New Orleans River Road Plantations

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New Orleans River Road Plantation Tours

Along the Mississippi River outside New Orleans, you can still find what remains of the River Road Plantations and a life that passed with the Civil War more than 150 years ago. These top 10 New Orleans Plantation Tours will reveal to you beautiful architecture, rural Louisiana and important history lessons.

Plantation History

Prior to the Civil War, more then half of America’s millionaires lived between New Orleans and Natchez. Their fortunes were tied to the fertile delta soil of the Mississippi River. Their lifeline was the river for water, transporting goods to market, receiving supplies and communication to the outside world.

The homes are rich with architecture as the planters competed with each other to see who could build the grandest homes or built grand homes to lure their brides to withstand the rural & remote lifestyle harvesting thousands of acres of cotton, indigo and other crops.  Many of the “Big Houses” are classic Greek Revival but as you look you will see the influences of the many cultures combining in the South bringing their style including West Indies plantations, English Manor houses, Georgian, Spanish, Creole, and Acadian building styles.

Each home has a story of its inhabitants – romantic, tragic, extraordinary, quaint, and local lore. Each plantation has a story of the slavery that supported these plantations. History is not always pretty – A visit to these plantations will give you insight into a dark spot in our history; a lesson on humanity.  If we do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat it.

So take a day and enjoy rural Louisiana, beautiful architecture, rich stories and insightful history. River Road is an easy side trip on your way from Baton Rouge to New Orleans OR a day-trip outside of New Orleans.

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Oak Alley Plantation

Built in 1839, Oak Alley Plantation is famous for its row of live oaks. No one knows who did plant the oaks that date back to sometime between 1725 & 1750, but the age of them makes them extremely impressive.  Visitors to this plantation either love it or are disappointed. It is my favorite of the plantations probably because it was the first one I visited back in 1996 and the memory of the majestic old Live Oaks that line the “alley” to the home has stuck with me. And they have a killer Mint Julep. The Antebellum Mississippi River mansion is smaller than one would imagine but reminds you that these were farm homes built with some luxury for the main family but also for function against the Southern heat. This property has costumed guided tours and is building out the slave cabin exhibits to tell their story. 

Oak Alley Plantation
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Laura Plantation

Built in 1805, Laura Plantation is a sugarcane plantation that once spanned 12,000 acres of sugarcane.  Laura was a Creole plantation (meaning mixed culture) with roots to both German and French lineage.  This unique plantation has a Creole style main building.  They provide several tours from the women and the slaves perspective and is probably the most straight forward about brutality of slavery at this time period.

Laura Plantation
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Nottoway Plantation

Built in 1859, Nottoway Plantation is a Greek Revival home and the South’s largest remaining antebellum mansion. This site recently had a dramatic multi-million dollar renovation which restored the plantation to its glory days adding a luxury resort, corporate and social event venues.  If you want grandeur, Nottoway is the one to visit.

Nottoway Plantation
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Evergreen Plantation

Built in 1792, Evergreen Plantation is the most intact plantation complex in the South with 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including 22 slave cabins (one of the most complete intact collections of slave cabins in the nation).  The main house is Greek Revival, one of only eight major Greek Revival plantation homes on River Road.

Evergreen Plantation
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San Francisco Plantation

Built in 1865, San Francisco Plantation is the most distinctive and only authentically restored plantation on River Road. Noted for its lavish and intricate interior painting inspired novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes to write a novel about it, Steamboat Gothic.

San Francisco Plantation
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St. Joseph Plantation

Built in 1840,  St. Joseph Plantation is one of the most complete plantation homes on River Road. In addition to the Manor Home, they have numerous outbuildings for you to explore including original slave cabins, detached kitchen, blacksmith’s  shop , carpenter’s shed, and a schoolhouse.

St. Joseph Plantation
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Whitney Plantation

Dating back to the mid-1700’s, Whitney Plantation was a Spanish Creole Plantation. The property was acquired and opened in December 2014 as a plantation museum with a focus on slavery. The Whitney offers visitors a unique view of plantation life as it was lived by those who worked there — enslaved Africans. There are guided tours to see three memorials dedicated to telling the story of slavery in Louisiana, as well as an original slave cabin and church.

Whitney Plantation
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Destrehan Plantation

Established in 1787 and listed on the National register of Historic Places, Destrehan Plantation remains the oldest documented plantation home in the lower Mississippi Valley.  Once stretching over 6,000 acres to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, Destrehan was actually a small community that supported several households

Destrehan Plantation
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Houmas House Plantation

Built in 1840, Houmas House Plantation is a Greek Revival mansion. Houmas House is best known for its gardens, impeccably decorated interior, tours given by costumed guides and a world-class restaurant.

Houmas Plantation
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Bocage Plantation

Built in 1801 and remodeled in 1837, Bocage Plantation is steeped in history with ties to Christopher Columbus, early colonization, and the Louisiana Purchase.

Bocage Plantation

River Road Plantations near New Orleans

  • Click here for the list of stops
Click here to expand

Resources

(Click for more information)

  • Accomodations: Many of the houses provide bed & breakfast style accommodations and a unique way to experience the property before and after day-time crowds.

Traveler Notes & Tips

  • Tours: Individual house tours cost between $5-$20
  • How Many?: You can definitely drive the entire River Road in a few hours. Some of the plantations are not visible from the road easily ie Nottoway and Laura. You will be able to comfortably visit 3 on a day-trip and schedule the tours though many of the sites will lure you to linger with a Mint Julep... so maybe 2.
  • Lunch: Several of the plantations have cafes. Also B & C Seafood Market and Cajun Restaurant @ 2155 Louisiana 18, Vacherie, LA offers some great grub.

BlueSkyTraveler visited New Orleans, Louisiana on an independent trip.

Inspired to visit the River Road Plantations near New Orleans?

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