When you live in an area that’s made up of 456 square miles of water, there are bound to be some islands.
Iberia Parish has its fair share and—good news for visitors—some of them are easily accessible. Experience the beauty of nature while sampling delicious local food, touring tropical gardens and maybe even catching a few fish.
DAY 1: AVERY ISLAND
See the factory where world-famous Tabasco® brand pepper sauce is made. View artifacts from Tabasco’s founding family, the McIlhennys, at the museum, and witness the growing process of the pepper plants from seedlings to plate.
You can also visit the mash warehouse for a peek at the sauce’s aging process and sample products at the Tabasco® Country Store.
Enjoy lunch at Avery Island’s on-site Restaurant 1868, a casual, cafeteria-style eatery serving Tabasco-infused Cajun favorites, like Pepper Barrel Crawfish Etouffee, Avery Island Red Beans and Rice and Cajun Crawfish Nachos. Be sure to check out the portraits of the inner workings of the factory, as well as founding family members, that line the walls or relax on the wraparound porch with a view of the factory and country store.
Edward Avery “Ned” McIlhenny, the son of Tabasco inventor Edmund Avery McIlhenny, converted his private Avery Island estate into Jungle Gardens, decorating it with exotic botanical specimens from around the world.
He also founded Bird City, a private sanctuary for the once-endangered snowy egret.
Camellias, azaleas, bamboo and thousands of tropical plants also dot the landscape, while a centuries-old Buddha sculpture watches over the Chinese Garden. Alligators, deer, rabbits, egrets, herons, ducks and wild fowl inhabit the gardens seasonally.
Check into Cook’s Cottage or Joseph Jefferson Servant’s Quarters on Jefferson Island.
Nestled in the heart of the gardens, you’ll find these charming Acadian cottages for overnight guests. Servant’s Quarters sleep two, while Cook’s Cottage can sleep four.
Accommodations are furnished with handmade mahogany king-sized four-poster Louisiana French style beds, and continental breakfast is included. If you’re not content to snack on the crackers, cheese and wine provided in your cottage, take a short drive into New Iberia for dinner.
DAY 2: JEFFERSON ISLAND
Located on a coastal salt dome and flanked by 25 acres of semi-tropical gardens and Lake Peigneur, Jefferson Island also boasts the Joseph Jefferson Home.
Built in 1870 by acclaimed American actor Joseph Jefferson, the mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is furnished with period paintings, rare Louisiana pieces and fine examples of American and French Empire furniture.
Visitors can start their experience by viewing a documentary on the 1980 collapse of that giant salt dome beneath the lake, then stroll through the exquisitely restored gardens before watching birds at Rip’s Rookery and touring the home.
Seafood dishes are the specialty at this on-site café overlooking Lake Peigneur. Bisques, gumbos, etouffee, sauce piquante and homemade desserts make up the menu served beneath moss-draped oaks seven days a week.
Explore the waters that surround Iberia Parish by boat or kayak. Guided fishing charters leave out of Cypremort Point and Bayou Carlin Cove in Delcambre, with paddle trips available from Bayou Teche Experience.
For lighter activity on the water, keep an eye out for more than 240 species of birds that have been documented in the parish.
Pick up an overstuffed poboy from this New Iberia institution and either dine-in or take it to go seven days a week (BBQ served on Sundays).
Poboys range from shrimp to oyster, crawfish, softshell crab, roast beef and grilled chicken. Gumbo, seafood baskets, burgers and daily plate lunches are also served.
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