The sights, sounds, and flavors of Louisiana aren’t the only things that come to life during the spring; history also comes alive on Louisiana plantations. New Orleans Plantation Country is one of America’s most unique cultural and historic travel destinations. Sprawling manicured lawns, towering moss-covered oaks, and hedgerows of blossoming flora highlight the plantations that lay between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Not only can you experience some of the most compelling stories embedded in Louisiana’s culture, you can also indulge in authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine prepared with fresh, local ingredients and recipes as deeply ingrained in the local heritage as the plantations’ histories.
Of course, no visit to Plantation Country is complete without a tour of swamp country. Spring is a particularly fine time to visit not only because of how vibrant the swamplands are, but because the alligators (arguably the swamps’ main attraction) are so very active that they make any swamp tour a true adventure.
A Walk Back in Time
As the area’s name, New Orleans Plantation Country, implies, a premier feature of the area is the 10 plantations situated between New Orleans and Baton Rouge available for touring. The 10 plantation homes are:
- Destrehan Plantation
- Evergreen Plantation
- Houmas House Plantation
- Laura: A Creole Plantation
- Oak Alley Plantation
- Ormond Plantation
- Poche Plantation
- Joseph Plantation
- San Francisco Plantation
- Whitney Plantation
Each plantation offers something different in terms of centuries’ old history. It’s impossible to tour all of the plantations in one visit or even in one weekend; however, it is possible to visit a few renowned plantation homes over a long weekend.
Destrehan Plantation, Oak Alley Plantation, and Laura: A Creole Plantation are all located in the New Orleans area and each has a distinguished legacy as well as resplendent beauty that simply cannot be missed.
Destrehan Plantation is the oldest plantation home in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Established in 1787, the plantation is the site of the infamous 1811 Slave Revolt trial. Toward the end of the Civil War, the property was seized by Union forces and became the Rost Home Colony for newly-freed slaves. You’ll learn this and other fascinating facts about the plantation home’s legacy while visiting.
Though any time is a fantastic time to tour the Destrehan Plantation, late April is undoubtedly the most exciting. April 22 is Destrehan Plantation Heritage Day. Costumed curators guide tours and enable visitors to learn about Louisiana Heritage. There are exhibits and demonstrations such as doll making, duck carving, calligraphy, irons, woodworking, bousillage (a clay and moss mixture used for construction), blacksmithing, quilting, pottery, and herbal healing of Early African-Americans. There is also 18th and 19th century dancing. Admission to the Heritage Day festivities is $7 per person; tours are an additional $5.
Oak Alley Plantation
Established in 1839, with its towering pillars and canopy of 28 live oaks leading up to the stately Greek Revival-style mansion home, Oak Alley Plantation is considered the most-photographed plantation in Louisiana. Luxurious chandeliers and gleaming hardwood floors are part of the home’s picturesque interior.
On-site B&B cottages and Cajun / Creole dining enable visitors to the Oak Alley Plantation to get a true glimpse into the luxurious lifestyles of yester-year.
Laura: A Creole Plantation
Dubbed by Lonely Planet Travel to be the “Best History Tour in the United States”, Laura: A Creole Plantation fully immerses visitors in Creole culture. Creoles are those who are of blended heritage; typically, it’s African-American and American Indian. In fact, it was on the Laura Plantation that the popular folklore “Tales of Br’er Rabbit” was first recorded in the 1870s. Learn this as well as other fascinating cultural information while discovering the restored Manor House, kitchen and gardens, Banana-Land grove, and Creole cottages, and slave quarters on this former sugar cane farm.
There is much more to learn on the unique plantation tours; fully indulge in the history, nature, and culture of Plantation Country during the springtime when Louisiana’s heritage comes to life. Flowers and trees are in bloom, swamps vibrate with activity, and plantation homes bring history to life during the spring, which is why it is the perfect time to discover New Orleans Plantation Country, one of the most exciting places to visit in the U.S.