You can't start a Valentine's Dave Trip without starting with Acadiana's greatest love story. Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie written by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and published in 1847. It's a story about love lost, and the incredible devotion to love during the time of the Acadian's deportation from Nova Scotia.
Evangeline was separated from her true love Gabriel on their wedding day. Longfellow's version has Evangeline finding Gabriel after years of searching. He was on his deathbed and died in her arms. Although another version follows the story of Emmeline Labiche and Louis Arceneaux. While the story is the same of their separation, they eventually meet again under the Oak Tree on Bayou Teche, where she learns he had married another.
You can visit the monument of Evangeline near St. Martin du Tours church in St. Martinville. Grab a lunch, visit the Acadian Memorial and the African American Museum. While there, take a romantic walk along the Bayou Teche, or sit and enjoy a cool breeze under the Evangeline Oak.
Another place you can visit is Rip Van Winkle Gardens. Take a quiet stroll through fifteen acres of manicured landscapes. There are fountains, statues, and beautiful trees. You'll view over 200 species of birds. Keep looking around for surprise artwork all around.
It's perfect this time of year because the temperatures are tolerable, and the spring blooming is just beginning. You may run into a couple of peacocks while you're there. Enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Peigneur. Take a tour of the Joseph Jefferson Home built in 1870. Jefferson, a famous actor who portrayed Rip Van Winkle on stage, built this grand home as a hunting lodge and painting studio. Some of his works are on display. You've probably heard of the Lake Peigneur mine disaster that happened almost 40 years ago. You can see a short film about the history of Jefferson Island, including footage from the disaster.
Café Jefferson is open for lunch with everything from salads and poboys, to delicious south Louisiana favorites now that it's crawfish season. And decadent desserts. If you want to splurge a little more, stay on Jefferson Island at the Cook's cottage, or the servants quarters.