Disclosure:: Tabasco sponsored this review, but this local momma suggests you hop in the pirogue and get your family on down to Avery Island! Whatcha waitin for, Cher?
As a New Orleans native, I am no stranger to a bottle of Tabasco sauce. As an Acadiana transplant, I cannot believe I had never visited Avery Island before our recent family trip.
Immediately upon arriving to Avery Island, you are greeted by cheerful people who have particular warmth about welcoming you to the island whether you are a “seasoned” visitor (pun intended) or a first timer. I felt like part of the family, being welcomed home…and my last name is far from McIlhenny.
The Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory Tour is open Monday through Sunday from 9:00am to 4:00pm. I suggest arriving between 9:00 and 10:00am. We arrived around 10:00am and had enough time to leisurely stroll through stops #1-9 and hit up #10, Restaurant 1868, around noon.
Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory Tour
We absolutely loved the way the Tabasco factory tour is structured. As previously mentioned, there are 10 “stops” on the tour. These stops are in close enough proximity to each other for walking, but allow separation between each experience, which is really helpful with small children’s short attention spans. With a 6 and a 2.5 year old in tow, we were able to go through at our own pace and opt in or out at different stops.
(#1) The Museum is interactive with plenty of buttons to be pressed and “telephones” that just ask you to reach out and pick them up to learn the “spicy” history of the McIlhenny family and the Tabasco brand. Out of all the items in the Tabasco Museum, you know you’re a “girl mom” when you are forced to take pictures with Tabasco Barbie.
If you have children with sensory issues, or tend to be a little anxious, be cautious before experiencing #6- the Salt Mines. There is a walk through pseudo salt mine which is very fun for older children and adults, but had our 2.5 year old unsure. We made it through at a safe pace for her and I’m sure if we went again she would simply run through and squeal with excitement. But because it was dark, narrow, and contained unknown miner mannequins, it was a tad scary for the smalls. I really appreciated that we could linger if we needed a closer look or revisit any spots that were particularly interesting and required more attention; say, with a full belly after lunch.
At the Country Store (#9) visitors are able to taste test different flavors and heat levels of Tabasco sauce, if you so dare. The girls tried Tabasco Raspberry Chipotle ice cream. The reviews were split, 50/50.
My hubby and I tried some delicious chili and he even sampled Tabasco soda, which we hear, is an acquired taste. He described it as a
“cold/hot” taste, an oxymoron of sorts.
You’ll have to visit to taste test Tabasco soda yourself!
If you are still hungry after taste testing, Restaurant 1868 does not disappoint. Options range from Pepper Barrel Shrimp Etouffee and Home-Style 7 Spice Chili to Boudin Po Boys and Shrimp Corn Maque Choux. We chowed down on the “Messy Mac”, a BBQ smoked pulled pork sandwich infused with Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce, and Crawfish Nachos spiced up with some original Tabasco. Talk about tasty!
For the mommas and daddies who want to kick it up a notch, there is a DIY Bloody Mary Bar complete with all the fixins. We must schedule a cooking class or a date night food tour in the near future!
If you are visiting with children who are still in the napping phase of life, and can sleep in a slow rolling vehicle, consider driving through Jungle Gardens after lunch. It was wonderful to slowly drive along the winding paths with the windows rolled down listening to the sounds of nature and soaking in the beautiful scenery of the grounds.
If you have older children who can hang a little longer, then stop at one (or all six) of the walking paths along the drive and hop out to explore. We encountered a small furry rabbit friend along the trail. My suggestions of the top two stops are #11 “Bird City” and #14 “The Sunken Garden”. If you are really hardcore and nature inspired, bring your bicycles to Jungle Gardens. We saw a couple of people biking the path. It looked fun, and like everyone would really sleep really well that night!
Bonus: There is also a cell phone tour of the Jungle Gardens you can call in to before you begin the drive as well.
Overall, the whole Tabasco brand experience was incredible. It was almost Disney-esque at times. The grounds were immaculately kept, well laid out, and signage was plentiful. The staff was friendly, helpful, and super considerate of the children. Donna at the ticket window made sure no one went on without special “I visited Tabasco” stickers.