Located on the banks of the Vermilion River in the heart of Cajun country, Lafayette boasts a rich and dynamic cultural heritage that is certain to excite even the most well-traveled visitors. Teeming with beautifully-restored historic homes, lush bayou landscapes and an exhilarating personality, the city invites guests to take a step into a world bursting with life and history.
As the center of the French Louisiana region still known as Acadiana, life in Lafayette is uniquely tied to the legacy of the city's founders. Part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, the Acadian Cultural Center tells the moving story of those first settlers. Designed to appeal to both history buffs and families alike, the museum relies on a diverse collection of artifacts, films and interactive exhibits to recount everything from the settlers' expulsion from Canada to the emergence of Cajun culture among their descendants.
Open Tuesday through Sunday throughout the year, the Acadian Cultural Center regularly features special attractions and events, including ranger-guided boat tours in spring and fall. What's more, admission is free!
After being brought up to date on Acadian history, why not explore a living, breathing ode to the past? Opened in 1990, Vermilionville is a living history museum located in the heart of Lafayette. Nestled against the Bayou Vermilion on a sprawling 23-acres of land, Vermilionville features 19 permanent attractions and a host of family-friendly events.
The complex drops visitors into the lives of early Lafayette settlers. Known in part for its amazing landscape, the museum also features painstakingly restored historic homes that were originally built as far back as 1765. Other highlights include professional artisans and historical reenactments, routinely updated exhibitions, and exciting performances from some of the area's finest musicians.
While there's no question that Lafayette's fascinating history deserves exploration, the city is much more than just a relic of the past. Bursting with energy through much of the year, Lafayette's numerous festivals infuse the city with a healthy dose of youth and vitality. If you can reserve a room in Lafayette hotels in the fall, you are in for a very special treat.
Actually three festivals in one, the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles was born out of Louisiana's efforts to officially recognize the Cajun cultural revival of the mid-20th century. Held in October, the event kicks off with the Festival de Musique Acadienne. Showcasing the best of Cajun and Zydeco music, the amazing performers are best appreciated with rapt attention and a cold beverage. Filling the air at Lafayette's Girard Park with gorgeous music makes for a comfy backdrop to the Louisiana Crafts Festival. Featuring some of the state's finest artists and craftspeople, the event offers guests a chance to explore and purchase everything from handcrafted jewelry to one-of-a-kind oil paintings.
Not to be outdone by the musicians or the artisans, local chefs make the Festivals Acadiens Bayou Food Festival truly unforgettable. Thanks to the efforts of some of the region's best restaurants, guests are treated to a host of Cajun and Creole specialties, including crawfish fettuccine, catfish courtbouillon, wild game jambalaya and even homemade bread pudding.
Lafayette is intersected by I-10, I-49 and US Hwy 90, making travel by car one of the most convenient ways for regional guests to visit the city. In addition to sitting roughly halfway between New Orleans and Houston, the “Hub City” is less than 100 miles from Alexandria, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles.
If you're coming from farther away, Greyhound offers a bus service, and Amtrak provides trains to a number of regional and national destinations. Additionally, daily airline flights are available from Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta at the Lafayette Regional Airport (LFT).