Best Plantations in New Orleans
The most iconic and lavish remnants of Louisiana’s antebellum agrarian economy are the many magnificent New Orleans plantations that line the Mississippi River. The planter aristocracy of the early days of European settlement in the region amassed massive fortunes through the cultivation of sugar and, to a lesser extent, cotton and indigo. Behind the plantations themselves, whole communities of slaves were forced to perform almost all the skilled and unskilled labor that allowed the plantations, and by extension the region, to flourish. A trip to any of the remaining New Orleans plantations is sure to be memorable, but here are three of the best that are not to be missed.
The most historically complete plantation in Louisiana, the Laura Plantation is the perfect destination for the history buff. The organizers of this tour have pored over thousands of pages of historical archives to create a 75-minute tour that immerses visitors in what it might have actually been like to be a part of South Louisiana’s rich Creole history. The stories of the people who lived and worked here come alive as visitors tour underneath the house to see the markings of the original carpenters who laid out the beams, visit slave cabins, and see the (still producing) gardens where much of the plantation’s food would’ve been grown and harvested.
Oak Alley Plantation
Looking for stately splendor? This grand dame of River Road is the New Orleans plantation for you. Visitors can take postcard-perfect photos on the quarter-mile avenue leading up to the house lined with 28 centuries-old live oak trees. Step inside Oak Alley Plantation’s interior that’s so lush it would make Scarlett O’Hara blush, and enjoy a delicious meal at the plantation’s on-site restaurant. Not ready to leave? Book a cottage on the grounds and stay for a night or two.
San Francisco Plantation
For those who want something a little bit, well, different, this quirky mélange of architectural styles might be just right. Built in the 1850s, this home has hand-painted ceilings, an eye-catching blue and yellow color scheme, and even two baroque silos. Tours last about 45 minutes and take visitors through 14 rooms filled with one of the best antique collections in the United States. Visitors are free to explore the manicured grounds and stop at the romantic Sugar Mill pavilion.
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