Louisiana’s most magnificent plantation homes dot the verdant landscapes along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Beauty and history linger in the columns of Louisiana’s antebellum plantation homes. The grand structures retain much of their past elegance, transporting visitors back in time with one step through the door.
The impressive plantations in Louisiana’s countryside offer a glimpse of a bygone lifestyle and an important time in America’s history. Tour groups can learn about the era leading up to the Civil War while reveling in the gorgeous mansions.
Along a scenic stretch of the mighty Mississippi between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, visitors will find a remarkable area known as New Orleans Plantation Country. The collection of nine famous member plantations peppers the landscape, offering something unique at each location. With all the options, it’s hard to know where to start, but no matter which destination groups choose, they will discover the cultural richness of Louisiana.
Experience the fascinating history of Creole life in Louisiana at Laura Plantation, one of the top travel attractions in the state. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in the heart of plantation country, this historic farm embodies the Creole family that lived and worked there for more than 200 years.
A guided “Creole Family Saga” group tour takes you around the newly restored Big House, its raised basement and galleries, service rooms and common rooms, and the men’s and women’s parlors. Groups at Laura also see the 200-year-old sugar plantation homestead and its three lush gardens where produce is still grown. In addition, they visit one of the four remaining slave cabins, built in 1840, where the ancient West African tales of “Br’er Rabbit” were recorded. (Tour groups of 20 or more people require a reservation. Adults,$15; children, ages 6-17, $6.)
The plantation also offers three special themed tours for adult groups: Plantation Slaves, Artisans & Folklore; Women in the Creole Plantation; and Laura’s Taste of Wine. There must be a minimum of 20 guests and a maximum of 30. (Admission price for specialty tours is $25 per person.)
Oak Alley Plantation, known for its towering, 300-year-old oak trees, offers 25 acres of iconic landscape that tells the story of all those who made an impact on the historic property. Dubbed the “Grande Dame of the Great River Road,” Oak Alley is a true testament to the Old South.
Groups of 20 or more can access the historic grounds and receive a guided tour of the “Big House,” Civil War encampment exhibit and slave quarter Exhibit. If your group is full of foodies, consider scheduling a Cajun lunch buffet in the West Pavilion, where guests can enjoy traditional cuisine. (Reserved for groups of 25 or more.)
Down the river is San Francisco Plantation. Known as “The Most Opulent Plantation House in North America,” this landmark was established back in 1856 by the Marmillion family as a sugar plantation. Today, this vividly colorful house features unparalleled décor and one of the finest antique collections in the country. Groups will be led by guides in period dress through the 14 rooms, as well as the grounds, which include an 1840s slave cabin and 1830s schoolhouse. (Group tours available by appointment.)
If your group wants to experience a working Louisiana sugar plantation, St. Joseph should definitely be a stop on your itinerary. Built in 1830, the plantation is still owned and operated by the descendants of Joseph Waguespack, who bought it back in 1877. Most tours through the ancestral home and surrounding grounds are guided by family members, giving groups a personal look into the plantation’s past. (Group discounts available.)
Groups may need more than a couple hours to stroll through Evergreen Plantation, one of the most intact plantation complexes in the South. It features 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, offering an authentic representation of plantation culture. The 90-minute tour highlights the plantation’s dependence on slaves and includes a walk through the main house, plus the well-preserved slave quarters and other dependencies. (Groups of 10 or more, call for special times and discounted rates.)
Located in the heart of Louisiana’s German Coast, Ormond Plantation is the oldest French West Indies-style Creole plantation on the Mississippi. While this mansion pre-dates the Louisiana Purchase, what’s really fascinating are all the curious occurrences that have taken place there, including the disappearance of the original owner Pierre d’Trepagnier. Take in the history, grandeur and mystery of this plantation as your group tours this historic home and its beautiful grounds. (Call for group information.)
History lives at Destrehan Plantation, said to be the oldest documented plantation home in the Lower Mississippi Valley. This is a must-see for all groups, especially those with history buffs. Guests can view an original document signed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, dated 1804. It was the location of the trial for the famous 1811 Slave Revolt and was seized by the Union Army at the end of the Civil War to be established as the Rost Home Colony where newly freed slaves learned various trades. Group tours of the plantation are led by costumed interpreters. Groups can also catch special period craft demonstrations, such as open hearth cooking, indigo dyeing and sugar cane processing. (Special-interest group tours available upon request; special rates for groups of 20 or more.)
Dubbed the “Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road,” Houmas House Plantation is a grand estate that was once the largest producer of sugar cane in the country. Guides in period costumes lead group tours through the lavish home with antique furnishings and works of art spread throughout the 16 rooms. Groups then venture outside to stroll the 38 acres of lush gardens. Visitors can savor traditional Southern cuisine at Latil’s Landing, one of the top restaurants in the country, or experience a more casual meal at Cafe Burnside. (Groups of 15 or more, $15/person.)
A longstanding piece of Louisiana’s plantation history opens its doors to the public for the first time in its 262-year history this fall. Whitney Plantation is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River on the historic River Road and was first established in 1752. The property is now a Site of Memory, dedicated to the facts of slavery and the people who lived on and worked the land. Visitors can pass through the main house to view exhibits chronicling the lives of slaves in the South, and then head outside to see the maze of walls etched with the names of thousands of Louisiana slaves.
The plantations are true testaments to the history and culture of Louisiana, offering groups a window into the past and a memory they can cherish for years to come.