Our Cajun Country adventure
Last week’s sublime weather put the cherry on the top of a 3-day travel adventure shared by our family and a bunch of other homeschoolers. We called this one the Cajun Country Class Trip. I thought I’d share the highlights in case you have a hankering for some not-so-faraway fun.
Clark Creek Natural Area (366 Fort Adams Pond Road, Woodville)
Our sole in-state stop was a hike at the southern-most corner of Mississippi. If you’ve never been to Clark Creek, you might be surprised to discover we have a park with some 50 waterfalls. Clark Creek has nearly two miles of wide, improved trails, or hikers can take multiple forks if they’re the off-road type. The improved trail includes several staircases along especially steep portions and an observation deck for the popular triple waterfall.
Angola Prison (17544 Tunica Trace, Angola, Louisiana)
Yeah, we really went there. Angola is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States, and it has the nation’s only prison museum operated within an active prison. We saw exhibits about the rodeo, escape attempts, and contraband, but the most interesting part was checking out the cells in the former death row dormitory. The Big House Café was open for business, too.
Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site (12501 Highway 10, St. Francisville, Louisiana)
Rosedown is an 8,000-square-foot historic home and former plantation. Built in 1835 by cotton planters Daniel and Martha Turnbull, it’s one of the most intact plantation complexes in the South. I really enjoyed the 28 acres of formal gardens surrounding the house — azaleas and camellias in glorious bloom, crepe myrtles as tall as a two-story house, and an enviable orangery. (That’s a cool word for “greenhouse.”) There’s a stunning lane of towering live oaks as well.
Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission (100 Rue de l’Acadie, Jennings, Louisiana)
Staff from the Jeff Davis Tourist Commission took us on a 2-hour tour of a crawfish farm, the I-10 Crawfish Co-op,and the Commission’s Gator Chateau. We got an education in what farm-to-table is all about, then finished up by holding some (kind of) cute baby gators.
Acadian Cultural Center (501 Fisher Road, Lafayette, Louisiana)
The Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette tells the story of the Acadians (Cajuns). We watched a 35-minute film that really helped prepare us for our next stop, the . . .
Vermilionville Historic Village (300 Fisher Road, Lafayette, Louisiana)
Vermilionville is a living history museum that immerses visitors into the Acadian, Native American, and Creole culture as it existed from 1765 to 1890. The park sits on the banks of the Bayou Vermilion with 19 attractions, including several restored original homes. We watched local artisans demonstrate how to weave, play the fiddle, and blacksmith. My favorite? The rope-pulled ferry ride.
Randol’s (2320 Kaliste Saloom Road, Lafayette, Louisiana)
For over 35 years Randol’s has been serving the good people of Lafayette excellent food, great service and toe-tapping entertainment. We got full on their jambalaya and gumbo, then stayed around for a while enjoying live zydeco music – complete with an accordion-playing guy at center stage.
Avery Island (329 Avery Island Road, Avery Island, Louisiana)
The birthplace of TABASCO brand pepper sauce, Avery Island has been family-owned for over 180 years. The island occupies roughly 2,200 acres and sits atop a deposit of solid rock salt thought to be deeper than Mount Everest is high. We toured the factory and museum, and then took home some sauce. They have a nice restaurant on site, too.
Cajun Country Swamp Tour (1209 Rookery Road, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana)
Woo-weee! We couldn’t keep count of all the gators we saw as we toured the beautiful cypress swamp around Lake Martin. Visitors ride aboard open crawfish skiffs that are designed to get into the heart of the swamp. They’re powered by quiet Yamaha 4-stroke outboard motors, allowing you to get nice and close to all kinds of critters.
Strawberry Picking at Mrs. Heather’s (31458 Hwy. 43, Albany, Louisiana)
And on the last leg of the journey, we put ourselves to work getting strawberries while the gettin’ is good. We filled up our flats, then explored the business’s vast array of playground equipment. The sun set just about the time we were dragging the kiddos away from their fun.
Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter at @kimhenderson319.