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Stop by the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Center, 1400 NW Evangeline Thruway (tel. 800/346-1958 in the U.S., 800/543-5340 in Canada, or 337/232-3808; www.lafayettetravel.com). The helpful staff will assist with everything you could possibly want to know about the region. Turn off I-10 at exit 103A, go south for about a mile, and you'll find the office in Cajun-style homes in the center of the median. It's open weekdays from 8:30am to 5pm and weekends from 9am to 5pm.

We also highly recommend the Festival International de Louisiane (tel. 337/232-8086; www.festivalinternational.com), a 5-day music-and-art street festival in late April that many find to be a good alternative to New Orleans's increasingly crowded Jazz Fest. Not quite as big or broad in scope, there's always an interesting lineup, emphasizing music from French-speaking lands. It's low-key, manageable -- and free!

The Blue Moon Saloon, 215 E. Convent St. (tel. 337/234-2422; www.bluemoonpresents.com), is filled pretty much every night with cool people who know a good hangout when they see one. Some of the best local bands, Cajun and otherwise, play here Wednesdays through Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays (catch Feaufollet or the edgier Lost Bayou Ramblers if you can). They also operate cheap (but likeable) hostel-style and private lodging. The zydeco hot spot is El Sido's, 1523 N. Martin Luther King St. (tel. 337/235-0647), where combos such as Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas hold sway. Hours are irregular so call ahead (or just ask a local), but when it jumps, it jumps high.