Located in southern Louisiana, Lafayette is known as the heart of Cajun country. There are plenty of indoor activities in Lafayette, LA, including the Alexandre Mouton House, and the family-friendly Children’s Museum of Acadiana. There are several other things to do in Lafayette, LA for families as well, including visiting the historic LARC’s Acadian Village and Vermilionville.
If you’re looking for what to do in downtown Lafayette, check out the Lafayette Science Museum, and Downtown Alive!, the city’s original street party. This is also one of the best free things to do in Lafayette, LA. Here are a few more fun things to do in Lafayette, LA at night and during the day.
1. LARC’s Acadian Village
LARC’s Acadian Village is a living museum that demonstrates what Acadian life would have been like in South Louisiana in the 19th century. Seven of the 11 buildings on display are authentic homes donated by local families, which are fitted with antique furnishings. The homes feature unique Acadian architectural elements, like wooden pegs, mud walls, and high-peaked roofs. Acadian Village also hosts an annual Christmas festival throughout December, as well as artisan demonstrations and guided tours year-round.
2. Children’s Museum of Acadiana
The Children’s Museum of Acadiana is an educational museum for children up to 12 years old. It features several hands-on exhibits, as their mission is “learning by doing”. These exhibits include a To Tell the Tooth, a dental office; Happy Paws Hospital, where kids can tend to their stuffed animals; Wee Acres, a farm-themed area; and a Bubble Factory. A visit to the Children’s Museum of Acadiana is one of the best things to do in Lafayette, LA for families.
3. Lafayette Science Museum
Located in the city’s downtown district, this is more than just a science museum. It has interactive exhibits on interesting topics like nanotechnology, paleontology, marine biology, meteorites, and spacecraft. One of Lafayette Science Museum’s biggest attractions is its all-digital planetarium, which presents both live and playback programs daily on the night sky and constellations, space flight, and more. With hands-on experiences and fun exhibits, the museum is another one of the city’s most family-friendly attractions.
4. Downtown Alive
Established in 1983, Downtown Alive! is Lafayette’s original street party. It takes over the city’s downtown area on 12 Fridays throughout the year. The free event includes food stalls, arts and culture events, and most importantly, live music. You can expect to hear anything from Cajun music to indie pop to country to RnB. Thousands of people head to every Downtown Alive! event. It’s one of the best free things to do in Lafayette, LA.
5. Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours
Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours are guided eco-tour adventures on nearby Lake Martin. The lake is especially a popular destination for bird watchers, as it’s home to over 200 different species. On one of Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Boat Tours, your guide will talk about the landscape and the local birdlife; and will point out many alligators reaching between three and 14 feet long. The company also organizes guided kayak tours through Lake Martin’s swamps and bayous.
6. Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site
Louisiana’s first state park, Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site explores the cultural diversity of the Bayou Teche region. In particular, the site honors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his epic poem from 1847, Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie. The fictitious poem details the expulsion of Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755 and their subsequent arrival in Louisiana. The site’s main attraction is Maison Olivier, a 19th century Creole plantation that sits on the banks of the Bayou Teche.
7. Lake Martin, Louisiana
Lake Martin is one of Louisiana’s many swamplands and a part of the Cypress Island Nature Preserve. As mentioned, Lake Martin is home to over 200 different bird species, including herons, egrets, and ibis. As a swampland, you will also find just a few alligators in and around the lake. It can be explored on foot (there’s a boardwalk at its southern end), by canoe or kayak, or by joining one of Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours.
8. Avery Island
Avery Island is known as the birthplace and source of the world-renowned Tabasco sauce. Sitting on top of a salt dome, the interrelated Marsh, Avery, and McIlhenny families have owned the island for over 180 years. People are welcome to visit Avery Island and tour the Tabasco Factory; learn more at the Tabasco Museum; dine at the Tabasco Restaurant, where you can build your own Bloody Mary; and take a walk through the Jungle Gardens.
9. Lafayette Ballet Theatre
For an enriching cultural experience, we suggest a show at the Lafayette Ballet Theatre. Featuring many classical story ballets, artistic programs, and many other events throughout the year, this dance school and event space provide beautiful and timeless dance experiences for the entire community. For an interesting thing to do in Lafayette, why not see what dance productions are showing during your visit?
10. The Acadiana Center for the Arts
The Acadiana Center for the Arts is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to fostering art and culture in Acadiana. The center hosts an array of events, including music concerts, theatrical performances, and independent film screenings. It also has over 9000 square feet of art gallery space and hosts approximately 25 art exhibitions annually. A visit to the Acadiana Center for the Arts is one of the best things to do in Lafayette, LA at night.
The Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folk Life Park depicts what life would have been like from 1765 to 1890 for the Acadian, Creole, and Native American people. With over 60,000 annual visitors, the historic village is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Sitting on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion, there’s restored authentic homes, boat tours, costumed artisans doing demonstrations, guided tours, live music, and a gift shop stocked with the perfect souvenirs.
12. Cajundome & Convention Center
The Cajundome and Convention Center are two connected multi-use arenas. Owned by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the Cajundome is home to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s and women’s basketball programs. Although it hosts many concerts, exhibitions, and university ceremonies, its biggest event is the annual Cajun Heartland State Fair. The 11-day fair attracts over 175,000 people. Meanwhile, the Convention Center’s most popular annual event is the Lafayette Home and Garden Show.
13. Acadiana Mall
If you’re looking for things to do in Lafayette, LA on a rainy day, head to Acadiana Mall as it’s the city’s premier shopping destination. It’s home to over 100 of the nation’s most popular shops, including three major department stores: J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and Dillard’s. There are also several restaurants and fast food options at Acadiana Mall, like Charleys Philly Steaks, freshly cooked Japanese cuisine at Sarku Japan, and pizza and pasta at Roman Delight.
14. Alexandre Mouton House
Alexandre Mouton House, also known as the Lafayette Museum, is a historic house museum. The original building was constructed in the early 19th century by Jean Mouton, one of southwest Louisiana’s first settlers. He passed it onto his son, Alexander Mouton – Louisiana’s first Democratic Governor. The house has been restored to resemble what it would have looked like in the 1850s and is filled with historic artifacts. It’s open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday year-round.