Set amid Louisiana’s French-influenced Cajun Country is the city of Crowley. Established in 1886, Crowley grew to become one of the nation’s largest rice farming regions and is often called the Rice Capital of America. This amicable city has a historic downtown district decorated with almost 200 protected buildings. It’s just 26 miles (42 kilometers) west of Lafayette.
Spend some time wandering along the wide pavements of downtown Crowley’s streets. Spot examples of antebellum, French-Creole and Spanish Colonial architecture. Notable landmarks include Crowley City Court, the First Presbyterian Church and the seven-story building of the First National Bank.
Visit the city’s entertainment venues. The Grand Opera House of the South opened in 1901 and hosts a year-round schedule of balls, cabaret shows and concerts. Enjoy an evening of Cajun, country and gospel music at the art deco style Historic Rice Theatre. Stand outside Master-Trak Enterprises, a recording studio where Paul Simon recorded the iconic album Graceland.
A 15-minute drive south from the downtown district is the Crystal Rice Plantation. Tours of this rice farm give an insight into the city’s rice harvesting traditions. There’s an exhibition of classic cars, too, and a gallery with displays of antiques, china and crystal.
In addition to rice, the area’s farms harvest crawfish, the staple ingredient of classic Louisiana food such as bisque (soup), étouffée (shellfish stew) and gumbo (meat or seafood Cajun stew). Sample these dishes at the city’s bars and restaurants or during October’s International Rice Festival.
It’s easy to get to Crowley from Lafayette by car along U.S. Route 90 which connects the two cities. Great as a daytrip destination, Crowley also has a range of affordable and family-friendly accommodations.
If you choose to stay in Lafayette then be sure to explore the city’s many attractions. Among these are the Acadian Culture Center and Louisiana Orphan Train Museum. Go for a scenic picnic at Chicot State Park and spot alligators at Lake Martin.