Louisiana Travel | Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island BY: Susan Arcement

The gardens are bursting with color! — the pink-flowered wax begonias, hues of reds and purples and white impatiens, wild violets here and there, and, of course, the iridescent turquoise and teal of the magnificent peacocks strutting along the winding paths. We soon came across the jasmine-covered fence circling a lily pond that was the source of the perfumed air that beckoned us along the pathway.

Café Jefferson is open daily for a leisurely lunch. Enjoy your sandwich or salad in the café or do as we did and sit at a wrought iron table under the moss-draped live oaks looking over tranquil Lake Peigneur.   Sam, one of the island’s resident cats, may come by for a friendly visit and then take a refreshing cat nap on a seat while you have your meal.

Tours of the Joseph Jefferson Home are on the hour. The centerpiece of the gardens, the magnificent mansion is a combination of Moorish and Steamboat Gothic architecture. Jefferson, a renowned stage actor, built the home as a winter retreat in the late 1800s. He is best known for his stage portrayal of Rip Van Winkle, thus the name for the gardens.

Also on site is a gift shop and lovely b&b cottages with the gardens as your back yard.

What Cajun Daughters Love about Rip Van Winkle Gardens:  A semi-tropical paradise, you’ll love the tranquility and beauty of this garden.  The Jefferson House is the glorious jewel of the island.