Need a Nola break? Try a weekend getaway in New Iberia

A gazebo on the banks of the bayou is reflected in the water on a weekend in New Iberia
Bayou Teche runs behind downtown New Iberia, drawing boaters and paddlers on pretty days. Photo by Jessica Fender

The water’s glassy surface reflects the Jefferson Street Bridge, backed by a flawless blue sky. A heron stands, statue still, on a shady bank. And with shallow, easy strokes, we glide along in bright red kayaks tracing Bayou Teche during a weekend getaway in New Iberia.

This spot on the bayou has lived many lives — as a hub for the Chitimacha tribe, which named the bayou “Teche” or “Snake”; as a haven for displaced Nova Scotians, free people of color and other migrants; and as an industrial capital during the slavery and steamship era, just to name a few.

Today, the city of about 35,000 offers weekenders from New Orleans an abundance of unique outdoor spaces perfect for celebrating nice weather, a taste of life in small-town Acadiana and layers upon layers of art and history.

With a recent National Register of Historic Places designation for its downtown commercial district and a slate of new parks and amenities in the works for 2021, it promises to grow only more charming. For an authentic taste of South Louisiana, try a weekend getaway in New Iberia.

This article originally ran in the New Orleans Advocate / Times-Picayune. Read more about New Iberia’s glam botanical garden, where to make the most legit groceries, and how to dive into one of Louisiana’s most loved paddle trails in the full article here.

Or, enjoy the great outdoors a little closer to home, biking Tammany Trace on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

A retro buffet-style diner, Victor's, serves southern classics on a weekend in New Iberia.
Retro diner, Victor’s, has been selling well-made and low-priced Southern classics for decades in New Iberia’s quaint downtown. Photo by Jessica Fender
A large silver New Iberia sign overlooks the bayou on a weekend getaway in New Iberia.
A planned river walk will trace Bayou Teche through downtown New Iberia. Photo by Jessica Fender
A mansion sits on a broad field framed by live oaks and flowers on a weekend getaway in New Iberia.
Built by an actor in the 1920s, Rip Van Winkle Gardens’ 15 acres have been transformed into a luxurious botanical garden .
A traditional Balinese gate and guardian statue was assembled in Bali and transported to the Rip Van Winkle Gardens overlooking Lake Peigneur on a Weekend in New Iberia
A traditional Balinese gate and guardian statue was assembled in Bali and transported to the Rip Van Winkle Gardens overlooking Lake Peigneur. Photo by Jessica Fender
Da Berry Fresh Market offers locals and visitors alike access to fresh, whole foods and gardening lessons in the plots out back on a weekend getaway in New Iberia.
The non-profit Da Berry Fresh Market carries community made products, offers fresh and local grown whole foods and rents bikes in season. Photo by Jessica Fender
The elegantly columned Steamboat House is one of dozens of historic buildings in two historic districts that visitors can tour on a weekend getaway in New Iberia
The elegantly columned Steamboat House, built in 1886, is among a dozen buildings (and two districts) listed on the National Register of Historic Places that span downtown and the adjacent residential area. Photo by Jessica Fender
A mural of a nun decorates an alley that leads to an historic church on a weekend getaway in New Iberia.
Church Alley in downtown New Iberia is the trailhead for a new bike path. Photo by Jessica Fender.
A modern tower perched on Bayou Teche is available to rent on a weekend getaway to New Iberia.
Visitors to New Iberia can stay at Tensas Tower, perched on the bank of Bayou Teche in downtown New Iberia. Beautiful, cozy with stellar views, the tower was designed by local architect Paul Allain. Photo by Jessica Fender
The sun sets over Bayou Teche on a weekend getaway in New Iberia.
The sun sets over Bayou Teche as it slowly flows behind downtown New Iberia. Photo by Jessica Fender
The author poses with the marquee of an historic, art deco-style theater marquee on a weekend getaway in New Iberia.
This vintage theater marquee is one of downtown New Iberia’s best known landmarks. Photo by Jessica Fender’s Invisible Boyfriend

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