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New Iberia

Hot sauce, bayous and southern charm are at home here

Just 30 miles southeast of Lafayette, New Iberia is right smack in the heart of gorgeous Cajun country. As the Queen City of the Bayou Teche, New Iberia also has many scenic byways, a historic district walking tour, and other fantastic attractions that will intrigue you with unique beauty.

The town was founded in 1779 on the fertile banks of the Bayou Teche by a group of Spaniards who called the town "Nueva Iberia." Following much deliberation, the name was eventually changed to "New Iberia" in 1847. From the time of steamboats until railroads came to town, New Iberia played a key role in commercial transportation. Due to its location at the start of a 25-mile bend in the bayou, New Iberia served as the perfect stopping place for merchants to unload their goods from steamboats, travel a short distance on land (less than two miles from where the bend began), and then reload their merchandise onto another boat, which saved them valuable time and money. The industry of lumbering came later, with the railroads in 1879, after a 20-year delay due to the onset and aftermath of the Civil War.

For a nice bit of history and a delicious meal, reserve a table at one of the oldest homes in New Iberia: Renoudet Cottage. This delightful cottage is home to Antique Roseville's Restaurant and Tea Room, which offers a splendid assortment of goodies. Named for the antique rose blossoms that grow around the home, as well as for the antique pottery known as Roseville, Antique Roseville is a picturesque place to visit for a walk through its gardens, to enjoy afternoon tea or to take advantage of their bed and breakfast options.

Experience the Bayou Teche Museum, a state-of-the-art museum with interactive exhibits focused on the culture, people and industries that proliferate in the area. Located in downtown Iberia, the museum boasts an impressive collection of fascinating artifacts. Visitors can join a group tour or go at their own pace. This educational museum provides an entertaining experience you won't want to miss.

Named for the early Spanish settlers who lived on its shores, Spanish Lake was once home to five prominent plantation homes: Dulcito Plantation, Keystone Plantation, Darby Plantation, Lady of the Lake Plantation and Segura Plantation. Today, only the original Dulcito Plantation home remains standing. However, a replica of the Segura Plantation has since been built as well.

Spanish Lake also serves as the home to a wide variety of birds, with over 53 species that nest at this gorgeous lake. Bird watchers have spotted well over 240 species over the years, including the hawk, woodpecker, heron, and warbler. You'll also be interested in checking out the intriguing wildlife in the lake or on its banks, including alligator, nutria and beaver, among other animals.

The small, shallow, and well-stocked Spanish Lake offers a tranquil setting for some ideal freshwater fishing near New Iberia. Many lake goers frequent the lake to enjoy the excellent lake views, for peaceful walks around the lake, and for picnic dinners with an ultimate view of the sunset.

If you haven't had your fill of bird watching at the glittering Spanish Lake, head over to the ultimate bird watching destination just minutes outside of New Iberia: Lake Martin Bird Sanctuary. The Lake Martin Cypress Island Preserve, near Breaux Bridge, boasts one of the largest concentrations of migratory birds in the world. Bird watchers flock here to see the impeccable views that can only be witnessed in this unique southwest Louisiana location.

Just a short, hop, skip and jump away from New Iberia is the famous home of Tabasco sauce on beautiful Avery Island. Since 1868, Tabasco sauce has been manufactured on the island, flourishing on the vine. The red peppers are grown in greenhouses and on acres of pepper fields across the island. Visitors enjoy touring the factory and taking in the extraordinarily beautifully colored flowers at the local Jungle Gardens. The fantastic 170-acre Jungle Gardens has a huge assortment of azaleas, bamboo and camellias. Quite the botanical treat, there is also an abundance of wildlife, with snowy egrets, deer, alligators and more.

Wind your way through rice and sugar cane fields, salt dome "islands" and marsh land on the Jean Lafitte Scenic Byway to get a glimpse of what life looked like in times long past. This picturesque drive gives visitors a glimpse of parts of the coastline easily overlooked or missed when passing through. Also, the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway is a must-see that sticks close to the banks of the meandering Bayou Teche, with its lush vegetation and moss-draped oaks, providing a firsthand taste of the vibrant Cajun culture.

The genuine, welcoming atmosphere of the South Louisiana marshes, bayous and majestic Spanish moss-cloaked oaks sets the precedent for a fantastic vacation no matter what your interests are. New Iberia, Louisiana, is a Cajun-flavored paradise that offers the ultimate pristine getaway with dynamic flavors that greet you at every turn.

For More Information:
Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau
888-942-3742
www.iberiatravel.com

Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism
800-99-GUMBO
www.louisianatravel.com