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When we visit a new destination, we’re always looking for unique things to do. Lafayette Louisiana has that in spades. It is an unlimited culture-rich area filled with history, food, exotic nature, and did I say food? If you want an authentic experience unlike any other, these things to do in Lafayette are sure to keep you and your kids and teens entertained.
The city of Lafayette is the main part of the cajun country in south Louisiana. It’s about 2 hours from New Orleans and the second-largest city in Louisiana.
The city is the epicenter of the Acadian people who immigrated to the area from exile in Canada. Many residents have roots in Acadian culture, also known as Cajun. It’s always great to visit a place such as Lafayette where the residents take great pride in their culture. Your kids and teens can learn from the passion the residents show in what they do, without, of course, realizing they are learning. These destinations make lasting impacts.
We visited Lafayette, La as part of a conference. Many of our experiences were provided by Lafayette Travel.
First up on the list is Downtown Lafayette. Staying in the downtown area provides a great hub for visiting the rest of Cajun Country. Older kids and teens may enjoy wandering the downtown area in the city of Lafayette. The walkable few blocks are home to unique bookstores, record stores, and coffee shops. Plus, send your teens on a mural hunt in many of the colorful blocks. Lots of great places to take selfies. And if you need a hint as to what you can find, explore the public art listed here for your scavenger cheat sheet.
Many great restaurants are in the downtown area, including Johnson’s Boucanaire, Vestal, Bordens, and Cafe Reve to name a few. Learn about these and other places to eat in Lafayette here.
Be sure to stop in Parc San Souci to get your picture as the Y in their block Lafayette sign. From past pictures of the sign that I’ve seen, it seems the sign gets repainted every so often for special events. It’s a reason to go back in my opinion!
The park seemed to be a popular place to hang out and you may stumble on a special event or live music as you wander around. Find some of the Downtown Lafayette events here.
Check out the map here for places to stay close to downtown Lafayette. Click on the filters to find the perfect place for your family.
Lafayette Science Museum
Located downtown, the Lafayette Science Museum is home to hundreds of things to see and do in its 3 story location. Visit there to explore space, biology, architecture, paleontology, meteorites, and even nanotechnology. Visit the planetarium, which is included in the cost. University of Louisiana partners with the science museum to promote scientific education to the community and beyond.
Children’s Museum of Acadiana
If you have young kids, it’s never a bad idea to pop into a children’s museum. And the Children’s Museum of Acadiana, located in the downtown area, entertains kids with hands-on interactive exhibits and fun activities. They have many of the typical attractions of children’s museums, making it a great place to run off some energy during a rainy day. there are areas dedicated to the history and culture of the Lafayette area including Heymann’s Grocery Store and Louisiana Cultural Center.
Acadiana Center for the Arts
The Acadiana Center for the Arts is an important destination for Acadian art and culture. Featuring works of art, exhibits, and performances from Lafayette, as well as an additional seven parishes in the region. The AcA is also in Downtown Lafayette, making this yet another reason to stay in the downtown region. The museum is a unique space as it also has a world-class performing arts venue where you’ll find jazz performances, among other Lousiana based talents. Be sure to check their events page for a rich cultural performance that your music or comedy-loving teens would enjoy.
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
The Cathedral of St. John, located in the center of town, would not be a normal item on a “what to do with teens” checklist. However, if your teen is interested in history or architecture, the Cathedral is open to visitors and self-guided tours. The Catholic Church has roots in the French Catholic and Acadian history, dating back to Vermilionville in the early 1800s. while the site has seen a few changes, the present structure is over 100 years old. Behind the church, a quintessential Louisiana cemetery, complete with raised tombs, fills the grounds. As long as the gates are open, you can stroll through the picturesque rows of tombstones and pick out names that are important to Lafayette’s history. The cathedral s also often open for a self-guided tour. Please be sure that young kids do not disturb worshipers or other visitors to the grounds.
Next to the Cathedral is one of the largest southern oak trees in Louisiana. The tree is also a site to see and makes for some great photos next to the cathedral. Measuring nearly 30 feet in circumference, it’s considered one of the top 100 live oaks of Louisiana.
if you’re looking for a unique experience, and your taste buds can handle it, head over to Avery Island for a tour of the Tabasco Factory. Here you’ll find the home of the McIlhenny family, who’ve made Tabasco for over 5 generations. The factory tour and museum show how you take peppers to the most popular hot sauce brand of Tabasco. Then pop over to the Tabasco restaurant or Jungle Gardens, also located. on the island.
The tour is approximately 45 minutes and costs between $12.50 to $15.50. If your teens are into cooking, consider adding on an Acadiana culinary experience or a cooking demo experience. visiting the Jungle Gardens is included and features a botanical garden, statues, and wildlife.
Rock’n’Bowl De Lafayette
Bowling may not seem like a unique thing to do for teens and kids in Lafayette. But it is when you take them to Rock’n’Bowl.
We were lucky enough to bowl one night in this extraordinary venue. It is an industrial-sized location with bowling lanes on either side of a dance floor and stage. Each night live music entertains bowlers with a variety of musical acts from Zydeco, country, tribute bands, 80s music and more. It’s a fantastic concept with a full bar and dining and two levels of seating. You’ve never bowled like this before!
We had a blast bowling here. It’s another location right downtown and a great way to end an evening.
Vermilionville Historic Village
One of our favorite things to do when we’re traveling is to visit a living history museum and village. Vermilionville is a historic village located just 10 minutes from downtown Lafayette. It is a place where you can take part in the culture of early French settlers who came to this area of Louisiana more than 200 years ago.
Located along the Vermilion River, you can also do a guided kayak tour with Pack and Paddle. If you have adventurous teens, a 10-mile paddle down the Vermilion River clocks in at about 4 hours and ends at the historic Acadian village. Here we saw Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, a variety of woodpeckers, and even some boars along the shoreline.
Once we arrived at the village, we enjoyed a well-deserved southern cuisine lunch at La Cuisine de Maman. Here is another place where you can enjoy a plate lunch special.
After lunch, we toured the Vermilionville Historic Village. At various structures and historic buildings are live demonstrations and educational programs with different aspects of Cajun culture including cooking, folk art and dance. Get your Vermilionville tickets here with reserve now and pay later, and free cancellation.
Acadian Cultural Center
If you really want to experience and learn the local culture, the Acadian Cultural Center is the perfect place to get started. Located in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, the culture center is just one part of the National Park.
There are six sites of the historical park throughout southern Louisiana. The Acadian Cultural Center is on Fisher Road in Lafayette. Here you can learn the origins of the Acadians, their exile from Nova Scotia, and how certain traditions in music and food became an integral part of Louisiana’s unique group of people. Young kids can participate in Junior Ranger programs. Older kids, especially those who play their own instrument, may enjoy joining the Cajun Dulcimer Society for Cajun, country, Celtic, and folk music every first. and third Saturday.
Cajun Food Tours
Best way to learn about a place is to eat! My teens love a good food tour. Join the Cajun Food Tour, where you’ll go from restaurant to restaurant tasting dishes like Crawfish Étouffée, Alligator Sausage, Fritters, and more. You’ll also have an opportunity to learn about Cajun culture while exploring the surrounding areas of Lafayette.
Cajun Swamp Tours
A swamp tour may not be something that’s unique just to Lafayette, but it’s definitely not something you find in many other parts of the world. The town is surrounded by swamp waters, rivers, and bayous.
The whole family can enjoy an open swamp boat that’s designed to get you into the heart of the Cypress Tupelo Swamp, and passing through giant cypress trees, Spanish moss, and lots of alligators on your way to Lake Martin.
Yes, it is almost guaranteed that you will see alligators on this tour. Your guides know where to find them of course. But just as with any wildlife, they have their own agenda and may hide from view. However, this is their natural habitat and you’ll not only see large alligators, but you’ll also see other birds and wildlife.
Check out Cajun Country Swamp Tours for great pictures and what you can do on their 1.5 hour tour.
Lafayette Louisiana Festivals
Lafayette is billed as the Happiest City in America. I’m not sure if they are happy because there are so many festivals, or if it’s because they are happy they throw so many festivals. Either way, Lafayette celebrates with festivals nearly every week of the year.
Mardi Gras is not just celebrated in New Orleans. It’s a big family-friendly event in Lafayette. The parade starts on Jefferson Street, goes down Kaliste Saloom Road, turns onto Girard Park Drive, then ends at the Youth Center parking lot. There will be floats, marching bands, dancers, and lots of beads!
Crawfish Festival- The Crawfish Festival features live music, food trucks, a beer garden, a crawfish eating contest, carnival rides, and more!
Boudin Cook Off – Watch the best boudin chefs show off their cooking skills by cooking up boudin stuffed potatoes, jambalaya and desserts made from this wonderful local delicacy.
Other big festivals include Festival International de Louisiane, Festival Acadiens et Creole, Blackpot Festival, and Cook-off, and more. You can guarantee there will be live music, often Zydeco, and loads of food. Check the special events and festivals on Lafayette Travel to plan your trip around one of these signature events.