If you’ve never visited Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, there’s no better time. The area is booming with fun, family friendly activities and beautiful spots to learn about its culture and history. A recent trip this early spring (a beautiful time to visit, by the way), made me realize just how much I was missing by never visiting the area before – and I already want to visit again. From what to see to where to eat, here are all the fun things to do in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou.
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at Visit Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou to give you the scoop on the fun things to do in the area. All opinions are my own!
If you’ve visited Sand and Snow before (thank you!), you may have read that I’m kind of a northern gal. Wait, I’m more than “kind of”. I am a northern gal. Born in New Brunswick, Canada, I lived in Northern Maine for my elementary school years and moved to Ohio when my father retired from the Air Force. And, crazy enough, I’d never visited the true South until a couple of months ago.
Not surprising, it was an eye opening experience in the happiest possible way. My teen daughter and I road tripped along the Gulf Coast, stopping along the route every couple of nights to explore a new area. It’s these new memories that I hold so very precious to me compliments of the gorgeous scenery, amazing food, and activities. Here are my top picks for the best things to do in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou.
Airboat Tours by Arthur
Airboat Tours by Arthur in Des Allemandes makes the top of my list for two reasons. First, it was my first Cajun Bayou experience. And second, it’s so very quintessentially Cajun. We don’t have alligators in my neck of the woods generally, so the idea of hopping on an airboat with a true, Cajun guide and the experience of “petting” a giant gator in the wild was brilliant!
During our airboat tour, we learned so much about the area and its wildlife. Compliments of the airboat’s ability to go both in shallow water and on land, we got to dig into areas not normally seen. One such spot where a cypress tree fell over and grew several trees from its trunk, was breathtakingly beautiful.
Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center
If you’re looking for a fun museum that celebrates the Cajun culture, Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux is the spot. It’s not overwhelmingly large and has plenty of hands-on exhibits for both kids and adults. But the fun really comes from the Center’s boat tour. It’s a two-hour, smooth ride down the bajou and the guides are more-than knowledgeable about the local wildlife and area history.
About halfway through the boat tour, we stopped at the E.D. White Historic Site. More on that below.
E.D. White Historic Site
The former home of Edward Douglas White, Louisiana’s Governor from 1835 to 1839, the E.D. White Historic Site is a trip back through time to the early Nineteenth Century. We were able to walk around the plantation’s grounds, look around in his home, and learn about how it was run.
In addition, I got to taste chicory for the first time, as it’s used to blend with, and many times replace, coffee. Similar in flavor but a bit more robust, it was a fun experience.
Bayou Country Children’s Museum
We’re all about science centers and children’s museums in this house, and the Bayou Country Children’s Museum in Thibodaux was just what we needed after sitting on a bot for a couple of hours.
Packed with both indoor and outdoor play spaces and learning spots, it’s affordable, clean, and best of all, a fun way to learn about the Bayou through play.
Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Dining
To not add in great places to eat in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou would be doing the area a disservice, especially with all of the fresh seafood and cajun spices. Here are a few of our favorite spots:
Only a mile or two down the road from Swampboat tours by Arthur in Des Allemandes, Spahr’s is a local favorite. It was pretty packed during our visit, but definitely worth the wait. The ambiance is laidback, the prices are reasonable, and the food, so good.
If you’re not sure what to eat from it’s big menu, I have a couple of suggestions. You can’t go wrong with fried green tomatoes topped with crab remoulade and the onion sticks as a side dish. As for entrees, for lunch try the Chicken Po’ Boy or Shrimp Etoufee and catfish fries.
Seafood boils are big in the South and it’s no different in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou. The first time I was introduced was in Lake Charles, LA, and it was a hoot. In a nutshell, you basically throw a ton of seafood into a pot, add veggies and spices, and let it boil. For Louisiana, adding in crawfish is a must. We tried Rose’s famous Seafood boil in Galliano with crawfish, potatoes, and corn and my daughter loved it.
Rose’s also has some really good bar-style dishes. Definitely try the chicken wings and sliders. And for dessert? Her beignets are really good and topped with a ton of powdered sugar as they should be.
Another cool mom and pop restaurant is Kajun Twist. The interior has a fifties flair and the menu is not giant, but still tasty. The restaurant offers tasty diner-style dishes from chili to oyster sandwiches, but it’s the gumbo that’s worth the visit. Made without rue, it’s very good.
In Thibodaux, Flanagan’s is my kind of spot for lunch and dinner. Inside, it looks very Irish. But inside the menu is mainly Southern. On Sundays, the restaurant offers a cool, jazz brunch that I wouldn’t mind checking out.
We ate so much during our visit that I was absolutely stuffed. And it was one of those times that was compliments of wanting to just keep eating. Menu standouts are its famous fried veggie platter, spinach & artichoke dip (probably the best I’ve ever tried), and Asian sesame bites.
As for dessert, I never realized just how prevalent bread pudding was in the South until I visited the area. Flanagan’s version is close to perfection if not there already.
The final meal for our visit, Cinclare is a hip, chic spot in Thibodaux. The menu is styled after rustic Southern cuisine and its location reminded me of The French Quarter in New Orleans.
While the entire meal was delicious, there were several standouts that hit my radar. First, you have to try the Alligator and Andouille Cheesecake off the starters menu. It’s not a dessert, but a rich, creamy dish topped with crawfish cream sauce and my teen loved it.
The salads are fun and creative, the entrees everything from duck to chicken, and desserts delicious as well. Try the Chocolate Cremieux and Caramel Tart if you have a sweet tooth.