When I say Louisiana, you say…?
Did you automatically think “New Orleans”? New Orleans may be a globally known hub for Louisiana culture, but if you travel approximately 3 hours west, you’ll hit the city of Lafayette, bursting with Creole and Cajun music, dance, and history.
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 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
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.
McGee’s Louisiana Swamp & Airboat Tours
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.
Vermilionville Historic Village
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.
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!)
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
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/.
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This article was updated on 9/26/22.