May 17, 2019
48 Hours in Lafayette
Posted by: Mae Mayeux
Lafayette, a bustling Cajun city in south central Louisiana, has been nicknamed “the Happiest City in America.” With its excellent culinary offerings, thriving arts & culture scene, diverse swamplands, and rich history, Lafayette is a wonderful place for tourists and locals alike. Plan a weekend getaway to discover what keeps the people of Lafayette smiling. Be sure to book a stay at one of the Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association’s properties located throughout the region, such as the Mouton Plantation Bed & Breakfast!
Day 1: Cajun History & Cuisine
Lafayette is the perfect destination if you are looking to learn more about the fascinating history of the region. To get a taste of early Acadian life, visit the Acadian Village. This unique, open-air museum features many well-preserved homes dating all the way back to the 1800s. Visitors especially love the Blacksmith Shop, Doctor’s House, and New Hope Chapel. The Acadian Village also offers workshops on Acadian rag doll making, quilting, traditional egg-dying, and more.
Another excellent living museum nearby is the Vermilionville Living History & Folklife Park, dedicated to preserving the Acadian, Creole, and Native American cultures of the area. Since opening in 1990, the village has become one of Lafayette’s finest tourist attractions. Sitting on 23 beautiful, tree-dappled acres on the banks of Bayou Vermilion, it is one of the world’s largest physical representations of early Acadian life. It boasts 19 attractions, including restored homes, gardens, historic exhibits, and local artisans demonstrating traditional crafts. Throughout the year, they host a variety of events, including beer festivals, musical performances, and culture days.
Although it is 45 minutes away in St. Martinville, we highly recommend you continue your historic tour by visiting the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site. Here, you’ll learn more about the cultural interplay amongst the various inhabitants of the Bayou Teche, including Acadians, Creoles, Indians, Africans, Frenchmen, Spaniards, slaves, and free people of color. The historic site gets its name from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1847 epic poem “Evangeline,” which told the story of the Acadians’ expulsion from Nova Scotia in 1755 and their subsequent arrival in Louisiana.
End day one with a Cajun meal at Blue Dog Cafe, a welcoming restaurant filled with colorful dog-themed art by artist George Rodrigue. On the menu, you’ll find items like pork fat fried catfish, a fried shrimp BLT po’boy, Breaux Bridge Catfish, and variety of sides, including mac ‘n cheese, Acadian style dirty rice, and Bourbon candied yams.
Day 2: Swamps & Downtown
Wake up early on Day 2 and spend the morning exploring Lake Martin. One of Louisiana’s many famous swamplands, Lake Martin is a beautiful wildlife preserve where you can view a wide variety of plant and animal life, including herons, egrets, ibis, bullfrogs, great horned owls, alligators, and coypu rats. This flooded forest is home to 205 different species of birds. Its breathtaking groves of 500-year cypress and tupelo trees draped in Spanish moss make for one of the most stunning journeys in the region. Many visitors choose to canoe or kayak through the lake, but there are a few hiking trails on the preserve as well. If you prefer to go with a guide, consider the fun and informative trips with Champagne’s Swamp Tours.
After your morning on the swamps, spend the afternoon and evening exploring downtown Lafayette. If you are with the kids, visit the Lafayette Science Museum, an interactive museum featuring a state-of-the-art planetarium and various hands-on exhibits on biology, paleontology, spaceflight, and more. Downtown Lafayette is also an amazing place to shop. Stock up on vinyl at Lagniappe Records, update your wardrobe at Parish Ink, or browse Lafayette’s many incredible galleries.
For dinner, head to Bon Temps Grill, where you’ll enjoy some of the finest Cajun & Creole cuisine in town. Bon Temps specializes in what they call “swamp edge cuisine.” Their menu is filled with Louisiana classics like Nola Shrimp & Grits, Garlic Pan Fried Frog Legs, Cajun Jerk Chicken, and many excellent seafood dishes.
Planning a trip to Lafayette, Louisiana? Book a stay at one of the Louisiana Bed & Breakfast Association’s many historic and unique properties located all across Cajun Country.