Explore a world of untouched natural beauty and vibrant Cajun culture and food.
Time seems to stand still during the drive along the scenic Bayou Black outside Houma, Louisiana. A fisherman in overalls sits on a wooden dock, waiting for his catch, an egret spreads its majestic wings and takes to the air, and the lush green landscape stretches to the seemingly endless horizon. This is Louisiana’s South, Bayou Country, where the Mississippi Delta joins the Gulf of Mexico, where a world of untouched natural beauty is yours to explore and the vibrant Cajun people offer tastes of their culture and home cooking.
Discover Nature at the Mandalay Wildlife Refuge
The scenic Bayou Black Drive takes visitors to the 18-square-kilometer Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge, which includes pristine freshwater marshland and cypress swamp accessible mostly by boat. Take a 45-minute round-trip walk on the Mandalay Refuge Nature Trail to observe showy waterfowl, brightly plumed songbirds and other wildlife in its natural habitat.
Learn About Gators at Greenwood Gator Farm
At the popular Greenwood Gator Farm, between 5,000 and 10,000 alligators hatch each year. During the guided tour, visitors can hold a baby alligator in their arms. How’s that for a photo op? The farm has a picnic area with a playground and a gift shop featuring alligator souvenirs.
Swamp Tour Adventures
Head out on a swamp tour with Jimmy, a guide at Annie Miller’s Son’s Swamp and Marsh Tours. Learn about the vegetation including Spanish moss and cypress trees and the incredible wildlife including herons, egrets, alligators, otters and more, all while navigating through channels, marshes and swamps.
Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
At Wildlife Gardens Bed & Breakfast in Gibson, a white peacock often meanders around the grounds. The main house is filled with colorful swamp memorabilia and local maps. A walking tour through the grounds’ natural flora and fauna is a real treat, topped only by a night spent in one of four authentic trapper’s cabins.
Or stay at Audrey's Lil Cajun Mansion. Being welcomed into Audrey and her sister Maudrey's own Cajun home is an experience you won’t forget. They await with warm bread right from the oven, homemade jams and the most delicious beignets.
Houma’s Memorable Homes and Plantations
Built in 1859, Southdown Plantation House and Terrebonne Museum include a 19th-century sugar plantation manor home, slave quarters and a gift shop. Excellent guided tours teach visitors the history of the home and about its inhabitants. The Southdown sugar mill was the last operating mill in Terrebonne Parish, having closed in 1979 and signaling the end of the area’s booming sugar industry. Southdown Plantation is also the site of a very popular twice-yearly arts and crafts fair.
Still in family hands after six generations, Ardoyne Plantation is the largest remaining example of rural Victorian Gothic architecture in Louisiana. It was used as a filming location for several movies and is filled with original furniture, unique antiques and art such as original bird drawings by famous naturalist John James Audubon.
In downtown Houma, visit the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum, which examines the area’s dependence on the seafood and water transportation industries, and explores the natural wonders of the wetlands of southeastern Louisiana.
Near the museum is the Acadian Deportation Cross, a beautiful monument dedicated to the Canadian people who fled to this region of Louisiana. A map shows the emigration patterns of Acadians after they were expelled from their native Canada. Learning about the history of the Acadians is crucial to understanding how this region was shaped and helps visitors gain a deeper appreciation for the local culture, food and even the accents as they exist today.
Find restaurants and shopping in the Martin Luther King Boulevard Shopping District. On Saturdays, the Downtown Houma Makers Market is full of local vendors, farmer’s market-style, selling everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts and gifts.
Regional Military History Museum
The Regional Military History Museum is as much about education as it is about military history. The volunteers are war veterans eager to share their experiences and knowledge, and the exhibits paint a picture of the past through carefully prepared artifacts and replicas.
Feast on Cajun Cooking
Known to offer some of the most authentic Cajun cooking in Louisiana, the restaurants around Houma offer such mouthwatering Cajun specialties as gumbo, étouffée, jambalaya, charbroiled oysters and much more. At Milano, try traditional and contemporary Italian dishes made with fresh ingredients. Cajun Critters Seafood is especially known for its royal red shrimp and crawfish. Set aside a night and go to the Jolly Inn, not just for the authentic Cajun food, but for the festive Cajun bands and lively dancing.