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ESCAPE TO LAFAYETTE - THE HAPPIEST CITY IN AMERICA
 
(2017 - Spring/Summer Issue)

Writer: DENISE J. DEVEAU



Deep in the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole country is Lafayette, named the “Happiest City in America” by the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.com.

There’s no mystery as to why. The distinctive blend of food, music and culture has drawn people from around the world, who come to enjoy the sights, sounds and activities of this unique region.

HISTORY LIVES ON

Its history dates back to the 18th century, when Canada’s Acadians were expelled in the late 1700s and settled in Louisiana. Their influence carries on today. More than two centuries later, you can still enjoy the genuine Acadian experience, from traditional food fixings and music to the warm hospitality that greets you at every turn.

For a taste of genuine history, Vermilionville, a historic and folk life village, provides a living, working example of Acadian, Creole and Native American history from 1765 and 1890. The park sits on a nine-hectare site on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion. It has 19 attractions, including seven restored original homes with more than 13 local artisans demonstrating a variety of essential crafts performed by the early settlers—from blacksmithing to weaving and cooking.

You don’t have to stay in Vermilionville to experience the Acadian lifestyle. Inside or outside this historical village, it’s always easy to find locals who can switch effortlessly into French when the need arises.

REASON TO CELEBRATE

No matter what time of year you visit Lafayette, there is always reason to celebrate. The region teems with celebratory events year-round, from the largest outdoor francophone festival in the world, Festival International de Louisiane, to the fall’s Festivals Acadiens et Creoles, and of course, Mardi Gras.

Lafayette truly comes alive in the fall and spring when the remarkable weather complements the multitude of events and festivals. One unique Lafayette offering during those seasons is the free weekend concert series, where you can kick off Thursday with Rhythms on the River, a free evening concert held in River Ranch’s Town Square. Then there’s Bach Lunch, a free popular lunchtime music series that takes place on Fridays in Downtown Lafayette, where visitors can enjoy local food and music. The fun continues into the evening with Downtown Alive!, another local favourite free concert series offering music by regional artists showcasing all genres.

TIME-HONOURED CUISINE

When it comes to food, Lafayette has the Cajun and Creole flavours you crave, along with the freshest Louisiana seafood. While tradition plays a big part in the cuisine, there is always a little something unexpected from homegrown chefs putting an inventive spin on time-honoured recipes made with the freshest local ingredients. But don’t take their word for it. Lafayette has received many awards for its cuisine, including being named the Tastiest Town of the South by Southern Living magazine, Best Food Town by Rand McNally, and a Top 10 Foodie City by Livability.com.

One staple to the area’s unique cuisine is the smoked pork and rice delicacy known as boudin. While the ingredients may be basic, the variations are endless, which is why you should definitely take a trip down the Boudin Trail. Stretching across the metro area there are a dozen restaurants cooking boudin every which way you can imagine—and some you can’t.

For those looking for a historical culinary experience, Cajun Food Tours takes you through some of the mainstays of Cajun culture, while sharing tidbits of history. Leave the driving and decision-making to a local as you sit and soak in everything Lafayette has to offer.

NATURE’S BOUNTY

There’s also something special in store for nature lovers. Lafayette happens to be situated on the Mississippi Flyway and the Atchafalaya Loop of America’s Wetland Birding Trail, where nature watchers and photographers can access some of the best birding sites in North America, including Spanish Lake. At last count, birders have spotted 240 species in its expansive shoreline and bottomland hardwood forest.

If paddling is your passion, Lafayette is the perfect starting point to explore the region’s rivers, swamps and bayous. The newest addition to Lafayette’s paddle trail is a four-day, three-night paddle trip that takes you through two parishes and multiple cities where both primitive camping and lodging are available.

There’s no other place where you can experience multiple types of fresh and saltwater fishing—all within a short drive of Lafayette. Cast your line from the shore of some of the most peaceful fishing spots along the banks of Lake Martin or the Atchafalaya Basin. Or paddle or launch your boat near the Gulf of Mexico to discover the abundant species of fish, crabs and shrimp that can be caught and cooked in a day.

Whether your passion is for the rich Acadian history, the bustling culinary scene, the great outdoors or the distinctive blend of Cajun and Zydeco music, you can be sure you will leave Lafayette grinning from ear to ear.

TRAVEL PLANNER

Plan your Lafayette escape at LafayetteTravel.com.

 
 
 
 
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