Destinations Magazine

Taking a Tour of the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

By Kenin Bassart @Constantramble

Tucked away in the little town of Darrow, Louisiana is a gem of a place called The Houmas House Plantation and Gardens. Known as the “crown jewel of Louisiana’s river road” it is a property that is steeped in historical significance, and has ben restored to reflect the splendor that Southern Plantation homes have long been associated with. Taking a tour of the Houmas House Plantation while walking through this fairy tale setting with my dog at my side and an ice cold drink in my hand was absolutely blissful.

Houmas House

The Houmas House Plantation and Gardens is a property that has roots that go back beyond the Louisiana Purchase and to the Houmas Indians that originally settled this area along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. Over the course of several hundred years, the property operated as a sugar plantation and changed ownership several times. Sadly though, the sugar industry eventually collapsed, as did the plantation. The plantation and surrounding area hit a low point after a massive flood struck and then was followed by the Great Depression.

The property was purchased in the mid-forties and restored to be used as a summer home by a private owner and eventually became open to tourists. The Houmas House was also featured in the Bette Davis film “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” in the 1960′s  and still has a room dedicated to the occasion. In 2003 the property came under it’s current ownership, and has since been restored to it’s full glory. Interestingly the house is not only a historic landmark, but also the home of proprietor Kevin Kelly. Because of this, the plantation has a few differences that make it incredibly unique.

Houmas House Plantation tour

Because the Houmas House Plantation serves as its owner’s primary residence, it’s home to not only Mr. Kelly but also, his family of lovable Labradors. The matriarch of the dog family is Queen Grace Kelly. She has her title after being crowned queen by the visiting Miss USA Pageant in 2014. Kevin Kelly is such a lover of animals that the property is open to not only dogs, but well behaved animals of all types.

Queen Grace

Queen Grace

If you’re lucky, you might grab a glimpse of the Queen during your visit to the property as well. She’s always happy to pose for a picture in exchange for love and pets.

Touring the Interior of the Houmas House Plantation

Because of the house’s various owners and restorations, it’s not currently restored to one specific period, but rather furnished and restored to reflect several different time periods that were significant to its history. All of the tours through the house are led by a guide, dressed to reflect the era.

Houmas Hous Tour Guide

The interior of the home is lavishly appointed and features an impressive collection of furnishings as well as quite a few antiques.

Houmas House Plantation Tour 19 Low-res

Antiques at Houmas HouseAntiques at Houmas House

Antiques at Houmas House

The tour of the Houmas House Plantation also includes access to Mr. Kelly’s private quarters as well as the room that Bette Davis stayed in during her movie filming.

Touring the Gardens at the Houmas House Plantation

The property’s 38 acres have been restored as part of the formal grounds of the mansion and surrounding plantation. The gardens can be roamed freely and feature fantastic displays that are designed to highlight all four seasons. It’s easy to spend time just wandering through the gardens taking it all in, or lounging in one of its many sitting areas.

Houmas House Plantation Tour 1 Low-res

Lake at Houmas House

Lake at Houmas House

Dining at the Houmas House Plantation

Unlike most historical homes and plantations, Houmas House Plantation was designed to be more than just a tour. The property is home to several different restaurants. They offer everything from simple cafe fare to fine dining. We ate at the Le Petite Houmas Restaurant, which is open on Sundays for a lovely brunch. The dining area was warm, welcoming, and quite well appointed.

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The food however, was the star of the show. With a menu constructed by Chef Jeremy Langlois everything is prepared in house and from scratch. Our meal consisted of traditional southern Louisiana cuisine with a twist. We dined on Seafood Crepes, Fried Eggplant covered in lump crab, and a delectable Crab Cake. The dessert was just as delicious with a delectable creme brulee and a bread pudding that can only be described as divine.

Houmas House Plantation Restaurant

The Houmas House Plantation was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The property has so much to offer visitors it’s easy to spend 3 -4 hours just taking everything in. On top of the tour you can also reserve the property for weddings and special events and they recently opened an Inn that allows visitors to enjoy overnight visits.

You can easily take a tour of the Houmas House Plantation from either New Orleans or Baton Rouge area as it’s only an hour West of NOLA and about 30 minutes South of Baton Rouge.

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