By Patrick Galvan, Storage.com
If you’re looking for a new place to live that has a warm climate and a vibrant culture, Lafayette, La., might be the perfect match for you. Here are nine things to know before living in Lafayette.
1. THE HUB CITY.
Located on the shores of the Vermilion River, Lafayette is the fourth largest city in the state of Louisiana and home to more than 120,000 people. Founded as Vermilionville in the 1800s, the city was renamed in 1884 for the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general who fought alongside the Americans during the American Revolutionary War. Today, it’s known as “The Hub City” because it’s the center of Cajun French culture and diverse business opportunities in the medicine, technology, manufacturing, arts, and oil industries.
2. FESTIVALS FOR EVERYONE.
Mardi Gras is one of the great traditions of the South, and that’s especially true with Lafayette, which hosts the Greater Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association. The organization’s “Krewes” arrange parades and city balls and coordinate the festivities of Le Festival de Mardi Gras a’ Lafayette at Cajun Field, which features carnival rides, costume contests, authentic Cajun meals, and live musical performances. If Mardi Gras isn’t your speed, there are several other cultural festivals to enjoy in Lafayette, such as the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival, Festival International de Louisiane, Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, and more!
3. CAJUN CUISINE.
Whether you’re looking for a breakfast café or an authentic French restaurant, Lafayette has it. But, of course, you can’t live in Lafayette without eating Cajun cuisine! Try the award-winning Louisiana Seafood Gumbo or Chicken Bayou Teche at Blue Dog Cafe. Or perhaps fried frog legs and alligator at Prejean’s. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, step into Jolie’s Bistro for a hand-cut steak or seafood. Don’t forget about the Cajun Food Tours, where you can travel around Lafayette and try a little bit of everything!
4. LAFAYETTE HISTORY.
Want to learn more about the region’s French Acadian and Cajun history? The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Public History Program, Acadiana Historical, can help! With Acadiana Historical’s guided tours, you can visit properties on the National Register, historic cemeteries, and former plantation houses. Also, you can follow the trail of Solomon Northup, an African-American man who was kidnapped from his home in the north and forced into slavery in Louisiana for twelve years (You may better know Northup from his book, 12 Years A Slave, which made it to the big screen in 2013 and won an Academy Award for Best Picture).
5. THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST.
Speaking of Lafayette’s history, one of the oldest historic sites is The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, originally called l’Église St-Jean du Vermilion when it was built in 1821 on land that was donated by Vermilionville founder Jean Mouton. Since then, three churches have been built on the property. The final Dutch Romanesque landmark that remains today was completed in 1916 and still holds Catholic mass for Lafayette churchgoers. It’s also on the National Registry of Historic Properties. Behind the cathedral is another historic spot, St. John’s Cemetery, which holds the tombs of Jean Mouton, his son Alexandre (a former Louisiana governor), and his grandson J. Alfred (a general in the Civil War). It’s the oldest cemetery in Lafayette, and like other cemeteries in the high-water table of Louisiana, requires above-ground burials.
6. GET SCHOOLED.
Lafayette’s most prestigious university is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which is part of the University of Louisiana system. Ranked among the 2013 Best Colleges by the U.S. Media Group, UL Lafayette enrolls more than 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year and specializes in language and speech studies, francophone studies, computer engineering, and more. Lafayette is also home to South Louisiana Community College, which recently partnered with Acadian Ambulance to form the National EMS Academy for students looking to get EMT training. Other local colleges include Lafayette College, Blue Cliff College, Remington College, and Aveda Institute-Lafayette.
Attend school in Lafayette? Learn how college storage can benefit you!
7. THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS.
Lafayette doesn’t have professional sports teams, but fans of college athletics will find plenty to satisfy them. The Ragin’ Cajuns of UL Lafayette have a strong track record in all areas of sports. The school’s football division has won the New Orleans Bowl four times in a row, their latest victory in 2014, and the softball team has appeared at the Softball College World Series six times and been titled conference champion 11 times. Trust us—it’s impossible not to hear the rage of the Cajuns!
8. THE SPORTSMAN’S PARADISE.
The state of Louisiana is often referred to as “The Sportsman’s Paradise,” and when you come to Lafayette, you’ll understand why. With easy access to the Vermilion River, as well as the nearby swamps and bayous, there are several chances for you to hit the water in your boat, kayak, or canoe. Or if you prefer to get on the trails with your bike, check out Cajun Cyclists, which was formed by cycling enthusiasts and is open to anyone who wants to join! How about a relaxing day on the green? Lafayette has tons of golf courses, too!
9. ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT.
Finding something to do isn’t a problem in Lafayette, whether you want to head out on the town or simply spend time with your family. For shopping, most people go to the Acadiana Mall. For family-fun outings, there’s the Lafayette Science Museum and Children’s Museum of Acadiana. Of course, more adult adventures can be had at The Blue Moon Saloon or Nitetown, both of which feature live music and dancing.
Is there anything we left out? Tell us what you think makes living in Lafayette special!
If you’re moving to Lafayette and need storage space to help with the transition, view Storage.com’s directory of storage units in Lafayette, Louisiana.
All images have either been provided by a listed organization or are licensed under the Creative Commons.