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Louisiana: Lafayette, Family Vacations with History, Music, and Acadian Culture.Lafayette Louisiana Southern Hospitality Sculpture In Lafayette there's something for everyone, so prepare to be delighted, educated, inspired and best of all to be entertained with toe tapping rhythms.

Here’s the scoop. Spending time in Louisiana’s Acadian region will be rewarding because of the unique opportunities to become fully engaged in Acadian culture. From music and dance to storytelling and luscious cuisine the influences of Nova Scotia can effortlessly be seen and felt.  I have assembled a short list from our recent family road trip. Louisiana is definitely loaded with creativity surrounded by Southern hospitality.   

Imagine being Acadian. Perhaps one of the best places to start is Acadian Village – a 10-acre recreation of a typical 1800's Cajun village on shaded farmland with a  a bayou running through it. The living history complex includes 11 buildings - seven are authentic homes of the 19th century Acadia.  All homes show the passing of time and are remarkable examples of the ingenuity of the early Acadian homebuilders, complete with wooden pegs, mud walls, hand-hewn cypress timbers, and high-peaked roofs. Each was moved piece by piece and carefully restored. Family benefit: Children four years of age or younger admitted for free. Wait for it! Each year in December, the village hosts an awesome holiday event - Noel Acadian au Village. The complex is aglow nightly with more than a half million lights. Activities include live entertainment, traditional cuisine, carnival rides for youngsters, photos with Santa, and opportunities to shop. (Acadian Village 200 Greenleaf Drive Lafayette, LA 70506. (337) 981-2364, toll-free 1-800-962-9133 or Lafayette Lousiana Musician

Engage with Acadian culture. Vermilionville is a recreation of a typical Acadian village assembled with buildings moved from the region. The village includes a school, church, blacksmith, meeting hall, dance hall and several typical homes.  During weekends guides dress in typical attire of the 1800s and provide walking tours, tell stories, demonstrate crafts, and give the history of the Acadians who fled Nova Scotia. This is an excellent place to learn about yet another aspect of North American history often overlooked in the classroom. The tranquil park-like complex provides an easy going atmosphere and allows visitors time to ask questions directly to well-informed docents. We had an enjoyable meal at Cuisine de Mama and a delightful time in the big barn listening to live zydeco and watching accomplished locals dancing. Need to know: The gift shop is exceptional offering unique items including music, vintage games, and scrumptious preserves. Bonus points: Each weekend local musicians perform energizing French/Cajun music at dance hall. Wait for it! Each Sunday afternoon visitors have the chance to enjoy Fais-do-do at Vermilionville. (Vermilionville 300 Fisher Road, off Surrey Street Lafayette, LA 70508. (337) 233-4077).

Share a Cajun point of view. The Acadian Cultural Center is nearby Vermilionville and so it is easy to combine to two in one daytrip. The center is not overwhelming and may be visited and enjoyed in a few minutes or longer depending on the ages and interest of your family members. Family benefit: To make viewing more meaningful for youngsters there is a clever and informative Junior Ranger Program available. Most tours begin with the 56-minute entertaining movie offering Harry Potter–like mysteries with whispered voices and misty scenes of Nova Scotia.  This is not a museum for little ones because after the movie the level of engagement depends on reading. But it is enlightening and exceptioally well researched.  (Acadian Cultural Center 501 Fisher Road Lafayette, LA (337) 232-0789).

Try une promenade dans le bayou. To understand the culture and the essence of southern Louisiana it is essential to see at least part of the swamp. The best spot is the Atchafalaya Basin one of North America's largest river-swamps and among the top 10 wilderness areas in the United States. The Atchafalaya Experience is one of the best excursions into the cypress swamp.  The father and son team of Coerte and Kim know the bayou and are able to relate to the members of the group with anecdotes and stories of interest. From the moment of boarding expect to be surprised and amazed by the scope and variety of plants and animals highlights include anhingas, roseate spoonbills, whistling ducks, snakes, eagles, and all sizes of alligators to swamp grasses, fishes, and sculpted cypress. Bonus points: No two tours will be the same because the swamp changes seasonally but each will be memorable making it an ideal family field trip. On most tours it is possible to see Big George, a huge one-eyed alligator. Insider tip: To expand the Acadian experience consider Bois du Chein B & B. Tours cost $50 for anyone 13 or older, ages eight to 12 will be $25 and one child (per family) aged seven or younger may tour for free. (The Atchafalaya Experience, Lafayette, LA (337) 233-7816).Lafayette Louisiana Southern Hospitality

Location on the planet. The city of Lafayette is located at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Interstate 49 between New Orleans and Houston and only 35 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. Lafayette is located in the center of Lafayette Parish. Lafayette is the hub of the eight-parish area in the heart of Acadiana, a region known for its unique Cajun and Creole heritages, French language and cultural traditions. Bonus points: One of the best spots to observe indigenous wildlife is from the boardwalk at St. Martin Lake nearby Vermilionville. We saw alligators, snakes, and dozens of turtles plus pink and white spoonbill pelicans nesting.
Make it happen. For a complete visitors' guide for exploring downtown art, events, architecture, cultural facilities and services, visit Lafayette Convention & Visitors Commission 1400 NW Evangeline Trwy. Lafayette, LA 70501-2829. Toll-free 1- 800-346-1958 (U.S.), 1-800-543-5340 (Canada) Bonus points: During 2nd Saturday each month Artwalk Downtown showcases creativity.

Family Vacation Planning Details
Free family fun. Check out “Rhythms on the River” in the town square of River Ranch every Thursday evening for free live music in a family friendly atmosphere.  (River Ranch Town Square, 1100 Camellia Blvd., Lafayette. (337) 216-6529 or

Downtown Alive! Also free and ideal for a family outing, each fall and spring Downtown Alive! at Parc International or Parc Sans Souci in downtown Lafayette showcases community and culture. (337) 291-5566 or

Content and images provided by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for Updated copyright 2017.

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