Typically, when you think about a city’s downtown area the first thing that comes to mind is “hustle and bustle.” What appears to be organized chaos in a large metropolitan area. People moving in every direction, sky rises on every block, and sometimes an overwhelming sense of loneliness despite being surrounded by so many people.
However, I felt a unique sense of home my first time walking down Jefferson Street in Downtown Lafayette. I was welcomed with warm smiles and “have a great day!” on just about every corner. Not at all what I was anticipating on my first day of work when being tasked to go walk around this new city I now get to call home. Whew, what a relief!
On my first day, I started the morning at Carpe Diem Cafe & Wine Bar with a delicious Lavender Honey Latte’ recommended by the barista and was pleasantly surprised to see they also offer fresh gelato along with delicious smelling baked goods! For lunch I had to try the famous Pop’s Poboys and decided to go with their specialty popboy of the week, the Pep-boy. A warm and gooey pizza poboy filled with melty mozzarella, tomato sauce, and pepperonis, delish! I was also really excited to drop by local flower shop, Root Floral Design to pick up fresh flowers and a potted plant to bring home. Finally, I ended my day with a sweet treat from Borden’s Ice Cream Shop, and couldn’t believe how popular this historic destination remains to this day. Not only was the inside packed, but the outdoor tables were filled with laughing families and the drive thru with vehicles getting dessert to-go. While strolling downtown, the options of things to go see and do felt endless, and I am genuinely looking forward to exploring more of this beautiful downtown district I am now a part of.
Nothing like a concrete jungle, here you can see the character in the original architecture that makes up this small but mighty downtown city. Of course, you run into many business professionals, banks, and law offices as you would any other downtown area but it doesn’t stop there. The heart of Lafayette has so much more to offer to its community with over 100 small retail businesses. It is unlike other downtown areas filled with fast food chains and franchises. Instead Downtown Lafayette offers many locally owned restaurants and shops to give visitors a glimpse of the unique culture that encompasses this Cajun Country. Downtown Lafayette has something to offer all age groups, couples, and families. From museums, to galleries, restaurants, live music, and more there is something for everyone to enjoy.
My first week working for Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, I had the opportunity to attend our Lunch & Learn event featuring Louisiana’s Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and Lafayette Travel CEO Ben Berthelot as they discussed the significant roles tourism plays in economic development, specifically in the downtown area. Joined with Anita Begnaud, CEO of Lafayette Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, the conversation provided insight into how we can develop downtown as a community alongside efforts to continue to make our hometown an attractive place to visit.
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser announced that over 41 million visitors came to Louisiana in 2021 after facing two challenging years of stalled visitation due to the pandemic. Since the return of large-scale events and festivals have had great success, we can anticipate the same result with the re-opening of many large events in Louisiana. Downtown Lafayette Unlimited is excited to bring back events such as Downtown Alive!, Movies in the Parc, ArtWalk and more this fall! Ben Berthelot made a notable comment when asking the audience, “When visiting a new city, where do you typically go first? The answer is Downtown.” Both speakers shared that visitors describe trips to Lafayette as personable and unforgettable, and Downtown Lafayette plays a huge role in creating that experience. I certainly won’t forget my first day Downtown.