Historically, Avery Island is known as the “Salt Dome”. Today, it is known as the birthplace for the only Tabasco sauce factory in the world. Lush with venerable live oaks and subtropical flora, it is just one of the islands that stand tall above south Louisiana.
First a quick note about Louisiana Islands: The word ‘Island’ is a rather slippery term here in Acadiana. We’ve got many ‘islands’ that are not really islands at all, but rather small, isolated areas defined by tree croppings, flatlands, freshwater tributaries, or even modest hills formed by underground activity. Mostly our islands, only become islands when it floods.
Don’t even get me started on “Cow Island”, but that’s an article for another day. 🙂
Avery Island is a natural wonder and since it’s a quick drive from the Mansion, our guests love to visit it for a day trip experience.
Avery Island occupies around 2,200 acres upon a solid rock salt deposit, which is believed to plunge deeper than the height of Mount Everest. Avery Island is home to many festivals, cultural arts and is a popular tourist attraction every year. So, if you are planning a trip to Avery Island, here are few places that you need to visit on your day trip:
The most visited tourist place is the Tabasco Factory. The self-guided tour starts in the wonderful museum atmosphere of the welcome area. Modern video and graphic displays provide a comprehensive introduction and background of the area, the founding family, and the hot sauce factory.
You can relax to watch amazing videos that will tell you more about the growing, refining, and barrelling process.
There are several stations in the tour, including a greenhouse, the cooperage and warehouse, and the cooking and bottling factory.
Our companion video will give you a visual taste (sorry, no pun intended) of the nifty McIlhenny family legacy and the industry of this attraction.
Of course, it might seem boring to thrill-seeker types to see thousands of Tabasco bottles just coming down the belt. But you are rewarded for your patience with a few samples. When you check in at the visitor booth outside the museum, they provide a little gift bag with free bottles of the world famous sauce.
Next comes the fun part: (At least to me!)
This store has a huge selection of branded souvenirs, but what’s interesting is the tons of crazy treats and dips, all in different flavors of yours truly… Tabasco. There’s even Tabasco-flavored ice cream available. We spent at least a half hour combing through all the neat and unique gift ideas, yard decorations, and flavor treats. We also got more free samples!
The Country Store really is a kind of ‘throw-back’ experience; and the very VERY friendly folks here make you feel at home and never pressure you to buy anything. In fact, all the fellow visitors kind of blend into the scenery and it’s more like you’re in another time; with folks sitting and rocking and swapping reactions to spicy zingers they just tasted.
Don’t skip this feature!
As all tourist attractions do, our visit began and ended in the great little gift shop. Nice folks there will provide you with a map, but it’s really just for reference, since the garden tour is a big circle and plenty of signs are helping you along the way.
Unless you’re really ready to hike, I suggest you just drive the gardens. There is a virtual tour app to get the most of the experience on your phone, or you can wing it and have plenty of fun like we did. The first thing that strikes you at Jungle Gardens, is that there are not actually any jungle attributes, but what you do see are immaculate grounds and absolutely beautiful scenery. Relaxing paths lined with moss-dripping oaks and every variety of flower and bamboo you can imagine.
There’s the collection of azaleas and camellias and various other imported plants. Drive or walk a little further and you will come across the wilder sections where you can hop out of your car and spot an alligator (we saw four!) or possibly bears (we saw none thank goodness!). Finally, there’s the “Bird City” that is habitat to thousands of herons, egrets and many other birds!
Tourists have raved about how this Garden offers a unique experience when it is raining. The flora and fauna come out in full play and you get to see the water animals in their full element. You will get to see more wildlife while you drive or walk along the Bayou Petit Anse train that has man-made lagoons.
There’s also the temple that is more than 900 years old and was created by the Buddha himself. The statue sits there for you to admire and take photographs. In fact, the entire Garden is a great place to create some adventurous memories. Our video and still camera rolls are still jammed with pictures from this area.
No matter which direction you look, it’s a postcard! It’s also very inspiring and romantic. After a few hours driving the tour and taking a couple walks to the more secluded area, we were ready to head back to the mansion for grilled steaks and to relax on the patio.
Now if you’re not the typical tourist and want some adventure, there are offerings of the more wild nature at Avery Island!
Fishing and Boating
These two activities are a huge part of the Avery Island. Almost every tourist who comes to the area takes part in this activity where you can often limit out on reds, trout, and drum. Then there are the boats that can be chartered. Have a fun filled experience on the boat, where you will be served a delicious meal of local seafood.
The best thing about Avery Island is that it offers you a corner of heaven where you can enjoy some peace and quiet time with your family. The kids will love the Jungle Gardens and even you will become a kid in the Tabasco Factory.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and book your stay in the Louisiana Cajun Mansion Bed and Breakfast, which is quite near to the Island and will allow you to plan your day trip easily. Plus, it’s the perfect home base to return to after a long day touristing!