Normally I’m not one to stop for tourist attractions on highway billboards. They’re usually overpriced or inauthentic. But when you see a billboard in Louisiana that says “Hold a Baby Gator,” it’s pretty darn hard to say no.
My family and I took a road trip from Austin to New Orleans this past Thanksgiving and drove through Lafayette, Louisiana. On our first night, we saw the glorious billboard, but decided not to stop because it was getting late and those things are usually hokey. I mean, it’s probably a gator farm that lets you hold gators, right?
Spontaneity Tip: Not All Billboards Are Tourist Traps
Some Googling led me to realize that this was not just any baby gator holding experience. The Gator Chateau in Jennings, Louisiana actually rescues wild gators and lets people hold them before they get too big. With a solid 5 stars on TripAdvisor, I knew we had to go. However, we had already decided not to stop and wouldn’t be back in the area until our drive back to Austin a week later.
For the entire week I couldn’t stop talking about holding the baby gators. We actually booked an extra night in Lafayette on the way back home so we could hit up the Gator Chateau before our last driving stint.
It was the greatest spontaneous experience of my life.
Well maybe not _the _greatest, but it’s a memory I’ll cherish forever, and it all happened because I saw a billboard and actually decided to give it a shot. Next time I’ll try to not feel the need to research the place in advance and to just trust my gut that it’ll be awesome. The staff was very knowledgeable and answered all of our questions about alligators, like what they eat and how they’re perfectly harmless until they go outside for the first time and their instincts kick in. They even have feedings for the bigger gators if you go at the right time of year! They’re cold blooded so they don’t eat very often.
So take a chance on roadside attractions every now and then, and take the time to pull over. There are some special experiences out there that might actually change your life.