Some Mississippi River cruises include a stop at this obscure but lovely Southern landmark, just an hour outside New Orleans. The onetime "Sugar Palace" had its heyday in antebellum times, was ruined in the Great Depression, then was gradually restored. The buildings and gardens are now open for tours, and are a popular filming location as well thanks to the main house's stately plantation beauty.
What We Love
Set Appeal: Bette Davis was the first Hollywood star to headline a movie here and stay onsite while shooting, thereby establishing Houmas House as an A-list location. Since then, the property has been a filming site for soap operas, primetime series, broadcast commercials, reality shows, and more movies. As an homage to her pioneering influence on the locale, Bette Davis’ guestroom remains intact.
The Gardens: Stunning grounds and gardens are Houmas House's calling card. Stretching over 38 acres of land, you’ll find the Fountain Courtyard, Hampton Garden, Upper Garden, and Neptune Pavilion Fountain Lawn. The ancient oak alley is emblematic of Southern plantation landscaping.
Best Known For
Fine Dining: There are four restaurants on the estate: the garden-clubby Carriage House, the popular Turtle Bar, the casual Café Burnside, and formal dinner service icon Latil’s Landing. If you’re lucky enough to arrive Sunday morning, there’s a decadent brunch service. Most visitors enjoy a cocktail and bite at Turtle Bar, before snapping a photo by the creek in the gardens.
Historic Home Tour: One of the top three antebellum plantations on historic River Road, this graceful mansion has 16 rooms open to the public containing a treasure trove of antiques and period artworks.
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Who It's Best For
Horticulture Tourists: The rambling gardens of this home are glorious year-round. There are seating areas throughout to repose and take in the site's stunning beauty.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
That's All, Folks: There is a small town near the plantation, but it’s not set up for visitors. The only locale to explore at this stop is the plantation.
Lena Katz is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides.