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Best things to do in Lafayette

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Where in the world: USA  /  Louisiana  /  Lafayette Parish  /  Lafayette

Top 15 things to do in Lafayette

1. Vermilionville

A living history museum, Vermilionville explores Louisiana's Cajun culture in a recreated 18th-century village. You can make your way around the 9.3 hectare (23 acre) site yourself or with the help of a tour guide. In the village, historical houses dating from 1765 to 1890 are accompanied by mock period structures. Many are occupied by costumed artisans practicing Acadian and Creole skills like spinning, dollmaking, and woodworking. You can find some of their finished products in the gift shop. Complete your visit with a trip to the on-site restaurant for some traditional Cajun cuisine.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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Tours including Vermilionville:

2. Acadian Village

The Acadian Village is a private cultural park located in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Suggested duration: 1 hour
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3. Lake Martin Rookery

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Lake Martin Rookery
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4. Cathedral of St John the Evangelist


The Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in downtown Lafayette, LA stands as a sentinel to the faith of generations of followers. It is the third church built on the site donated by Jean Mouton in 1821, when Lafayette was the town of Vermilionville. The present Dutch Romanesque landmark, completed in 1916, is on the National Registry of Historic Properties. Massive brick walls contrast with graceful arches and delicate red and white brickwork. Turrets flank the octagonal steeple above, from which the bells toll.

The interior nave consists of a series of arches supported by columns, a blind story, and a clerestory. Oil paintings of Christ the King and Apostles decorate the groin-vaulted ceiling. Beautiful flambeau stained glass, made in Munich, Germany, portray the life of Saint John the Evangelist, the patron of the Cathedral. His red cloak usually identifies him. Fourteen mosaic Stations of the Cross line the walls of the two side aisles. Statues of favorite saints are in shrines throughout the Cathedral.

The Italian marble main altar displays mosaic representations of wheat and grapes, symbolizing the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The center mosaic, a mother pelican feeding her young, is also a Eucharistic symbol. Additionally, four stone medallions, as revealed in Ezekiel 10:14, depict the four Evangelists: Matthew by a human head; Mark by the head of a lion; Luke by the head of an ox and John by the head of an eagle. Two similar side altars hold the Tabernacle for the Blessed Sacrament (left side altar) and the repository for the Holy Oils (right side altar).

Behind the altar, a marble chair is fashioned with columns, Corinthian capitals, and a miter motif. A multi-colored mosaic of the first bishop of the Diocese's coat of arms decorates the upper portion of the chair. The Latin name of this chair is cathedra, which is the origin of the English word Cathedral. Only the local Ordinary (Bishop) uses the chair when he celebrates or presides at Mass or a special liturgical event.

Located to the left of the sanctuary, the Blessed Sacrament altar is one of the most sacred places in the Cathedral. The tabernacle has the Ciborium inside and has two gilt-wood angels as its guards. Above this altar, a wooden crucifix hangs between the alpha and the omega. A hand-carved candle stand supports the vigil light, a reminder of the Eucharistic presence. In the underground crypts before this altar are interred Bishop Jules Benjamin Jeanmard and Bishop Maurice Schexnayder, first and second bishops of Lafayette.

Priests, during the Sacrament of Baptism (rebirth through the waters), use the glorious marble baptismal font. Above the altar, the Holy Spirit is symbolized by a gilt metal sculpture of a dove and sun rays. Upon the altar are three special repositories for holy oils used in the Cathedral during the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Ordinations, and Anointing of the Sick.

The magnificent music, that has always been part of the rich and colorful history of St. John Parish, glorifies the art and architecture of the Cathedral. This music resounds from the balcony, which houses the Casavant Frères, Limitée organ installed in the l985 renovation.

A flagstone plaza adorned with flowers and a fountain, joins the Cathedral, the Cathedral Center, and Saint JohnCemetery. Ornamental wrought iron gates topped with a cross and sunburst frame the entrance to the ancient cemetery. Inscribed in the arch above the gate is a scriptural text in French: "Il essuiera toute l'arme" translates to "He will wipe away every tear", Apoc. III.

St. John Cemetery is the oldest in the city of Lafayette. The high water table in South Louisiana makes aboveground burial almost a necessity. The tomb of Jean Mouton, who donated the property for the church, is in this cemetery. Along with his son, Alexandre Mouton, governor of Louisiana from l843 to l846, and his grandson, J. Alfred Mouton, a West Point graduate and general in the Civil War. Ambassador Jefferson Caffery's and his wife's tombs are in the cemetery, alongside each other. Ambassador Jefferson Caffery, a native of Lafayette, served many years in the U. S. Diplomatic Corps.

The ancient, majestic St. John Oak Tree is the perfect sentinel to our magnificent Cathedral. Many speculate that our first pastor (Michel Bernard Barriere) selected the specific plot of land for the church parish due to the grand oak tree, which would have been 275 years old at that time (1821). This mammoth oak, located to the right of the church, is the third oldest member of the Live Oak Society, an organization dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of mature live oak trees in the United States. The near five-century-old tree measures 9 feet in diameter, with a circumference of 28 feet 8 inches; it stands approximately 126 high with a spread of 210 feet across. This last measure was taken on May 30, 2008 by Jim Foret.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Acadian Cultural Center

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Red Lerille's Health & Raquet Club

Red Lerille's Health & Racquet Club, established in 1963, is the South's largest and most complete health club. Red's covers 20 acres and includes 195,000 sq. ft.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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8. Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie

Learn about the history of the 200 slaves who lived and worked at Oak Alley Plantation, from the construction of the plantation's mansion up until the time of emancipation. Discover the property's Big House, built in 1939, and watch historical interpreters reenact the life of the family who inhabited this antebellum home. Walk down the alley of 28 oak trees, for which the plantation is named. Explore the interactive Civil War Encampment and view the Slavery Exhibit, added in 2011, to gain a better understanding of the lives of slaves at this plantation. Finally, visit the new pecan trees planted to honor Antoine, an enslaved gardener who grafted the original "paper shell" pecan.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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Tours including Oak Alley Plantation:

9. South Louisiana Redfishing

Located midway between Houston and New Orleans, South Louisiana offers a pro-business climate, talent-producing universities and family-focused lifestyle that is attracting everything from manufacturers and tech companies to startups, making the centrally located nine-parish region, known as Acadiana, a hot spot for business along the Gulf Coast.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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11. Acadiana Center for the Arts

As the regional arts council, the AcA is the central hub of cultural life based in Downtown Lafayette. AcA's museum and cafe spaces are open to the public daily, and the organization provides a wide variety of services and cultural activities for the community, including several renowned year-round music series.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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Tours including Acadiana Center for the Arts:

12. Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallery

The non-profit Louisiana Crafts Guild strives to professionalize the craft industry in an environment which encourages creativity and the sharing of member expertise, and is focused on "legitimizing" the craft industry and supporting a lucrative income for its members. Our work is shown at the Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallery in Lafayette, LA.

Store Hours:

Tuesday- Friday 11am-5 pm

Saturday 10am- 4pm

Sunday 9am-2pm

Closed Monday
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallery

13. Alexandre Mouton House

The Alexandre Mouton House, also called the Lafayette Museum (French: Maison d'Alexandre Mouton, or Musée de Lafayette), is a historic house located at 1122 Lafayette Street in Lafayette, Louisiana. It was the home of 11th Governor and first Democratic Governor of Louisiana Alexandre Mouton, and it is also associated with other historic families.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 18, 1975. The listing included three contributing buildings: the two-story main house with an attic and cupola and wooden porches on its first and second floors, an Acadian house connected by a covered wooden porch, and a brick smoke house. The first two have cypress siding and are of briquette entre poteaux construction.
The original house, consisting of one room and a kitchen, was built in about 1800 by Jean Mouton, one of the earliest settlers in the Attakapas country, and father of Alexandre Mouton.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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Tours including Alexandre Mouton House:

14. Laura: Louisiana's Creole Heritage Site, Vacherie

Your guide at Laura: Louisiana's Creole Heritage Site will bring stories of past generations to life, revealing the lives of the slaves and the people who owned them here in Louisiana Creole country. Learn about those who ruled the sugarcane plantation and those who worked here in bondage. The main house, built in 1805, is filled with family heirlooms and Creole craftsmanship. You'll see everything from the basement to the galleries and offices, as well as slave cabins and the sugarcane fields still there today. Though slavery was abolished in 1865, local and migrant sugarcane workers who were paid continued to live in the plantation's slave quarters until 1977.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Laura: Louisiana's Creole Heritage Site
Tours including Laura: Louisiana's Creole Heritage Site:

15. Acadiana Park Nature Station

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Acadiana Park Nature Station