Start off your morning by stopping in at the Opelousas Tourist Information Center with its Jim Bowie Display, located within Le Vieux Village.
Here, you’ll be given material listing the various points of interest, antique shops, restaurants, music venues, accommodations and a helpful map.
Take time to walk through Le Vieux Village where the old train depot houses the only museum dedicated to the story of the children of the “Orphan Trains.” Make your way to Main Street, where you will find the Opelousas Museum & Interpretive Center. The Center is comprised of a main exhibit room, the Civil War Room, the Geraldine Smith Welch Doll Collection and the Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival Archives. As you continue on your tour of Opelousas, don’t miss the old hardware store, J.B. Sandoz, located just across the street from the Interpretive Center. What memories it will rouse!
For those interested in local history, visit some of the city’s many cemeteries. Cemetery tours are held annually each October in the St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery, which is right across the street from the St. Landry Catholic Church. Re-enactors portray local citizens who lived during a selected era and are now found buried there. Tours may also be scheduled of the historic Michel Prudhomme Home, one of the oldest structures in Louisiana.
The St. Landry Parish Courthouse Square, located in the heart of the Historic District, provides a lovely stop for visitors where quaint cafés offer breakfast, lunch or afternoon coffee. And be sure to save time to shop at our many antique stores found throughout the city.
Also of interest is the Creole Heritage Folklife Center located on West Vine Street. Here, you can experience the rich traditions and heritage of the African-American community, especially that of our Creole culture.
The newest attraction in the area is the 80,000-square-foot Evangeline Downs Racino (race track, casino & events center), with slots and a complete quarter horse and thoroughbred racing schedule.
There are plenty of other attractions located within neighboring communities as well.
Located only five miles east of Opelousas is Port Barre, where you can learn about the history of Bayou Teche and see where it begins!
Traveling north from Opelousas, you can enjoy a day and night in the historic steamboat town of Washington. As you enter, you will notice that much of its 19th century architecture and character has been preserved, as more than 80 percent of the buildings are on the Historic Register. The Washington Museum and Tourist Center houses fascinating displays and artifacts from Washington’s past. The Museum also provides assistance in scheduling tours of some of the lovely antebellum homes and gardens, like Magnolia Ridge.If antiques are your weakness, then you’ve come to the right place! The art deco school now houses more than 100 antique dealers, plus a dozen or more shops can be found throughout the town.
If you travel the Zydeco-Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway or Highway 190 going west, you can reach Eunice, the Prairie Cajun Capital! Your drive will take you along fields of cattle, rice and/or crawfish ponds, all adorned with prairie wildflowers, depending upon the season. In the heart of Eunice, a branch of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is located on Park Avenue. It features extensive exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of this region’s Acadian population, known today as Cajuns. Three other important stops during your visit to Eunice should be the Eunice Depot Museum, the Cajun Music Hall of Fame & Museum and the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center. On Saturdays, the Center offers music sessions and native craft and cooking demonstrations, both providing an opportunity for visitors to join in the fun. Be sure to also inquire about the Cajun Prairie Restoration Site located on the corner of Magnolia and Martin Luther King Drive. Here, efforts are being made to showcase the beautiful landscape of the prairie.
Just eight minutes south of Opelousas, you’ll make several delightful discoveries in the small community of Grand Coteau.Rich in religious history and historically significant architecture, you’ll want to schedule a tour of the Academy of the Sacred Heart. The Academy was established in 1821 and is the site of a documented miracle that led to the canonization of St. John Berchmans. The moss-draped oaks that surround the school, church and cemetery instill a sense of serenity and days of long ago. You will also want to pause in front of St. Charles College and Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House, both vital to Grand Coteau’s purpose.
As Grand Coteau was once a stagecoach stop, commerce has always thrived. Be sure to stop in at the various shops found in restored cottages throughout Grand Coteau and enjoy a relaxing meal at the local tea room or at an up-and-coming restaurant that features New Louisiana cooking!
Continue your day in the country by traveling back to I-49. Going under the interstate heading west, you will arrive in the town of Sunset. While in town, take time to drive by the beautiful Chretien Point plantation. It has recently reverted back to a private residence, but it is well worth the drive!
Arnaudville is known appropriately as the “Jewel on the Teche,” as it shines brightly these days with the many wonderful artisans and musicians. Arnaudville can be reached by driving Highway 31 south from Opelousas through Leonville or traveling down Highway 93 east of Grand Coteau. With several great locally owned restaurants, antique shops, art galleries, a quaint bed and breakfast and a lively dancehall, NuNu’s Nitelife, you will definitely want to include Arnaudville on your itinerary.
Worked up an appetite after all of that sightseeing? Perfect! Take a seat at one of the many delicious restaurants spread throughout St. Landry Parish. Then, round out your visit with a peaceful night at a beautiful bed and breakfast, new or renovated hotel/motel or under the stars at an area campground or RV Park.
For more information about any of these attractions or assistance with planning your visit, contact the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission toll free at 1-877-948-8004 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.