Bayou Teche National Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2021)
- Intrinsic QualitiesCultural
- Length183 miles
Located along the Bayou Teche National Water and Paddle Trail in the heart of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, the byway is home to an incredibly beautiful natural landscape and winds through three parishes, St. Martin, Iberia and St. Mary, along LA 182 and LA 31.
With an authentic, walk-able oil rig; stately historic homes; swamp and paddle tours; and tasty Cajun fare, the scenic self-guided tour has something for everyone from the history buff to the avid outdoorsman.
Story of the Byway
Looping along the path of a former channel of the Mississippi River, Bayou Teche Byway winds through south Louisiana’s lush swamps and moss-draped bayous. From its southernmost point in Morgan City to its northern end in Arnaudville, the byway crosses beautiful marshes and fields of sugar cane, connecting lovely towns that have well-preserved historic districts. Sample Acadian culture in cafés and dance halls that serve up Cajun and zydeco music along with boiled crawfish and étouffée. Tour stately mansions along the bayou for a look at the lifestyles of sugar barons from the past. The cuisine, customs and architecture here reflect influences of Native American, European, African, Caribbean and other peoples who settled the area. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:
Morgan City to Franklin: Stroll Morgan City’s historic district, where you can browse antique shops or view the Atchafalaya River from a wharf-side pavilion. For a closer look at the Great Atchafalaya Basin (and maybe a ’gator or two), take a guided swamp tour in nearby Patterson. There you’ll also find a branch of the Louisiana State Museum, noted for its displays on aviation and the cypress industry. Next stop: Franklin, whose more than 400 historic properties include the Grevemberg House Museum, a gracious antebellum townhouse filled with Civil War artifacts and antique toys. Pause for a poboy or beignet at Lamp Lighter Coffeehouse & Bistro; then visit Charenton, where the Chitimacha Museum reveals the history of Bayou Teche’s early inhabitants.
Franklin to New Iberia: In the town of Jeanerette, be sure to sample the French bread and ginger cakes at LeJeune’s Bakery, whose owners still use the bakery’s original 19th-century recipes. Farther along the byway, in New Iberia, stands Shadows-on-the-Teche. The antebellum home built by a wealthy sugar planter now is a museum, surrounded by graceful live oaks. Drive through New Iberia's Historical District. Near New Iberia, tour the Avery Island factory where world-famous Tabasco® pepper sauce is made. The son of the plant’s founder also created a 250-acre garden and bird sanctuary here. Stroll through azaleas and camellias, glimpse a deer in the garden and step onto a boardwalk for a view of resident alligators.
New Iberia to Arnaudville: As you make your way toward Arnaudville, stop in St. Martinville for their Historic District and in Breaux Bridge. The Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site in St. Martinville recalls the chilling expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, as told by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in “Evangeline.” In Breaux Bridge, a closely-knit community of friendly people with a bustling downtown historic district filled with unique shopping and dining. Take in our wildlife at a swamp tour or airboat tour at Lake Martin or in the Atchafalaya Basin, before grabbing dinner in Arnaudville. About 10 minutes from here is Lafayette, considered the unofficial capital of Cajun country.
A trip along Bayou Teche is a good way to sample Louisiana hospitality, hear toe-tapping music and, as the locals say, “pass a good time.”
The byway follows the winding banks of Bayou Teche on and around LA 182 and LA 31. Coming out of New Orleans, take US 90 W to Morgan City. At Morgan City exit off at LA 182 W to New Iberia. In New Iberia turn right on LA 31 N (Chestnut St) to Arnaudville.
Points of Interest
Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
An American-Indian word, "Atchafalaya" (Think of a sneeze: uh-CHA-fuh-lie-uh) means long river. Established in 2006, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area (NHA) stretches across 14 parishes in south-central Louisiana. It is among the most culturally rich and ecologically varied regions in the United States, home to the widely recognized Cajun culture as well as a diverse population of European, African, Caribbean and Native-American descent.
Breaux Bridge National Historic District
According to National Register documents, “Breaux Bridge, like other communities across the country, did not develop with separate commercial and residential sectors. The two were freely mixed. . . .Although there were scattered commercial buildings on the east side of the bayou, the downtown proper was on the west side. . . . Here, along Bridge and Main streets, residences stood between or across from commercial buildings. Also, of course, two story buildings combined residential and commercial use. Washington Street, which parallels Bayou Teche, was commercial in orientation near Bridge Street and more residential further south. These historic use patterns are present today in the district, enabling one to “read” the community’s development, so-to-speak.
Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site
Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site explores the cultural interplay among the diverse peoples along the famed Bayou Teche.
Evangeline Oak Park
The park centers on an ancient live oak tree on the Bayou Teche that has been the most visited spot in St. Martinville since the late nineteenth century. The tree is named for the heroine of the poem Evangeline, written and published by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1847.
Jefferson Island Rip Van Winkle Gardens
Visit these gardens overlooking Lake Peigneur with 20 acres surrounding the Joseph Jefferson Home, built in 1870. Dine at Cafe' Jefferson, and wander through the man-made wetland Rip's Rookery.
Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum
Learn about aviation and area sawmill history!
Conrad Rice Mill (Konriko brand)
The Conrad Rice Mill is the oldest rice mill in America.
As a former plantation home, the story of the Shadows is as much about the hundreds of enslaved men, women, and children who lived and labored at the site as it is about the Weeks family.
Bayou Teche Museum
Fun for the whole family, interactive exhibits showcase the spicy blend of cultures, artists, industries and lore that sprang from the land surrounding the snake-like curves of the peaceful South Louisiana bayou.
Tour the factory where TABASCO® brand pepper sauce is made, dine at Restaurant 1868 and shop at the Country Store. Nearby Jungle Gardens encompasses 170 acres of native and exotic plants, a bird sanctuary and a myriad of wildlife species.
Learn about sugarcane and lumber industries and days of the steamboat.
Chitimacha Indian Reservation and Museum
The Chitimacha Museum preserves and promotes the enduring heritage and pride of Southern Louisiana’s original inhabitants.
Grevemberg House Museum
This antebellum townhouse in Franklin’s City Park has been home to large families, and was used by the townspeople as a recreation hall and location for community dances.
Franklin National Historic District
The Franklin Historic District contains nearly 420 noteworthy structures and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on December 29, 1982.
International Petroleum Museum and Exposition
The Only Place in the World Where the General Public can Walk Aboard an Authentic Offshore Drilling Rig!
Byway through the Bayou
Start on Highway 90 heading west out of New Orleans. This Byway will follow the Bayou Teche National Water and Paddle Trail – along a path of a former Mississippi River channel. The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area and the Atchafalaya River is to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the south as you leave the city. Traveling through several smaller communities and bayous, make a stop at the International Petroleum Museum in Morgan City and the Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum in Patterson. In Franklin, drive through the Franklin Historic District and stop at the Grevemberg House Museum, built a decade before the Civil War.
Continuing on Highway 90, the Chitimacha Reservation will be to the north. In Jeanerette, stop at the Jeanerette Museum to learn about the sugar cane and lumber industry. Next stop is New Iberia with lots to see- the Conrad Rice Mill, Bayou Teche Museum, and Shadows-on-the-Teche. Grab a meal at the many local and chain choices of restaurants. To the west is Jefferson Island Rip Van Winkel Gardens, a great place to watch birds and wander through botanical gardens. To the south of New Iberia is the Avery Island Jungle Gardens and the TABASCO Brand Factory where you can take a tour. Pick up Highway 31 to St. Martinville for stops at the Evangeline Oak Park and a few blocks later, Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site. Check out the historic district in Breaux Bridge before arriving at Arnaudville and the end of the Byway.
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