Once called the “Happiest City in America” by the Wall Street Journal, it’s only fitting that we begin in the beautiful and historic town of Lafayette, Louisiana, as we plan the perfect fall road trip in the Bayou State. As you travel this route in the south-central part of the state to Avery Island, New Iberia, and back, you’ll see and experience the finest of what makes Louisiana the remarkable state it is and at the end of your journey, you’ll know a little more about the Cajun and Creole culture and influence in food, music, and the arts, and it’s place in Louisiana history.
The perfect fall road trip begins with the perfect cup of coffee and Rêve Coffee Roasters in Lafayette is a great place to begin. What started as a simple cup of coffee with his dad has become a lucrative special grade micro-roasting business for owner Nathanael Johnson. With an understanding that coffee is more than just a drink made with beans and water, Reve, which means “dream” in French, attempts to bring people together for the experience of sharing the steaming cup of liquid java and the stories of their lives. Open every day except Sunday, you’ll find full-bodied coffee choices that are unique Cajun blends and some imported from other countries. This is morning done right.
If you want to get a true picture of the natural state of this part of Louisiana, no road trip would be complete without spending time exploring and hiking the trails at the Acadiana Park Nature Station. Dedicated to reacquainting people with nature since 1967, the 150-acre park has six miles of hiking paths and features a boardwalk that makes this handicap accessible, and a museum and learning center. Situated along the Dan Deballion Canal and Francois Coulee, you’ll almost never guess that you’re so close to the city because the area is maintained in its natural state.
After hiking all day, you'll probably want to stop for dinner before heading to your next stop. Zea Rotisserie & Bar in Lafayette serves original and uncomplicated American cuisine in a fun and comfortable environment. From the moment you walk in, you'll be greeted with a smile and offered the signature ribs and French open-flamed rotisserie chicken you've ever tasted!
As you consider a place to retire for the night, check out T’Frere’s Bed & Breakfast, where Cajun hospitality and luxury meet. You’ll enjoy the original artwork scattered throughout the house and walking around the property in the cool of the evening. You might even like to sit out on the front porch and talk to other boarders or join the conversation in the house’s large kitchen. But this gorgeous house has a dark side. Legend has it that 100 years ago when the house was a family home, the lady of house, Amelie, was found dead inside the water well. With no explanation of how she died, her death was ruled a suicide and she was refused burial in the church cemetery. A female voice has been heard by visitors and recorded by the popular paranormal TV team that created “Ghost Adventures.”
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If the paranormal doesn’t interest you, or if you’re searching for something with a little less adventure and more focus on relaxation, then the Carriage House Hotel is a good choice. Located in the center of the city, you’ll be able to take advantage of food and entertainment options that are second to none. Complete with a fitness room, outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, children’s Fun Zone nursery area, spa, and City Club Grill & Bar, you may find it hard to leave.
If you’re looking for a place to unwind and relax after a fun day of sightseeing, the City Club Grill & Bar provides a great place. The fun and engaging atmosphere is just part of the experience you’ll have here, and a perfect start is one of the hand-prepared menu items like the cheese plate with warm Brie, an assortment of jellies, fruit, and French bread toast points. They also have signature cocktails like Smoke & Mirrors, made with Mezcal, Cynar, Yellow Chartreuse, Rosemary syrup, grapefruit juice, and club soda, that are great go-withs for any menu choice.
Avery Island is the location of the amazing Jungle Gardens, a 170-acre semitropical garden that’s home to an abundance of birds and flowers found in few other places. This nature lover’s dream is open every day with the goal of providing a place where the public can come and enjoy the estate and grounds built by conservationist, Avery McIlhenny. Son of the renowned Tabasco sauce creator, Avery took over the family business when his father died, but never forgot his love of the outdoors and his desire to share it with others.
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For over five generations, Avery Island has been home to the peppers that are the main ingredient of Tabasco Sauce. The unique landscape and geography that are found on this salt dome island are what makes the special sauce that’s become famous worldwide. Because the family continues to believe that it’s important to give back to the land and not just take the rich resources found there, they created Bird City, a waterfowl refuge that seeks to protect endangered species from extinction. Tours are available every day year-round.
If you’re looking for a place to stop for authentic Louisiana country cooking on your fall road trip, you have to visit Brenda’s Dine In & Take Out Diner in New Iberia, but don’t judge this hidden gem by its outward appearance. Where it’s small in size, it’s large in flavor and portion sizes. Serving breakfast and lunch for the past 26 years, one of the best things there is the fried chicken and it’s okay to eat it for breakfast! This is soul food at its finest with additional choices like meatloaf, rice and gravy, yams, mustard greens, and corn bread. Like the menu says, “C’est si bon!”
You have to include a visit to Hub City Farmer’s Market in Lafayette if your fall road trip takes you to Lafayette on a Saturday. This unique market seeks to encourage and promote locally sourced produce and space for small family farms to sell directly to consumers. You’ll have your choice of organic heirloom vegetables and dairy products, herbs, prepared foods, distilled water, and many items that vary with the season.
Gotreaux Family Farms is our premier vendor for, nutrient dense produce, sustainably raised meats, and so much more! Come out and connect with them every Saturday morning from 8am-12pm. #gotreauxfamilyfarms #eatclean #eatlocal #eatlafayette #shoplocal #farmersmarket #thatlacommunity #onlylouisiana #knowyourfarmer #hubcityfarmersmarket