25 Fun Things To Do This Summer
Summer’s here, the kids are underfoot and everyone’s demanding what to do. In Acadiana, the summer fun is endless, from swamp tours and other exciting outdoors activities to learning Cajun dance and speaking French. So, get out your calendar and start making notes. We’ve compiled a handy list to get you started.
1 | We All Scream
It’s a trip back in time ordering ice cream from Lafayette’s Sundays Soda Fountain with its marble countertops, pressed tin ceilings and soda jerks (those are waiters for you young’uns). The new addition to the downtown scene serves up all kinds of creamy treats but also lunch items, baked goods and libations for the adults.
2 | Take a Swamp Tour
Former WWE wrestler Zamariah “ZZ” Loupe, who also hunted alligators in TV’s “Swamp People” and made a guest appearance on “The Bachelor,” is now taking folks on the water with his Zam’s Swamp Tours in Lafourche. In addition to getting on the water, visitors will learn about South Louisiana culture and maybe pet a gator or two.
3 | Thrifting the Corridor
Sunset // Grand Coteau
How satisfying it is to search through thrift stores and antique shops to find that special one-of-a-kind treasure. And it’s possible on a short stretch of highway between Sunset and Grand Coteau. Sunset features both thrift — don’t miss the funky Bayou Some Stuff — and antiques, such as The Funky Flea and the Sunset Antiques Market on weekends. Grand Coteau focuses more on antiques. Even better — both cities participate in the Exit 11 Yard Sale every spring and fall.
4 | Find Pinky
Back in 2007, visitors to the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road south of Lake Charles spotted something unique in the Gulf waters — a rare albino dolphin with a pink hue. Nicknamed “Pinky,” people have been searching for her ever since. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to Pinky! She could be anywhere along the coast but some say the Calcasieu Ship Channel is a good place to see dolphins.
5 | Escape to the Wild
Louisiana is blessed with numerous state parks, many of which lie in Acadiana, and almost all feature cabins for overnight stays. The cabins at Sam Houston Jones State Park north of Lake Charles have been renovated and that’s just one reason to visit. The park features more than 1,000 acres of lakes, trees and rivers, kayak rentals and picnic tables and remains a great place to spot nearly 200 species.
6 | Trace the Stars
How many times have we watched Hallmark Christmas movies to spot a familiar site or crepe myrtles in bloom? So many were filmed in Louisiana, as well as dozens of feature films and television shows. You can walk in the steps of the famous by following Louisiana’s Film Trail, everything from “Swamp People” to movies based on James Lee Burke novels. And, of course, there’s Lifetime’s “Christmas in Louisiana,” shot in New Iberia and “The Christmas Contract” and “Christmas on the Bayou” shot in and around Lafayette. louisianatravel.com/film
7 | Seek Out the Unusual
Acadiana is home to several distinctive destinations, many of which have been spotlighted by media and TV shows. The haunted Gothic Jail in DeRidder, built in 1915, was the location of a double execution, plus it’s creepy as all get out. They offer ghost tours as well. Over in Avoyelles, cross Bayou des Glaises on the Sarto Bridge, a swing truss bridge built in 1916, then visit the 1927 Adam Ponthieu Grocery Store and Big Bend Post Office Museum that’s a time capsule for the Big Bend Community.
8 | Campgrounds with Lagniappe
We’ve known the expanse of fun located in Henderson just before the Atchafalaya Bridge as Cajun Palms RV Resort. Now, the park featuring a trio of pools, Fun City Arcade and accommodations in addition to the RV slots is Camp Margaritaville. The renamed resort includes luxury cabins, a bark park, high-speed Wi-Fi, sport courts and three bars with a — you guessed it — Jimmy Buffett theme. Over in Carencro, the Lafayette KOA has been honored with the 2023 KOA President’s Award and the KOA Founder’s Award for their customer service and high standards. The campground includes a 10-acre lake so bring your fishing gear.
9 | Table That Idea
French Tables, gatherings of French speakers looking to learn or enhance their language, exists throughout South Louisiana. At NUNU Arts and Culture Collective in Arnaudville, they also offer La Table Kreyol for Creole speakers and the Indigenous Table featuring Native American language and culture. You must admit that Acadiana is one interesting cultural gumbo.
10 | Keep the Children Entertained
When the thunderstorms pound or it’s too hot to go outside, there are three outstanding children’s museums to choose from to keep the kids busy: The Children’s Museum of Southwest Louisiana in Lake Charles, the Children’s Museum of Acadiana in downtown Lafayette and the Bayou Country Children’s Museum in Thibodaux.
11 | Birding on the Coast
The best time to catch colorful birds on the Louisiana coast is spring and fall, when our feathered friends are migrating to and from warmer places down South. During the summer, you can still spot plenty of species at the woods, beaches and marshes of Grand Isle and along the Louisiana coast. As many as 2 million birds visit the 40-acre Peveto Woods Bird & Butterfly Sanctuary along the Creole Nature Trail, west of Holly Beach. Peveto’s oak chenier is maintained by the Baton Rouge Audubon Society.
12 | Outdoor Art
There’s art everywhere — and it’s free to enjoy. Rayne, Lake Charles, Morgan City and Lafayette downtowns, to name a few, sport numerous murals and Lafayette features a variety of sculptures and unique art pieces. Down the bayou in Chauvin, Nicholls State University maintain the eclectic artwork of Kenny Hill, who decorated his small plot of land with concrete folk art. lafayettetravel.com/things-to-do/trails/public-art.nicholls.edu/folkartcenter
13 | Put on Your Dancing Shoes
The LeCajun Music Awards and Festival is a three-day event that features an awards ceremony honoring the best in Cajun music and Cajun musicians and this year will be Aug. 18-19 at the Rayne Civic Center. Best of all, the event includes a two-day dance festival with award-winning Cajun bands. So, dust off those dancing shoes and grab your partner. cajunfrenchmusic.org/lecajun
14 | Attend a Festival
Louisiana hosts more than 400 festivals a year, mostly in spring and fall when the weather’s less than stifling. But summer has its share. Look for the St. Landry BBQ Fest June 9-11; Rockin’ on the Runway airshow and fly-in June 10 in Sunset; Gheens Bon Mangé Festival June 2-4; Holly Beach Crab Festival June 9-11; Lebeau Zydeco Festival July 1; the Erath 4th of July Festival July 30-Aug 4; and the Delcambre Shrimp Festival Aug. 16-20. One of the state’s largest and oldest festivals, Shrimp & Petroleum, takes over Morgan City at summer’s end, Labor Day weekend.
15 | Adopt a Beer
The newest brewery to Acadiana comes with a bark. Lafayette’s Adopted Dog Brewing not only serves craft beers from its taproom at 329 Dulles Drive (close to South Louisiana Community College), but offers a full food menu as well. Naturally, there’s a dog-friendly outdoor area and plenty of bar games to keep both pooch and owner entertained. adopteddogbrewing.com
16 | Beachy Keen
We admit it, we’re not Gulf Shores or Florida, but the Louisiana coast does have its share of beaches. Places to view Gulf waters and white sandy beaches include Rutherford Beach and Holly Beach south of Lake Charles and Grand Isle Beach further east. Cypremort Point State Park doesn’t face the Gulf, but it offers a man-made beach on Vermilion Bay. If the ocean isn’t your thing, but a beach is, try Lakeview Park & Beach in Eunice where live music is also part of the fun.
17 | Pick Your Food
Fresh farm produce may be found at farmers markets throughout South Louisiana but if you’d rather pick your own, visit Bluesberry Fields in Carencro where their fields turn blue in June. Owner Kary Ritter’s father was a blues lover, hence the name. Their Sunday events in June let folks pick their own, but check the website or call before you go; the spring weather caused havoc on the crops. bluesberryfields.com
18 | Paddle Up
On the Water
Grab a paddle and hit the water on the Bayou Terrebonne Paddle Trail in Houma. The newly organized trail includes floating launches in the heart of town. Lake Area Adventures in Lake Charles rents kayak and boat rentals to enjoy on the lake and Pack & Paddle of Lafayette offers hosted paddles on Lake Martin and the Atchafalaya Basin.
19 | Follow the Boudin
We don’t have to explain why there are boudin culinary trails, just why there are two. The folks out west (where Interstate 10 veers close to Texas) have compiled a great list of eateries, truck stops and restaurants into the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail. The Cajun Boudin Trail highlights great spots serving up the delicious rice and pork sausage in Lafayette and surrounding towns. Visit the websites, pick your favorites and hit the road. Better yet, try them all! lafayettetravel.com/discover-lafayette/boudin-trail; visitlakecharles.org/food-drink/cajun-creole/swla-boudin-trail
20 | Take a Selfie
Get out your phone and hit the road for there are numerous spots to capture fun selfies in Acadiana. Be the Y in Lafayette’s sign at Parc Sans Souci downtown or visit the giant 900-year-old Buddha at Jungle Gardens in Avery Island. Hold a baby alligator at Gator Chateau in Jennings or pose near the largest pair of shrimp boots in existence at the Explore Houma Visitors Center, located at 114 Tourist Drive in Gray.
21 | Music and Pie
Cane River Pecan Company’s 55-seat Pie Bar, which serves up decadent pies, soups and sandwiches and craft coffees, also presents live entertainment every Friday afternoon with the first Friday of each month focused on Cajun music. “It’s open to anyone, kids included, although the crowd skews more adult, naturally,” said Jady Regard, CNO or Chief Nut Officer. “But if you’re looking for ‘kid’ friendly things, ice cream and pie hit the spot too.” caneriverpecan.com
22 | Hit the Greens
Learn to play golf at the indoor training facility at Le Triomphe Golf Academy in Broussard. Open to both members and non-members, the Academy features two indoor climate-controlled hitting bays with a host of instructors. ltgolfacademy.com
23 | Get Your Art On
Lafayette // Lake Charles
The Hilliard Art Museum in Lafayette offers art talks and other programs monthly. Third Saturdays, catch “Let’s Make Art,” a free drop-in art program for ages 4 and up (with an adult). Lake Charles’ Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center has works by well-known local artists this summer, followed by “Mosaics” through September.
24 | Get Wet
Lafayette // Abbeville // Lake Charles
Splash pads, such as the ones at Parc San Souci in Lafayette and Palmetto Island State Park south of Abbeville not only provide cool waters but the dancing fountains will delight children — and maybe a few adults. Lake Charles’ casinos feature lazy rivers where visitors can relax and float for hours, stopping maybe to the swim-up bar for refreshment.
25 | Go Fish
Fishing is da bomb at the Golden Meadow-Fourchon Tarpon Rodeo, to be held this year from June 29 through July 1. But there’s so much more — food booths, games, live music and boiled shrimp dinners. Even if you’re just there to watch others bring in the haul, there’s plenty of fun to go around. fourchontarpon.com