Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Lafayette, Louisiana: Meet Me in Cajun Country

Named the “Happiest City in America” by the Wall Street Journal’s, Lafayette, Louisiana, owes the honor to its diverse, fun-loving heritage. A rich mixture of cultures settled the area — French, Spanish, American Indian and African. Add to that the Canadians expelled in 1755 from Acadia, now Nova Scotia, who became known as Cajuns.

“Lafayette is a real melting pot,” said Ben Berthelot, president and CEO of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission. “We’re like one big gumbo.”

The first important thing to know about Lafayette, Louisiana, is the preferred pronunciation of its name. Thanks to Cajun influence, it’s LAFF-ee-et, not LAH-fee-et.

Here in the heart of Cajun Country, the attitude is “work hard, play hard,” embracing a joie de vivre, or “love of life,” obvious in every corner of this lively culture. Cajuns add spice not just to their food — crawfish is king — but to their music, dance, language and way of life. “Laissez les bonne temps rouler,” or “let the good times roll,” is the byword here. Attendees will want to come before the meeting and/or stay afterward to experience the area’s lagniappe, “something extra.”

Downtown, art and history buffs can explore a number of museums and arts facilities. The Acadiana Center for the Arts, the Lafayette Science Museum and Planetarium, and the Children’s Museum of Acadiana all have meeting spaces, and the Cite des Arts offers zydeco and Cajun dance lessons.

Even the southwestern Louisiana land is intriguing. Lafayette is tucked in among forests and prairies interlaced with bayous, swamps and marshes.

Though the feeling is rural, meeting facilities are exceptional. In addition to the Cajundome and its Convention Center, the 327-guest-room DoubleTree by Hilton Lafayette, the city’s largest full-service hotel, offers 22,000 square feet of meeting space and a 1,000-square-foot swimming pool deck overlooking Bayou Vermilion.

According to Berthelot, Cajun hospitality is like no other.

“Every convention day comes to an end,” he said, a touch of Cajun coloring his words, “and when it does, there’s no place better to experience our food, music and culture. Lafayette’s just a great place to be any day of the week.”

Cajundome Convention Center

A city landmark and home to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Ragin Cajun basketball team, the $64 million Cajundome can host 4,500 to 13,000 attendees at large events in a 40,000-square-foot arena, with courtyard space for parties. With 73,000 square feet on two levels, the adjacent $16.7 million Cajundome Convention Center offers meeting space for nearly 6,000 with a banquet capacity of 2,000. An in-house catering team includes renowned French executive chef Gilbert Decourt. “He can get local with crawfish etoufee and chicken-sausage gumbo,” said Liz Webb Hebert, convention center sales manager. “We never get complaints about our food.”