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Posted On 04/29/2019 17:20:14
Trip Date 03/26/2019
Destinations | Louisiana | Lafayette | Downtown Lafayette | Louisiana Swamps | Alligators | Acadian Village | Free Things to Do in Lafayette | What to Do in Lafayette on a Budget | Family Friendly Attractions in Lafayette
The primary destination of our late March trip from Austin was New Orleans where we met Scott's brother and
sister-in-law. Since we were traveling by car, we planned a one night stay in Lafayette to break up the drive and
give us a chance to explore the city. I have to admit that, although we planned our visit on the fly, we surprisingly found
that there are many free things to do in Lafayette.
If you have plans to travel to Louisiana, check out this post for ideas on what to do in Lafayette on a budget.
Even if the city is not originally on your radar, you may be surprised at all of the family friendly attractions in Lafayette.
Ranging from seeing trees that are hundreds of years old to Louisiana swamps with alligators and more, the city's natural
beauty will put a smile on everyone's face. Exploring Downtown Lafayette and the nominally priced Acadian
Village will wrap up your stay with a chance to have fun and also learn about the unique Cajun and Creole lifestyles.
Located in south central Louisiana, the city of Lafayette is referred to as the Happiest City in America.
Until you have visited Louisiana, you truly can't imagine how friendly and welcoming the locals are. Their southern
hospitality is second to none, and you'll definitely notice that nearly everyone adds "Miss" or "Mister" before calling people
Popular for their musical tunes and their food dishes, the history of the settlers to this area is very interesting to explore
as well. The blending of the Native American culture along with the Acadians, Africans, Creole, French, Italian and
Spanish created a city with a personality all its own. Although found all over the state of Louisiana, it is in Lafayette
where the population of Cajuns and Creole is most prevalent still today.
Whether at a bar or restaurant, on a tour or, better yet, stumbling on to a festival that happens to be going on, listening
to Zydeco and Cajun music is a must. No matter what your musical preferences are, you'll be happy that
Make sure you don't eat too much before your visit to Lafayette as the local dishes are must try's! While popular seafood
entrees including crawfish, catfish and etouffee can be found in restaurants all over the US, many of those recipes
originated right here. Even if you are not a sausage lover, another must is at least a sampling of Boudin, a locally
made sausage different from any you've had before.
. . . And now, the 7 Free Attractions in Lafayette along with one reasonably priced self-guided tour that are sure
to add to your enjoyment in the city.
1. Survivor Oak
Located in the nearby suburb of Scott, Louisiana stands a tree estimated to be over 200 years old. The tree fell in
1909 during a severe storm in the area yet continued to grow, albeit sideways. Dubbed Survivor Oak, the tree
was registered in 2007 and "dedicated to all survivors who through their struggles have found new life".
Survivor Oak in Scott, Louisiana
Roots and Dedication Plaque of Survivor Oak
2. Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
The first church in the parish of Lafayette was located downtown at 515 Cathedral Street. Nearly 200 years later,
the third structure located on the same plot of land is today's Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Sharing the grounds is a Cathedral Museum, St. John's Cemetery, the
St. John Cathedral Oak as well as the Bishop's residence.
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
St. John's Cemetery
Standing 126-feet high with more than a 9-foot diameter, the live oak tree is estimated to be nearly 500 years old.
St. John Cathedral Oak
Here's a fun fact about the St. John Cathedral Oak: In the opinion of some engineering consultants, one of the large
limbs weighs 72 tons!
3. Explore Downtown Lafayette
In addition to the cathedral, there is plenty to see and do in Downtown Lafayette for the whole family. Of course
there's shopping and dining, but there are also museums for both adults and kids. Much of the downtown area can be
explored on foot, and if you go that route, plan to spend a least a bit of your time at Parc Sans Souci. With two
original beams from the World Trade Center plus actual limestone pieces from the damaged Pentagon building, you'll find
a 9-11 Memorial. Take some time to read the inscriptions so that you don't miss any of the symbolism in the
Lafayette's 9-11 Memorial in Parc Sans Souci
While you are there, join so many others by taking a photo of the colorful letters spelling out "L-A-F-A-Y-E-T-T-E" - but
make sure that someone stands in for the missing letter!
4. Borden's Ice Cream Shoppe
Believe it or not, the last Borden's Ice Cream Shoppe in the
United States is located in Lafayette, Louisiana. Just seeing the building brings back memories of years gone by, but a
visit inside the shoppe is even more nostalgic.
Borden's Ice Cream Shoppe
We enjoyed remembering "Elsie, the cow" and the famous slogan, "If it's Borden, it's got to be good!" I have to admit
that, once inside the shoppe, we couldn't resist sampling something from the menu which included lots of ice cream treats
made "the old fashioned way". Since it was dinner time, we decided to share a two-scoop sundae for dessert (Pralines
and Cream and Butter Pecan ice cream with Goldbrick topping) and eat a real meal later.
Two-Scoop Sundae at Borden's Ice Cream Shoppe
4. Girard Park
Close to both Downtown Lafayette and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is an excellent place to work up your
appetite for dinner (especially if you've just treated yourself to pre-dinner dessert)! Somewhere in its 33 acres, Girard Park has at
least one activity that will please just about everyone.
Scott and I got our steps in on the 1.25 mile walking track partially shaded by moss-covered trees, but the park offers so
much more. In addition to the track, there is outdoor exercise equipment for the fitness enthusiast and a playground for
the youngsters. With outdoor venues for baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming and disc golf, there's something for all of
the sports minded folks. If enjoying a picnic is more your style, you'll find covered tables with nearby grills. There's even
a pond stocked with channel catfish (fall and spring) and rainbow trout (winter) if you want to catch your meal (Louisiana
fishing license required).
If you happen to make it to Lafayette during the fall, you may get lucky enough to attend the free 3-day Cajun and Creole
festival held annually at the park. Many of the dishes for which the state is known for are available for sale, so you can
enjoy a meal in the park while listening (or dancing) to live music.
5. Alligator Habitat at Cypress Lake
In addition to moss-covered trees, Louisiana is also known for its swamp land inhabited by alligators. There are plenty of
businesses offering guided swamp tours, but if you are looking to get a taste of the swamps on a budget, the
University of Louisiana at Lafayette has the perfect answer. Cypress Lake, located in the middle of the
campus, has everything characteristic of the famous swamp land, just on a smaller scale. In addition to alligators, turtles
and other wildlife, the lake has plenty of moss-covered cypress trees.
Cypress Lake at University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Alligator Habitat with Visiting Turtles at Cypress Lake
Rumor has it that at times, the alligators have escaped their fine home on Cypress Lake to take a tour of the campus - so
6. Sunset at Lake Martin
For a truly picturesque setting, head out to Lake Martin just before sunset to take some shots as the sun goes
down over one of Louisiana's famous swamps. The beautiful orange colors in the sky coupled with the moss-covered trees
make for a rather unique photo opportunity.
Sunset at Lake Martin
Moss-Covered Trees on Lake Martin
During our sunset visit, we did notice some boats returning to shore and also saw signage for various tour operators. If
you have the time and are interested in a tour of a swamp by boat, consider doing an online search. Once you determine
whether any of the tours are in your price range and during times convenient to your schedule, make contact before you
head out to ensure space availability. A swamp tour should increase your chance of spotting alligators (and other
plant and animal life) out in the wild.
7. Azalea Trail
Beginning at the Lafayette Visitor Center, the Azalea Trail continues for about 20-miles throughout the
city each year from late February into March. With blooms in shades of pink, red and more, locals and visitors are treated
to the beautiful flowering shrubs lining many of the city's streets. If you are lucky enough for your visit to Lafayette to
coincide with these dates, be sure to look for the current year's Azalea Trail map.
Driving along Lafayette's Azalea Trail
Although not on the free list, a visit to Acadian Village is a perfect
opportunity to learn about the culture of the early Acadian settlers to the area. Priced at $17.35 for two adults, we
wandered around the grounds of the village for just over 1 1/4 hours. It's interesting to learn how the Acadians made use
of all that the land offered to live a simple but happy life.
Entrance to Acadian Village
Bayou at Acadian Village
Some of the homes and furnishings in the village are original and others are replicas. Moved from various locations in
central Louisiana, they were set up to form a village typical to that which would have been found in years gone by. In
addition to a collection of personal residences, the village is also home to a general store (where entrance tickets are
sold), blacksmith shop, chapel, schoolhouse and dentist's office. Most are open for visitation on a self-guided tour. Many
have period furnishings and others are set up with displays helpful in telling the story of the Acadians. If your visit
happens to coincide with a special event at the village, you may even have an opportunity to see a demonstration by the
resident blacksmith or purchase items which he has crafted.
New Hope Chapel
Vintage Gas Pump - Need a Fill-up?
Nearly all of the homes and home furnishings were constructed on each of the sites where they originally stood. Most
homes had armoires rather than closets which were considered an additional room and would therefore be taxed. Some
families had swinging fans attached to ropes that hung over the tables where they dined. These fans were "powered" by
young boys pulling the rope and served two purposes - cooling and shooing away flies!
Castille House across Acadian Village's Bayou
La Maison LeBlanc
There's a large covered pavilion for group events as well as a nicely done monument dedicated to all Louisiana Veterans.
As you walk through the village, make sure to be on the lookout for local wildlife. We saw a snake, ducks, turtles and
even an opossum during our visit.
Monument to all Louisiana Military Veterans
Wildlife at Lafayette's Acadian Village
If you have an interest in a swamp tour, stop back soon to check out our post titled Louisiana Airboat Adventure and
Swamp Tour. Having been on previous airboat tours in both Louisiana and Florida, this swamp tour was by far the
best. With a total of only 8 passengers plus our captain, our smaller boat was able to navigate through some of the
narrower canals allowing us to go where bigger boats could not.
Favorite Attractions in Lafayette
What are your favorite attractions in Lafayette and why do they rank at the top of your list?
Created On 04/28/2019 15:17:57
Updated On 05/10/2019 09:04:26
Scheduled On 04/28/2019 21:20:14
Posted On 04/29/2019 17:20:14
Last Editor Stacy
Location Park Sans Souci, Lafayette, LA, United States