When I say Louisiana, you say…?

Did you automatically think “New Orleans”? New Orleans may be globally known for being a center of Louisiana culture, but if you travel less than 3 hours west, you’ll hit the city of Lafayette, Louisiana, bursting with Creole and Cajun music, dance, and history.

Colleen Kelly stands in front of the big Lafayette sign in the town square, from "Welcome to Cajun Country: Introducing Lafayette"

It is known as “The Hub City” of the area, as it is the center of many easy-to-reach towns which make up the Acadiana region. Roadways split off north, south, east, and west, so you can stay within Lafayette and take day trips outside the city borders within minutes.

Lafayette, Louisiana is also known as the “Happiest City in America.” Gathering the proof is up to you, as the best way to reach the heart of this happiness is to interact with the locals and experience life as they do–with a passion for creating community and vivacity for sharing culture.

Zydeco Breakfast at Buck & Johnny’s 

A crowd of people dance to Zydeco music at Buck & Johnny's restaurant, from "Welcome to Cajun Country: Introducing Lafayette"

Located in the neighboring Breaux Bridge is the ever-popular Buck & Johnny’s, where you can come for Cajun cuisine and leave dizzy after a swing around the dance floor. Saturday mornings are for Zydeco Breakfast, when musicians come to play and the community comes to move. Zydeco music is a blend of French, American, and Caribbean influences, with the crux of the unique sound coming from the accordion and washboard. We had the privilege of meeting Grammy award-winning Chubby Carrier, who frequents the area to spread Zydeco music and to teach it to the next generation.

Address: 100 Berard St, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517


McGee’s Louisiana Swamp & Airboat Tours

Colleen Kelly and others on an airboat in the swamp, from "Welcome to Cajun Country: Introducing Lafayette

You cannot possibly come to Louisiana without touring the swamplands. At McGee’s Louisiana Swamp & Airboat Tours, you can meader (or speed) through the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp, catching site of alligators and ospreys and breathing in this incredible ecosystem that you cannot find anywhere else. Residing in the cypress trees is a diverse array of wildlife, and the bark itself holds evidence of the rising and falling of the water over the years. 

Address: 1337 Henderson Levee Rd, Henderson, LA 70517


Vermilionville Historic Village

A camera man points his camera at a house in Vermilionville Historic Village, from "Welcome to Cajun Country: Introducing Lafayette

Learning about the history of the area is crucial to understanding and appreciating the Lafayette way of life. When bringing your family on vacation to Lafayette, we recommend visiting the Vermilionville Historic Village, where historic homes, artisans, and artifacts allow you to experience a glimpse into the lives of Acadians, Native Americans, Creoles, and peoples of African descent during the 1700s and 1800s. 

Address: 300 Fisher Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508


Louisiana Crawfish Time

When it comes to cuisine, leaving Louisiana without eating crawfish is like leaving New York without eating a bagel. Although you can find this staple throughout the Acadiana region, one of the most popular places to go for locals is Louisiana Crawfish Time. You’ll find the weekends packed with families flocking for not just a fresh and local meal, but a whole seafood experience. (And if you happen to run into the Crawfish Ambassador, give her our regards!)

Address: 2019 Verot School Rd, Lafayette, LA 70508


We just can’t fit it all in one blog…So read the next article in this series: ”Mardi Gras in Lafayette: A Weekend of Revelry for the Whole Family.”


By: Megan Kudla

Updated 9/12/23.

Photo credits: Tommy Rhyan

Coming soon: You can watch the accompanying Lafayette episode of “Family Travel with Colleen Kelly” on PBS, the PBS Anywhere app, YouTube, and Amazon Prime.

We would like to provide our sincere thanks to Lafayette Travel, for their guidance, accommodation, and warm hospitality!

A WLS-AM 890 Chicago radio talk show about Lafayette, Louisiana is available on all podcasting platforms and at https://www.wlsam.com/round-trip-with-colleen-kelly/.

Click to subscribe to the Colleen Kelly Travel Newsletter.

This article was updated on 9/26/22.

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