Located just half an hour south of I-10, and directly south of Lafayette, Avery Island is a popular destination for visitors to southwestern Louisiana! And while we had visited the island, and the factory, just a couple of years ago, when we found out that the Tabasco Factory had rolled out a new tour just 5 days before our visit, we knew it would be worth it to stop by again this trip!
And it was!
If you have previously been to the island, you will find that there are a few changes since your last visit: there is no longer a $1 toll to get on the island, the Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory Tour is no longer free (but it is no longer a 20 minute walk-through either!), and the recent opening of a lunch-time restaurant is a welcomed addition to the island!
When you first arrive at the factory, you will find a new building just to the left of the gift shop. In this beautiful new visitor’s center is a small museum including Tabasco memorabilia, short films on the history of Tabasco, and the information desk where you will purchase your tour tickets.
The new engaging, in-depth, and informational tour winds you through different buildings on the grounds to show you the process of turning pepper plant fruit into the famous Tabasco Pepper Sauce that is sold around the world! While the old tour took about 20 minutes, including a 12 minute film, the new one takes a minimum of 1 hour if you want to watch each short film and read the informational plaques located throughout the grounds.
In the visitor’s center, we checked out the different films and memorabilia before heading out to the numbered stops along the tour trail!
The tour is accessed over concrete, outdoor sidewalks, and the indoor stops are handicap accessible.
At our first stop, a small greenhouse, we saw pepper plants in various stages of growth.
Stop 3, the Barrel Warehouse, has a viewing area where you can see the rows upon rows of stacked barrels of mash. The barrels are topped with salt, some of which is mined right here on Avery Island, and are stacked up to 6 high while they spend 3 years aging so the texture and heat of the sauce is just right.
After visiting the greenhouse and the warehouse, at Stop 4 you can ride the elevator, or climb the set of stairs, to look over the Blending Building. This area is where the pepper mash is stirred and flavored to make just the right consistency and taste for each Tabasco Pepper Sauce flavor!
The part of the factory used for the previous tour has been completely revamped (except for the viewing window), and we loved learning about the salt mounds that are on Avery Island. Be sure to stop and check out the island raised relief map so that you get an overview of the size of the island, where you are on it, and where the Jungle Gardens drive takes you on the island.
Avery Island covers 2200 acres, and it is not flat like the rest of Louisiana. Avery Island is a salt dome that is thousands of feet thick! Its highest peak is at 163′, leaving miles of salt beneath the surface. The salt is mined, and some of it is set aside for use in the production of Tabasco.
The only part of the previous tour that is unchanged, is the viewing window. Along this window-lined walkway, you can watch the bottling process! Along the way you will learn about the code printed on each bottle of Tabasco, and what those codes mean, as well as finding out where the Tabasco that is being packaged that day is going to be shipped to; the day we visited, the Tabasco being bottled was going to Germany.
The 8th and final stop on the tour is the Food, Flavors, Tabasco Today room. The kids loved the many bottles of Tabasco….
That were a bit oversized and made great photo props!
My favorite part of the room was the recipes that were on plaques on the wall. I took pictures of my favorites to try later (making sure to get the shrimp & sausage jambalaya recipe!).
We all loved the tour! It was engaging and enjoyable, and just the right length where the adults had plenty of information to digest, and the kids stayed interested.
After your tour, be sure to visit the Tabasco Factory Store! In there you will find a pressed penny machine, free samples of Tabasco flavored ice cream and soda (really!), and Tabasco themed items of all sorts, from aprons and lap blankets to ties and bumper stickers.
Located next door to the Tabasco gift shop, the new Restaurant 1868 offers a southern menu, flavored with Tabasco, open daily from 9 am to 3 pm. Can’t decide which Cajun dish to try? Then you might want to order the Cajun Pirogue Sampler, which includes Avery Island Red Beans & Sausage, Pepper Barrel Crawfish Étouffée, and Garlic Crawfish Corn Maque Choux!
You can check out Restaurant 1868’s other offerings here, but be warned, if you peak at their menu, you are sure to immediately crave a good Cajun meal!Also located on Avery Island, just a short distance away, is the Jungle Gardens driving or walking tour. If you want to visit both locations, it can take you from 2 hours to all day depending on whether you prefer to power through the exhibits or take every leisurely walk.
Here are The Tribe’s Tips for visiting Avery Island:
*Arrive early in the day, and plan your day around the sun. In the summer-time, if you want to do the walks at Jungle Garden (find our visit here) and it’s going to be a scorcher, drive that first so that you can spend the hotter part of the day in the Tabasco tour, much of which is indoors (think air conditioning!).
*If you plan on visiting both locations, be sure to purchase the combo ticket, which will save you a little money over individual tickets to the factory and the gardens. Keep in mind that the tickets are good only on the day of purchase, so make sure you have time to do both locations.
Current prices (2/16) are:
Combo: Adult (13 & up) $12.50, Child (5-12) $9.50.
Jungle Gardens only: adult $8, child $5.
Tabasco Factory tour: $5.50 for 5 and over.
Children 4 and under are free.
*Set aside at least 1 hour for the factory tour; more if you want to have lunch at the restaurant, or leisurely browse the gift shop.
*Wear comfortable shoes for both the garden trails and the factory tour. The new Tabasco factory tour is more walking and more involved than the last one was.
*If you choose to do the tour during the late afternoon, remember that the gift shop closes at 4:30. If you are starting your tour after 3:30, consider visiting the gift shop first, before heading off to the different tour stops. We didn’t, and by the time we were finished with our tour, the gift shop was closed (so glad that we had visited it during our last stop here!).
*The factory tour includes walking out of doors between different stops on the route; the tour is no longer all indoors, so dress accordingly.
The All New Tabasco Factory Tour is fabulous! We found it definitely worth the repeat trip down to Avery Island!
Be sure to put this field trip/factory tour on your list of must sees!
You can learn more about visiting the island, the factory, and the gardens, on their Avery Island website here.
*Disclaimer: Extra thanks to the McIlhenny Company and Lafayette Travel for proving The Tribe tickets to the Tabasco Factory Tour so we could share it with you! <3