Make it a day trip: Explore Cajun culture in Louisiana’s Bayou Country

Imagine heading to Louisiana's Bayou Country for your next day trip.

With just a quick road trip an hour southwest of New Orleans, you can explore a mix of wildlife, nature and culture in Houma, Louisiana.

Known as Louisiana’s Bayou Country, Houma’s centuries-old Cajun history and heritage are infused in everything including cuisine, music, architecture and lifestyle.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

From exotic swamps to unique folk art, families looking for a change in scenery can dream up an adventurous day trip, while social distancing.

Houma tourism officials say the wide variety of outdoor, authentic Cajun experiences make Houma a great spot to plan a quick getaway.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Well, guess what? We already took the hard work out of planning your future road trip with enough activities to fill a day trip or a weekend excursion.

Here’s a list of eight amazing experiences to include on your adventure of Louisiana’s Bayou Country.

Take a wild ride on a swamp tour

Adventure seekers can choose from one of several, exciting swamp tours for a wild ride through Houma’s swamps and wetlands. In fact, Houma is the birthplace of Louisiana swamp tours.

A woman known as Alligator Annie Miller launched Louisiana’s first swamp tour when she began her business, Annie Miller’s Swamp and Marsh Tours, in 1979.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Guests can take a mysterious and thrilling journey under moss-draped cypress trees. Alligators, nutria, rare and exotic birds, deer, wildcats, black bears and otters are some of the wildlife you might spot in their natural habitat.

On one swamp tour, Cajun tour guide Billy Gaston helps guests spot bald eagles and their nests.

If you’re big fan of gators, take a trip through Houma’s back swamps with Tim “The Gator Man” Domangue. You can also stop at Greenwood Gator Farm to meet and hold baby alligators.

Another customized tour goes deep into the swamps and marshes where boats are unable to venture. You can also schedule a tour with R.J. Molinere from History Channel’s “Swamp People.”

Explore a unique folk art sculpture garden

Right outside of Houma, you’ll find one of the area’s truly unique experiences. The Chauvin Sculpture Garden sits along the banks of Bayou Petit Caillou in Chauvin, Louisiana.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Built by artist Kenny Hill, who was a bricklayer by trade, more than 100 concrete sculptures depict angels and biblical references surrounding a 45-foot-tall lighthouse. The treasure of modern American folk art takes visitors on a journey into the mind of the reclusive artist. Sources say the sculptures illustrate the artist’s spirituality and struggle with growing personal pain.

Houma tourism officials say the attraction is considered one of the top 20 sculpture gardens in the world and one of the top five examples of folk art in the world.

In addition to the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, the Houma area offers art galleries, museums and historic plantations open for tours.

Learn about the shrimping industry

In Louisiana, we love to eat our shrimp, but how much do you know about its journey to your plate? Well, you can book a shrimp tour to discover the many facets of the shrimping industry.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Down the Bayou Shrimp Tours exposes guests to the workings of shrimp boats, the importance of environmental issues and the sustainability of the industry.

View shrimp boats and nets, learn about safety regulations, walk through the processing plant and freezers and finish with a delicious, fresh seafood meal from Kim’s Suga Shack.

Enjoy world-class fishing

Houma tourism officials say anglers can expect some of the best in world-class fishing. Louisiana’s Bayou Country offers a diverse combination of fishing for a true fisherman’s paradise.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

The area is home to nearly four dozen charter fishing companies and multiple marinas with convenient accommodations.

Anglers can take in the sights and sounds while enjoying inshore and coastal fishing. Tourism officials say the Houma area also has some of the most liberal fishing limits in the country.

Journey off-the-beaten-path for outdoor recreation

Nature lovers can experience Houma’s natural habitats for a more off-the-beaten-path outdoor experience.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Just outside of Houma near La. Highway 182, Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge conserves more than 4,000 acres of freshwater marsh cypress-tupelo swamp. Visitors can access a nature trail through various habitats to a boardwalk over wetlands and a wetland overlook. Spot shorebirds, waterfowl and alligators in their natural habitat.

Another spot for nature lovers, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), provides access to learn about Louisiana’s marine side. Guests can take self-guided tours at the Marine Center. Meet animals in the aquaria, explore educational exhibits, climb the observation tower for a bird’s-eye view of the marsh and birdwatch from the pond boardwalk, the website says.

Visit one of Houma’s newest distilleries

One of the area’s newest distilleries, Bayou Terrebonne Distillers, produces small-batch whiskey, handmade from Louisiana corn.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Located in Houma’s historic downtown district, the distillery hosts guided tours, which gives guests a behind-the-scenes look at the distilling process. You’ll also hear about the family’s beginnings of moonshining along Bayou Terrebonne during Prohibition. Tours also feature samples and education about cocktails.

Currently, the distillery produces a 90 proof clear Louisiana Corn Whiskey called “Contraband” and a bourbon whiskey, dubbed “Good Earth.”

Taste the authentic Cajun flavor of Houma’s cuisine

From fine dining to down-home cooking, Houma is known for its rich Cajun flavors. Local restaurants serve up Cajun favorites like delectable gumbo, delicious étouffée, spicy jambalaya and mouth-watering shrimp creole.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

So, what are some good stops to plan on your tour of Cajun food heaven?

One local favorite for seafood is Boudreau & Thibodeau’s Cajun Cookin’ Restaurant. At the casual restaurant, you can dig into a wide variety of dishes from alligator bites to boiled seafood.

Another spot to include on your list is Bourgeois’ Meat Market, best known for its unique Cajun beef jerky. The authentic Cajun specialty meat market also specializes in boudin, hogshead cheese and other Cajun products.

You can also treat yourself one of the area’s prominent establishments for homestyle barbecue — Big Mike’s BBQ Smokehouse.

Follow your curiosity with Louisiana’s only GeoTour

With more than twenty geocache locations to find, Houma offers Louisiana’s first and only official GeoTour. This unique experience can add another interesting layer to your Bayou Country adventure. The Houma Travel GeoTour is also one of only 50 GeoTours in the whole world.

Photo courtesy: Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Geocaching is a free outdoor scavenger hunt that will take you to beautiful places searching for hidden boxes. In Houma, visitors can find these hidden boxes, known as caches, in places such as plantation homes, cultural centers and other locations.

Visitors can complete the during a weekend trip or over many visits to the area while enjoying Houma’s great food and hospitable accommodations.

When you locate all 21 caches on the tour, you will receive a signature Houma Travel geocoin.

Created in partnership with the Houma Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Louisiana Office of Tourism