History of Acadiana

Lafayette, Louisiana - the heartbeat of Acadiana - is where you can truly feel the pulse of Cajun Country. This cultural oasis on the bayou blends contemporary sophistication of a cosmopolitan city with a unique heritage and culture hard to find anywhere this side of Europe.

Nowhere in the world is the variety greater and the food spicier than in Lafayette. The city boasts a tantalizing selection of restaurants, which offer such Cajun and Creole delicacies as seafood gumbo, crawfish étouffé and jambalaya. Whether it's elegant French cuisine or just good old home cooking, Lafayette's menus hit the spot.

Born out of the enduring spirit of the Acadians and Creoles, Cajun and Zydeco music is as much a part of the landscape as meandering bayous and moss-draped oaks. To find true Cajun and Zydeco music, visit one of the many dancehalls or restaurants that feature music. Visitors are always welcome and you'll soon learn to two-step to the rhythms of accordians, fiddles and triangles. In Acadiana, festivals are as much a part of daily life as good music and good food.Year-round festivals include: Mardi Gras, the second largest celebration in Louisiana; Festival International de Louisiana which celebrates South Louisiana's link to the French-speaking communities of the world; the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival in honor of the succulent "mudbug"; the "Le Cajun" Music Awards Festival where the best in Cajun music is honored each year; the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival featuring the area's best Zydeco music and Creole food; Festivals Acadiens, a combination of festivals celebrating everything uniquely Cajun; and "A Cajun Christmas" throughout the holiday season.

There is also plenty of non-festival activities to enjoy in Acadiana. Lafayette offers a multitude of historic attractions that mirror the pride Acadiana holds for its past, including majestic plantation homes, vibrant gardens and exciting museums.

The National Park Service's Acadian Cultural Center should be the first stop for any visitor to Cajun Country. This center features an outstanding film that shows how the Acadians migrated first to Nova Scotia then to Louisiana. It also contains exciting displays which highlight the culture and music.

Lafayette has two unique village attractions that will take you back to the early days of Cajun and Creole life. Acadian Village, a folklife museum representing 19th-century Acadiana, displays the homes and architectural landmarks of the period. Vermilionville, a living history attraction, portrays the life of those who settled in rural south Louisiana between 1765 and 1890.

The University Art Museum presents a wide range of exhibits such as 100 years of Louisiana photography, American and European master drawings, and avant-garde film and video. At the Lafayette Natural History Museum and Planetarium, South Louisiana comes to life with changing exhibits that examine every facet of our culture. The Lafayette Museum, home of Louisiana's first Democratic governor, boasts spectacular collection of memorabilia representative of the history of Acadiana.

Located just minutes from Lafayette are some of the most beautiful historic homes in the state. Hear stories of ghosts and the infamous pirate Jean Lafitte at Chretien Point Plantation. Take a tour of the stately Shadows-on-the-Teche. Or walk through the fabulous grounds at Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island and visit the historic home of Joseph Jefferson.

And...they're off! Or, "Ils Sont Partis!" as they say at Evangeline Downs where seasonal thoroughbred horse racing excitement is more than just a spectator sport. Racing season runs from April through Labor Day.

Louisiana is called the "Sportsman's Paradise" and Cajun Country is a prime example. Both freshwater and saltwater fishing areas are plentiful in Acadiana, from the vast swamp wilderness of the Atchafalaya Basin to the Gulf of Mexico. A short drive to Henderson will take you to the Atchafalaya Basin for a tour of mysterious swamplands.

Acadiana's world-famous food, music and cultural heritage is matched only by its world-class shopping. From large malls to souvenir and antique shops, Lafayette has something for everyone.

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!" or "Let the good times roll!" Cajuns and Creoles take fun seriously, so don't be afraid to enjoy yourself in Lafayette - it's the custom!