The Port of Burnside has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers and mild winters. The weather is general warm throughout the year, and there are small differences between the seasons. Snow falls rarely, and rain is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year.
About four miles upriver (five kilometers west) from the Port of Burnside in Darrow, Louisiana, is the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, a wonderful antebellum estate where visitors are enchanted by The Sugar Palace, a marvelous 16-room house with Louisiana artwork and period antiques. The plantation sits on 38 acres with gardens, ponds, and a live oak alley. Visitors enjoy the breeze from the Mississippi River while they sip mint juleps.
The original owners of the plantation were the Houmas. These indigenous people had a land grant for the fertile grounds near the Port of Burnside between the Mississippi and Lake Maurepas. In the middle 18th Century, they sold the property to Alexander Latil and Maurice Conway. Latil built the French provincial house located behind the Mansion. By the early 1800s, the mature plantation produced sugar. General Wade Hampton, hero of the American Revolutionary War, bought the property in 1810. When his daughter and son-in-law took over the plantation in 1825, the Mansion started taking on its glorious appeal. Land holdings steadily increased to 300 thousand acres.
In 1857, John Burnside, whose name graces the Port of Burnside, purchased the plantation for one million dollars. He made Houmas House the biggest sugar producer in the United States. He saved the Mansion from destruction by Union soldiers, claiming his status as a citizen of Britain. At its height, the plantation produced 20 million pounds of sugar per year. In the middle 20th Century, the property was opened to tourists. The famous move "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" was filmed on the property.
The Cabin Restaurant in the Port of Burnside is much more than a place to dine. It is a historic site where the original cypress roof can still be seen inside, and old newspapers cover the walls in the way slaves insulated their dwellings in the old days. The restaurant has antique farm tools. On the grounds of the Cabin Restaurant are several historic buildings. St. Joseph's School, established by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1867, was the first Catholic school in the area for children of color. Representing the era around 1850, two slave cabins from the Helvetia Plantation in Convent, Louisiana, enclose the courtyard surrounded by the schoolhouse and the restaurant. Two buildings, L'Armitage General Store, also from the 1850 era, sit side by side on the property. They are attached The Cabin, adding space for more seating and for more collectibles and memorabilia. The Cabin is open from 11am until 9pm (Tuesday through Thursday), until 10pm (Friday and Saturday), until 6pm on Sunday, and until 3pm on Monday.
Visitors to the Port of Burnside will enjoy the Art Gumbo Market, an open-air community market featuring all kinds of arts and crafts. The Market features wonderful paintings and photography, gourd and fabric art, Cajun honey, jewelry, novels, and wood carvings. Jeremy Longlois, Chef of Houma House Plantation, presents a free tasting booth with delicious offerings.