditional production methods. The making of this Louisiana hot sauce is a true art, and you’ll get to see each important step.
During the TABASCO® Factory Tours, you can explore the pepper garden, where the peppers that go into this spicy goodness grow and thrive. Of course, your visit includes a hot taste test! Become a connoisseur as you try the range of flavors. When you’re finished, tuck into Cajun cuisine and Bloody Marys at the on-site Tabasco restaurant.
Cajun Country Swamp Tours
Did you know that swamps are an essential part of our ecosystem? Find out more on the Cajun Country Swamp Tours! On your boat ride, you’ll learn about the complex environment and get up close and personal with some of its residents.
The Cajun Country Swamp Tours will take you across Lake Martin, a delicate area teeming with wildlife and natural wonders. As you glide across the water, you might be lucky enough to spot alligators, turtles, and elusive birds.
The guides are a fountain of knowledge about the rivers, bayous, and wetland areas. The boats have a minimal impact on the surrounding environment, so you can enjoy mother nature’s gifts without doing any harm!
Cypress Island Preserve
If you’re captivated by the delights of Lake Martin, extend your visit at the Cypress Island Preserve. This swampy area of the lake is a gateway to 10,000 acres of habitat and is a wildlife haven and a brilliant spot for birdwatching.
The 2.5-mile walking trail at the Cypress Island Preserve will take you through looming cypress trees and tranquil waterways. Or you cab get out and explore the area by kayak.
Thanks to the Cypress Island Preserve’s rookery, you’ll have the chance to see an abundance of diverse bird species. This dreamy landscape is home to rare birds like the Roseate Spoonbill, the Black-crowned Night Heron, and the Anhinga. You can also keep an eye out for alligators, snakes, and turtles.
Parish Brewing Co.
Get a boozy taste of Louisiana culture at the Parish Brewing Co. This independent brewery in Broussard produces a tasty range of craft IPAs, stouts, and lagers. On your visit, you can sample their bold flavors and learn what makes their beers such exquisite quality.
If you’re at Parish Brewing Co. on a Friday, you can take part in a brewery tour. Learn about the fine ingredients that they select and how it goes into making the refreshing liquid in your cup.
Hang out in the colorful taproom. The friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable beer tenders will guarantee you a good time. If you loved your experience at the Parish Brewing Co., you can pick up a souvenir. Their epic selection of merch will be a trendy addition to your home or wardrobe!
Bon Temps Grill
For an authentic taste of Cajun cuisine, snag a table at Bon Temps Grill. The passionate staff makes this restaurant & bar a wonderful space to spend time with friends and family. Work your way through their exciting menu while enjoying live music or relaxing on the sunny patio.
Sink your teeth into local delicacies like alligator bites, crab cakes, and shrimp & grits. The owners of the Bon Temps Grill are all about promoting fresh and local cuisine. As the go-to neighborhood grill, every part of your visit will be rich in authentic Louisiana culture. As well as wines and local beers, the restaurant has a delicious signature cocktail menu.
There’s an abundance of things to do in Lafayette, but if you have time, make sure you take a detour to Breaux Bridge, a small nearby city that’s the crawfish capital of the world. This seafood heaven should be on your Louisiana bucket list for its incredible food scene, vibrant Cajun culture, and beautiful scenery.
As well as being surrounded by beautiful rural landscapes, Breaux Bridge has a quaint downtown brimming with artisan boutiques, antique stores, and independent restaurants. Shop for artisan trinkets as you stroll the adorable streets of this lovely town.
Of course, Breaux Bridge is most famous for its crawfish, which you’ll find in abundance at every turn. The town’s annual crawfish festival celebrates a rich Cajun heritage, but the Breaux Bridge area is alive with other fun festivals and events throughout the year!