June 09, 2014

While there’s a thriving business center here in Lafayette, life here seems to move at a blissfully slower pace thanks to the city’s artistic and thoughtful vibe—not to mention its summer heat. You’ll find locals camped out at coffee shops with the Sunday paper, chefs chatting with restaurant patrons, and neighbors taking the time to stop and great one another. Best of all, you can plan a fulfilling getaway without breaking the bank. —Stirling Kelso

The French Press, Lafayette

James Beard–nominated chef Justin Girouard is behind this local foods-focused restaurant, located in an airy space that contrasts the building’s raw edges—exposed framing and rough concrete—with leather-cushioned chairs and white tablecloths. Lunch is an affordable alternative to the formal dinner: Try the fried shrimp melt or indulgent Croque Monsieur.

Old Thyme Grocery

The specialty at this character-filled shop—once filled with market staples—is po’ boys (the owner hails from New Orleans) made with friend shrimp, oysters, or catfish. Look out for nightly specials when select sandwiches are $5 a pop.

Whoojoo Stained Glass Gallery

See artist Craig McCullen at work at his studio and art gallery in downtown Louisiana. Not only does he make large-scale pieces for houses and churches, he also creates multi-medium works—paintings and collages—that are on display. If you’re not investing in fine art, look out for smaller souvenirs like handmade cards by his wife, Rebecca.

Blue Moon Guesthouse

This hotel isn’t for everyone—it’s attached to one of Lafayette’s top music venues—but its dorm-style accommodations (some shared) and private bungalow are a steal.  

Cajun Food Tours

Climb about the quirky, 14-passenger bus for six-stop food tour of some of Lafayette’s best Cajun restaurants. Along the way, a guide fills you in on cuisine and city history.

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