As you stroll along New Iberia’s historic Main Street, centuries-old live oaks and lush landscapes lining the streets create a beautiful backdrop for historic buildings and stately homes. For its successful revitalization efforts, New Iberia’s Historic Commercial District won a Great American Main Street Award and has been nationally accredited as a Main Street America program.
Street signs are in Spanish, French and English, while 21 trilingual markers designate significant historic buildings and celebrate the town’s unique heritage. In addition to historic architecture, antique shops, specialty boutiques, art galleries, museums, music and restaurants, New Iberia’s Main Street also offers events throughout the year, ranging from a farmers market to festivals, performances, art and holiday activities.
Keep an eye out for interpretive kiosks along Main Street to learn more about the city’s rich history and culture.
Start the day with a big Southern breakfast fit for James Lee Burke’s hometown character Dave Robicheaux. This Main Street spot serves up bacon and eggs, grits, waffles, biscuits and coffee cafeteria style starting at 6 a.m. daily and has also been locally dubbed the “Breakfast Club” for its French conversations on Thursday mornings.
2. Welcome, Bienvenue, Bienvenido
Walk off breakfast with a trip down Main Street. You’ll pass shops, galleries, restaurants, historic buildings and, of course, the Bayou Teche. Pop into Paul Schexnayder's Gallery + Studio to see work by more than 20 artists or Bird on the Bayou for arts and crafts, antiques and gifts. Drop by Cane River Pecan Company, home of the boudin pie and gourmet pecan specialty items.
Get a copy of the latest James Lee Burke novel Robicheaux or other bestsellers at Books Along the Teche or pick up a gift at The Blue Butterfly Boutique. Keep an eye out for trilingual markers to learn more about historic buildings.
3. Tensas Tower & a National Register Shipwreck
Wandering through P.J. Allain Waterfront Park and Sculptural Garden along the bayou boardwalk, you’ll see Tensas Tower, which represents the transformation of an old Ford radiator repair shop into a modern bed and breakfast. Rising approximately 60 feet in the air from the water’s edge, Tensas Tower is also located adjacent to the Nationally Registered Civil War shipwreck of the U.S.S. Tensas, which was once named Teche. The ruins of this 1860 steamship were discovered in 2004 and have been preserved on site. Learn more about New Iberia’s shipwreck through an interpretive kiosk and exhibit at Bayou Teche Museum.
4. Church Alley & George Rodrigue
Stop for a selfie with the Blue Dog sculpture at the George Rodrigue Park, which honors the memory of the New Iberia artist who passed away in 2013.
The Church Alley Pocket Park is the trailhead for the 3.2 mile bicycle trail through the historic district and crosses the Bayou Teche before winding through New Iberia City Park, which has its own network of trails. Rent a bike from Bayou Lit Bikes for sightseeing during the day or take a glow-in-the dark-night tour with your favorite music!
This local favorite offers fresh seafood, poboys, plate lunches, salads and Sunday barbeque all served on the bank of Bayou Teche.
6. Shadows-on-the-Teche, Bayou Teche Museum & Conrad Rice Mill
Set among live oaks draped with Spanish moss, Shadows-on-the-Teche was built in 1834 by sugar planter David Weeks. Today, the classic Revival-style plantation home and its gardens are open for guided tours year-round.
Discover more Iberia Parish history at Bayou Teche Museum, where interactive exhibits on everything from the Civil War to James Lee Burke, Mardi Gras, music, politics, sugar, the U.S.S. Tensas and more welcome visitors. Check out an exhibit on jazz trumpeter Bunk Johnson, along with George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog in a selection of mixed media and a replica of the late artist’s original studio from California.
The oldest rice mill in America, Conrad is also one of the area’s leading tourist attractions just off St. Peter Street. P.A. Conrad founded Conrad Rice Mill and Planting Company in 1912, and in the 1950s, KONRIKO® was trademarked as an acronym for the company. Tours include a slide presentation on the history of the Acadians, a look at the mill and shopping the KONRIKO® store for more than seven different varieties of rice.
Tip: Save on admission for all three attractions with the Historic District Pass.
7. Sunset Paddle
As the sun goes down, experience Main Street by water via the Duperier Street Bridge floating dock. Kayak down the Bayou Teche National Water and Paddle Trail. Take in views of historic homes, architecture and moss-draped oaks before docking at Pelicans on the Bayou for dinner.
A range of bed and breakfasts, many overlooking Bayou Teche, are available in the Main Street Historic District.
9. Dinner and Drinks at Preservation Bar & Grill
Preservation is an intimate, social restaurant and bar, specializes in the use of fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients and focuses on “old world” preservation methods like pickling. It's a great place to grab a few cocktails after a long day of tourings, meet locals and catch some live music on select night. Other dining options in the district include Calabria Italian Restaurant and Bojangles Sushi & Oyster Bar.
Tip: If you're not a fan of fried food, you can request your entree grilled, even when it's not on the menu.
If you like this, check out: