Almost everyone has heard about the jazz, music, and revelry that make up New Orleans, but there is a hidden gem located a few miles beyond Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. Here, following the flow of the Mississippi River, sits New Orleans Plantation Country.
Today, nine plantation homes are open for tours and a few even offer overnight accommodations. One fun interesting fact about Plantation Country is that a number of movies and tv shows have been filmed here. Interview with a Vampire, True Detective, 12 Years A Slave, and Django Unchained to name a few. (See a full list here: http://www.neworleansplantationcountry.com/film/films)
I recently visited Plantation Country and loved every minute of it. It’s hard to pick a favorite plantation, each has their own unique characteristic, but there were a few standouts. This is not an inclusive list of all nine plantations, but rather a brief glimpse with my best insider tips of my favorite plantations.
300-year old Live Virginia Oaks line the walkway from the road to the plantation’s front door. Leaf heavy limbs reach for the sky while other limbs curve toward the ground providing a stunning shaded walkway. During your visit tour the historic home, visit the newly opened Slavery at Oak Alley exhibit, eat at the Oak Alley restaurant and stay the night at one of the lovely cabins located on the grounds.
• Have your camera ready because there are so many great photo opps on the plantation. When you take a tour of the home be sure to be at the front of the crowd when the guide opens the double doors to the reveal the oak alley at the front of the home. It is a true Kodak moment.
• Mint Juleps can be purchased from a cart located on the back porch of the home. It’s a perfect refreshment to enjoy while exploring the grounds.
• The restaurant has some great food. Go for breakfast when the restaurant isn’t very busy. This also gives you the opportunity to tour the grounds when there are fewer people around.
• Brad Pitt stayed the night at Oak Alley. If you are spending the night be sure to request the room where he stayed.
The first thing you’ll notice when walking up to Laura Plantation is the colorful exterior. The most intriguing stories from the plantation is how the heir to the plantation, Laura, walked away from a million-dollar inheritance. Music lovers will be thrilled to find out that this was the family home to famous musician, Fats Domino.
• Tours are available in French as well as English, which was a pleasant surprise.
• When you are on the second level of the home be sure the guide tells you about the grandfather clock and it’s history with Hurricane Katrina.
• Banana plants are grown on the plantation and you’ll have the opportunity to walk through these tall plants. I had no idea that bananas could be grown in Louisiana.
• If you love the stories you hear during your tour be sure to pick up a book at the gift shop. It’s a history of the plantation written by the current owners.
One of the few homes to miss being shelled during the civil war, Evergreen Plantation, sits further back from the Mississippi River than the other plantations along this road.
• Hollywood LOVES filming at this plantation. Skeleton Key and Django Unchained were both filmed here among many other films.
• This is still a working sugar cane plantation unlike the other plantations in the area.
• Don’t skip a visit to the slave quarters. These are original and not reproductions.
• The Live Oak trees that line the drive to the plantation are draped in Spanish moss and makes a gorgeous photo opp. Stop and take photos before parking the car.
Garden aficionados take note that this is THE plantation to visit when you are visiting New Orleans Plantation Country. Acres of landscaping, water features, sculptures, and more will keep you visiting for hours.
• Find the secret garden and discover all the hidden gnomes along the trail.
• If you want to take a moment to cool off you can grab a snack, meal or just a drink at one of the two on-site restaurants.
• Wear comfy shoes, there is a lot of walking here to explore all the gardens.
• Next to the pond with the steep bridge is a large birdcage with a pretty parrot. It was a fun little discovery.
The next time you are in New Orleans be sure to visit at least one of the plantation homes and take a step back in time. Tours with or without transportation are available from New Orleans. The lovely people at New Orleans Plantation Country are also available to help you plan your visit.
disclaimer: New Orleans Plantation Country provided lodging, meals, and attraction tickets for my visit.