Touring food factories can be a hit or miss venture. Some times you get a really hands on tour that gets you up close and personal to the action which can be pretty fun. Other times you’re stuck sitting in a room watching animatronic dolls tell you a companies history circa 1982. I’m here to tell you that taking a tour of the Tabasco Factory and then visiting Avery Island, is absolutely worth your time.
When planning your visit to tour the Tabasco factory you want to keep in mind that there are 3 distinct attractions to check out. If you want to do everything, plan on at least a half day visit if you are staying in Lafayette.
Touring the Tabasco Factory
The first part of our Tabasco Tour adventure began with the requisite factory tour. The tour is absolutely free and takes about 30 minutes. The tour guide takes you through a few different production areas, filling you in on interesting facts and details about the operation. For example:
Did you know EVERY bottle of Tabasco produced comes from this one factory?
Another cool fact I learned is that the peppers they use to make Tabasco sauce are packed into barrels mixed with vinegar and seasonings and then salt cured for up to 3 years!
After going through the tour you finish up with a short video presentation that gives you history of the McIlhenny Family and their 5 generations of Tabasco sauce making experience. The best part? They give you a bunch of mini-bottles of Tabasco at the end :-)
The Tabasco Factory Store
If you aren’t into the Factory Tour, don’t worry you can skip it and head right over to the Tabasco Factory Store. Here you will find all the Tabasco merchandise that your little heart desires. You can also sample every sauce flavor available here along with Tabasco Ice Cream.
They also have gargantuan life time supply jugs for the guy or gal that puts Tabasco on EVERYTHING.
If you are a fan of BBQ, make sure to look for the bag of Tabasco wood chips. They are made of the used oak Tabasco aging barrels. I picked up a bag for a friend, and they added a super flavor to his smoker.
While at the Tabasco Factory Store you can also pick up a bite to eat. The menu is super simple and changes regularly. While we were there we had some chili sloppy joe’s and corn. It was simple, delish, and hit the spot.
Touring Avery Island and Jungle Garden
While checking out the factory and store was cool, my favorite part of touring Tabasco had to be Avery Island and Jungle Gardens. You see, the Tabasco Factory was built on an island that is home to North America’s first ever salt rock mine in 1862. However in the 1890’s Mr. McIlhenny decided to preserve 170 acres of the island and named it Bird City.
Over the years the preserve has become home to thousands of Egrets and other animals. Additionally exotic plants were brought in making the whole area even more lush. You can take a self-guided driving tour of the island that takes you through all of it.
Of course this is Louisiana, so there are plenty of little gators and other critters to be found.
The strangest find on the island is this neat area designed to house the giant Buddah statue given to Mr. McIlhenney as a gift in the 1930’s.
Overall our Tabasco Factory Tour was a fun-filled little adventure that had a mix of something for everyone. If you are in Louisiana driving the Craft Brew Trail or just visiting Lafayette to try out some of their amazing food, a stop at the Tabasco Factory deserves a spot on your itinerary.
Details for the Tabasco Factory Tour
Hours and Admission: There is a $1 to access the Island. Factory Tours are free of charge and run all week from 9a -4p. Jungle Island is open 9a – 5p and charges adults $8 and Children $5
More Info Call: 337.365.8173 or visit their Official Site