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Discover Louisiana's Lesser-Known Gems
Venture down the road less traveled to explore a Bayou bursting with as much Cajun and Creole culture, character, and cuisine as the Big Easy itself. Pack up the car – adventure awaits in communities from Lafayette to Galliano all year round.
Start in Vinton, west of Lake Charles, just a few miles from Louisiana's western border along Interstate 10.
Vinton hosts a wide variety of annual events, including the Vinton Heritage Festival, the Vinton Homecoming Parade, Vinton Mardi Gras Parade, and more. No matter what time of year you visit, there's likely to be a celebration.
Don't leave town without tasting some authentic Cajun cookin' at Comeaux's Cajun Gold Restaurant. We recommend the Boudin Balls washed down with a cold sweet tea.
Of course, there are plenty of places in the area to work off a big meal. Niblett's Bluff Park is a great place for a jog, just minutes to the north, and the Sabine Island Wildlife Management Area is just across the stream from there, promising ample opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, hunting, and more.
Head east on I-10 past Lake Charles to Iowa, where you can connect with US-165, which will take you to Kinder.
To to its name, Kinder can bring out the kid in all of us. Run a muck like you wish you could have when you were young at Coushatta Casino. Coushatta also boast the Koasati Pines Course, where players of all skill levels can test their skills on an 18-hole, par-72, championship-layout course.
If you are traveling with your own little ones in tow, make sure to let them get the ants out of their pants at Kids Quest. There, they'll find ball pits, tubes, arcade games, and more – there are even – big plastic games for the younger youngsters.
West Bay Wildlife Management Area is just minutes to the north of Kinder. It's a favorite among local hunters, who are known to catch a variety of big game there.
Make your way back down to the I-10 and continue east past Rayne to reach Lafayette – home to University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a hotbed of activity.
Whether you're religious or not, a visit to the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is a great way for visitors to get a sense of Lafayette's centuries-old history. The historic Roman Catholic cathedral is adorned with stained-glass windows depicting the life of Saint John the Evangelist, along with 14 Stations of the Cross lining the walls, and statues of more saints in shrines throughout the Cathedral.
Visit in April to be a part of the Festival International de Louisiane. The draws nearly 400,000 attendees to the downtown area, celebrating Cajun, French, and Acadian cultures with creole cooking, Zydeco music, and much more.
For a little educational fun, check out the Lafayette Science Museum. There, families will find a wide variety of immersive and hands-on traveling and permanent exhibits – everything from a planetarium to giant, prehistoric fossil displays.
And if you brought your clubs, you can get a round or two in as well. A go-to for local players, the Wetlands Golf Course boasts 18 of the most well-maintained holes in the area.
Now it's time to really get wet – venture off of I-10 and head southeast from Lafayette on US-90 past Gray to reach Galliano. Along the way, you'll get a first-hand look at some of the marshland so unique to Louisiana's southern tip.
Bring your poles – a small town embedded deep within the marshland and nearly surrounded by water, much of Galliano's day-to-day culture is based around fish – both catching them and eating them.
If you'd rather leave your bait and tackle at home, there are plenty of places to try another man's fry. Locals recommend Alzina's, an old-school staple in these parts. There, visitors will find "real cajun cooking" and big helpings of the charm and hospitality the South is famous for.
Still, if you'd rather catch your own fish, know that the murky waters can be difficult to navigate and some of the best spots to reel in a catfish are hard to get to. That's what makes Bayou's Edge Fishing Charters so great. You'll board a boat with an expert guide who will take your group out to the very best spots before lending you a few tips and tricks for how to score a big one.