Visitors to the Jungle Gardens on Avery Island in Iberia Parish can now access free tour information directly from their cellphones.
Guests can hear recorded commentary with detailed historical information on 15 points of interest in the gardens, such as Bird City or the Sunken Gardens, by dialing (337) 606-4063. Smartphone users can also access a mobile web tour which has an interactive map with tour information in text, audio, video and photo format. The software also includes a social media share and search function. Visitors can choose to allow the program to track their device’s physical location and alert them when they get to a nearby stop. The mobile web tour can be accessed at myoncell.mobi/3376064063 or by scanning the provided QR code.
In the 1920s, Edward Avery “Ned” McIlhenny, the son of TABASCO® inventor Edmund Avery McIlhenny, converted his private Avery Island estate into Jungle Gardens, decorating it with exotic botanical specimens from around the world. He also founded Bird City, a private bird sanctuary for the once-endangered snowy egret. Camellias, azaleas, bamboos and thousands of tropical plants in season form the beautiful landscape. A centuries-old Buddha sculpture watches over the Chinese Garden. Alligators prowl in the lagoon and bayou. Deer, rabbits and enormous flocks of egrets and herons, among other species, are protected there and may be seen in early spring and summer. Ducks and other wild fowl inhabit the gardens in winter.
The gardens are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. For more information, call (337) 369-6243.
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Park getting new coaster
A new $1.4 million Lady Bug Roller Coaster is expected to be ordered for New Orleans City Park in the next two months. After negotiations, FEMA has agreed to pay for a the new coaster.
It will take eight months to manufacture the coaster with an estimated installation and completion date of Summer 2014, according to a park news release.
The Lady Bug Roller Coaster has been an attraction for New Orleanians for many years. The new coaster will be higher, faster and cover a larger area, and each of the coaster’s 10 cars will hold two people.
The park is accepting sponsors at a cost of $25,000 for each of the coaster cars. Funds raised through sponsorship will be invested in the park’s endowment to ensure the Lady Bug Roller Coaster will run for years to come.
For additional sponsorship information, email John Hopper at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (504) 259-1509.
House at park closed
Otis House at Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville is closed to the public for repairs from damages sustained during Hurricane Isaac. Repairs are expected to be complete by mid-October.
Areas needing repairs include the roof, sheetrock and flooring. Other repairs will be made to the park’s entrance station, day-use pavilion and bathhouse.
The park features 81 campsites, fishing, canoeing and picnicking. Otis House, originally built in the 1880s, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. For more information, call (888) 677-3247.
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More Quarter tours
G L-f de Villiers will offering five different walking tours of the French Quarter and the St. Louis Cemetery starting in September.
There will be a different tour every day, Thursday through Monday.
The tours will include the Literary History Tour; a Creoles, Americans, Pirates and the War of 1812 tour; The Twirl, a Gay Heritage and Drinks tour; a Cemetery and Voudou tour; and the French Quarter Stroll.
Cost for the tour is $35 per person and the group size is limited to 12 guests.
Each tour is partnered with a nonprofit and promoted by them through their media and other means. All profits from the tours go to those participating charities.
The tours connect the rich culture of New Orleans with historic, architecturally significant landmarks and are led by local writer, historian, and longtime French Quarter resident Glenn DeVillier, who became a guide in 1989.
The focus is on history, diversity, cultural heritage and enrichment, fun, music, and generally getting to truly understand what it means to know New Orleans, a release said. As a special introductory offer, G L-f de Villiers is offering gift certificates valid through the end of 2017. For $50, the bearer receives two tour tickets plus two lagniappe tickets good for friends and family. For $60, a so-endowed school or other nonprofit receives double the value, thereby making it good for a private tour.
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Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, New Orleans City Park, Office of State Parks and G L-f de Villiers contributed to this column. Louisiana Travels is a biweekly column about travel destinations and events in Louisiana. Email items for Louisiana Travels to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Judy Bergeron, The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810.