Most Interesting Plantations to Visit in Louisiana

JUAN MARTINEZ

June 22, 2024

Most Interesting Plantations to Visit in Louisiana

From gorgeous mansions to places where history takes a toll on you, these are some of the plantations you should visit if you travel to Louisiana

Exploring Louisiana’s River Road is like stepping back in time. This scenic drive from New Orleans to Lafayette is lined with grand plantations that offer a window into the state’s complex history. Once the heart of Louisiana’s antebellum economy, these estates are now meticulously preserved historical sites that provide insights into the lives of the people who lived and worked there. T

he River Road is an essential journey for anyone interested in American history, architecture, and the cultural tapestry of the South. I traveled this part of America and visited different plantations along the road. These were the ones that caused the largest impact on me and I think you should visit.

While some of these houses are gorgeous, it is important to understand the historical significance of them
While some of these houses are gorgeous, it is important to understand the historical significance of them

Whitney Plantation

The Most Interesting Plantation to Learn About History

Whitney Plantation is unique in its dedication to telling the story of slavery from the perspective of the enslaved. Unlike other plantations, its primary focus is on the experiences and hardships endured by those who were enslaved.

Visiting Whitney Plantation is a deeply moving and educational experience. The memorials, exhibits, and restored buildings provide a stark reminder of this dark chapter in American history. It’s a place of reflection and learning, making it an essential stop for those who want to understand the full scope of the antebellum South.

My visit to the Whitney Plantation felt very emotional. It feels in a way a bit like a visit to a concentration camp in Germany or the Killing Fields in Cambodia. Be prepared for getting these kinds of emotions here too.

What Activities Can You Do:

  • Guided tours focusing on the history of slavery
  • Explore the memorials and exhibits
  • Visit the original slave cabins and the main house

Website: Whitney Plantation

Can You Stay Overnight: No, overnight stays are not available.

Entry Fee: Adults: $25 USD (approx. 23 EUR)

Read more: How to plan a road trip in Louisiana

Main house at the Whitney Plantation
Main house at the Whitney Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation

The Most Photogenic Plantation

Oak Alley is renowned for its breathtaking avenue of 300-year-old oak trees leading up to the grand mansion. This iconic view is one of the most photographed scenes in the South and from the moment I went there, I could understand why. This place looks way more beautiful in real life than in any other picture.

However, Oak Alley is not just visually stunning; it also offers a comprehensive look at plantation life. The guided tours provide insights into both the opulent lives of the plantation owners and the harsh realities faced by the enslaved workers.

Unlike Whitney Plantation, here you can learn more about the life of the oppressors and not the oppressed. You can take a tour at the big house and see the opulent lives slave owners lived. This is a shocking, but very interesting contrast to what you experience at the Whitney Plantation.

What Activities Can You Do:

  • Guided tours of the mansion
  • Self-guided tours of the grounds and slave quarters
  • Enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant

Website: Oak Alley Plantation

Can You Stay Overnight: Yes, Oak Alley offers cottages for overnight stays. Prices start at $200 USD per night (approx. 185 EUR).

I stayed here for one night, and while the premises are beautiful, you can still feel the historical weight of a place like this.

Entry Fee: Adults: $27 USD (approx. 25 EUR)

Read more: How to plan a road trip in Nova Scotia

The iconic tree alley of the Oak Alley Plantation
The iconic tree alley of the Oak Alley Plantation

Destrehan Plantation

A Blend of History and Culture

Destrehan Plantation is the oldest documented plantation home in the lower Mississippi Valley. It’s known for its rich history and the significant events that took place there, including its role in the 1811 slave revolt, the largest in U.S. history.

Destrehan offers a deep dive into both the architectural splendor of plantation homes and the complex social history of the era. The plantation hosts a variety of educational programs and events that bring history to life.

I stayed for a night at Destrehan and it was one of the most unique experiences I had in the US. The atmosphere is very calm and walking around the plantation at night gives somehow a spooky, but fascinating feeling.

What Activities Can You Do:

  • Guided tours of the mansion and grounds
  • Educational exhibits and demonstrations
  • Special events and reenactments

Website: Destrehan Plantation

Can You Stay Overnight: Yes, there are two very beautiful cottages starting at 190 USD (175 EUR). You can book them at the official website above.

Entry Fee: Adults: $20 USD (approx. 18.5 EUR)

Read more: The Perfect Guide for First-Time Foodies in Louisiana

The main house of the Destrehan Plantation
The main house of the Destrehan Plantation

Houmas House Estate

The Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road

Houmas House Estate, also known as the “Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road,” is famous for its stunning gardens and impressive Greek Revival architecture. The estate offers a luxurious and immersive experience.

Unfortunately, I was only for a very short time in this location. Still, from what I heard from other travelers, Houmas House is perfect for those looking to combine history with luxury. The extensive gardens, art collections, and elegant interiors provide a rich and varied visit. It’s also known for its exceptional dining options and romantic ambiance.

What Activities Can You Do:

  • Guided mansion tours
  • Explore the beautiful gardens
  • Enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurants

Website: Houmas House

Can You Stay Overnight: Yes, Houmas House offers luxurious accommodations. Prices start at $300 USD per night (approx. 278 EUR).

Entry Fee: Adults: $27 USD (approx. 25 EUR)

Read more: How Easy Is It to Travel the American Midwest without a car?

The main house of the Hounas Plantation
The main house of the Hounas Plantation

Evergreen Plantation

A Landmark of Movies and History

I researched this place before coming to Louisiana. As a fan of Tarantino’s movies (another one of many), I knew Django Unchained was filmed in this part of the US. What I was not expecting, is that the location where such a big movie was filmed, is one of the most intact plantations in the South.

I found the Evergreen Plantation on Google Maps, and after a small detour, we actually almost missed it. The Evergreen Plantation is basically an abandoned house.

While Evergreen is closed to the public for tours, its historical significance and cinematic fame make it a notable stop. You can view the plantation from the road and appreciate its well-preserved architecture and landscapes.

What Activities Can You Do:

  • Although tours are not available, you can take photos from the road and learn about its history through various online resources.

Website: Evergreen Plantation

Can You Stay Overnight: No, overnight stays are not available.

Entry Fee: Closed to the public.

The Evergreen Plantation from the outside
The Evergreen Plantation from the outside

Other Plantations to Consider

  • Laura Plantation: Known for its Creole heritage and storytelling tours.
  • Nottoway Plantation: One of the largest antebellum homes in the South.
  • San Francisco Plantation: Noted for its vibrant colors and Gothic architecture.

These are places I didn’t visit, but they’re worth considering if you have more time.

Be connected at all times in Louisiana.
I got a e-SIM with Airalo and bought a plan of 10 GB for my whole stay in the country.

The church inside the Whitney Plantation
The church inside the Whitney Plantation

Tips for Your Plantation Road Trip

A plantation road trip along Louisiana’s River Road is a journey through history, culture, and stunning landscapes. Here are some tips to make the most of your trip:

  • Start Early: To avoid crowds and the heat, start your tours early in the day. However, if you are visiting Oak Alley, wait for the sunset. It is really magical. (or the sunrise if you stay at the property)
  • Book in Advance: Some plantations require advance booking for tours, especially during peak seasons. In plantations like Oak Alley or Whitney is it recommended to book at least a week in advance. For others, you can book a day before.
  • Respect the History: Remember that these sites are places of significant historical importance and should be treated with respect. As I mentioned before, some places feel in some way like a visit to a memorial in Germany or Poland.
  • Visit more than one spot: Each plantation has its own unique story, and visiting just one is not enough to fully grasp the historical significance of these locations. The five plantations I recommended in this article provide excellent insights into the lives of the people who lived and worked there, and they also highlight what is happening today. I believe visiting these five plantations, even in the order I listed, will give you a comprehensive understanding of the history of the South.
The slaves working area at the Oak Alley Plantation
The slaves working area at the Oak Alley Plantation

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Louisiana’s plantations is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild. Summers can be hot and humid, and winters are usually mild but can be unpredictable. Each season offers a different perspective on the landscape, from the blooming gardens of spring to the colorful foliage of fall. Keep also in mind that this is the high season in the region, and booking a stay in any of these plantations will be almost impossible at a very last minute.

The guesthouses at the Oak Alley Plantation
The guesthouses at the Oak Alley Plantation

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