25 Fun Things to do this SUMMER

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Acadiana is bursting with fun things to do. There are so many attractions to enjoy in Acadiana, including outdoors activities, historical sites and museums. Then, of course, there’s the food! If you’re looking to get out and about this summer, but need a road map, here are 25 must-see places to visit.

Photo: Haylei Smith; Joseph Vidrine

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1. See Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs roam through 12 acres in Henderson, but don’t worry, they won’t bite. It’s all part of Prehistoric Park, where visitors can stroll through finding dinosaurs (lifelike replicas) hiding in the woods. There’s also gem mining, digging for dinosaur bones and the Fast Track amusement park with more than 68,000 square feet of indoor games, go-karts, refreshments and more. cajunpalms.com/prehistoric-park

2. Shop for Antiques

Historic Grand Coteau dates back centuries and is home to several Catholic establishments such as St. Charles Borromeo Church and the Academy of the Sacred Heart but it’s also an antique lover’s heaven. There are numerous shops to choose from, and just down the road, on the other side of Interstate 49, lies Sunset with its collection of antique shops as well as artist galleries and boutiques.

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3. Get Spicy Hot

Since the mid-1800s, the McIlhenny family has created its world-famous Tabasco sauce on Avery Island outside New Iberia. Take a factory tour to learn how the pepper sauce is made, have lunch at Restaurant 1868 or enjoy Tabasco ice cream in the gift shop. Don’t miss driving through the magnificent Jungle Gardens with its unique landscaping and abundant wildlife. tabasco.com

Homemade Southern Crawfish Boil

4. Eat Crawfish

There are so many great places to enjoy crawfish in all its incarnations, from étouffée and poboys to boiled crustaceans. And for good reason — Acadiana loves crawfish! Try Cajun Claws in Abbeville and Duson, Crawfish Town USA in Henderson, Dwight’s in Lafayette and Seafood Palace in Lake Charles, to name only a few. Over in Houma, they offer a “Crawfish Trail” listing 30 places to enjoy crawfish dishes. crawfishtrail.com

5. Chat in another Language

Louisiana is fortunate in that French is still spoken here and efforts are ongoing to keep it alive. There are numerous “French Tables” held throughout Acadiana, gatherings where folks can practice their French in good company, and sometimes enjoy food and coffee in the process. For a list of meetings, visitlafayettetravel.com/explore/language/french-tables

6. Learn about Crawfish

South Louisiana produces the country’s crawfish in farm ponds and throughout the Atchafalaya Basin. For those who want to see how it’s done, Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission offers field trips and group tours to a crawfish farm and the Interstate 10 Crawfish Cooperative. Tours are $8 per person (ages 3 and up); call the Jeff Davis Parish Tourist office to book one at (337) 821-5521. jeffdavis.org/tourism

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7. Get Spirited

We’ll leave the wineries for other regions, but that doesn’t mean Acadiana doesn’t offer distilleries and breweries — some of the best and definitely the most creative. Yellowfin Vodka in Sulphur creates its spirits from sugarcane, J.T. Meleck in Branch from rice and Bayou Terrebonne Distillers in Houma cook up a corn whiskey. Rum lovers may prefer Wildcat Brothers in Lafayette and Bayou Rum Distillery in Lacassine. The Louisiana Brewery Trail consists of the following in Acadiana: Crying Eagle Brewing Company in Lake Charles, Parish Brewing in Lafayette and Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville, all offering tap rooms and special events.

8. Enjoy Zydeco Breakafast

There’s live music during the week to complement the Cajun and Italian fare at Buck & Johnny’s, a restaurant located inside the renovated Domingue’s Motors building in downtown Breaux Bridge. But things get really rockin’ on Saturday mornings for the weekly Zydeco Breakfast. Arrive early to nab a good seat because the place fills up fast. buckandjohnnys.com

9. Follow a Pirate’s Footsteps

There are six units to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve — two in the New Orleans area, one in Barataria where Lafitte hung out and three in Acadiana. Each one focuses on unique aspects of its region, with a nod here and there to the famous privateer. There’s the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice, the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette and the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux. nps.gov/jela/index.htm


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10. View Unique Art

Head “down the bayou” to Chauvin where bricklayer Kenny Hill created unique concrete sculptures throughout his property, many featuring Biblical references and angels. It’s truly a sight to behold, including a 45-foot lighthouse. The Chauvin Sculpture Garden is open to the public during daylight hours Monday through Sunday, with docents on site 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends. For more information, or to arrange a docent-led tour during the week, contact Nichols State University Division of Art at (985) 448-4597.

11. Jam with the Best

Pioneer accordion builder and musician Marc Savoy hosts a popular Saturday morning jam session at his Savoy Music Center in Eunice. It’s one of many places in Acadiana where musicians may “jam” with others. “It isn’t a performance because no one is ‘performing,’ rather it’s a get-together of friends to enjoy playing the music of their heritage.” Savoy writes of the jam sessions in his new book, “Made in Louisiana: The Story of the Acadian Accordion.”

Two Little Kids Boys And Father Making Air Boat Tour In Everglades Park

12. Catch a Swamp Tour

Wetlands, marshes and the expansive Atchafalaya Basin provide outdoors enthusiasts hours of fun and one way to get on the water is with a swamp tour, kayak or airboat ride. Tours leave out of Henderson near Lafayette, Morgan City and in the Houma-Thibodaux area. louisianatravel.com/articles/louisiana-swamp-tours

13. Drive the Creole Nature Trail

The Creole Nature Trail All-American Road makes a horseshoe loop from Interstate 10 east of Lake Charles, down to the Gulf of Mexico and up again toward Sulphur. Hike its boardwalks and catch a variety of wildlife, pause at the Gulf’s edge on sandy beaches and fish waters teaming with seafood. Along the way, visitors are bound to see gators, some resting alongside the main roads. “When the sun is out, the alligators will be out sunbathing,” said Kathryn Shea Duncan of Visit Lake Charles. visitlakecharles.org/creole-nature-trail

14. Park An RV and Dance

RV resorts in South Louisiana are becoming today’s dancehall/entertainment hotspots, according to Herman Fuselier, coauthor with Philip Gould of “Ghosts of Good Times: South Louisiana Dance Halls Past and Present.” There are numerous places along Interstate 10 in the Lafayette/Breaux Bridge area that fill up on the weekend and offer live music. Cajun Palms, Cajun Heritage RV Park and Lakeview Park are three. Some have cabins and swimming pools. cajunpalms.com, cajunheritagervpark.com

15. Visit Something Ancient

Standing sentinel to the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Lafayette is a live oak tree believed to be almost 500 years old. According to its historical marker, the tree is 126 feet high with limbs spreading 138 feet across. The St. John Cathedral Oak serves as second Vice President of the Live Oak Society (yes, the trees are members). The society was created by Dr. Edwin Lewis Stephens, first president of Southwestern Louisiana Institute, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. saintjohncathedral.org

16. Take a Walk

Stroll through the historic district of Franklin with its trademark lampposts lining Main Street and 400 properties on the National Register of Historic Places. The town named for Benjamin Franklin was also home to four governors, three U.S. Senators, a Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court and other dignitaries. For a walking or driving tour brochure, visit cajuncoast.com

17. Learn Cajun and Creole History

The historic town of St. Martinville dates back centuries, with the Chitimacha Native Americans residing here before Cajuns, Creoles and Africans arrived. Visitors may learn of its history at the St. Martinville Cultural Heritage Center, home to the African-American Museum and the Museum of the Acadian Memorial, or pause by the Evangeline Oak, a reference to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline” that details the Acadian diaspora. stmartinville.org/attractions.html

18. Relive History

There are several places in Acadiana that not only teach history, but allow visitors a chance to experience history. There’s Acadian Village and Vermilionville in Lafayette, which also offer events in addition to their collection of historical properties, and Le Vieux Village in Opelousas, which includes the Venus House, one of the oldest Creole homes west of the Mississippi River.

Pink Or Roseate Spoonbill (platalea Ajaja) With Vivid Pink Feath

19.Go Birding at Lake Martin

Folks in the Lafayette area adore Lake Martin for its hiking trails, boat launches and sightings of gators. It’s also a hot birding spot in spring and fall, when migratory birds fly through and egrets and spoonbills nest. More than 200 different species have been spotted at Lake Martin, according to the Nature Conservancy of Louisiana, which oversees part of the lake. Take a hike along the levee and look for eagles, ospreys, owls and a wide variety of water fowl. lafayettetravel.com/things-to-do/outdoor-adventure/lake-martin/

Baby Alligator In Hand A Man Holds A Baby Alligator With Both Ha

20. Pet a Gator

Visitors to the “Gator Chateau” inside the Jeff Davis Parish Visitor Center (Louisiana Oil and Gas Park at Interstate 10 at Exit 64) can hold baby gators, receive a lesson from an alligator handler and watch them get fed, depending on the time of day. The Gator Chateau is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is free, although donations accepted. Any purchase at the nearby gift shop helps the parish alligator rescue program, and folks may also take advantage of the park’s stocked fishing pond, playground and hiking trails. jeffdavis.org/gator-chateau

21.Get Your Green On

Acadiana is lucky to contain several Louisiana state parks. Chicot State Park and Louisiana Arboretum offer hiking trails through woods, while Cypremont Point, Lake Fausse Point and
Palmetto Island State Park are more water-centric. All offer camping options. For a history lesson on Cajun and Creole life, Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site near St. Martinville includes historic buildings. Sam Jones State Park north of Lake Charles and Grand Isle State Park have been closed due to recent hurricanes, but check the parks website for updates. lastateparks.com

22.Take in a Festival

Louisiana hosts 400-plus festivals a year, many of which occur in Acadiana. There’s the world-famous Festival International de Louisiane, Festivals Acadiens et Créole, Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, Voice of the Wetlands Festival and much more. louisianatravel.com/festivals-events-louisiana

23. Catch Rayne Frogs

Travel through the city of Rayne and visitors will notice frogs everywhere — murals, that is, although statues and other frog oddities may pop up as well. It all harkens back to Rayne’s early days when residents hunted frogs for restaurant use, sending them as far away as New York City. There’s even a Rayne Frog Festival, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. But don’t miss the murals. It’s why Rayne has been designated the official Louisiana City of Murals.

24.Burn Up the Dance Floor

Dancehalls used to dot the Acadiana landscape, but some remain, boasting live music and a dance floor. Historic La Poussiere in Breaux Bridge serves up Cajun tunes and Lakeview Park & Beach in Eunice utilizes its barn for dances. In Lafayette, the Blue Moon Saloon brings in bands of many stripes but there’s dancing, too. It’s Acadiana, after all. lvpark.com, lapoussiere.com, bluemoonpresents.com/web

25. Take in a Show

The Acadiana Center for the Arts, which keeps expanding its footprint in downtown Lafayette, offers concerts, film screenings, art exhibits and dance performances. A few blocks away, Cité des Arts offers much of the same. The Grand Opera House of the South in the heart of Crowley was built to provide top entertainment from traveling shows making their way across the South. Today, the newly renovated and majestic venue continues its performances and concerts.  acadianacenterforthearts.org, citedesarts.org, thegrandoperahouse.org

Categories: Around The State, Events, Things To Do