The area around New Orleans has numerous plantations with antebellum mansions that are open to the public but Houmas House offers more than just a grand mansion. It boasts a lush garden developed on 12 acres and includes water features, statuary, diverse vegetation and more. Located about an hour away from New Orleans, the plantation provides a very interesting and enjoyable day trip, with lunch available at a nice on site restaurant with good food and service.
The mansion with its Greek Revival exterior is considered by some to be the “Crown Jewel of Louisiania’s River Road, running between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The present mansion was begun in 1805 and completed in 1829 but has undergone several changes over the years. The present façade is a restoration begun in 2003 by the present owner who wanted to recreate the experience of visiting the house as it was in 1840 when Houmas was the largest plantation of the Great Sugar Empire of the 1800s and was known as the “Sugar Palace”.
Originally, the house looked out on the Mississippi River through an allee of oaks but most of the oaks were lost to the river’s waters and a view of the protective levee has replaced the more romantic river view.
Although the house seems to be the main attraction for the average tourist the garden is spectacular and worth a visit on its own. A myriad of water features embellish the garden at every turn. A quite pond provides a cool, restful retreat near the house.
We visited Houmas House and garden in early April and enjoyed the cool weather and abundant vegetation of spring that comes early to Louisiana. A visit later in the spring would probably include many more flowers but as the spring turns into summer, the high temperatures and humidity could be a problem. Both the water features and the benches in the shade would certainly take on a whole new importance. When ever you visit the garden will be lovely so put it on your list of places to visit when in New Orleans.