Few spots on the globe will make you feel as welcome and stimulate your senses like St. Landry Parish. Located just north of Lafayette and home to the charming, historic towns of Opelousas, Grand Coteau, and Sunset, the parish offers everything from energetic Zydeco dancing and mouthwatering cuisine to quaint byways and unique art and architecture.
You may be surprised to discover that Opelousas, not New Orleans, is the Zydeco Capital of the World. Zydeco was developed by the town’s Creole community, who pioneered a new genre that combined a washboard and an accordion in a small ensemble. Local musician Clifton Chenier made Zydeco famous in the 1950s.
Today, you can relish its toe-tapping rhythms during several of St. Landry Parish’s annual events, such as Lil’ Nate’s Zydeco Mardi Gras Parade and Chicken Run, the Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Festival, and the Lebeau Zydeco Festival . Need a dance lesson or a partner? Friendly locals are happy to show you the ropes.
For a taste of Louisiana’s French culture, breeze into Arnaudville. Listen closely as you stroll through town because about four out of 10 locals still speak French here. Wander to your heart’s content, then refresh yourself at Bayou Teche Brewing, a craft brewery situated on picturesque Bayou Teche and a featured spot on the Louisiana Brewery Trail. A trip to Arnaudville isn’t complete without visiting the NUNU Arts and Culture Collective, where you can attend regular openings for the community’s large number of visual artists and musicians. Every April, Arnaudville also hosts the Étouffée Festival that celebrates one of Louisiana’s famous dishes.
With 80 percent of the town of Washington on the National Register of Historic Places, you’ll quickly see how it has helped St. Landry Parish become Acadiana’s Antique Capital. Spend the day taking in the original board and batten cottages, plantation homes, and the Old Steamboat Warehouse on Bayou Courtableau. Then shop for your own bits of history at spots like the Old Schoolhouse Antique Mall, or Nanny Bell Antiques.
A 15-minute drive south takes you to another history-rich community, Grand Coteau, a favorite destination of photographers, architecture buffs, and those who like to get close to miracles. That’s right, miracles. Grand Coteau is home to the only miracle in the United States recognized by the Vatican, the Shrine of St. John Berchmans at the historic Academy of the Sacred Heart. But it’s not just gorgeous old buildings that define Grand Coteau. The community is also known for its local confection, sweet dough, from which locals make sumptuous hand pies and tarts in many flavors. Join them in celebrating this culinary treat every year at Grand Coteau’s annual Sweet Dough Pie Festival.
After touring your way through St. Landry’s Parish’s hot spots, take time to savor the authentic local cuisine. Nosh on the crispiest skin around at Mama’s Fried Chicken and savor a hit parade of Cajun favorites at Soileau’s Dinner Club. Enjoy a rich cup of Joe at Chicorys at the Palace in downtown Grand Coteau, or indulge in the Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant in Washington’s classic southern cuisine.
You can’t leave without sinking your teeth into a link of homemade pork boudin at any of the stops along the Louisiana Boudin Trail, which runs prominently through St. Landry Parish. Cajun meat markets include beloved destinations like Kartchner’s Grocery and Specialty Meats in Krotz Springs, and Billy’s Boudin in Krotz Springs and Opelousas. Order yourself a link, some boudin balls, and a sack full of deep-fried pork cracklins, and don’t forget a cold bottle of root beer to wash it all down.
Visit St. Landry Parish and celebrate the best of Louisiana, including friendly people, Creole and Cajun cuisine, art and architecture, and authentic music.