The Abita Mystery House is not something you’re likely to see pop up on must-do lists when visiting New Orleans. In fact, it’s not even in New Orleans. It’s in a town, aptly named Abita Springs, just across the Causeway Bridge that runs over Lake Pontchartrain.
If the name Abita Springs sounds familiar, it’s because you’re probably a beer drinker and you’ve heard of Abita Beer (especially their Purple Haze). This happens to be the home of Abita Bewery, which offers tastings and tours. And you might just need a drink after figuring out what exactly you’re looking at when visiting the Abita Mystery House.
What is the Abita Mystery House?
In 2000, Louisiana inventor/artist/musician, John Preble created an artistic roadside attraction originally known as the UCM (you-see-em) Museum. It was intended to be a collection of Lousiana folk art but was later renamed Abita Mystery House to better represent the eclectic collection held within.
Upon arriving at the small parking lot surrounding the 100 year old Louisiana Creole cottage, you’ll appear to arrive at vintage service station. It’s really just the entrance and gift shop for the oddly intricate pathways full of collections of art and oddities.
With the help of over 50,000 found and recycled objects, Preble created his own fantastic worlds: there’s a Mardi Gras parade, a New Orleans jazz funeral, a rhythm and blues dance hall, a haunted Southern plantation, and much more! This joint was built with concrete, glass, wood, water, vision, and invention. Bring a sense of humor and an open mind.ucmmuseum.com
After paying the $5 admission fee, we entered the property with absolutely no preconceived notions. Senses of humor and open minds fully intact.
Here are some of the highlights of what we saw.
If you look through the pictures below, you’ll get a sense of the types of creations you’ll see. It’s one part nostalgia, one part artistic interpretation, and one part insanity perhaps. Don’t think about it too much. Just look and touch and move on.
After checking out the main buildings, the self-guided tour leads you into a courtyard. If you’re lucky, you might meet the world’s friendliest cat while examining the House of Shards, an alien spaceship, and a Hot Sauce hut.
Who Should Visit the Abita Mystery House
Before you start making plans, this isn’t a glowing endorsement of the Abita Mystery House. But it is exactly the kind of place I love to visit. I love weird, quirky, out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten path types of things. The kinds of places you find on Atlas Obscura (which is actually where I found out about this place).
It’s a kitschy roadside attraction that’s suitable for the family. Kids may not understand anything they’re looking at but neither will you, necessarily. And it’s pretty much the opposite of any other museum. You’re encouraged to push the buttons and check everything out.
And don’t forget to check out the gift shop at the end. They have fun and quirky toys and souvenirs at completely reasonable prices.
Getting to the Abita Mystery House
Now that you’re sold on getting to see this oddity of Louisiana, here are a few things about getting there.
If you’re staying in New Orleans, you will need a car to get there. And the easiest way to travel there is across the nearly 24 mile Causeway Bridge. There is a toll that you’ll have to pay on the way back. I recommend stopping at the Cafe du Monde in Mandeville for a quick cafe au lait and beignets!
If you want to make a day of it, plan some time at the brewery. If not, you can expect to spend less than an hour at the Abita Mystery House.
Please share if you love quirky like me!