Friday, November 13, 2015

Lafayette (Photo: Thinkstock)"What is it with the cool places of last year?
Brooklyn is now full of dudes with man buns whose beards smell like breakfast
and tight pants that would look better on Kate Moss — but only
barely.
And don"t get me started on the New York City borough"s restaurants,
where the bill for an appetizer and a glass of wine can look suspiciously like
a rent check (which the hipsters can all afford thanks to their startups) or
the overblown yet anemic live music scene.
Or Austin, with its proliferation
of gastropubs and boatloads of millennial partiers looking to experience a
slice of the Redneck Riviera before heading out on the town to sip gourmet
cocktails that take 20 minutes to make, averaging out to a buck a minute.
It"s
OK — they"re not going to go too crazy, at least not until their
spiritual gathering, SXSW, starts in March or whenever.It is a shame that
these places, once actually on the cusp of interesting, are now just …
annoying.
Full of arrogant stereotypes who are, for the most "part,
interlopers who have transplanted the locals and the culture they claim to
love — but want to change.For those of us looking for a real,
down-to-earth experience of culture, art, and food, the place to go is just
north of New Orleans in Lafayette, La.Related: The Hunt for the Louisiana
Swamp MonstersPhoto: University of Louisiana at Lafayette/Facebook"Located
along the Vermilion River amidst alligator-filled swamps, huge magnolia trees,
and shade oaks, Lafayette is the epicenter of Acadiana, Cajun, and Creole
culture — which means music, food, and art.But unlike it"s more
well-known sister, New Orleans, Lafayette isn"t clogged with tour buses, you
won"t get run down by a mob following their umbrella-holding leader, and you
won"t have to wait an hour for a fair-to-middling meal at a restaurant that
has gained fame due to a free meal it once gave a writer for a national
newspaper.Named the happiest city in the United States last year in a study by
some wonks at Harvard (so you know it must be true), Lafayette wasn"t always
that way.In the 1980s, the city hadn"t diversified from oil, so with the oil
bust, the economy bottomed out.
The city"s residents coined the phrase, "The
last one to leave Lafayette, turn out the lights," as people left
town.Related: A Psychic Tour of America"s Most Haunted City"But in the late
1980s and early 1990s, unwilling to see their history turn into a ghost town,
residents and local government turned their attention to revitalizing the
downtown area and focusing on culture and activity.Today, the downtown area is
covered in Robert Dafford murals and is flush with art galleries, music
studios, and restaurants that the foodie-wannabes in Brooklyn can only dream
about.
And the river and surrounding marshes attract not just gator viewings
but also professional photographers, adventurists, kayakers, and outdoors
people.
Even better are the locals: decent, honest, and, as the survey said,
happy people who are immersed in their culture and proud to show you around,
tell you stories, or invite you over for homemade gumbo.Go now — when
word gets out, it is gonna get crowded."Where to eat:The Sweet Baby Breesus
will make you rethink breakfast forever.French Press: I had the best breakfast
of my life (and I have had a lot of breakfasts) at the French Press —
specifically, the Sweet Baby Breesus, named after New Orleans Saints
quarterback Drew Brees.
Comprising boudin balls (a rice-and-sausage ball fried
lightly) on top of bacon inside buttermilk biscuits topped with cane syrup and
a side of grits, it"s seriously heaven.Another local favorite is the Olde Tyme
Grocery,"which has been around for decades and specializes in shrimp and roast
beef po"boys.
However, locals warn that due to the garlic content, you may not
want to try and hit on anyone after eating.
If you are a po"boy connoisseur
(and there are many), also stop by Pop"s Poboys.Other local favorites include
Deano"s Pizza (try the "Cajun executioner"), Taco Sisters for great shrimp or
brisket tacos, and Edie"s for the best biscuits in town."WARNING: PatoisLong
ago Patois was good, some even say great, but I saw no evidence of this when I
stopped by.
The boudin balls were overfried and dry, the gumbo was
cornstarched thick, and the fried crawfish bits were something I could have
gotten anywhere.
The only saving grace was the live music.
I saw the Michot
brothers play and am thankful I did — they were lovely.Related: The 3
Must-Hit Spots on a Booze Tour of New Orleans"
Music and art:Photo:
Lafayette, Louisiana/Facebook"Just walking around the art deco downtown is a
gallery experience, as there are many murals by acclaimed artist Robert
Dafford and several other works of public art.
But the real draw is the
music.
Almost any public space in Lafayette is a magnet for
Grammy-award-winning musicians, local and outsiders alike.
It is a bit like
what New Orleans was like in the 1990s, before Katrina.
On any given day in
any given place, there are jam sessions where anyone can bring their
instrument and play along.
But the most famous jam session is every Saturday
morning at the Savoy Music Center, hosted by local icons Mark and Ann
Savoy.Lafayette has a Friday afternoon music event that is a gathering of
locals and people from out of town."
Other favorite spots are the Blue Moon
& Guest House and Warehouse 535, a newish, midsize venue popular with the
locals.
To do:
Photo: Facebook/Pack and PaddleLafayette is at the
intersection of the Atchafalaya Basin — which comprises one of the
nation"s largest freshwater hardwood swamps and the brackish marshes proximal
to the Gulf of Mexico — and is a mecca for outdoors people,
photographers, and bird/wildlife lovers.
But fishing is the real draw.
"Rent a
kayak or sign up for a trip with Pack & Paddle, a great outfitter in town
that offers hikes, paddle trips, and kayak fishing trips.
"Lake Martin, just
outside of Lafayette, has a natural bird rookery that at the height of the
season (March-April) hosts thousands of nesting pairs of birds.
Roseate
spoonbills, great blue herons, snowy egrets, and many more birds can be viewed
from the road or from a kayak, and "the Nature Conservancy has an interpretive
center there."
Related: New Orleans"s House of Dance and Feathers Dances Back
to Life"Festivals:Photo: The International Festival/FacebookLafayette is also
a hot spot for festivals, both domestic and international.The International
Festival"is a free festival in downtown Lafayette that attracts musicians from
around the world, while in the fall is the"Festivals Acadiens, a more
traditional music festival for Cajun music and dance.Meanwhile,"Black Pot,
held the last weekend in October, has become one of the young locals" favorite
festivals; many camp out and jam throughout the weekend.WATCH: Lafitte"s: The
Oldest Bar in LouisianaLet World traveling club Travel inspire you every
day.
Hang out with us on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.Check out
our original adventure travel series, "A Broad Abroad."For more on World
traveling club Travel"s travel policy, click here. Lafayette (Photo:
Thinkstock)  What is it with the cool places of last year? Brooklyn is now
full of dudes with man buns whose beards smell like breakfast and tight pants
that would look better on Kate Moss — but only barely..Related: The 3
Must-Hit Spots on a Booze Tour of New Orleans"
Music and art:Photo:
Lafayette, Louisiana/Facebook"Just walking around the art deco downtown is a
gallery experience, as there are many murals by acclaimed artist Robert
Dafford and several other works of public art.
But the real draw is the
music.
Almost any public space in Lafayette is a magnet for
Grammy-award-winning musicians, local and outsiders alike.
It is a bit like
what New Orleans was like in the 1990s, before Katrina.
On any given day in
any given place, there are jam sessions where anyone can bring their
instrument and play along.
But the most famous jam session is every Saturday
morning at the Savoy Music Center, hosted by local icons Mark and Ann
Savoy.Lafayette has a Friday afternoon music event that is a gathering of
locals and people from out of town."
Other favorite spots are the Blue Moon
& Guest House and Warehouse 535, a newish, midsize venue popular with the
locals.
To do:
Photo: Facebook/Pack and PaddleLafayette is at the
intersection of the Atchafalaya Basin — which comprises one of the
nation"s largest freshwater hardwood swamps and the brackish marshes proximal
to the Gulf of Mexico — and is a mecca for outdoors people,
photographers, and bird/wildlife lovers.
But fishing is the real draw.
"Rent a
kayak or sign up for a trip with Pack & Paddle, a great outfitter in town
that offers hikes, paddle trips, and kayak fishing trips.
"Lake Martin, just
outside of Lafayette, has a natural bird rookery that at the height of the
season (March-April) hosts thousands of nesting pairs of birds.
Roseate
spoonbills, great blue herons, snowy egrets, and many more birds can be viewed
from the road or from a kayak, and "the Nature Conservancy has an interpretive
center there."
Related: New Orleans"s House of Dance and Feathers Dances Back
to Life"Festivals:Photo: The International Festival/FacebookLafayette is also
a hot spot for festivals, both domestic and international.The International
Festival"is a free festival in downtown Lafayette that attracts musicians from
around the world, while in the fall is the"Festivals Acadiens, a more
traditional music festival for Cajun music and dance.Meanwhile,"Black Pot,
held the last weekend in October, has become one of the young locals" favorite
festivals; many camp out and jam throughout the weekend.WATCH: Lafitte"s: The
Oldest Bar in LouisianaLet World traveling club Travel inspire you every
day.
Hang out with us on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.Check out
our original adventure travel series, "A Broad Abroad."For more on World
traveling club Travel"s travel policy, click here.Lafayette (Photo:
Thinkstock)  What is it with the cool places of last year? Brooklyn is now
full of dudes with man buns whose beards smell like breakfast and tight pants
that would look better on Kate Moss — but only barely.

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