Houma sits deep in Southern Louisiana’s Bayou, connected by a maze of channels and waterways that intersect throughout the city. It’s a place where canals separate residential streets and fishermen dock shrimp boats in front of their homes. Known as “The Heart of America’s Wetland,” Houma is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring mysterious swamps, inland or offshore fishing expeditions, touring Southern plantations or delving into birding excursions. The ever-present Cajun culture offers spicy food, lively music and joyful celebrations.
Mysteries run deep in Houma, where swamps and wetlands cover the area. Nearby, the Atchafalaya Basin is the largest swamp and wetland in the U.S., encompassing bald cypress swamps, marshes and bayous. Catch a swamp tour for an up-close peek into those dank, dark wetlands, home to stealthy alligators, cottonmouth snakes, turtles, river otters, black bears and hundreds of bird species. Travel aboard airboats, flat-bottom boats, kayaks and canoes as you listen to spooky stories of pirates and plunder hidden in the bayous.
Deep Dark Waters
Houma is located on the Intracoastal Waterway and Bayou Terrebonne, giving anglers a chance at deep sea, brackish and coastal freshwater fishing. Airboat, swamp and marsh tours are plentiful on the Atchafalaya, America’s largest river basin swamp, and offer a comfortable way to see nearly a million acres of bayous, swamps, backwater lakes and the most extensive bottomland hardwoods in the U.S.
Wild Side of Houma
The 4,200-acre Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge south of Houma is accessible only by boat. Take your binoculars because wildlife is abundant, with raptors, migratory birds, neotropical songbirds and waterfowl. The refuge includes a freshwater marsh and a Cypress-Tupelo swamp composed of Bald Cypress and Water Tupelo trees rising majestically from the murky bog waters.
There’s plenty for landlubbers to do in this “Venice of America.” A visit to the Regional Military Museum provides an interactive experience with the past. Local veterans guide tours through the collection, which includes uniforms worn by local soldiers serving in conflicts ranging from World War I to the present. Visitors can handle rifles, grab a seat in an authentic jeep and take a scheduled ride on a replica of a Higgins landing craft. Built in Louisiana, this vessel that played a critical role in the allied D-Day landing in France during World War II.
African American History
The Finding Our Roots African American Museum contains exhibits depicting life during slavery, the Underground Railroad and reconstruction. Autobiographical stories of African Americans who lived in Terrebonne and other regional parishes are documented here, along with their accomplishments and contributions to Louisiana culture.
The Vermillion Loop on America’s Wetland Birding Trail covers marshlands, coastal prairie lands and bayou waterways, providing some of the best birding opportunities in the country. With more than 250 species of rare and exotic birds, these expeditions offer a chance to view black-bellied whistling bucks, boat-tailed grackles, brown pelicans and roseate spoonbills. The Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum features a 46-foot curving Wetlands Wall showcasing the ecosystem from the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the freshwater lakes of the “high country” just 10 feet above sea level. Other interactive displays include the hurricane impacts on the region, alligator harvesting and the cultural importance of seafood.
Life on a Plantation
Houma’s history is showcased at several plantation houses. Ardoyne Plantation is a Rural Victorian Gothic sugarcane home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Considered one of the most authentic plantation homes, its tours are led by the descendants of the founding family. Southdown Plantation House, a 19th-century sugar plantation, was home to the Minor family, credited with saving and reviving the sugar industry by developing a type of sugarcane resistant to disease. Laurel Valley Village Plantation is the largest surviving sugar plantation in the U.S. and home to 60 original structures including a schoolhouse and general store.
Known as the “Best Festival Outside of New Orleans,” Voice of the Wetlands Festival brings out the best in Cajun music, food, art and hospitality. With headline performers and regional favorites, this is a celebration of the Cajun community. When the main stage goes dark, the real jam sessions begin with late-night impromptu gatherings of performers making music together. Camping is encouraged and RVs are welcomed.
Houma Mardi Gras
Don’t miss Mardi Gras in the Bayou, when Houma residents celebrate with one of the largest parties in the state. The two-week event includes a dozen parades, spectacular floats, marching bands, music, dazzling costumes, masked balls and real Cajun food. This family-friendly Mardi Gras party is celebrated with tradition and style.
For More Information
Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Louisiana Office of Tourism