This southwestern Louisiana town is a hub of rich history and spicy food
Lafayette, a southwestern Louisiana city an hour from Lake Charles to the west and Baton Rouge to the east, more than merits its “Hub City” nickname. This culturally rich hamlet two hours west of New Orleans is a hub of history, music and cuisine. Founded by French-Acadian Jean Mouton but named for an American Revolutionary general, Lafayette’s vibe tends to be as laid-back as the Vermilion River (or bayou) that meanders through town. Here are some of the best, most unique traits that give Lafayette its vibrant quality of life.
Cajun Good Cheer
For Lafayette native Keith Landry, the city’s top features are “the incredible food and the Cajun hospitality.” Fueled in large part by its uniquely diverse ethnic and cultural history, this community oozes fun and friendliness, big smiles, and hearty celebrations.
A favorite spot to enjoy a Mardi Gras tradition – creamy, brioche-dough King Cake – Poupart is just as popular for its gourmet breakfast fare: stuffed biscuits, quiches, beignets, tarts, croissants, strudels, brioche triangles and more. Lunchtime tosses in salads, sandwiches and soups, ranging from grits and gumbo to roasted butternut squash.
A “living history museum and folklife park” on 23 acres in the heart of Lafayette, Vermilionville celebrates an epoch of Acadian, Native American and Creole culture from 1765 to 1890. With Bayou Vermilion snaking past, the park’s seven restored homes, exhibits, gardens and local artisans demonstrating early settler crafts make a visit feel like stepping back in time.
Part honky tonk, part roots-music hall, part traveler’s rest, Blue Moon hosts a full calendar of concerts, festivals, dance parties and other gatherings in its eclectically inviting setting. Visitors may spend the evening taking in a show over drinks, or reserve a room in the guesthouse and stay the night.
Winters are typically mild in Lafayette, while summers get downright tropical. From February into March and April, the town’s temps ease into the 70s as greenery and blooms fill the landscape. Right on time, big parties like the annual Festival International de Louisiane in late April bask in spring’s advent.
Olde Tyme Grocery Po’Boys
True, New Orleans-style po’boy sandwiches are ubiquitous in these parts, but Olde Tyme earns raves for its varieties of the sub stuffed with the likes of ham, pastrami, corned beef, BBQ, catfish, shrimp and oysters. Hungry yet? Same here.
Kids and adults find a recreational release at Kart Ranch, south of downtown Lafayette just off of Hwy. 90. The fun spans outdoor go-karts, miniature golf, arcade games, batting cages, water wars, bump ’n blast boats, an indoor play area and dedicated space for birthday parties.
A steak-and-seafood house that specializes in what it calls “swamp-edge cuisine,” Bon Temps’ savory menu items include apple- and tasso-stuffed pork chops, a grilled tuna BLT, and daily selections of fish topped with its signature house-made sauces. Happy Hour brings out local craft beers, wines and Gator-Tinis.
“One of the best things about Lafayette is the crayfish,” says frequent visitor Dorothy Bowles. Crayfish, crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs, freshwater lobster – no matter what you call ’em – they’re plentiful here. Louisiana Crawfish Time is among the best spots to order some up, boiled and served with a side of potatoes.