Only in Lafayette
Only in Lafayette
For travelers looking to immerse themselves in a true cultural experience, put Lafayette on your bucket list. Louisiana’s Cajun Country is one of the most unique places you’ll find in the United States. Among fields of rice and sugarcane, bayous and cypress swamps, you’ll discover authentic music, incredible cuisine and joie de vivre—a genuine joy of life you won’t find anywhere else.
Lafayette has been noted by CNN as one of the best places to experience French culture in the United States. The area was settled by Acadians in the late 1700s who were exiled from Canada when they refused to give up speaking French and practicing Catholicism. They found refuge in South Louisiana, and today, their French roots remain strong.
Hear an accordion along with a washboard, triangle, and fiddle, and you know you’re in Cajun Country. Because of its unique sound and proud heritage, Acadiana is fertile ground for local and internationally renowned musicians. Artists like Lost Bayou Ramblers, Pine Leaf Boys, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, The Magnolia Sisters, and Chubby Carrier and The Bayou Swamp Band have all been recognized at the GRAMMYs.
The Atchafalaya Basin is even bigger than the Florida Everglades. Shows like the History Channel’s Swamp People and Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid have aired episodes from this mystical cypress swamp that’s home to 250 species of birds, 22 million pounds of crawfish and massive alligators. Local airboat and kayaking outfitters provide tours along with plenty of storytelling.
Cajuns are famous for their cuisine. Not to be confused with New Orleans’ fancy Creole cuisine, Cajun food is good ol’ down-home cookin.’ Most Cajun cooking begins with a mix of green bell pepper, onion, and celery known as the holy trinity. A few Cajun food specialties you must try include crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, rice dressing and chicken and sausage gumbo. One great way to taste a little of everything is on Cajun Food Tours.
Popeyes Only Buffet
Now with 2,600 franchises worldwide, this fried chicken joint started in New Orleans in 1972. But the world’s only Popeyes buffet is located right here in Lafayette. Here, you can pile your plate high with mild or spicy chicken, buttery biscuits, red beans and rice, mac ’n’ cheese, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes and gravy. In 2018, while in town for his show Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain dined there for three days in a row, enjoying chicken, biscuits with gravy, and his favorite—their mac ’n’ cheese.
Evangeline Maid Bread
The most famous Acadian refugee to the area is Evangeline, who was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem. Drive around town, and you’ll see her name on everything from an oak tree and highway signs to a giant billboard with a spinning loaf of bread. Now 100-years-old, Evangeline Maid bread is still produced in Acadiana where some half a million loaves are made each week. Get a photo by the iconic sign and be sure to pick up a loaf of the soft white bread at a local grocer.
Dating back to the 1800s, Borden’s became one of the most recognized dairy brands with its iconic Elsie the Cow mascot. Visitors to Lafayette can savor a blast from the past in the very last Borden’s in the world. The Lafayette outpost has been a mainstay since 1940 and still serves old-fashioned ice cream malts, shakes, sodas, and scoops as well as ice-cold milk right out of the machine.