Nestled on the southeast banks of the Wabash River, you’ll find Lafayette, a historic Midwestern city with a youthful spirit. An exciting arts and cultural scene, leading restaurants, and friendly locals make Lafayette one of Indiana’s most popular cities. Read on to learn what makes Lafayette so appealing.
The area where Lafayette now sits was originally home to the Ouiatenon people. The French paid homage to these people when they established Ford Ouiatenon there in 1717. The fort soon became the place for trade deals between the American Indian tribe, fur trappers, and merchants.
However, the area wasn’t developed and recognized as a town until 1825. It became known as Lafayette, after Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette. It became the county seat of the new Tippecanoe County, an honor it still holds to this day.
Lafayette’s close proximity to the Wabash River saw it build its economy around shipping. Agriculture also contributed to Lafayette’s early growth. The arrival of the Monon Railroad in the 1850s further boosted Lafayette’s early development.
From humble beginnings, Lafayette has grown to a city of more than 70,000 people. Initiatives like the “From Good to Great” plan show Lafayette’s commitment to improving the standard of life for residents. Recent developments have made Lafayette more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, especially around the Purdue University campus. Street and public art projects have beautified the city, while community gardens and new downtown restaurants bring locals together.
Lafayette housing is affordable for renters and homeowners. The average Lafayette home costs $136,800, which is well below the state and national average. Groceries, transport, and healthcare are also well-priced. Residents praise the local police system, which keeps crime low and local neighborhoods safe. The local economy is strong, and with so many flourishing businesses close to home, the people of Lafayette usually have short commutes. With less time spent in transit, residents can spend more time doing the things they love.
Lafayette is home to Purdue University, which has one of the largest student bodies in the state. It has an exemplary academic record, especially in science, engineering, and aviation disciplines. Nobel Prize winners Edward Mills Purcell, Ben Roy Mottelson, and Akira Suzuki all graduated from Purdue.
The local campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana gives high school graduates another strong education option. Its hands-on courses prepare students for careers in nursing, early childhood, agriculture, business, and much more.
Lafayette prepares students for further study with a strong K-12 public education system, charter schools, and private religious schools. Edgelea Elementary School, Hershey Elementary School, and Murdock Elementary School are among the state’s highest-ranked schools.
Lafayette’s Arts & Market District gives culture vultures their fill. Historic regional art lines the walls of the Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art, home to the world’s largest collection of art from the Hoosier State. The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette has more contemporary works, such as large collections of Laura Anne Frye’s pottery, modern Mexican paintings, and Inuit art.
Long Center for the Performing Arts hosts local and touring productions, including performances from the Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, Lafayette Ballet, and Wabash Valley Youth Symphony. This neoclassical arts venue joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. Renovations in the year 2000 breathed new life into the facility while preserving its historic charm.
Annual arts events are among the highlights of Lafayette’s social calendar. Art in the Park festivals each summer give local artisans the opportunity to showcase their wares. Vendors sell pottery, ceramics, paintings, photographs, jewelry, textiles, and much more. Comedians, dancers, and musicians keep the crowds entertained. The free, family-friendly events take place at Armstrong Park.
On the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend, art lovers descend on the grounds of the Tippecanoe County Courthouse for the Round the Fountain Art Fair. Up to 100 artists from around the country present their works, hoping to join the courthouse’s permanent collection. Money raised on the day benefits local public schools, after-hours art programs, courthouse restoration, and other Lafayette initiatives.
With drag shows and live musical acts, OUTfest brings some color to Lafayette’s cultural scene. Held every August with events around the city, Lafayette’s pride celebrations raise awareness of the local LGBTQIA+ community and encourage people of every sexual orientation to come together.
Lafayette has more than 400 restaurants to tempt your taste buds. No matter what cuisine you love, you’ll find it here, at a price that suits your budget. It’s a college town, so you can expect plenty of cheap eats around campus. Skip the chain fast food joints and opt for some of the excellent ethnic cafes. You’ll save money and always leave satisfied when you choose Rice Café, the Egyptian Café and Hooka Bar, or Lebanese restaurant, Blue Nile.
Lafayette’s fine dining establishments are ideal for romantic dinners for two. Folie specializes in New American cuisine inspired by classic French techniques. Bistro 501 also has some French flair, although its menu is much more traditional. If you’re craving escargot, lobster bisque, or boeuf bourguignon, it’s the ideal choice. Don’t underestimate McGraw’s Steak Chop and Fish House. While its name is unassuming, it’s one of the best steak and seafood restaurants in the city.
If you want to make a night of it, Lafayette has you covered. The city’s pubs, microbreweries, and wine bars encourage you to linger after you finish your meal. Enjoy some live music over dinner at Digby’s Pub and Patio, Knickerbocker Saloon, and Nine Irish Brothers. All these establishments specialize in the kind of hearty pub grub that pairs perfectly with a cold beer. Energy Diagnostics has proudly served the Lafayette community since 1992. Our experience helps us identify areas that can make your Lafayette home or business more energy-efficient. Call us at (219) 245-5957 or complete our online contact form to learn how we can help you reduce your power bills and your carbon footprint.