Here’s a bit of disclosure for ya. Often, when a tourist board gets wind of a travel writer visiting its neck of the woods, someone from that office will send the writer some relevant info about the destination along with a modest goodie bag with items like branded pens, pads etc as well as a few things related in some way to what one might expect to see and do in that area.
I got a cheese knife the first time I visited Parma. A rep from Orlando once gave me a pack of “Antarctica” mints in an effort to promote the penguin attraction at SeaWorld. In a show of true Cajun hospitality, the kind folks from Lafayette Travel sent me a red and white checkered beer koozie with “LAFAYETTE!” printed across it in a wacky akimbo font and a crawfish motif. It’s a down home kind of place, Lafayette, where a koozie for your cold one is a handy asset indeed.
In the heart of Cajun country, this homey municipality is only a couple of hours drive from New Orleans but seemingly a world away. Non-Louisiana people who use the terms “Creole” and “Cajun” interchangeably don’t know what they’re talking about. Of course there are similarities, but each group’s dialect, history, ethnic background, cuisine, and music are all distinctive of the other. If Nawlins is a Sazerac cocktail served to a funkified jazz soundtrack in a French Quarter bar, Lafayette is a craft beer with some zydeco or rowdy country music strummed out on somebody’s front porch. Having a chance to experience a bit of both cultures was splendid. Although, a mere 24 hours in Lafayette was hardly enough time for Kemey and me to get settled in and served only to fuel our curiosity and hopes for a more thorough visit sometime in the near future.
While in Lafayette, we stayed at the brand spanking new SpringHill Suites Lafayette South at River Ranch. Just a short drive (or taxi ride) from Lafayette’s town centre, this Marriott property was close to plenty of shopping, restaurants and the airport. To be honest, the hotel felt a bit soulless (after experiencing the grandeur of Mobile’s Battle House Hotel and the Big Easy bustle of Maison Dupuy in NOLA). Still, it was really nice to spread out in our spacious suite. The bed was super comfy too. Plus, the location was ideal for our purposes: sightseeing in and out of town and hitting the road early the next morning. I’d stay there again and definitely will be on the look out for other SpringHill properties next time I plan to travel in the States or Canada.
Read more about SpringHill Suites at marriott.com/hotels/travel/lftsh-springhill-suites-lafayette-south-at-river-ranch.
Eat and Drink
McGee’s Landing: Catfish, alligator, crab, crawfish, shrimp, boudin, gumbo and more – Kemey and I sampled a mound o’ Louisiana comfort food during our visit to this Lake Henderson establishment about 20 miles east of Lafayette. Even for a native born son of the south like me, turning off the two lane road to cross over the levee and access this swamp-side shack was accompanied by an intensely ‘out there’ feeling. I loved it and wished I’d had the chance to go on one of the swamp tours offered by McGee’s.
More at mcgeeslanding.com.
Blue Moon Saloon and Guesthouse: Our one night in Lafayette was spent enjoying a few brews – including an especially tasty Envie American Pale Ale from Parish Brewing Co – and some live music a la local “hard country” act Double Wide at a fantastic little watering hole, the Blue Moon Saloon and Guesthouse. The band played outside on a covered stage in the humid night air. A storm rolled in seemingly on cue making the gig all the more Louisianan from my perspective anyway.
Visit the Blue Moon online at bluemoonpresents.com.
Victor’s Cafeteria: Roughly 20 miles south of Lafayette on the main drag in New Iberia, Victor’s Cafeteria was the last place we ate before moving on from Louisiana. I had a mighty satisfying plate of catfish and frog legs here with a cup of the best gumbo of the trip (and that’s really saying something!). I reckon Kemey and I spent around $25 for our ample and home made lunch at Vincent’s – and that’s including a fairly generous tip!
Find out more at victorscafeteria.com.
Keep an eye out for more highlights from my time in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida along with suggestions for planning your own southern sojourn. If y’all ain’t never been to the places mentioned in my Dixie Detours miniseries, I reckon you’re missing out.