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 RoxieontheRoad.com 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”. BestValueSchools.com 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?

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