Lafayette is a city of 120,000 people in southern Louisiana. It is the center of Acadian culture in Louisiana, which descends from the Acadian people who migrated to Louisiana from Quebec after the British exiled them from Canada. Cajun culture was born out of this migration, and today, a large portion of the population of Lafayette still speaks French, or the Cajun dialect of that language. There are several different cultural points of interest and institutions that celebrate the Acadian and Cajun culture. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is an important local institution, employing a large number of locals and bringing about 16,000 students to the town each year. The South Louisiana Community College is also based out Lafayette.
The winter is a surprisingly good time to look for an apartment in Lafayette. If you start looking around January of February you will find that there aren't many other people prowling the listings at the same time as you are. The market might not be filled with endless options, but if you're really interested in a suite you might end up being the only one looking at it.
Lafayette landlords are often very happy to have someone interested in their apartments. There is a slightly above average vacancy rate in Lafayette, which is whey they may seem eager. However, don't let this fool you into accepting just any apartment, as some may not be properly maintained. If a landlord seems over eager, just be sure to investigate the apartment thoroughly before signing a lease.
Lafayette's bus system offers infrequent service, and while it can be useful at times, it is certainly not the most popular way of getting around town. If you're traveling to the University, there is a shuttle that takes people from a large nearby parking lot onto campus. Most of the time though, you will find it more convenient to just drive in Lafayette than to worry about alternative transportation.
TO really get the most out of the unique culture of Lafayette, you need to catch the Festival International de Louisiane, which happens each April. This celebration of music, food, and culture is a great way to get introduced to the best of the region. Visiting the Acadian Cultural Center is a way during the rest of the year to learn a bit about local history. You can't go wrong eating almost anywhere in the city, but for great Cajun food, try Prejeans, Randol's or Cochon.
Lafayette is a town that is full of beautiful, historic buildings. Vermilionville is fascinating because it recreates the type of village the Acadians would have lived in when they first immigrated to this part of the country. The Acadian Cultural Center is another stop worth making. The Acadian Culture is so distinct from that which you find in most of the rest of the country, that many of the greatest attractions in the area are tied to the historic culture and ancestry of the people who live in and around Lafayette. A truly historic attraction is the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Louisiana is home to some of the most impressive church buildings in the country, and the Cathedral is a wonderful example.
It is hard to go anywhere in the south without encountering slews of great barbecue restaurants. In Lafayette, Johnson’s Boucaniere is just one wonderful example of the available BBQ. However, the real hallmark of Lafayette is great Cajun flavours right at the source. Restaurants like the Bon Temps Grill and Prejeans will give you a complete education in how delicious Cajun cooking can be. Charley G’s is a great place to go if you want some of the best gumbo in town. The French Press has been recognized with national accolades for it's excellent food. Visit it at breakfast for the perfect breakfast experience, and in the evening to enjoy Lafayette dining at it’s finest.
If you're looking for the complete college bar experience in Lafayette, then Marley’s is where you want to go. The sports bar is especially popular on nights when pay-per-view UFC fights are being shown. The Office is a great place because of it's fluid nature. Four nights a week, it is a relaxed place where anyone can grab a happy hour drink. Come the weekend however, it becomes one of the most energetic night clubs in town. With 44 TVs on the walls, you won't miss a minute of any game if you go to Pete’s. The Tap Room is a high-quality beer bar that offers a wide selection of global beers to it's patrons.
If you have children, the Children’s Museum of Acadiana is not to be missed, as it provides a great hands-on experience for kids of all ages. The Blue Moon Guest House and Saloon is a local bar where you can experience some authentic Cajun influenced music, played by many different local artists. There are several companies producing live theatre in Lafayette, including the Town Hall Theatre Company. The University also has several different performance programs, and their final presentations are open to the public at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The Acadiana Center for the Arts contains a permanent gallery, as well as performance spaces for dance, theatre and music.
In Lafayette, the big event each year is the Festival International. This is a five-day music, arts, and food festival that nearly the entire city turns out for each April. The festival features all types of arts and performances, and is entirely free to attend. Nothing is more front and center in Lafayette than Cajun culture, and this is celebrated during the Dewey Balfa Cajun & Creole Heritage Week in April. Of course, spicy food is a hallmark of Cajun cooking, which maybe explains why Lafayette plays host to the Louisiana Hot Sauce Expo in July. Or, if you're looking for something a little off the wall, you could attend the Louisiana Annual Beard, Moustache and Facial Hair Competition.
As far as large, indoor malls go, it doesn't get much better than the Acadiana when you're in Lafayette. In fact, the mall is so popular that many people from the smaller rural communities around Lafayette frequently come to the mall to browse the more than 100 stores inside. If you like to shop high-end boutique designer shops, then the Parc Lafayette is where you want to be. From high-end kitchen ware to fine fashion, you can find it all in this extremely scenic neighbourhood. If you want to shop from local craftsmen and artists, the Village Artists co-op is where you should head.
The University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns enjoy a lot of support from the local community. The school’s athletic program has more than a hundred years of history attached to it, and the sixteen NCAA Division I teams offer extremely entertaining games across a wide range of sports for the locals to enjoy. The football team has enjoyed some success, and won the New Orleans Bowl in 2011, 2012, and 2013. They have also been the Sun Conference Champions twice in the last ten years. The Battle on the Bayou game between Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe represents the most heated current rivalry the team enjoys.
Louisiana is totally unique in the country in terms of it's wildlife and natural habitats. Heading out to the Lake Martin Rookery is a great way to get familiar with this up close. By touring the area by boat, walking the paths, or even from your car you can see many species of birds, and even the occasional swamp gator for yourself. If you want to enjoy some civilized outdoor recreation, you can use the track and recreational facilities at Girard Park. Lake Martin is also a great place to see a swamp for yourself. It’s another good place to go if you want to see an alligator, just remember to be careful when you're out exploring places where the gators live.