If respite from the good life in New Orleans is what you’re looking for, the Houmas House Plantation & Gardens is the place to go. Located a mere 45 minutes outside of NOLA in Burnside, Houmas House is a spectacular world unto itself. Named after the Houmas Indians who originally occupied the land, the former sugar plantation has been carefully renovated and redeveloped by its current owner, Kevin Kelly.
Since gaining ownership in 2003, Kelly has worked passionately to restore the plantation’s mansion, known as “The Sugar Palace.” If getting transported through time is an experience you seek, you will most definitely find it at The Sugar Palace. Guided by docents in period piece costumes, take a tour of the sixteen rooms that make up the Houmas House, each uniquely decorated and occupied by a treasure trove of antiques and art. With the exception of electricity and the elevator for accessibility purposes, modernity skipped right over this grandiose property.
Outside The Sugar Palace you will find a treasure of a different kind. Trees older than 500 years continue to create the live oak alley that brings cool breezes off the Mississippi River into the house. Surrounding the house are lush gardens, whimsical fountains, and marble statues reminiscent of ancient Greece. The tranquility that envelopes you is remarkable as you stroll leisurely through the acres of gardens and ponds.
Aside from the main house, Kelly has redeveloped parts of the old plantation land to house cottages that combine luxury, antiquity, and modernity. The rich décor of each cottage calls on times past, while the alarm clock on the bedside table doubles as a dock for an iPhone. Granted, cell signal is spotty at best, making this the perfect getaway from city life.
Should you happen upon Mr. Kelly at The Carriage House Restaurant, another marvel unto itself, then you are in for a treat. You will never meet another person nearly as excited and passionate about Houmas House as Kelly, who is not shy about all the stories he has under his belt regarding the plantation, its history, and its colorful cast of characters.