Roadside attractions are plentiful in America. The number of stops along major highways in the United States shows they are popular with tourists. However, one nearby prompted a day trip as the main event. John Preble, an artist and entrepreneur opened the Abita Mystery House 21 years ago in Abita Springs, LA after the inspiration Tinker Town outside of Albuquerque, NM.
The Abita Mystery House at 22275 Hwy 36, Abita Springs has been featured on television shows and is also listed on the Louisiana Is A Trip website under “unusual” places. About 75 miles from Port Allen, the town of Abita Springs is an easy drive.
I was excited to see the 24’ Bassigator and the mermaid fish inside this stop of interest. The museum is a creative collection of found objects and art displayed haphazardly throughout small buildings within an outdoor area. A creole cottage on site serves as a studio where artists concoct pieces seen throughout the exhibits. The buildings house imaginative preternatural creations, mini towns that lovingly mock peculiarities of southern lifestyles, and collections of regular items displayed cleverly.
Custom claptrap signs bring smiles and the oddities within are fun for all ages. Many of the displays are interactive with moving pieces. Some require a quarter to operate and are built into old arcade machines that dispense joy via visual stimulus. The Abita Mystery House welcomes all with the words of Preble, “Be strange not a stranger.”
The tours are available everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. excluding major holidays for five dollars people four years old and up. Time through the displays can vary, but I’d estimate about an hour to see it all.
The nearby Abita Brew Pub at 72011 Holly St, Abita Springs, LA was my choice for refreshment after the tour. If you park here, the Mystery House is a walkable distance and you won’t have to load and unload the car if you’re taking the family. The pub is closed on Mondays, open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
In addition to about 20 different beers from the nearby Abita Brewery, the Abita Brew Pub’s food menu offers a large and diverse selection. Appetizers like the Brewer’s BBQ Crab Claws and Andygator Cake would serve as a light snack or a start before their large selection of salads, burgers, entrees, and pastas. The entrees offer something for everyone, with options like their ten different craft burgers, Pecan Crusted Catfish, Abita Boudin Quail, Fish Tacos, Jambalaya Ryan, and grilled chicken selections. The pub also has a large kids menu. I enjoyed a soft pretzel and beer cheese with The Boot kölsch to drink, which is only available in-state. The pub hosts indoor and patio seating situated adjacent to the Abita Springs Trailhead.
The historical train station and trailhead are part of the longer Tammany Trace trail. I used part of the paved path, which was well shaded and tolerable in the 90 degree heat, to walk off some of the indulgence from the pub. Within feet of the Abita Brew Pub patio are the Abita Springs Museum and the Trailhead’s playground.
For more information on The Abita Mystery House visit www.AbitaMysteryHouse.com or call 985-892-2624