Explore > Louisiana > Louisiana Spotlight
spotlight header

Places Welcoming You

gs logo A+ Motel & RV Park
Sulphur, Louisiana

New Iberia

The heat is on in the home of Tabasco® sauce

Iberia Parish is a soulful gateway to southern Louisiana’s cultural heritage and natural landscapes. Just 20 miles south of Lafayette, the city’s historic kernel fuses Spanish, French and African cultural traditions. A whiff of sultry romance clings to the air in lavish gardens and elegant antebellum mansions. The exuberant Mardi Gras festivals, juicy Louisiana shrimp and infectious music exude the feel of the distinct Creole culture. New Iberia bears the nickname “Queen City of the Teche” for its proximity to the Bayou Teche National Paddle Trail, which snakes for 125 miles across Louisiana.

New Iberia’s pretty downtown soon gives way to a landscape of lakes, rivers, bayous, streams and wetlands, which provide ample opportunity to commune with nature or dabble in outdoor recreation. Established in 1779 by 16 Spanish families, the town’s colorful history can be explored at Bayou Teche Museum and at Conrad Rice Mill/KONRIKO® Company Store, America’s oldest operating rice mill.


In the heart of New Iberia’s Historic District, on the banks of Bayou Teche, the Shadows-on-the-Teche plantation home was built in 1834 for local sugar baron David Weeks. With a languid setting, nestled among live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, and enveloped by sylvan gardens brimming with live oaks, bamboo, camellias and azaleas, few places so faithfully evoke the elegance and poise of antebellum life.

Lively 40-minute tours guide visitors through rooms that are truly emblematic of the period, including a dining room with a black-and-white checkered marble floor, fussy bedrooms with patterned wallpaper, a formal parlor and an art studio. More than 85 percent of the home’s furnishings, décor and artifacts date from the mid-19th century. Tour guides bring to life the lives of the Weeks family with personal stories along with a brief architectural history of the home and a smattering of cultural and historical anecdotes.

While in town, check out the famous Evangeline Theater, an Art Deco venue that’s listed the National Registry of Historic Places.

Courtesy of McIlhenny Co.

The Avery Island Experience

Mention Avery Island and, for many people, the image of Tabasco® sauce (produced on the island for nearly 150 years) springs to mind. But there’s more to Avery Island than the world’s most famous hot sauce. The island, which actually is a massive salt dome, is home to one of the country’s most serene wildlife sanctuaries. In 1895, when snowy egrets were being hunted for their plumage, Edward Avery McIlhenny (second son of the Tabasco® inventor) established an aviary on the property and, in the process, helped save the endangered egret from extinction.

Today, the 200-acre Jungle Gardens is a mecca for ornithologists. Within the gorgeous refuge, known as “Bird City,” hundreds of resident and migratory bird species find sanctuary as well as more than 600 plant species, including magnificent live oaks, evergreen groves, bamboo, and a showpiece collection of azaleas, camellias, irises and wisteria.

Visitors can meander the garden’s pathways, which are  encroached by dense foliage. From this vantage point, there are prime wildlife views in the form of alligators that prowl the lagoon and deer that amble along the undergrowth. For a touch of Zen atmosphere, don’t miss the Chinese Garden, which showcases a 900-year-old Buddha sculpture that was gifted to McIlhenny in 1936.

Courtesy of Iberia Parish CVB

Jefferson Island Adventures

On the shores of Lake Peigneur, Jefferson Island’s Rip Van Winkle Gardens is one of southern Louisiana’s must-see attractions. Within the mesmerizing 20-acre garden, colorful peacocks strut and preen amidst a cornucopia of semitropical flowers, plants and stately 350-year-old oak trees.

The garden’s centerpiece is the Joseph Jefferson Home, built in 1870 for the namesake actor Joseph Jefferson, famed for his portrayal of “Rip Van Winkle” (1921). A showstopper indeed, the 22-room Southern mansion — with nods to Moorish, Steamboat Gothic, French and Southern Plantation styles, crowned with a fourth-story cupola — exudes Victorian poise and gentility.

An informative 40-minute tour takes visitors through the home, which is lavishly decorated with antiques, period paintings, family heirlooms and a museum-worthy collection of American and French Empire furniture. Tours can be bookended with lunch, afternoon dessert at Café Jefferson or birdwatching at Rip’s Rookery. And, if you really want to get in character, you can book one of the stand-alone cottages or a room in the former servants’ quarters.

Jefferson Island is haunted by the legend of Jean Lafitte, a pirate who buried his treasures under the property’s giant live oaks, which would eventually serve as shelter for the home and garden.

One of the main attractions of the property is Rip Van Winkle Road, a 1-and-a-half mile avenue lined majestically by live oaks. On each side of the road, ponds provide homes for egrets and spoonbills.

For More Information

Iberia Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau



Louisiana Office of Tourism