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14 Must-Do Things in Lafayette While You're in Grad School

UL Grad School -- 10/14/2022

UL Lafayette is a great place for graduate studies, not just because of our awesome faculty and world-class facilities, but also because of where we are located. Lafayette is vibrant, buzzing city that has something for everyone.

There's a lot to do here, so don't limit yourself to this list—but we think there are some quintessential Lafayette experiences you must have while you're in graduate school.

1. Go to Downtown Alive!

Downtown Alive! Lafayette gif

Enjoy Lafayette’s longest-running free weekly concert series every Friday night during the spring and fall months.

See the Downtown Alive! schedule.

2. Learn about our cultures

Visit the numerous museums and plantations in and around Lafayette. Some places you don’t want to miss are Vermilionville, Avery Island and the Tabasco Museum, the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site, Jefferson Island, Shadows on the Teche, and the Alexandre Mouton House (which is within walking distance from campus).

3. Experience Art Walk

A free event held every second Saturday of the month, giving you the opportunity to explore the Downtown Lafayette Cultural District. Art galleries and other venues open their doors with free admission to see work from local and regional artists, along with pop-up theater and musical performances.

4. Visit the local (and not so local) breweries

Bayou Teche Brewing (home of the Ragin’ Cajuns brews) and Parish Brewing Company are just a couple of the local breweries that offer taprooms and tours. If you want to travel a little further, the Abita Brewery and Louisiana Spirits Distillery are both relatively close to the Acadiana area.

5. Participate in Holi Fest

Acadiana's festival of colors. Celebrate the Hindu spring religious festival of Holi with traditional Indian food, music, and “color splashing.”

6. Listen to some live music

There is always some live music to be found in Lafayette. Some close-by venues include Artmosphere, Blue Moon Saloon, Green Room, Feed N’ Seed, and Warehouse 535, along with a host of other music venues in surrounding areas.

Check out a list of upcoming live shows.

7. Check out Acadiana Park

Visit the Nature Station, walk the nature trails, play some disc golf, or mountain bike through the forest.

8. Kayak or canoe on Lake Martin

Two kayakers on Lake Martin in Lafayette Louisiana

Rent a kayak or canoe and explore the swamps of Lake Martin at a leisurely pace. You’ll get an up-close and personal experience with the amazing wildlife of the area in their natural habitat.

9. Attend a UL Lafayette sporting event

You can catch one of our Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns teams on almost any given weekend. Some of the sports events that you may enjoy watching include football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, soccer, rugby, and tennis. And remember, graduate student admission to all sporting events is free (and an escort ticket comes at a reduced price).

10. Dance the night away at a festival

Lafayette has no shortage of festivals, and we feel very strongly about them. Good food, good music, and a good time are the best ways to describe them. Some local must-sees are Festival International, Festivals Acadiens et Creoles, the Boudin-Cookoff, and the Hot Sauce, Rice, Crawfish, Duck, Shrimp, and Etouffée festivals are all close to the Acadiana area.

11. Take a swamp tour in the Atchafalaya Basin

Take a guided tour through the historic Louisiana swamp. You’ll get to explore the highly unique Louisiana waterways while learning about the history of the people that have lived and worked there for centuries. You’ll probably also get up-close and personal with some alligators! This is a can’t-miss outing, though you should try to go during the winter months when it’s not so hot!

12. Shout for some beads during Mardi Gras

It’s not just New Orleans that celebrates Mardi Gras. Lafayette hosts several of its own Mardi Gras parades, which travel right next to the UL Lafayette campus. And just like the festivals, a true Mardi Gras goer can visit parades and the traditional courir de Mardi Gras all over, in Youngsville, Carencro, Church Point, Scott, and Crowley. And of course, try all the different King Cake vendors in town and see how Lafayette treats this Mardi Gras specialty.

13. Take a picture with the "Y Lafayette" sign downtown

Y Lafayette sign downtown Lafayette Louisiana

Taking a picture with the “Lafayette” sign downtown is a rite of passage for anyone joining the local community. The YLafayette sign is regularly painted with different designs to celebrate special occasions such as festivals, fundraisers, and UL Lafayette homecoming. It’s always a pleasant surprise to see what new design they have come up with each time you visit!

14. Stuff your face

Poboy eating gif

Lafayette is famous for its food. We know grad students are on a limited budget, but luckily there are tons of restaurants where you can fill up without emptying your wallet. For a budget-friendly meal, we recommend the po’boy: you can find a classic version at Olde Tyme Grocery (just blocks from campus), you can pair one with a great bowl of gumbo at Chris’s Poboys, or try a twist on a classic at Pop’s Poboys (which was named one of the 50 best new restaurants in America last year).