Nestled in the middle of Cajun Country, Lafayette, Louisiana, is steeped in historical, cultural traditions. It is these traditions that are evident in daily life here in the southwestern part of Louisiana. The following are a few of the many things to do in Lafayette LA to immerse yourself in its unique culture. As a bonus, I’ve included an easy shrimp and crawfish etouffee recipe that you can make at home!
Table of Contents
- Visit Avery Island for a Tabasco Factory Tour
- Educational Things to Do in Lafayette Louisiana
- Get outdoors with an Atchafalaya Basin Airboat Swamp Tour
- Enjoy the Live Music and a Zydeco Breakfast at Buck & Johnny’s
- Get Stuffed with a Soul Food Plate Lunch at Laura’s II Restaurant
- Explore the Boudin Trail in the Lafayette Area
- More Fun Things to See and Do in Lafayette LA
- Bonus Recipe for Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee
Visit Avery Island for a Tabasco Factory Tour
The TABASCO Brand Factory Tour should be top on your list of things to do in Lafayette. A favoured condiment of many, TABASCO originated in Louisiana in 1868 on Avery Island. The McIlhenny family started the company just before the civil war. Avery Island located 45-minutes from Lafayette is a salt dome initially used by Native Americans as a resource for trade with other tribes in the Southeast United States.
The McIlhenny Company began creating, processing and distributing the sauces made from peppers grown on the island. Visitors can take the TABASCO self-guided tour and immerse themselves in the history of the island and the condiment varieties and their production. In addition to the TABASCO Museum, the tour takes guests to the Pepper Greenhouse to see the various stages of peppers growing from seedlings to full plant.
Guests visit the Barrel Warehouse and learn about the 28-day ageing and mashing process of blending peppers with vinegar and salt. From there, guests can learn about the history of the island as a salt dome and see a salt mining diorama to get a feel for the process. Finally, finish out the tour with a visit to the TABASCO Country Store to load up on sauces and a stop in for a meal at 1868! Restaurant to taste the TABASCO sauces in action. For a real special treat sign up for the cooking demonstration, which of course includes a yummy meal made right in front of you, in our case, shrimp and crawfish etouffee.
See the bottom of this article for a Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee recipe.
Educational Things to Do in Lafayette Louisiana
For a great day trip, Vermillionville is a living history museum that brings to life the history of the Acadians, Native Americans and those of Creole and African descent who lived in the area between the late 1700s to the end of the 19th century. Here guests can explore daily life artefacts and dwellings and interact with costumed interpreters.
Spanning 23-acres along Bayou Vermilion the attraction features seven restored homes set as an Acadian village. Here artisans are on hand to provide daily demonstrations and answer visitors’ questions.
Nearby, the Acadian Cultural Center provides visitors with additional educational resources about the Acadians or Cajuns in the region. It also offers Native American and Creole history. Here guests can learn the Cajun origins and migration of people to the area. They’ll experience story-telling exhibits and seasonal music and dance programs. The cultural centre is part of the United States National Park Service and as such, provides countless educational opportunities.
Get outdoors with an Atchafalaya Basin Airboat Swamp Tour
For those looking to get out on the water and explore the unique wilderness that is the bayou, Atchafalaya Basin Airboat Swamp Tours takes you right into the heart of the swamp teeming with wildlife. Birdwatchers will delight in the opportunities to encounter hundreds of species of birds like egret and osprey. You’ll likely spot an alligator or two on this wild tour high above the bayou in a comfortable, shaded airboat with ideal viewing from each stadium seat. If you prefer flora and fauna over alligators, you’ll enjoy riding through the shady cypress forests amid the duckweed and cypress knees.
Enjoy the Live Music and a Zydeco Breakfast at Buck & Johnny’s
Buck & Johnny’s is a Lafayette-area restaurant that serves an eclectic mix of Cajun-Italian fusion dishes. The big Saturday morning draw here though is the Zydeco Breakfast. This popular weekly event has diners dancing up a storm to traditional, live Zydeco music while enjoying traditional cuisine.
The world-famous Zydeco Breakfast at Buck & Johnny’s Cajun features dishes like boudin, crawfish, and etouffee. Guests have their choice from a unique menu. The menu features items like traditional beignets, biscuits and gravy, a Cajun Boudin Breakfast or Zydeco Omelet. The Cajun-Italian fusion is seen in the Ti-Na-Na; a Cajun Boudin pizza topped with red sauce, sausage and pork skins.
Get Stuffed with a Soul Food Plate Lunch at Laura’s II Restaurant
When I say get stuffed, I’m referring to your belly and Chef Madonna Brousard’s legendary stuffed baked turkey wings at Laura’s II Restaurant (also known as Laura’s II Next Generation). This mecca to Creole and Cajun cuisine should be at the top of your list of places to eat when in Lafayette if you don’t trust me, you can trust celebrities Anthony Bourdain, and Andrew Zimmern who have both filmed features here.
Open daily from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm this no-nonsense diner is one where I recommend that you do a bit of pre-planning first. It’s lunch only, and the menu changes daily so make sure you choose a day when they are serving your favourite side and plan to get there early because when they sell out of an item for the day – you are out of luck.
A plate lunch consists of rice, gravy, and two sides plus your choice of stuffed turkey wings, fried chicken, or fried pork chops. Side items include classics such as mac and cheese, black-eyed peas, okra, stuffed pork roast, fried catfish, and candied yams.
Explore the Boudin Trail in the Lafayette Area
Because it is a regional speciality sausage, boudin is a must-try. Boudin sausage combines ground pork mixed with rice and spices. Everyone in the Lafayette area has their own unique way of preparing this one-of-a-kind regional speciality. The Cajun Boudin Trail takes visitors along an unforgettable journey to explore the many ways to prepare and serve boudin.
There are several stops along the trail and choosing one stop (or a few) is just a matter of determining what type of boudin you crave. If you’re a fan of sausage, you’re bound to find something delicious to try. One of the most popular boudin spots is Billy’s Boudin & Cracklins has a few locations in the area.
Family operated, Johnson’s Boucaniere is located right in Lafayette LA. Their secret Boudin recipe dates back to the 1940s and is a favourite among locals.
I highly recommend the Nenaine Special Breakfast sandwich from John’s Boucaniere served from 7 am to 10 am; it’s worth waking up early to try one (or two) of these.
Dubbed the “Godmother of Grilled Cheeses” it’s a boudin stuffed grilled cheese on a biscuit topped with in-house BBQ sauce. Ask for a fried egg on top if you wish.
In October Lafayette hosts the Boudin Cookoff. The yearly event is an excellent way for visitors to taste all the boudin variations in one place.
More Fun Things to See and Do in Lafayette LA
The historic Cathedral, St. John the Evangelist is worth a visit. Visitors can walk the grounds and museum and take a stroll through the meticulously landscaped graveyard. For naturalists that may not have gotten enough birdwatching in on the airboat tour, a stop at the Lake Martin Rookery is across the Breaux Bridge Highway. Lake Martin lined with Tupelo and Cypress is home to a variety of animals and is a breeding site for a variety of birds.
Finally, the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site is Louisiana’s oldest state park. The park honours the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadia. The story follows Evangeline and is set when the Acadians (Cajuns) were removed from Nova Scotia and ultimately moved to Louisiana.
In downtown Lafayette attractions include the Lafayette Science Museum, as well as public art including 12+ murals by local artist Robert Dafford. If you are a fan of live music, you’ll find a multitude of bars and restaurants such as Rock ‘n’ Bowl de Lafayette with dancing, bowling, and food in the downtown core.
A visit to the city of Lafayette, Louisiana provides an eclectic mix of cuisine, history, culture, nature, and music. Lafayette is the hub of all things Cajun and Creole. It is the perfect vacation destination for people seeking some of the best regional seafood, regional specialities and cultural favourites in the South.
Bonus Recipe for Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee
- 1/4 lb butter
- 3 cups minced onions
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 1 lb crawfish tail meat, peeled/deveined shrimp, or a combination of both
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Heat butter over medium heat in a medium saucepot.
- Sauté onions and garlic until onions begin to turn translucent.
- Add thyme and flour. Cook the rawness out of the flour (1 minute). Do not brown the flour.
- Add chicken broth, Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, paprika and Tabasco. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the seafood. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in green onions and parsley.
- Serve over steamed white rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 453Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 220mgSodium: 1367mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 9gProtein: 30g
Nutrition information isn't always accurate.
Have you travelled to Lafayette before? What would you add to this list of things to do in Lafayette LA?
For related content, check out the following articles: