The Zydeco Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway pays tribute to the music of south Louisiana, touching many iconic music spots while ambling through serene, rolling prairies. Crawfish farms, sweet potato fields and pastures where beef cattle and saddle horses graze are just a few of the features on this byway. A ride along this byway also illustrates why Louisiana is well-known for its many festivals. The towns along the route hold celebrations to honor everything from cotton to cracklins. The byway consists of three loops and a spur, so visitors have their choice of routes.
Mamou calls itself the “Cajun Music Capital of the World” and holds a music festival each fall. A must see, Fred’s Lounge, where Cajun music and dancing are a Saturday morning ritual. In nearby Pine Prairie, Guillory’s Grocery and Specialty Meats produces cracklins and locally made sausages. This loop ends in Ville Platte, home to the 6,400-acre Chicot State Park, with its playground, swimming pool, fishing and boating facilities, and the Louisiana State Arboretum. Discover hundreds of indigenous plants, from sycamores to orchids, along with white-tailed deer, wild turkey and many types of birds.
This loop begins in Eunice, home to the Cajun French Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Then, you move into one of Louisiana’s prime rice-growing areas, Crowley, home to the Historic Rice Theatre and Rice Interpretive Center, an auto museum and the J.D. Miller Music Museum.
Few towns contain as many historic structures as Washington, where 80 percent of the town’s buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. For most of the 19th century, Washington was the largest inland port between New Orleans and St. Louis. Buildings like the Steamboat Warehouse, which is now a restaurant, recall the town’s prominent past. Another beautiful stop along this loop is Grand Coteau, founded in 1776 and known for its live oak allées and the historic Academy of the Sacred Heart. This loop ends in Opelousas, the birthplace of musician Clifton Chenier and considered by many to be the home of zydeco. Locals like to eat at Chicory's at The Palace Café, a simple eatery in business since 1927. Try the chicken-fried steak or anything crawfish.
This short spur takes you through Palmetto – home of Budden’s General Store, which opened in 1934 – on the way to Krotz Springs, a former sawmill town.