Perusing travel brochures during a two-night stopover in Louisiana, we noticed our campground was only an hour from Avery Island. Avery Island is home to TABASCO®, which offers factory tours. Skip loves TABASCO® hot pepper sauce. Me, not so much, but I do enjoy factory tours. The problem was, we had a 1 p.m. checkout time the next day. No problem, we decided. We’ll get there when they open at 9 a.m., and we’ll be back in plenty of time. We could skip the Jungle Gardens tour, a related Avery Island attraction.
TABASCO® Factory Self-Guided Tour
The only problem is, the TABASCO® factory tour is self-guided, and it begins in a museum. When it comes to museums, especially museums that tell an interesting story, we read everything. And I mean everything. We read the informational placards. We watch videos and listen to audio clips. When reviews suggest allowing one hour, we allow three hours. And the TABASCO museum does tell an interesting story. Here are just a few of the fascinating facts we learned in the museum:
- Company founder, Edmund McIlhenny, was married to Mary Eliza Avery. When the Civil War began, the McIlhenny and Avery families fled from their homes in Baton Rouge and New Orleans to Avery Island, an island owned by the Avery family.
- Edmund had been given seeds to a pepper plant, which he planted on the island. Seeds descended from those first pepper plants are still used today.
- The first bottle of TABASCO® pepper sauce was produced in 1868, and the recipe has never changed. The sauce uses three ingredients: peppers, vinegar, and salt.
- Avery Island sits on a salt dome. It’s the salt mined from this dome that is used in TABASCO® products.
Touring the Grounds and Factory
When you finish in the museum, signage directs you to the various stations to explore. Exhibits that share more about the McIlhenny family are scattered along the short walk. The next stop is the greenhouse replica and then the barrel house. Later you watch the blending and bottling processes.
The Avery Island Experience building provides more information about life on the island, and the Salt Mine Experience includes information on mining the salt.
TABASCO® Factory Tour Slideshow
We finished up the TABASCO® factory tour with plenty of time to get back to the campground and check out. But I realized when we purchased our tickets we were charged for a combo ticket, both the factory tour and Jungle Gardens. We could have still skipped seeing Jungle Gardens, but heck, we were there…
Jungle Gardens History
Edmund McIlhenny’s son, Edward Avery McIlhenny, was a naturalist and conservationist. He founded a bird sanctuary to protect snowy egrets, an endangered species. Edward also started a nursery, growing and selling perennials and bamboo. He built a home on the island and created a lavish garden with exotic plants from around the world. In 1935, he opened Jungle Gardens to the public.
Touring Jungle Gardens
On the self-guided driving tour, you download an app on your phone, which guides you and describes fifteen areas. Gardens highlight camellias, holly, wisteria, and more. Lagoons are home to alligators. (We were there in winter, so we saw no alligators). A Buddha statue overlooks a lagoon. And snowy egrets still nest every year at Bird City.
There are plenty of parking spots available along the way if you’d like to get out to see something up closer or take photos. The house is visible from a distance, but it’s private property, so you can’t go beyond the gate.
Jungle Gardens Slideshow
Following a rushed Jungle Gardens tour, we called the campground to arrange a late checkout. There was no way we’d be back in time. But we did hitch up and move out just a half hour late.
If You Visit Avery Island
Avery Island is located about 10 miles southwest of New Iberia, Louisiana. Tours are available every day except major holidays. Visit the website for more details.