Life’s easy in South Louisiana, so pack a bag and come on down. But if you need a little more guidance, we’ve compiled a few tips for vacationing in Lafayette Parish and surrounding areas.
There’s an old joke in Louisiana that our winters here are so short, last year it was a Wednesday. That’s not exactly true, but expect Lafayette weather to be temperate for a good portion of the year.
Winters are usually mild, with occasional cold snaps and rain. Spring and fall offer warm sunny days, perfect for those dozens of festivals we’re known for. Summers mean hot and humid and lots of afternoon thunderstorms.
But here’s the kicker. We’ve been known to wear shorts at Christmas and receive a cool snap in April. Unless you’re heading south in August (sorry, that will most definitely be hot), the best way to prepare for a visit to South Louisiana — outside of the apex of summer — is to expect the unexpected. For instance, when visiting Mardi Gras in February, one should bring a jacket in case it turns cold and a short-sleeved shirt if the sun warms us up.
Cat works summers in national parks, and when the weather turns cold, and parks cut staff, she heads to Lafayette with her 16-foot Scamp to enjoy the mild winter months — and lots of great music and food. She parks at the KOA Kampground off Interstate 10, a convenient location inside a spacious wooden property with a picturesque lake. Paddle boats, a miniature golf course, and friendly, helpful staff are available.
Bayou Wilderness RV Campground in Carencro features 120 campsites with full hookups, and pets are welcome. https://bwrvr.com/
Parkside RV Park in Broussard offers 54 sites on 122 acres adjacent to St. Julien Park/Broussard Sports Complex, where visitors may enjoy a stocked fishing pond, playgrounds, sports fields, and splash pad, among much more.
As for the town itself, longtime resident and dog lover Stacy Lee says Lafayette’s ideal for dog owners.
“There are three dog parks in Lafayette and one in Abbeville, and a new one in Breaux Bridge,” she said. “I like Girard Park, too. There are many restaurants with outdoor seating that are dog friendly too.”
Know your Heat Tolerance
There’s a misconception that Cajun food must be dragon-breathing hot. We add flavor to our foods — and yes, the occasional hot sauce — but the ingredients added to our cuisine deliver a spicy element. In other words, we cook with flavor so diners will enjoy their food and not be doused with so much pepper they can’t taste their dinner.
However, if you’re not a spice person or fear the heat, do ask your restaurant server as to the heat level of their dishes. Most of the time, Lafayette restaurants will adjust the level of spice.
Of course, Lafayette’s restaurant scene has developed into a diverse smorgasbord.
An invisible saltwater line stretches across South Louisiana and divides fresh and saltwater areas. Those 18 and older wishing to fish in either area must have a Basic Fishing License for freshwater or a Saltwater License if fishing south of the saltwater line. Discounts are available for seniors, the military, students, and those with disabilities. Children under the age of 18 need not have a license.
Louisiana is home to a wide variety of waterfowl, small game, deer, alligators, and furbearers. All require a license to be hunted, and the cost varies for both fishing and hunting licenses. Check the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries page for more information on fees, rules, regulations, and hunting seasons.
Lafayette offers a more family-friendly Mardi Gras, so feel free to bring your kids and enjoy the revelry. Numerous parades roll through the Hub City and surrounding areas; children will love catching beads and a variety of throws. In addition to the city Carnival events, there’s the unique courir de Mardi Gras in the countryside. Click here to learn more about our unique holiday. A list of Mardi Gras events can be found here. And to learn more about our Carnival season, which can be a bit daunting, here’s a helpful primer.
Speaking of primers, you’ll likely hear a few unusual expressions around town. Louisiana was once under French and Spanish rule, so it’s only natural that we speak differently. Here’s a quick Cajun and Creole primer with pronunciations.
Allons [Ah-loh(n)]: Let’s go.
Joe Falcon and Cléoma Breaux recorded “Allons à Lafayette” (“Let’s go to Lafayette”) in 1928. It’s known as the first commercial Cajun song to be recorded.
Ça c’est bon (Sa say boh(n)): That’s good. Often heard after enjoying a great meal.
Ça va (Sa va): How are you?
Cher [sha]: A term of endearment not to be pronounced as it appears. In other words, don’t confuse this pronunciation with a singer who used to team up with a man named Sonny.
Dressed: What goes on a poboy or another sandwich. “Do you want your shrimp poboy dressed?” is what restaurants will ask, meaning, “Do you want lettuce, tomato, or other additions?”
Holy Trinity: Celery, onions, and peppers, the basics of much of Cajun and Creole cuisine.
Four Seasons: The Holy Trinity plus garlic.
Mais garde des donc (may gard day doh(n)): “Well, look at that!”
Fais-do-do (fay-dough-dough): A Cajun dance. The French definition means to go to sleep, and house dances used to occur once the children were asleep, hence the name.
Laissez les bons temps roulez (lazy lay boh(n) toh(n) rool-ay): You probably know how to pronounce this since it’s a common phrase meaning “Let the good times roll.”
Lagniappe (lan yap): A little something extra.
How’s ya mama-em-dem: Seriously, do we have to explain this one?
Pirogues: Shallow canoes used in bayous and wetlands, first made by indigenous people who hollowed out tree trunks.