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Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Tropical Paradise in Southern Louisiana

We stumbled upon this place by accident. My Mother and I  were needing a place to stop and stretch on our way to Biloxi, Mississippi.

 I was really excited to see that lodging was available and that there was one cottage left! (We were lucky considering they have limited lodging and it was so last minute!)

The Rip Van Winkle Gardens is twenty-five acres of semitropical paradise that surrounds the Joseph Jefferson Home.

It sits atop a salt dome on Lake Peigneur in New Iberia, Louisiana.

The home was built in 1870 by Joseph Jefferson as his winter home.

In 1905, the home and land was sold to John Lyle Bayless, Sr. After the death of John Bayless, his son Jack developed Rip Van Winkle Gardens around the historic home in the late 1950's.

He later donated the home and surrounding land to a private operating foundation and built himself a new home by the lake.

On November 20, 1980 a drilling accident involving the salt mine caused a whirlpool effect pulling some of the Rip Van Winkle garden area and Jacks new house into the mine.

The top of the chimney in the lake is the only visible remains of Jack’s new home. The damage to the Rip van Winkle place had been restored.

The beautiful gates lead up to the Joseph Jefferson House.

We stayed in the servants quarters behind the Joseph Jefferson House. It is so different from the typical hotel/resort feel. It was an amazing experience! 
Planning your visit:
  1. Make reservation well in advance if you want lodging. They only have three cottages to stay in at the gardens.
  2. The best thing about staying in one of the cottages is that you have to grounds to yourself after it closes to the public!
  3. Go in the spring, summer, or fall time. Although it is beautiful in the winter, there are a lot of bare spots.
  4. Be sure and take the tour of the Joseph Jefferson House. It is very interesting! (The tour is free with lodging)
  5. Check out their web site here.

Happy Travels!

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