Avery Island Louisiana is best known as the home of Tabasco. Located in the heart of the bayou, the small and interesting island is also home to Jungle Gardens—250 lovely acres worth exploring. It takes about two and a half hours to drive from New Orleans and an hour from Lafayette.
This natural paradise has been the home of the McIlhenny Company since the 1860s. Still family owned, the company ships their products all over the world from the Tabasco factory in Avery Island. And people come from around the world to see where the spicy sauce was born.
After paying a very cheap toll onto the island, you can begin your Avery Island tours. While taking a tour of the Tabasco factory in Avery Island, you will learn about the company history and time-tested methods still used in creating the favorite sauce. Many of the tours are led by residents of Avery Island Louisiana, and several of the employees hail from parents and grandparents who worked for McIlhenny. Whoever leads your tour, rest assured they will know the ins and outs of the favorite spicy sauce. You'll also get the chance to watch a video before touring the packaging and bottling operations.
Along the way, you'll learn how the sauce came to be. Founder Edmund McIlhenny came across some seeds of a pepper plant, the Capsicum frutescens, and planted them in the rich soil of Avery Island. He was thrilled with the flavor and mixed up a sauce out of the red peppers, vinegar, and local salt. All these years later, Tabasco is made just the same, with a few improvements. The mix, called mash, is aged for three years in barrels made of white oak. At first, it was only aged for 30 days.
After you've seen the white barrels at the Tabasco factory in Avery Island, you can spend some time shopping. The country store is well stocked with various flavors of the sauce and souvenirs as well free samples and recipes. No matter what time of year you plan your vacation, you will have the chance to explore here. These Avery Island tours of the factory and the store are available seven days a week, with the exception of major holidays.
Mr. McIlhenny, besides being a gardener and businessman, was also concerned about the local environment. Over the years, Avery Island Louisiana has grown into a natural paradise, home to native and exotic plants and animals. When you add a visit to Jungle Gardens and Bird City to your Avery Island tours, you'll have a chance to experience this amazing slice of nature.
The 250 acres of bayou, swamps, and gardens at Jungle Gardens are full of interesting things to see. A path winds through a grove of twisted oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss. You'll also see blankets of colorful azaleas and camellias in season, as well as bright green bamboo trees. Jungle Gardens is also home to an Buddha statue, a gift to the McIlhenny family in 1936, located in a colorful shrine.
Avery island tours can also include a visit to Bird City. In the 1890s, egrets were highly prized for their feathers used in ladies' hats. McIhenney wanted to save some of these birds, so he raised several by hand. In the fall, he released some of the birds so they could migrate to the Gulf of Mexico. The birds returned in the spring.
Now the migration is even more amazing, with countless snowy egrets and other species returning to Avery Island. In every season, the protected slice of the bayou attracts a variety of birds, as well as people who come to admire the scenery