Pass the occasional alligator as you paddle along a scenic bayou. Take in all the high-speed action of a horse race before trying your luck in a 24-hour casino. Immerse yourself in Cajun culture and history at one-of-a-kind museums. Make all these adventures part of your next trip to St. Landry Parish, where everyone from antique shoppers to nature lovers will find something to enjoy. Home to historic towns and inviting rural communities like Opelousas, Eunice, and Port Barre, the parish offers some of the best experiences in South Louisiana. Plan your next Louisiana trip by checking out these things to do in St. Landry Parish.
Whether you’re a curious shopper or you enjoy uncovering unconventional finds, you’ll have the time of your life in St. Landry Parish, Acadiana’s Antique Capital. There are about 500 vendors in a 20-mile radius you can visit, so you can take up your entire stay here by just hunting for antiques. One of the main spots you’ll want to stop by is the Old Schoolhouse Antique Mall in Washington, where you can get lost in 40,000 square feet of vintage clothing, jewelry, and collectibles. The mall resides in the former Washington High School, and its large rooms and wide staircases provide a step back into the past. You’ll find even more to discover at the Sunset Antique Mall, an old sweet potato farm in Sunset filled with antiques, collectibles, and larger than life art inspired by the root vegetable.
There are, of course, many other places you can go to browse for goods from yesteryear. Find out more here.
With all the intensity of fierce thunderstorm, a pack of thoroughbreds charges past as each horse vies to cross the finish line first. The winner earns the day’s glory, as well as a significant bounty for you if you placed your bet wisely. As one of the few horse racing tracks in Louisiana, Evangeline Downs affords an experience rarely found in the Bayou State. Visit from April through October for thoroughbred racing or come from October to December to see galloping quarter horses. Although the shot of adrenaline you’ll feel as you watch each race is more than worth the trip out here, there’s more to do at Evangeline Downs. Open 24 hours, the all-in-one entertainment venue is home to a casino with 1,350 slot machines, along with a first-rate restaurant and plenty of zydeco music. You can even stay at the luxurious Evangeline Downs Hotel, which is all but a few steps away.
When you get thirsty, there’s nowhere else you’ll want to be than Bayou Teche Brewing. Set on the south side of Arnaudville, this brewery serves up delicious craft beers with a local twist. Whether you’re sipping an IPA or a dark French saison, each brew is made to perfectly complement the local Cajun fare. Before spending the afternoon savoring your beer of choice on the tree-shaded patio, go on a behind-the-scenes tour (available in English and French) to learn the finer points of beer making. After all, getting in the know just may make that next beer taste even better.
Andouille sausage, crawfish etouffee, gumbo, and jambalaya. Think of Cajun country and its food is likely the first thing that comes to your mind. Yet South Louisiana is just as notable for its music, as it was here that a new genre of music was born. With its use of accordions, fiddles, and steel guitars, Cajun music has a distinct sound that eventually influenced country, rock n’ roll, and modern pop music. Discover the roots of this musical genre and learn about its famous practitioners at the Cajun French Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Check out exhibits of historical instruments, record players, and other memorabilia as you get to know one of the many aspects that make this part of the country unique.
Nothing beats a little bit of time on the water, but the Bayou Teche National Water Trail provides far more than a leisurely float. At 135 miles in length, the trail passes through four parishes and 13 towns, including Port Barre and Arnaudville. Kayak the trail in its entirety for an unforgettably epic adventure or soak up the sun as you paddle along at your own pace. Regardless of your distance of choice, keep a keen eye out and you just may spot floating alligators and wading egrets, ibises, and herons. You can even try your luck at hooking a catfish, crappie (sac-au-lait), and bream. No matter how long you’re out on the paddling trail, you’ll revel in the remarkable untouched beauty of St. Landry Parish.
Cajuns are essentially synonymous with Louisiana, yet the people themselves weren’t among the state’s first European inhabitants. Originally the settlers of Acadia, a colony of New France in the northeastern United States and part of Quebec that was established in 1604, the Acadians were expelled by the British during the French and Indian War. Many of these people found their new homes in Louisiana, forever reshaping the state’s culture and language.
Learn all about Cajun history at the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice, where you’ll find exhibits in French and English that detail the ethnic group’s history, music, architecture, and music. One of the museum’s star attractions is its Courir de Mardi Gras exhibit, which showcases vibrant costumes, audio recordings, and a lesson on the origins of the chicken run. Stop by on a Saturday to catch one of the cooking demonstrations before you learn how to do a Cajun waltz. For even more of a walk through the past, plan a visit to some of St. Landry Parish’s other museums, such as the Opelousas Museum & Interpretive Center and the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum. Each has their own story to tell, so leave plenty of time to take it all in.