Put some spice in your next trip by seeing the forest preserve where the multi-plumed Tabasco bird romps and plays. Okay, that’s not really how Tabasco sauce is made, but if you never visit its Louisiana factory, how will you know for sure? No wonder it made Travel and Leisure’s list of the coolest factory tours in the world.
The free hour-long tour of this family-owned company includes a video about the special peppers that are used to make Tabasco sauce—Louisiana seedlings were shipped to Latin America to ensure brand continuity—and a glimpse inside the bottling and packaging process. You don’t get to see the barrels where the sauce is aged (the same kind of barrels used to age Jack Daniels, we hear), but there are free samples if you can handle it. Factory tours are offered Monday through Friday from 9AM to 4PM, and of course, there is a gift shop.
According to Roadside America, the factory tour, located 2 and a half hours’ drive outside New Orleans, on a fake island that nevertheless charges a real toll to get onto, is really just an appetizer for the main-course sight of the Jungle Gardens wildlife and bird sanctuary on Highway 329. Built by the son of Tabasco founder E.A. McIlhenny, the sanctuary is home to hundreds of egrets, a glass Buddha from China and hundreds of camellias and azaleas. Sounds like a sweet accompaniment to a piquant day trip. It’s open every day from 9 to 5; admission is $6.25 (children $4.50).