Founded in 1821 as Vermilionville (revealing strong French roots), the city of Lafayette straddles the Vermilion River, but even with a name change, modernity sees here a rich cultural blend of Cajun and Creole. Lafayette, Louisiana's fourth-largest city, may very well have the highest concentration of dining hot-spots in the state, dishing out local specialties with the lively beat of Zydeco (a mix of R&B, African blues and Cajun dance) or Cajun classics carried along with the wind.
Learn more about Lafayette's unique heritage at the Acadian Village (showcasing authentic Acadian homes), the Acadian Cultural Center, or Vermilionville, a folk-park that entertains with everything from cooking demonstrations to live musical performances. If this whets your appetite for crawfish and crab, you can take home more than just memories and snapshots after a few cooking lessons. If it's more about area history you're after, pay the Alexandre Mouton House (Lafayette Museum) a call, and get a look at period furniture, art and the like. Enjoy the graceful lines of the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist en route to the wilds of Acadiana Park Nature Station or Zoo of Acadia.
If you still haven't made it out into a Louisiana swamp, catch a guided boat tour through the Atchafalaya Basin, a bit of southern wilderness easily accessible from Lafayette. Movie buffs won't want to miss the chance to swing through Chretien Point Plantation a few miles out of Lafayette for a peak into the house that inspired set design in Gone With the Wind; don't leave without getting the brief on this mansion's better-than-fiction history.
Lafayette is 57 miles west of Baton Rouge and 24 miles north of New Iberia.