New Iberia has given the world an esteemed writer in Dave Robicheaux and a beloved artist in George Rodrigue; their most memorable culinary gift is Tabasco sauce, the classic condiment that makes bland food better (if you can find bland food around here) and good food magnificent. Trips to the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island have always been recommended for visitors to Iberia Parish, but the facility has recently expanded its tourist offerings, leading to a recent award from the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association—come see the new Attraction of the Year!
The Avery Island factory boasts a museum recounting the history of the founding McIlhenny family, the development and success of the Tabasco brand, and the company’s relationship with the surrounding area, including its stewardship of the island. Visitors can also observe the entire sauce-production process, beginning in the greenhouse where the peppers are grown and following them through mashing, aging in oak barrels, and then bottling for worldwide export. In the likely event that all this Tabasco talk makes you hungry, the tour also offers Restaurant 1868, featuring classic Louisiana dishes like crawfish étouffée, red beans and rice, crawfish corn maque choux, and boudin—all of which pair well with Tabasco.
The Visitors Center is open Monday through Sunday, 9 am–4 pm. Tabasco is now offering round trip guided bus tours from New Orleans. Visitors to Avery Island can also visit the Jungle Gardens semitropical garden, which will be bursting with flowers around the time of the Dave Robicheaux festival and where you have a great chance of seeing some Louisiana wildlife. Make sure you also plan to enjoy the bird sanctuary, also on Avery Island and under the stewardship of the McIlhenny Company, which helped local egrets survive a past craze for egret-feather hat plumes. For more on visiting Avery Island and Tabasco, go to tabasco.com/avery-island.