Julie - "Girl on the Move"

Grand Junction Colorado Travel Guide

When most people think of Colorado they think of Denver and the Rocky Mountains. Skiers and snowboarders might think of Vail or Breckenridge. But I recently discovered a whole other side to Colorado…the western side!! A three day stay in Grand Junction Colorado is the perfect opportunity for hiking, wine tasting and dinosaur exploration. And who doesn’t love a little dinosaur exploration?!?

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliates. At no extra cost to you, I may make a small commission on your purchase.

Colorado National Monument 

Your first stop should be the Colorado National Monument. There are hiking and camping options within the boundaries and a 23-mile drive on Rim Rock Drive. Depending on your available time you can adjust your itinerary. If you only have a couple hours you can do the 23-mile drive and stop a couple times to see Independence Monument and the sweeping views of the Grand Junction area. If you have several hours you can do the drive but make more stops along the way. You can do a couple of short hikes from the visitor center, explore the plants native to the region and see more of the rock formations.

If you have a whole day to dedicate there are a number of Colorado National Monument hikes and climbing options for you to choose. From climbing 450-foot Independence Monument, to an easy hike through Devil’s Kitchen (the hike is easier than the name implies!), or a number of more moderate and difficult hikes, there are a lot of options for everyone.

Travel Tip: If you’re not a fan of steep drop-offs, I recommend entering from the west entrance at Fruita. This direction allows you to drive Rim Rock Drive on the inside so you’re not quite so close to the edge! 

Dinosaur Journey Museum (Fruita)

If you’re visiting Grand Junction Colorado with kids the Dinosaur Journey Museum is a must-visit. Although full disclaimer, I also enjoyed it as an adult! Walk through the history of the dinosaurs, experience an earthquake and see a lab in action through the viewing window.

Travel Tip: This is a perfect indoor activity for a hot summer afternoon!

Fruit + Wine Byway (Palisade)

Plan to spend a half day driving the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway. Depending on the season when you go you’ll have more or less stops based on what is currently being harvested. The great thing about the Byway is it can really be tailored to the age and interests of your family. If everybody is over 21, there are some great local wineries where you can stop for tasing. If you have younger family members you might want to stop at an alpaca farm and take an alpaca out for a walk through the peach orchards. The peach and lavender are an excellent choice for all ages. If you have extra time plan a stop at the Tilman Bishop State Wildlife Area for wildlife viewing.

Travel Tip: Peach season begins in August so if you’re able to make a trip then you’ll be treated to lots of yummy peach goodness! If you’re interested in visiting the alpaca farm through a literary travel lens, you can see how to travel through the pages of a book here.

Grand Mesa National Forest

Plan to spend a day exploring the world’s largest flat-top mountain, Grand Mesa. If you’re short on time I’d recommend planning a drive on the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway with a few stops along the way. If you have a full day you can explore the Byway and add in a hike or two, and even some fishing! In the winter you can add skiing to your itinerary at Powderhorn Ski Area. A couple stops I recommend not skipping are the Land’s End Observatory and the Land -O-Lakes Overlook. The Observatory is a ranger observatory on the rim of Grand Mesa in Colorado. From the top there are absolutely gorgeous panoramic views of the greater Grand Junction area. Take note that about half the drive to the Observatory is on a dirt road. The Overlook gives you just a small glimpse at the more than 300 lakes.

Travel Tip: It is really hot in the Grand Junction area during the summer. The temperature will drop 20 degrees when you head up to Grand Mesa so save this adventure for your hottest day. From Grand Junction, take I-70 east to exit 49, CO Highway 330. Turn right and drive for several miles until you get to Mesa. This map will also help.

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Literary Travel: California Adventure Weekend

It’s time to set off on a literary inspired California adventure weekend! When I put on my literary travel lens, I’m always wondering what books I can read before I visit a place or what books I can read that will transport me through the pages? As I was reading this book (details below!) I envisioned a whole weekend of things to do in California inspired by the book. And since I dream of someday hosting literary inspired adventures just like this, I knew this had to be the next installment in the Literary Travel series!!

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliates. At no extra cost to you, I may make a small commission on your purchase.

Read Before You Go

The Nerviest Girl in the World (grab your copy from Amazon or Bookshop) might be written and marketed for the 8-12 year old crowd, but it is a fun book for all ages. Set on an ostrich farm just outside of San Diego, California, this adventuresome historical fiction book looks at the beginnings of the film industry and ranch life in 1911.

Melissa Wiley hooks you from the first pages when the reader is introduced to Pearl as she is escaping from a hot air balloon by shimmying down a rope thrown over the side of the basket. And the adventures don’t stop there! Join Pearl as she cares for her family’s ostriches (hint: they’re feisty!!) and experiences life in San Diego in the early 1900’s. 

If you’re looking for some extra insight into the book before you head off on your adventure, be sure to stop by Wiley’s blog for a behind the scenes timeline!

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California Adventure: The Itinerary

First stop, Ostrichland USA. While not located in San Diego, Ostrichland is still in Southern California (Solvang to be exact) so it’s the perfect way to kick off your California adventure. There are more than 100 ostriches and emus and most days you have the opportunity to feed the birds. You can even purchase fresh ostrich eggs to take with you and cook just like Pearl and her grandmother. You can also spend some extra time in Solvang with this 24-Hour Guide.

Next up, head south down Highway 101 and make a stop at Universal Studios in Hollywood. Movies have come a long way since the early “moving pictures” Pearl and her brothers starred in during the book. The 60-minute Studio Tour is a chance to take a behind the scenes peek at the movie industry. After reading the book and visiting the Studio you just might be inspired to make your very own “moving picture.”

Continuing your journey south towards San Diego, you’ll make a stop at Magical Adventure Balloon Rides in Temecula. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to shimmy out of the basket down to the ground (for insurance reasons!). However, you can still get an idea of the views Pearl would have had on her ballooning adventure.

As you continue your California adventure plan for a stop in La Mesa. This is the town that inspired the fictional town in The Nerviest Girl in the World. Author Melissa Wiley recommends eating at Pancho’s on Fletcher Parkway or Por Favor in La Mesa Village.

The last stop is San Diego De Alcala, the mission in San Diego. In the book, Pearl and her family take the train into the “big city” of San Diego. Along the way they see both the mission and the fort. If you want to extend your trip, you can plan a visit to one of the 21 missions in California.

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Literary Travel: Colorado Alpaca Farm

I’m excited to take another look through my literary travel lens. What books can I read before I visit a place to learn before I go? What books can I read that will transport me through the pages when I can’t actually visit a place? Today’s literary travel adventure is a visit to a Colorado Alpaca Farm.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliates. At no extra cost to you, I may make a small commission on your purchase.

Colorado Alpaca Farm: Background Info

No visit to Western Colorado would be complete without a drive through the Fruit & Wine Byway of Palisade, CO. This agritourism route has stops at various peach and lavender farms…and even an alpaca farm! A stop at the Suncrest Orchard Alpacas is an opportunity to take an alpaca out for an afternoon stroll through the peach orchards. But the visit doesn’t end there! You can also tour the mill and see the process from alpaca to hats and sweaters. And then you can buy your very own alpaca souvenir!

Often confused with their camelid relative, the llama, alpacas are distinguishable as they are considerably smaller than llamas. Descended from vicuñas, alpacas are not bred to be work animals but instead are bred for their soft wool. While alpacas are native to Peru, there are about 50,000 alpacas in the United States. Alpacas primarily communicate through body language, most commonly using spitting to show dominance or when they are fearful.

Bonus Fun Fact: Some alpacas can be house trained!

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Read Before You Go

Whether you are planning a trip to visit a Colorado alpaca farm and want to read before you go or you’re hoping to meet the alpacas through the pages of the book, these books will transport you to the farm.

Although this book isn’t specifically set on a Colorado farm, Jonathan Stutzman’s Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse is all about alpacas. (Grab your copy from Amazon or Bookshop) An entertaining story that is sure to get the youngest members of your family excited about meeting alpacas.

The whole family can explore the topography of Colorado with Louise Doak Whitney’s C Is for Centennial: A Colorado Alphabet (grab your copy from Amazon or Bookshop). Walk through the alphabet with gorgeous illustrations of the Rockies, Blue Spruces and the varied landscape of Colorado.

Take a step back in time and explore Colorado in the 1920’s with Avi’s The Secret School (grab your copy from Amazon or Bookshop). Ida secretly takes over as the teacher when the one-room schoolhouse in her remote Colorado area closes unexpectedly. Anyone who had childhood dreams of being in charge will enjoy this trip back in time to schools nearly 100 years ago.

Literary Travel: The New York Public Library

I love books. A lot. I love to travel. A lot. So I often view books and travel through the same lens. I call it my literary travel lens. What books can I read before I visit a place to learn before I go? What books can I read that will transport me through the pages when I can’t actually visit a place? Today’s literary travel adventure is a visit to the New York Public Library.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliates. At no extra cost to you, I may make a small commission on your purchase.

New York Public Library: The History

The iconic New York Public Library first opened its doors to the public on May 24, 1911 (the dedication was on May 23) checking out N. I. Grot’s Nravstvennye idealy nashego vremeni (Ethical Ideas of Our Time) at 9:14 a.m. More than 100 years later there are now more than 50 million items and 92 locations in the NYC Public Library system. It is the second largest public library in the United States (the Library of Congress is the largest) and fourth largest public library in the world!  

The original branch, and arguably most famous, is located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. This branch is home to the famous New York Public Library Lions, Patience and Fortitude. It has also served as the home to actual families! A few months before the library opened to the public John H. Fedeler moved into the library with his family and worked as the library’s live-in superintendent and engineer. (Read more about growing up in the library HERE)

Today the library is worth putting on your Things to See in NYC list! You do not need a library card to enter the library, get materials from shelves, or listen to free talks. However, you do need a card (available to residents of New York) to check resources out of the library. Begin your visit by watching a short 12-minute film about the library which plays every half hour. Then you can set off to explore the many areas of the library. Including a book train that transports books from underground to the Rose Main Reading Room (you can watch a video of the train in action HERE)

Bonus Fun Fact: You can get married at the New York Public Library! But it won’t be cheap!

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Read Before You Go

Whether you are planning a trip to visit New York City and want to read before you go or you’re hoping to explore the library through the pages of the book, these books will transport you to the shelves on Fifth Avenue.

For the youngest family members, read Josh Funk’s Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience and Fortitude. You can grab your copy from Amazon or Bookshop. This delightful picture book is all about the lions who stand out front and greet visitors to the library each day. Until one day when Fortitude finds Patience is missing and he must find his friend before the new day begins.

For the elementary and middle school members of your family (or for interested grown-ups!), pick up a copy of The Story Collector by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (grab your copy from Amazon or Bookshop). This mystery is inspired by the real life of Viviani Joffre Fedeler, who was born and raised in the New York Public Library.

The adults in the family can read The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis (grab your copy from Amazon or Bookshop). Follow along as two generations of women navigate the fallout from book thefts at the library in the early 1910’s. Alternating between 1913 and 1993, Laura Lyons and her granddaughter Sadie Donovan, explore the history of the New York Public Library and how the impact it’s had on their family.

Lodi Wineries – Zinfandel Capital of the World

As a California native I’m always excited to explore more of my Golden State. Since I haven’t yet been able to make it up to explore the Lodi wineries, I asked Lisa Waterman Gray to share all the details with you! Grab a glass of wine and enjoy this tour.

A ‘Taste’ of Lodi Wineries

In this cohesive ‘Zinfandel Capital of the World,’ individual families own most of 80+ wineries that thrive amid bountiful water in much of the Central Valley, and ‘delta breezes’ that create fluctuating temperatures. Many winemakers also follow the Lodi Rules – 100+ sustainable environmental, social, and economic winemaking standards. Here are five wineries that we visited during a small group tour: 

Eco-friendly wines from Bokisch Vineyards

Gregarious and welcoming, Markus and Liz Bokisch have produced grapes and wine here since the early 2000s. Nine wines reflect their deep affection for varietals they enjoyed while living in Spain, and the influence of volcanic soil. The winery is also Certified Organic.

Tempranillo was the first Bokisch Vineyards red, and the winery’s Zinfandel was the first Lodi varietal carrying the city’s name versus ‘California.’ Since 2012 the couple’s Tizona label has included specialty blends plus Malbec, Petit Verdot and Old Vine Zin. Their Terra Alta Albarino is widely available in markets as far away as Missouri. Bokisch Vineyards was also the first U.S. winery to crate Graciano. Served amid lush, natural surroundings wine tastings are $10.

Tasty sips at cozy Klinker Brick Winery 

At Klinker Brick Winery, fifth-generation grape growers, Steve and Lori Felten, produce grape varietals that include Grenache Blanc, Albarino, Dolcetto, Mourvedre and other varietals. Their efforts reflect a 100-year-old family tradition of producing top quality fruits. The pair also incorporates the expertise of winemaker, Barry Gnekow, and marketing wizard, Lynne Whyte Barnard.

This warm and inviting winery has won the Best of California competition and is renowned for its patented, award-winning Old Ghost Zinfandel. Klinker Brick Winery sells plenty of bulk wine too. And about the winery’s name? The façades of several nearby houses incorporate ‘Klinker Brick.’ 

Open-air tasting at Michael David Winery

Michael David Winery is another Certified Sustainable winery. A five decades-old pumpkin patch, herb and U-Pick flower gardens, and even chickens, share this 60-acre site – home to 12.5 acres of Carmenere grape vineyards. Fifth generation grape growers and winery founders, Michael and David Phillips, now work with sixth generation family members too. During 2018, Michael David Winery sold more than one million wine cases and The Seven Deadly Zins varietal has been ranked as the nation’s #1 Zinfandel. 

Multi-colored hand-painted murals decorate enormous fermentation tanks, and an expansive open-air room is a relaxed spot for wine tastings during nice weather. Colorful labels also decorate bottles of such varietals as Freakshow Zinfandel, Inkblot Cabernet Franc, and Petite Petit.

French and Italian varietals by Oak Farm Vineyards

Fourteen grape varietals grow across the 710-acre site of Certified Green Oak Farm Vineyards. Available in more than a dozen states, all publicly sold bottles carry a signature White Oak label. 

Natural wood and stone decorate the spacious, sun-drenched tasting room. Tasting samples include Petite Syrah, and Barbera reds (from Italy’s Piedmonte area) and crisp, clean Sauvignon Blanc crafted in stainless steel (originally from Bordeaux). There’s also an Estate Grown Chardonnay resembling Chablis, and a mellow Estate Cab. Oak Farm Winery also produces single vineyard Zinfandel. 

This is a lovely place to drink and eat, whether you purchase a $10 wine tasting or pay $30 for seated tastings with charcuterie. The winery now features a spacious and well-equipped commercial kitchen too.

Portuguese-style wines at St. Jorge Winery

St. Jorge Winery visitors will find varietals reflecting the family’s Portuguese roots. Owner, Vern J. Vierra, loves this land deeply, having made wine here with his father and grandfather since childhood. Wines were always at the family table too. St. Jorge Winery produces Tempranillo, Verdelho, Syrah and Touriga Nacional wine plus the area’s largest port selection. In addition, St. Jorge’s Old Vine Zinfandel descends from a 1914 vineyard.

Bottle labels and the tasting room have an Old World ‘feel.’ Ornate, decorative plaster surrounds large mirrors behind the marble-topped bar, as well as a massive roaring fireplace. And when Vierra talks about his heritage and wines, he glows with pride.

After visiting the Lodi wineries, you can learn about more things to do in the Lodi region, here. You can also explore California’s wine regions and AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) here. You can also explore more things to do in California here.

During the coronavirus pandemic, most wineries are closed to the public. Check individual web sites for updates. 

A Cajun Country Adventure

reflections in a Cajun Country swamp
So much of Cajun Country is defined by living life in a land barely above water, where cypress trees and alligators abound.

Your Cajun Country adventure is calling

For a laid-back but exciting getaway, a long weekend in Louisiana’s Cajun Country can’t be topped. So jump on a plane to New Orleans and head about an hour southwest to Houma (HOME-uh), La. You’ll tour a swamp, eat the unmistakably delicious Cajun cuisine, catch big fish, relax on a beach, learn about Louisiana marine life along a bayou, explore an oil rig, plus visit a rice mill and the world-famous Tabasco factory. You’re going to love it.

Stay at a piece of Cajun Country paradise in Houma, La.

peach brandy at Crochet House, Cajun Country headquarters
Sipping peach brandy next to the pool at Crochet House Bed & Breakfast.

Roxie Yonkey with Leland and Sally Crochet
Roxie Yonkey (center) of with Leland and Sally Crochet.

We’ll be based in a little piece of paradise, Crochet House Bed & Breakfast, 301 Midland Drive, Houma. We promise: You’ll feel at home in Houma. Once you step into their courtyard, all your worries will slip away. Relax in one of their hammocks (highly recommend), swim in the pool, soak in the hot tub, or simply sit on a lawn chair and enjoy the garden. In the morning, you’ll enjoy a fabulous breakfast. Leland and Sally Crochet are bilingual, speaking English and Cajun French. Many Francophones stay at Crochet House and listening to them converse at breakfast is delightful. Ask Leland for fishing tips.

When you say good-bye at the end of your stay, the Crochets will ask you to sign their guestbook and take a picture with them.

The beach at Grand Isle State Park, the best beach in Cajun Country
Birding, fishing and just enjoying the beach are the treats in Grand Isle State Park.

Day 1

Ride your Cajun Country airboat adventure

Catching crawfish in Cajun Country
On your swamp tour, you may meet a fisherman catching crawfish.

No trip to Cajun Country would be complete without a swamp tour. Call ahead for your tour at Airboat Tours by Arthur, 4262 Highway 90, Des Allemandes (des ALL-munds), about 40 minutes northeast of Houma. The swamps and marshes are home to over 50 bird species, including herons, egrets, and the occasional bald eagle. Alligators are visible from February through the end of October. Tours last either an hour or 90 minutes. A minimum of three people is required for a tour to leave the dock.

You’ll want to start or end your day here. Even though sunset tours cost extra, please consider taking one. You’ll find that watching a sunset through Spanish moss is magical.

Whenever you are on or near the water, wear a hat, dark sunglasses, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.

Where to eat

Our next stop is the white sand beach of Grand Isle. On our way, we’ll eat, plus pack a picnic lunch with food from Spahr’s Seafood, 3682 Highway 90 East, Des Allemands, or Spahr’s at the Station, 16816 Highway 3235, Cut Off. What you should eat differs by the season and Louisiana has seven food seasons. If you’re unsure about ordering, ask the wait staff. The trip from Des Allemands to Cut Off will take 45 minutes.

Relax on Grand Isle, Cajun Country’s white sand beach

A toll bridge on Louisiana 1 connects Grand Isle with the mainland. Two-axle vehicles pay a $3.75 toll (PDF). Unless you have a GeauxPass, use the right lane to pay with cash, debit, or credit card. South of the bridge you’ll either turn right for Port Fourchon (For-SHOWN) or left for Grand Isle.

Visit Port Fourchon, home of oil rigs and world-class fishing

Port Fourchon, Louisiana’s southernmost point reachable by land. about 15 minutes from the bridge. The settlement is fascinating to see. Driving around the city is like visiting a major city in Star Wars. It’s a huge part of America’s oil infrastructure and a major transportation node. Before leaving Port Fourchon, pay tribute to those who have been lost at sea at the 16-foot tall “The Lady of the Gulf Seamen’s Memorial“.

Hit the beach and watch birds on Grand Isle

Reaching Grand Isle from the bridge or Port Fourchon takes about 30 minutes. Take a selfie with the Grand Isle sign as you enter The Town of Grand Isle. You’ll enjoy seven miles of beaches and walking the Grand Isle Birding Trail (PDF). Grand Isle State Park is at the end of the road. The park’s gates are open daily, but the hours vary. Entrance fees cost $3. Seniors aged 62 or over and children 3 or under are free. You’ll enjoy walking the park’s 2.5-mile nature trail.

Grand Isle is a fishing hotspot with 280 species available for catching during Louisiana’s various fishing seasons. The town offers three public fishing piers and a list of charter-boat companies. Adults 17 and older need a Louisiana fishing license.

Please remember that Grand Isle’s beaches face the open ocean. Because of its location, the beach has extra safety challenges. Read the park’s beach safety tips.

Day 2

Learn about culture in Cajun Country

Houma offers two places to immerse yourself in Cajun Country culture. Visit the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum (BYE-you TARE-uh-bone), 7910 Park Ave., for an introduction to Cajun Country. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays. On Tuesdays from 1 to 4 p.m., you’ll hear the heartbeat of Cajun Country when local musicians play.

Take a class in Cajun Culture, including Cajun dancing classes, at the Terrebonne Folklife Center, 317 Goode St. The hours are Tuesdays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Join some Cajun dancing on the first and third Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

If you want to have dinner and twirl around the floor during a Cajun dance, Houma Travel has a list of options.

Boudreau & Thibodeau's in Cajun Country
Boudreau and Thibodeau are two fictional characters from Southern Louisiana like Ole and Lena from Minnesota. The Louisiana characters are slow-witted, but they make great food.

Where to eat in Houma

For lunch, try Bayou Blue Po-Boys, 1987 Highway 182. Eat the boudin (BO-dan) po-boy. It’s Cajun Country food deluxe. If they ask whether you want your sandwich dressed, they are asking whether you want lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and/or pickles. The hours are 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays.

For supper, try my favorite, Boudreau & Thibodeau’s Seafood Restaurant (BOOD-row and TIB-uh-dough), 5602 W. Main Street. Start with the alligator bites. (You bite them before they bite you.) Then try the Little Bit of Cajun sampler. You’ll bring home leftovers, which will taste even better the next day. The hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For drinks, you will never go wrong with whatever variety of Louisiana-made Abita (ah-BEET-ah) Beer your restaurant is serving.

Living off the land (and sea) in Cajun Country
Fishing boats line the piers in Cocodrie.

See quirky sculpture and marine life in Cajun Country

Chauvin (SHOW-van) and Cocodrie (COH-coh-dree) are south of Houma along Louisiana Highway 56. On this 45-minute drive, you’ll often see more water than land. The lack of land is an eerie feeling. Your first stop will be eerie, too.

Chauvin Sculpture Garden

Bricklayer Kenny Hill began building Chauvin Sculpture Garden, 5337 Bayouside Drive, in 1990. By the time he was evicted from his property in 2000, he had constructed more than 100 sculptures to tell his “story of salvation”. named it the world’s 12th most amazing sculpture garden. The garden is open dawn to dusk. Please be respectful.

Cecil Lapeyrouse Grocery

You’ll think Time has gone into reverse when you drive up to Cecil Lapeyrouse (LAP-ee-roose) Grocery, 7243 Shoreline Drive, Cocodrie. Cecil is the third generation to own the store, which celebrated its centennial in 2014. Buy a Coke and a snack there, then take some time to relax on the porch or in their quirky garden. The hours are 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

View from LUMCON's observation tower
The terrain around LUMCON is utterly flat and a mixture of land, water, and marsh.

Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON)

Fourteen miles south of Chauvin stands LUMCON, 8124 Highway 56. The landscape is utterly flat and you’ll see LUMCON’s DeFelice Marine Center for some distance before you reach it.

LUMCON is a research institution, and its DeFelice Marine Center offers various educational tours and seminars by appointment. However, if you just want to drive there, you’ll enjoy their self-guided tour and the views of the Louisiana marshlands. Standing on the observation tower while listening to the birds and the wind ruffling the grasses is a very peaceful experience. The hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. LUMCON hosts Science Talks at 7 p.m. every Thursday evening, which are also streamed live. Groups of 10 or larger are invited to schedule personal tours.

Where to eat in Cocodrie

The Lighthouse at Coco Marina, 106 Pier 56, is only a quarter-mile south of LUMCON. Try the Wine Island Shrimp and the onion rings, made daily with a special recipe. Sit in the cabana bar upstairs and watch the sunset while drinking their Bushwhacker, a frozen ice cream drink. The bar is decorated with items from marinas worldwide. Especially for parties greater than 8 people, call ahead for reservations. Hours vary with the seasons.

Be aware: Your phone or GPS may list the Cocodrie attractions as being in Chauvin. Just in case, the marina offers these directions.

Avery Island sign, a must stop in Cajun Country
Watch for the Avery Island billboard at Louisiana 14 and Avery Island Road.

Day 3

Petroleum and food factories in Cajun Country

No tour of Cajun Country is complete without a visit to Tabasco, the world-famous hot sauce. On the way, we’ll stop at the International Petroleum Museum & Exposition in Morgan City and Conrad Rice Mill in New Iberia. You’ll want to be on your way as soon as you finish breakfast since the trip takes 2 hours one way.

Visit Mr. Charlie, the Offshore Drilling Rig

The International Petroleum Museum, 111 First Street, is the only place where ordinary people are able to explore an offshore drilling rig. Tours start at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays and Saturdays and last 1.5 to 2 hours. Admission is $5 for adults, $3.50 for children under 12, and $4 for seniors. Children under 5 get in free.

Where to eat in Morgan City

Head to Rita Mae’s Kitchen, 711 Federal Ave., and try the chicken and sausage gumbo. The hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Tour the Conrad Rice Mill in New Iberia

At Conrad Rice Mill, 307 Ann Street, you’ll see a 20-minute movie, then walk through the oldest operating American rice mill. You’ll get to sample some of their products, which include gluten-free bread crumbs. The bread crumb process includes toasting the rice, which smells delightful. The hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are at 10 and 11 a.m., 1, 2, and 3 p.m. The mill charges a small admission fee.

An egret flies away from nesting platform
In the 1890s, egrets had been hunted almost to extinction when their feathers became high fashion. The McIlhenny family created an egret refuge on Avery Island and helped save the white birds.

Explore Avery Island, home of Tabasco

If you enjoy Tabasco, you’ll adore Avery Island, 20 minutes from New Iberia. Join a Tabasco factory tour, visit the museum, and get a souvenir from the gift shop along Highway 329. The smell is wonderful, but sometimes the peppers in the air can be a bit much. Bring some tissues to gently wipe your eyes, then discard the used tissue immediately.

But there’s more! While on the island, you must visit Jungle Gardens, a nature lover’s dream. View flocks of egrets at Bird City, a section of Jungle Gardens.

Jungle Gardens and Tabasco tour combination tickets cost $12.50 for adults and $9.50 for children. Seniors and veterans receive a 10 percent discount. Tabasco and Jungle Gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on major holidays.

Where to eat on Avery Island

Eat Southern comfort food infused with a Tabasco twist at Restaurant 1868! next to the Tabasco tour buildings. Build your own Tabasco Bloody Mary and bring home a souvenir glass. The restaurant is open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, except for major holidays and for private party reservations. Please check before making definitive plans.

Take a taste of Cajun Country USA

Now that you’ve experienced Cajun Country through our eyes, it’s time to book your trip. What are you waiting for?