22 Great Things to Do in Houma: Louisiana Bayou Near New Orleans

My favorite fun things to do in Houma are perfect whether you are on a Louisiana vacation for several days or quick day trip from New Orleans.

Louisiana’s Bayou Country—as Terrebonne Parish is known, in which Houma is the largest town—offers some historic plantations, fun bayou adventure activities, and amazing food—Cajun food rules here and bread pudding is a staple.

Houma hosts 17 Mardi Gras parades and is the hometown of Quvenzhané Wallis—youngest actress ever nominated for Academy Award and only Oscar acting nominee born after 1999.

Thank you to Houma Area CVB (Louisiana’s Bayou Country)  for hosting McCool Travel.

Louisiana's Bayou Country sign
enjoy my fun, cool, and happy things to do in Houma Louisiana

Houma is only 55 miles from New Orleans yet an entire world away. The drive from New Orleans to Houma goes through LaFourche Parish—where you can visit the Cajun Bayou Food Trail and see 14 foot gators in Des Allemandes bayou.

Where is Houma LA?

Houma Louisiana is 43 miles southwest of New Orleans airport. With no traffic or stops, the drive between Now Orleans and Houma takes about 50 minutes.

Nearby Houma is Thibodaux (16 miles Northwest) and Morgan City (35 miles west). Cocodrie is 30 miles south of Houma and is the closest spot of the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is a map of Houma Louisiana with markers for places mentioned in this article.


1. A-Bears Cafe

One of my favorite places to eat in Houma is A-Bears Cafe.

I absolutely love eateries that provide experiences rather than just food. I am not talking about Medieval Times or dinner theater, either, but authentic, local, heartfelt experiences. One of the truest places I have been to in years is A Bears Cafe. The family-owned Cajun joint oozes Bayou from every square inch of 100-year-old cypress house.

The Friday night dinner—Friday is the only night they are open for dinner but they serve lunch Monday through Friday—offers all you can eat catfish (in addition to the regular menu) and live Cajun/country music. During my experience, several diners joined the small band with their requests.

This was not contrived karaoke but something much more soulful. Totally forget about leaving A-Bears without trying a slice of pie. My biggest decision was peanut butter pie or chocolate peanut butter pie to accompany the bread pudding (no lie!).

The “Mayor of ABears Cafe” naming me an honorary Cajun—written on a napkin (but of course)—is a fantastic US Gulf Coast memory. See my “most Cajun meal ever” photo.

McCool with Mayor of A-Bears Cafe in Houma LA
become an honorary Cajun at A-Bears Cafe in Houma LA

McCool Travel tip: The unusual name of A-Bears is attributed to the owners frustration with people not properly pronouncing their surname of Herberts.

See below more amazing places to eat in Houma Louisiana!

2. Southdown Plantation and The Terrebone Museum

Originally settled by two gentlemen from Cuba, Southdown Plantation was later sold to two brothers from Kentucky, Rezin and Jim Bowie—Jim later gained infamy for dying at the Battle of Alamo with Davy Crockett.

The next owners of Southdown, the Minor family from Natchez, acquired other nearby plantations and increased their holdings to 22,000 acres. The Southdown sugar factory operated until 1977, was dismantled in 1979, and is still in use today in Guatemala.

The onsite Terrebonne Museum outlines the history of the area including displays for the Native Peoples of Louisiana, United Houma Nation, and Mardi Gras costumes. The original property structure now serves as government housing for researchers studying sugar cane.

magnificent oak tree at Southdown Plantation
magnificent oak tree at Southdown Plantation in Houma

3. Ardoyne Plantation

Ardoyne means hill in Scottish and Ardoyne Plantation in Houma is situated a whopping 10 feet above sea level. The family-owned plantation is perhaps the largest Victorian Gothic structure in Louisiana and currently harvests 300 acres of sugar cane. Ardoyne and Southdown are the only plantations along Bayou Black that can be toured and they have a friendly rivalry. Southdown only added their second floor after Ardoyne did, the Ardoyne owner said on a guided tour.

magnificent oak tree at Ardoyne Plantation: fun things to do in Houma Louisiana
gorgeous oak trees at Ardoyne Plantation in Houma LA

4. Regional Military Museum

Recently voted the best museum in Houma, the Regional Military Museum displays military memorabilia and artifacts from the Civil War through today. Displays are very hands on, visitors can hold the weapons and sit in vehicles. Their most prized object, the curator told me, is a fragment from a Japanese plane shot down over Pearl Harbor.

5. Terrebone Waterlife Museum

The Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum preserves and promotes Houma’s long history and way of life on the water. Displays include oyster history, animals (gators, snakes, and nutria), oyster rakes (try them, it is a difficult task!), why Houma is the Venice of America, and much more.

gator display in museum
Bayou Terrebone Waterlife Museum in Houma

6. Chauvin Sculpture Garden and Cocodrie

Spend a couple of hours driving highway 56 (Little Caillou Road) from downtown Houma deep into the bayou wetlands to Cocodrie. About halfway down, Chauvin Sculpture Garden (maintained by Nicholls State University) is a fascinating break point, featuring 100 quirky concrete sculptures.

Put 5226 Bayouside Lane on your GPS to find the exact location. Another suggested stop a little further south is the La Butte Indian Mound at the Elpege Picou Cemetery. Take highway 57 (Bayou Sale Road) back to Houma for more outstanding bayou scenery.

quirky statues at Chauvin Sculpture Garden
Chauvin Scultpure Garden near Houma, Louisiana

7. Greenwood Gator Farm

Learn all about the powerful and popular American alligator, feed them, hold them (really!), plus take a swamp tour—all at Greenwood Gator Farm in Gibson, Louisiana. Greenwood Gator Farm is one of 12 gator farms in Louisiana and the only place where people can tour a working gator farm. For most of the year, 12,000 gators reside in the various the pens on the Greenwood grounds.

Plan your visit with my guide: Louisiana Bayou Tour at Greenwood Gator Farm

8. Cajun Meat Market

I loved visiting with Shawn at Cajun Meat Market to learn some Cajun culinary basics and see the popularity of this place with people continually stopping in. Plus the food was absolutely amazing! Let me know what recipe Shawn is trying during your visit and your thoughts.

See my Cajun Meat Market photos.

9. Public Art in Houma

Along Bayou Terrebonne, find the statues of a pelican, the rougarou, and the below roseate spoonbill. Also visit the Downtown Art Gallery by Terrebonne Fine Arts Guild at 630 Belanger Street to see original art creations from local artists.

roseate spoonbill statue in Houma
roseate spoonbill statue in Houma

I loved the History of Terrebonne wall mural on the side of the building at 7928 W Main Street.

History of Terrebonne wall mural in Houma
History of Terrebonne wall mural in Houma
History of Terrebonne mural closeup Houma
History of Terrebonne mural closeup in Houma

10. Houma Events: Rougarou Fest and Mardi Gras

Two phenomenal annual events in Houma are Mardi Gras in the spring and Rougarou Fest in the fall.

Houma Mardi Gras celebration starts with the Krewe of Hercules and runs nearly non-stop for 12days until the Krewe of Bonne Terre. Mardi Gras in Houma is one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations in Louisiana and full of Cajun hospitality and safe, economical, family-friendly events.

Rougarou Fest, as I say in the below tweet, is a gumbo of Mardi Gras, Halloween, and Renaissance Faire. Definitely one of the most interesting festivals I have ever been to. Rougarou Fest is 100% supported by local businesses donating supplies and food, and staffed 100% by volunteers. All proceeds benefit wetland habitat restoration and education.

See more fun Rougarou Fest photos.


11. Houma Visitor Center

Stop at the Houma Visitor Center for information, to use the facility, and fill up your water bottle. The center, though, has some really outstanding interactive displays, culminating with the #TheBigBoots selfie station outside. I challenge you to take a dorkier picture than I did.

Houma Visitor Center #thebigboots
Houma Visitor Center #thebigboots

Some of the Best Restaurants in Houma LA

12. 531 Liberty

The food at 531 Liberty is so good. Definitely Cajun influence but a bit more eclectic and creative. I love the location across the street from the medical center, and seeing doctors and staff eating here, then it must be good for me, right? Definitely try the bread pudding at 531 Liberty.

See my 531 Liberty food photos.

13. The Shack

Fresh seafood, check. Louisiana craft beer, check. The Shack in Houma checks so many boxes for a memorable seafood lunch or dinner.

seafood platter at The Shack in Houma
seafood platter at The Shack in Houma

See also my favorite Places to Enjoy Gulf Seafood

14. 1921 Seafood

My wife Julie still says these were the best oysters she has ever had. Visit 1921 Seafood and taste them yourself.

oysters at 1921 Seafood in Houma
oysters at 1921 Seafood in Houma

15. Spigots Brew Pub

Come on, you know you want to try beer brewed by mythical beings. On my last visit—during Rougarou Fest—Spigots had a toasted marshmallow porter that was pretty interesting but I kept ordering their red. So good.

Also good at Spigots is their food, including a, wait for it, pretzel bread pudding. Yes!

beer flight at Spigots in Houma LA
Spigots Brew Pub in Houma

See also my favorite Gulf Coast Beverage Spots

16. Big Mike’s BBQ

When jambalaya is one of the side items at a BBQ joint, I am intrigued. When I ask the staff for suggestions and the cashier and chef/cook have differing opinions, I order what the chef says. Big Mike’s BBQ brisket was tasty and the jambalaya is a perfect side order!

brisket with jambalaya
Big Mike’s BBQ Houma LA

17. Scarlet Scoop

King Cake ice cream. Lagniappe Blackberry Dumplings ice cream. The flavor combinations at Scarlet Scoop are astounding and their story is even better. Bryan Nelson worked here five years as a teen (13-18) and when the owner wanted to retire, Bryan bought the shop. And has worked here ever since. Now that is a sweet job.

See a memorable Scarlet Scoop background story and more photos.

18. Boudreau & Thibodeau’s Cajun Cooking

A visit to Boudrea & Thibodeau is more than just about the food. Kitschy signage, popular recipe books, a lot of logoed apparel to be found. Solid oysters and seafood, like everywhere else in Houma. Dadgumit, the eating in this town is so good.

19. Podna’s Cajun Cookin’ & Specialty Meats

Podna’s is an excellent stop for a casual lunch, try a shrimp po’ boy or a lunch plate special. While there, shop their Cajun seasonings and perhaps walk out with some goodies from the meat market.

20. Mr Ronnie’s Famous Hot Donuts

The HOT light is always illuminated at Mr Ronnies. 24 hours a day, every day of the year, fulfill your donut urges. I thought I was ordering a Mardi Gras donut (purple and yellow) but later realized it was LSU colors. Forgive me. Geaux Tigers!

HOT light at Mr Ronnies donuts in Houma Louisiana
Mr Ronnies Donuts Houma

Where to Stay in Houma: Courtyard by Marriott

With a convenient location next to the Houma Civic Center, relaxing pool, and other amenities the highly rated Courtyard by Marriott Houma is my favorite place to stay in Houma LA. The onsite Bistro offers cooked breakfast items as well as substantial pastries, oatmeal, and fruit.

See my video of a Courtyard by Marriott Houma room.

We also stayed one night a couple of years ago at Twelve Oaks Plantation B&B. Yes, the property has 12 magnificent oaks!

Other Things to Do in Houma

There are many other amazing and cool things to do in Houma Louisiana and I just scratched the surface here. Hopefully it provides you an idea of the variety of funness to experience there. On future trips, I hope to explore some of the following Houma attractions and discover even more.

Other places on my wish list of places to visit in Houma include:

  • Down the Bayou Shrimp Tour
  • Hammond’s Bayou Airplane Tour
  • Mandalay Wildlife Refuge

Many More Houma Restaurants

Some Houma LA restaurants I will try on future visits include Caena’s Cajun, Cristiano, Bayou Blue Po-Boy, Big Al’s Seafood, Bayou Delight, Cajun Critters, The Jambalaya Shoppe, and White Bowl. I know there are many others let me know your favorite places to eat in Houma.

If your favorite Houma restaurant, museum, or secret place is not listed, please let me know.

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