My last post about New Orleans got me thinking. Louisiana has so much to offer! The Big Easy is probably the most popular tourist destination in the state, but there are other areas to explore that offer visitors a glimpse into a distinct regional culture. A few summers ago, a friend and I took a weekend road trip off the beaten path through Cajun Country to check out the southern central part of the state. It’s a fun little weekend getaway and pretty easy to cover in a couple of days, especially if you live in a bordering state.
On a Friday night we left from Dallas and spent the night in Shreveport. If you live in the Southern part of the country and are passing through, it’s a fun little town to stop and place some bets, but I don’t recommend it as a destination. Go to Vegas. Just do it.
After winning a little and loosing more, we got up early the next morning and set out for our primary attraction of the weekend: the Tabasco bottling plant on Avery Island. In my opinion, it was a scenic four hour drive almost due south from Shreveport, so if you enjoy swamps, bayous, and cute little historic towns, you’ll agree!
On our way we stopped for lunch at Pat’s Fisherman’s Wharf in Henderson, which has been serving Cajun cuisine since 1948. It’s still operated and owned by the Huval family and is a popular stop in the Atchafalaya Basin. We sat on the screened-in patio on a bayou and enjoyed some cold beer and crawfish! Yum!
After lunch we continued on to Avery Island. The further south we drove, the more our surroundings started to look surprisingly tropical. There’s a wide variety of flora in this part of the country. Everything from pine trees to palm trees grows well in the fertile soil and humid air.
We took a tour of the Tabasco bottling plant and learned that most of their peppers are grown in Central America and the Caribbean, but all Tabasco is bottled here and shipped to nearly every country in the world. After the tour we cooled off in the Country Store and tried some jalapeno ice cream! Avery Island has 170 acres of jungle gardens that we toured next.
Watch out for gators! There are signs that recommend not picnicking near the water. Avery Island is lush and very well maintained. It’s the perfect spot to relax and take in the swampy beauty of south Louisiana.
The next day we set out to explore the historic town of New Iberia, also known as The City of Live Oaks for the huge, mossy live oak trees that line its streets. We toured a couple of plantation homes there, and then drove to Jefferson Island to see the Rip Van Winkle gardens.
If you’re ever in the area, Avery Island is worth a visit! Or make it a destination! Happy road tripping!