Top photo source: flickr user Michael McCarthy
In the heart of Louisiana’s Bayou Country lies Houma, a city heralded as a nature lover’s paradise. Here you’ll find over 2,500 square miles of swamps and wetlands, breathtaking scenery, world-class fishing, birding sanctuaries, nature preserves, and so much more. But Houma (located in the Atchafalaya Basin, just 55 miles from New Orleans), is also a city that’s proud of her cultural heritage and is home to some wonderfully diverse museums. Here are a few I found especially interesting:
- Houma’s Regional Military Museum commemorates the sacrifices made by Americans who defended our nation, both abroad and at home. It may be a regional exhibit, but the collection is extensive. It’s a hands-on museum; the items are meant to be experienced. That means you can climb into a WWII jeep, a Huey helicopter, sit on a German motorcycle and in its sidecar, and handle all types of military items. The tour guides are veterans, so they really know their stuff! For a very modest fee, you’ll learn a lot, see and experience some really incredible artifacts, and meet some truly awesome war heroes.
- Located right across the bayou from Main Street is the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum. Here, through displays, photographs, and interactive exhibits, you’ll learn how much the community is tied to the many waterways in this unique area of the country, from fishing, shrimping, and harvesting oysters in the coastal waterways to the impact the oil industry has on the local economy. If you come on a Tuesday, make sure you stay for the live Cajun music! (5:30 – 7:00pm.)
- If you want to get a feeling of what life was like in these parts back in the 19th century, then the Southdown Plantation Museum is for you. Built in 1859, Southdown Plantation heralds back to a time when the sugarcane industry ruled the region. Having recently undergone a major renovation, the home has been restored to its opulent glory. Here you’ll find original 19th century furnishings, fascinating artifacts, photographs, exhibits, a fully restored 1885 worker’s cabin, and so much more. I found the gift shop especially interesting because, besides being a great place to pick up some unique items, it is housed in the plantation’s original slave quarters.
Yes, Houma is a nature lover’s paradise, but it is also a city with a rich history, friendly people, and a thriving culture.