25 Fun Things to do This Summer
Here are 25 places to have fun this summer.
Photos by Joseph Vidrine, Romero & Romero, Haylei Smith and Denny Culbert
Summertime means fun time in Acadiana, and there’s plenty of jollification to go around. While many of Acadiana’s attractions are indoors, even more exists in the great outdoors, which means lots of opportunities to get immersed in nature and experience the region’s unique landscape.
Folks in Henderson got a little spooked when the dinosaurs started peeking out of the woods. Kids may have a similar reaction when they hike the trails of Prehistoric Park, a 12-acre natural setting filled with lifelike dinosaur replicas, some that are quite imposing and realistic. In addition, there’s a sandbox filled with bones to discover for budding archaeologists. prehistoric-park.com
Cajun Fast Track
For those wanting a faster-paced afternoon, check out Cajun Fast Track next door to Prehistoric Park, 68,000 square feet of arcade entertainment, mini golf, laser tag and go karts. With a restaurant on site, families can plan to spend the day here. cajunfasttrack.com
Plan to spend hours at this entertainment center celebrating 35 years, which features an arcade, mini golf, batting cages, Tiki Bump ‘N’ Blast Boats and, of course, go karts. This summer, Kart Ranch launches laser tag as well. On hot days, try Water Wars, where competing teams launch water balloons at each other. kartranch.com
Surge Entertainment Center by Drew Brees
If you’d rather let the kids go wild inside, Drew Brees’ Surge Entertainment Center fills up 43,000 square feet with fun. There are 13 bowling alleys, golf simulators for all ages, a trampoline park, karaoke, jump courses and much more. Surge also features a family restaurant and a VIP section for adults who also want to get away. surgefun.com
Just off I-10 lies the Jeff Davis Parish Visitor’s Center with a special “chateau” for its famous resident, the alligator. The Gator Chateau folks foster baby alligators and let tourists hold the tiny reptiles. Public gator feedings happen Friday afternoons during the summer. jeffdavis.org/gator-chateau
Lake Fausse Pointe, Chicot & Grand Isle State Park
In addition to cabins and campsites, Louisiana State Parks has introduced “glamping,” a glamorous way to camp, at several parks including Lake Fausse Pointe near St. Martinville, Chicot near Ville Platte and Grand Isle State Park on the Gulf. Safari-style glamping tents come with cots (visitors bring linens), fire pits and grills, Adirondack chairs on the porch and a few other amenities. It’s basically camping with lagniappe. louisianastateparks.reserveamerica.com
Creole Nature Trail All-American Road
Wildlife is abundant along the 26 miles of the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, which stretches from one side of Lake Charles to the Gulf of Mexico and back up the other side. Enjoy hiking on boardwalks, fishing and crabbing or beachcombing. Start your tour at the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point in Sulphur to learn about exhibits, take fun selfies and get maps to the Trail.
Take a hike
Lace up those hiking boots and hit the trails at the Acadiana Park Nature Station, open daily from dusk to dawn. Or go for a night hike the last Saturday of each month. A trail near Breaux Bridge circumvents the lake with great views of nesting egrets, spoonbills and herons, plus alligators. Chicot State Park and the Louisiana Arboretum lead visitors through woods, near bayous and Lake Chicot.
Trip Down the Bayou
The National Park Service offers a Friday morning boat tour of Bayou Lafourche, taking off from the dock behind the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux. In addition to enjoying the waterway that some have called “the longest street in the world,” participants will visit the E.D. White Historic Site, birthplace of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Douglas White. The boat is partially handicapped accessible but not for wheelchairs and reservations are required. Call 985-448-1375 for more information and details.
Fun with Beer
Go for the beer, stay for the pizza — or vice versa. Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville started out as a family-friendly brewery with a taproom and space for special events, such as trivia night and jam sessions. Now, there’s Cajun Saucer serving up wood-fired pizzas such as Smoky and the Boudin and the Elvis Abduction with sliced bananas and a peanut butter cream sauce. bayoutechebrewing.com
Eat Authentic Cajun
Do you want to taste a meal that sends you reeling back to Mawmaw’s house? Authentic Cajun cuisine can be found at Bayou Lagniappe in Berwick, Mabel’s Kitchen in Charenton, Green’s Café in Jennings and La Cuisine de Maman in Lafayette’s Vermilionville. New to Lafayette is Roots, described as a hometown restaurant where locals brings their out-of-town friends for real Cajun.
Eat Authentic Creole
Tour Acadiana to eat food with soul with Miss Merline at the Creole Lunch House in Lafayette, Mama Reta’s Kitchen in Lake Charles, Rita Mae’s Kitchen in Morgan City and Glenda’s Creole/Cajun Restaurant in Breaux Bridge. Talk about making your tastebuds sing. And that’s just a sampling!
Cajun Food Tours
Lafayette and surrounding region
Hop on a bus and learn the origins of Cajun food while sampling dishes from a variety of hot spots on the Cajun Food Tours. Owner Marie Ducote-Comeaux also offers walking tours, outings with dance lessons and a taste of world cuisines in her “Around the World in Acadiana” tour. cajunfoodtours.com
For a small admission fee, Sulphur’s Parks and Recreation offers hours of water fun at its SPAR Waterpark. Tube runs, lazy river, lagoon pool, body slides, raging river and more are available all summer long. Or just linger in Parrot Island and let the massive Polynesian bucket of water inundate you after it fills to the brim. sulphurparks.com/waterpark.html
Palmetto Island State Park
Visit Palmetto Island State Park south of Abbeville for the canoe and hiking trails, the visitor’s center or the wildlife, such as alligator and wild hogs. And if it’s hot out — and you know it will be — cool off in the park’s splash pad outside the visitor’s center. Palmetto Island offers day use for a small fee and overnight stays in the park’s six expansive cabins that sleep up to eight people.
Grab your canoe or kayak and take to the bayou trails. There are several to choose from, including the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, Atchafalaya Basin Paddle Trail and Bayou Vermilion Paddle Trail, to name a few. Pack & Paddle outfitters in Lafayette rent kayaks and canoes, Paddle Up rents paddleboards in Lake Charles and Lake Area Adventures can get you on Prien Lake or the Calcasieu River. louisianatravel.com/paddle/trails
Cajun X Cables Watersports
No boat needed to water ski at this site north of I-10 in Lafayette. Cajun X Cables will spin visitors via cables around a 20-acre manmade lake, allowing them to enjoy a ski experience without having to purchase a motorboat and gear. There’s also a camping area, volleyball court and smaller lake for paddlers. Cajun X Cables is open daily through September. cajunxcables.com
Henderson, St. Mary Parish & Houma-Thibodaux
Acadiana consists of miles of wetlands so it’s only natural — pun intended — for folks to offer swamp tours for those who want to get personal with gators, water fowl and the like. Swamp tours varying from airboats to eco-tours can be found at Henderson and the Houma-Thibodaux area. In St. Mary Parish, otherwise known as the Cajun Coast, swamp tours leave from Morgan City and Patterson.
DeQuincy and Long Leaf
Train lovers can jump aboard antique rail cars at the DeQuincy Railroad Museum in DeQuincy and the Southern Forest Heritage Museum in Long Leaf. DeQuincy’s museum explains how railroads opened the southwestern side of Louisiana to settlement while the Southern Forest Heritage Museum tells the story of the region’s timber industry and the Red River and Gulf Railroad lines that once moved the lumber to market. The latter even offers a ride on the 1937 “doodlebug” passenger train. dequincy-railroadmuseum.com; forestheritage-museum.org
Lafayette Science Museum & Children’s Museum of Acadiana
Children not only learn about science at the Lafayette Science Museum, but also they can enjoy interactive exhibits. The Children’s Museum of Acadiana next door also lets kids participate by learning with its creative hands-on exhibits. Plan a day at both with a stop for lunch in downtown Lafayette and an afternoon cool-off at the Parc San Souci splash fountain.
Register with geocaching.com, download a geocaching app to your smartphone and connect with Houma Travel GeoTour to enjoy 21 geocache locations in Terrebonne Parish. Find the spots and sign the guest books, then bring the completed “passport” back to the Houma Visitor’s Center for a special geocoin. houmatravel.com/geo-tour
Fun with History
Step back in time and view original homes, furnishings, modes of transportation and more at several Acadiana “villages.”
Opelousas offers Le Vieux Village, a collection of 19th-century buildings, including the Venus House, one of the oldest Creole homes west of the Mississippi River, and the Orphan Train Museum, which tells the story of the orphaned children sent to Louisiana from New York City between 1873 and 1929.
Take a mule-drawn carriage ride through the 40-block Charpentier Historic District of Lake Charles, a neighborhood of historic homes. Over in nearby DeRidder, the Gothic Jail built in the early 20th century offers a glimpse inside an early jail, complete with spooky ghost tales.
In Lafayette, both Vermilionville and Acadian Village showcase how Cajuns and Creoles lived in Acadiana before the modern age. Both villages offer special events, camps and programming.
Zoosiana, otherwise known as the Zoo of Acadiana, features 1,000 animals from more than 100 species in an expansive campus. View common animals such as lions and giraffes along with scimitar-horned oryx and spur-thighed tortoises (who knew?). A few amenities, such as the Petting Zoo and the Safari Train, have been temporarily closed or are open limited days. Check with the Zoo’s website or Facebook page for updates. zoosiana.com
For the birds
Head to the coast but keep your eyes on the skies. Birds of all sizes and colors live along the Gulf and its inland wetlands and bayous. One of the best stops for birding is Peveto Woods, a bird sanctuary established by the Baton Rouge Audubon Society off Highway 82 near Johnson’s Bayou. Slip beneath live oaks and pause at the Society’s feeding stations and water drips, where birds love to gather. Grand Isle is another birding hotspot, a barrier island that’s home to numerous shore birds and more.
Get a jump on
Horses have long been a mainstay of Acadiana, from cattle roundups and African American trail rides to famous jockeys and Kentucky Derby winners. Cambridge Stables in Maurice offers a variety of horseback riding lessons in addition to hosting birthday parties and camps with an equine theme. Willow Oaks Equestrian in Duson offers lessons as well. And Joie de Vivre Farm in Youngsville teaches beginning through advanced English riding lessons for all ages.