There is something so special about smaller towns – the charm, the food, and the sense of community. That’s why I was so happy when my husband needed to go to Lafayette, LA, about a two-hour drive from New Orleans. It was the perfect place to make a family vacation. While planning our trip, I was amazed at all of the things to do in Lafayette with kids.
Discover the best resources to find things to do while on vacation, here.
Lafayette has such a unique culture and history. Their heritage is a combination of the arrival of the Acadians from Acadia, Canada in 1765, and the rich presence of the Native Americans and African Americans who already occupied the land. With such a diverse background, Lafayette is the perfect place to learn about history and try a variety of foods, in addition to kid-focused activities that many cities offer like museums and zoos.
Culture Museums: Vermilionville and Acadian Village
Personally, I believe any place that offers an open area for kids to walk (or run) around is kid friendly, especially if it includes unique experiences that they would not normally encounter.
Both Vermilionville and Acadian Village are outdoor culture museums that embody the life and culture of the individuals who lived in Lafayette during the 18th century. In fact, you get the wonderful opportunity to visit restored homes of that time to get a true feeling of what your life would’ve been if you were alive during that time.
We personally went to Vermilionville as it’s the only one open on a Sunday. From talking with locals, it appears that both Vermilionville and Acadian Village are similar in concept.
Personally, I loved how open Vermilionville is, settled on 23 acres of land. This gave the boys plenty of space to run around and burn their energy, while learning about history. Now, I’m no history buff, so a museum with only signs to read is a no go for me.
Unique Experiences: Learning Through Music
So when we walked into the first home and there was a young woman playing the guitar and singing traditional music of that time, I knew this museum was going to be an amazing experience. She continued by telling the history of the Acadians, Native Americans, and African Americans of the time. We were able to learn even more about each ethnicity as there is a dedicated room for each group within the home.
However, the most unique experience of that particular home was when she pulled out the accordion. My boys lost their minds as it was their first time hearing one, let alone seeing one. She was kind enough to let them touch it and explain how it works. A special memory indeed.
The unique experiences continued as we went from home to home, seeing what they would use to skin the catch of the day, to how they made quilts, to even a typical bedroom and kitchen.
Unique Experiences: “I Will Not Speak French”
The first thing that caught my attention when entering the traditional classroom was 100 lines written on the chalkboard that repeated “I Will Not Speak French.” The historian in the room explained that local whites put a rule into place that forbade the Acadians from speaking French, especially in the classroom.
Since we visited during COVID, we were one of the few people there. Therefore I was able to have a one-on-one conversation with the historian and ask all of my burning questions. I learned so much! He was able to help me understand the founding story of Lafayette, in addition to the difference in the terminology “creole” vs. “cajun”. Did you know that there is even a difference in creole and cajun architecture? My mind was literally blown.
Unique Experiences: Bayou Life
Vermilionville is settled on Bayou Vermilion giving you access to bayou themed activities.
In fact, at the museum side of Vermilionville you can hop on a ferry. Now be aware, you have to navigate yourself across the bayou by pulling a rope to get across. It’s a pretty simple adventure but the boys thought it was the coolest.
On the other side of Vermilionville is where you can rent canoes and kayaks and take a self-guided tour across the bayou. This activity was not recommended for us due to the young ages of our kids.
We were excited to see that Lafayette had a museum specifically made for kiddos. From reviewing their website, they had various exhibits that ranged from a bubble factory, to a grocery store, to an animal hospital, outdoor play area, and so much more.
We had initially planned to visit the Children’s Museum after our time at Vermilionville. However, the boys burned so much energy at the culture museum that they slept past the opening hours of the Children’s Museum. As a result of the pandemic, the museum is only open during the weekend, so we missed the opportunity to experience the museum. But based on the reviews and what I saw on their website, it seems like an attraction that the kiddos would love.
During our walk down Jefferson Street (Lafayette’s main drag filled with restaurants, boutiques, and various places of interest), we passed the Science Museum. The boys immediately stopped to peek at the life-sized dinosaur located in the front window. There were so many cool exhibits that we witnessed from the window which made us immediately want to go inside. Unfortunately, the museum is closed due to COVID. However, they offer a virtual learning portal during their temporary closure.
With a lot of the indoor activities closed as a result of the pandemic, I was excited to learn that there was a museum located 15 minutes away from downtown Lafayette.
One of the things I love about smaller zoos is how they normally offer better access to the animals. They are normally less crowded than bigger zoos and you can get closer to the animals. Both were true at Zoosiana on a Monday afternoon. We literally didn’t see any other people while there. So the boys were able to get up close and personal with the animals. They absolutely loved it!
Similarly, I was pretty impressed with the variety of animals – from lions to giraffes, llamas, a variety of tigers, and so much more. So, if your kid loves animals, Zoosiana has to be on the things to do list while you’re in Lafayette.
If your kiddos are anything like mine, then eating good food has to be on the “to-do list” for any trip. With such a variety of cultures that make up Lafayette, this area offers some of the best and unique food. Below is a list of the amazing restaurants we tried while in Lafayette:
- Poboys: Pop’s Poboys
- Tacos: Tula Tacos
- Farm to Kitchen: Scratch Farm Kitchen
- Ice Cream: Bordens Ice Cream Shoppe
- Coffeeshop: Black Cafe
- Boudin and Cracklins: Don’s Specialty Meats (takeout only)
And for the adults that love daiquiris, be sure to try the drive-thru daiquiri shop, https://www.cupidsdaiquiris.com.
So Much More
With only one full day and two half days in Lafayette, we were not able to experience all of the amazing things to do with kids that Lafayette has to offer. Below are a few of the other activities and restaurants that we wished we had time to experience:
More Things to Do with Kids
- Conrad Rice Mill
- Jungle Gardens/ Avery Island
- Rip Van Winkle Gardens
- Lafayette Farmers and Artisan Market at the Horse Farm
- Rock’ n’ Bowl
From our amazing time in Lafayette, I was happily surprised to learn about all of the things to do in Lafayette that kids will enjoy. If you visit during the pandemic, I recommend that you visit over a weekend as many activities have limited operation currently.