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Lovely Lafayette is Louisiana's unsung hero, a Cajun Country boomtown with an eye on sustainability, gastronomy and good-time livin'. It’s conveniently packed into a historic downtown that attracts revelers, gourmands and hipsters. Home to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the city's considerable student population guarantees plenty of culture in a compact space.
The culinary scene punches above its weight class, with heaps of authentic Cajun and Creole restaurants (Johnson's Boucanière is astonishingly good). Lafayette also has one of the South's best live music scenes – don’t miss the weekly Cajun Jam at the Blue Moon Saloon. Museums flourish too – the University Art Museum, the Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Acadian Cultural Center are musts. Vermilionville, a recreated 19th-century Cajun village, provides an enlightening if somewhat hokey glimpse into Acadian life.
Celebrate the region's French heritage during the annual Festival International de Louisiane, one of the South's biggest and best parties. The five-day festival includes art, food and music by groups like the Funky Meters, Buckwheat Zydeco and the Wailers.