The 120 mile stretch along the Mississippi River south from Baton Rouge once contained almost 500 New Orleans plantations. Today you can visit 10 historic plantation estates along the Great River Road in New Orleans Plantation Country—but read this entire article (please) because there is much more to see and do in this amazing #USGulfCoast destination in addition to tours of New Orleans Plantations.
While River Parishes Tourist Commission (aka New Orleans Plantation Country)—and various properties, attractions, and restaurants—hosted McCool Travel for much of this glorious trip, please be certain that my message is carefully crafted for my awesome audience so that you can make informed decisions in order to Travel Happy on future trips.
By the way, I learned on one plantation tour that the term plantation means a single cash crop. New Orleans plantations were working farms (with a single cash crop like indigo) prior to 1800. Sugar was then introduced to the area and nearly New Orleans plantation (below Baton Rouge) focused on sugar harvesting. Above Baton Rouge to Natchez Mississippi were primarily cotton plantations.
Where Are New Orleans Plantations?
Getting to New Orleans Plantation Country is simple—only a 15 minute drive from New Orleans airport and 45 minutes from Baton Rouge airport.
Here is a New Orleans Plantation Country map:
For no other reason than to be and see where the mint julep was originally created, visit Houmas House. Only 38 of the original 300,000 acres remain and Houmas House is now popular for its lush gardens, three restaurants, and private events. Spend time at Houmas House, explore, and live the old southern lifestyle.
Visit The Turtle Bar for an original mint julep made with rum—the mint julep recipe later included bourbon when the creator John Burnside visited Kentucky. McCool Travel tip: for a longer experience, stay on Houmas House property as I did. Details are in the Where to Stay in New Orleans Plantation Country section below.
Allow time for a house tour, during which you can see dining room chairs from the office of US President James Polk, some floor boards from 1770s (love them), a clock from Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, and much more. You may recognize scenes from several television shows and movies filmed here, including Hush…, Hush Sweet Charlotte (try not to think of you know what when standing by the stairs).
McCool Travel tip: take advantage of the convenient transportation between New Orleans and Houmas House.
Scheduled to open in November 2019 is Louisiana’s Great River Road Museum. The museum building presents steamship history on one side and plantation history on the other. Displays in the center main area will rotate. A 120 seat theater with moving screen and 50 seat cooking kitchen enhance visitor’s experiences.
The award-winning 75 minute tour at Laura Plantation—originally known as The Duparc Sugar Plantation (or l’Habitation Duparc)—traces four generations of women who ran the plantation. Built in 1805, the plantation’s French Colonial style predates the traditional Southern style plantation (predominately Greek Revival).
During the detailed and informative guided tour, learn about the authentic French Creole culture, including the fact that many plantation families (as citizens of France) sued the US government for invading their land. The property hosts about 30% international visitors and provides three tours a day in French.
Laura Plantation: Louisiana's Creole Heritage Site was voted best history tour in USA by Lonely Planet. Visit and see…
As you can see in my photos below, the oak alleys are a highlight at Evergreen Plantation. In fact, these oak alleys are my McCool Travel tip secret hidden gem things to do in New Orleans Plantation Country. Save money, time, and aggravation compared to the nearby tourist trap version. By the way, oak alleys are tree-lined farm roads used to transport crops to the river. The original Evergreen Plantation oak alley was planted in 1790s and their “new alley” was planted 1949.
Truly though, the primary distinction at Evergreen Plantation is their historic preservation. Evergreen has 37 buildings (of which 22 are slave cabins) listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Their website also says, “Evergreen has its country’s highest historic designation and joins Gettysburg and Mount Vernon in being granted landmark status for its agricultural acreage.”
Evergreen is a working farm with 400 acres of sugar cane. Productions filmed here include Roots and Django Unchained.
Photo #1 is Oak Alley Plantation (i.e., the famous one).Photos #2 and #3 are my secret hidden gems in RiverParishes…
Built in 1787, Destrehan Plantation is the oldest documented plantation along the river road. The magnificent 200+ year old live oaks absolutely astonished me. Truly, I will buy a calendar of Destrehan Plantation oak tree pictures. Every year!
Destrehan started as an indigo plantation and in 1811 was the site of the largest slave revolt in US history. The same family owned the property from 1787 until the 1930s. Various oil companies then took over and eventually Amoco donated the dilapidated house and a little land to the River Road Historical Society. Thank you, Amoco! Please visit Destrehan to see the oak trees but also tour the restored house!
Could spend 10k days taking pictures of oaks. Destrehan Plantation scores high on the #USGulfOaks scale.RiverParishes…
St. Joseph Plantation
About 15 minutes before my scheduled tour at St. Joseph Plantation, I drove in and saw two distinct filming groups. I learned the productions filming that day were Queen Sugar on Oprah Winfrey Network—I have always wanted to mention Oprah on my website (hi Oprah!)—and a “secret” film. Cannot wait to see if I appear in either production. Ha!
Dr. Cazamine Mericq was first person to live in the house at St. Joseph Plantation. He was a doctor in Napoleon’s France but left upon request from Gabriel Valcour Aime—called “Sugar King of the South” and “Louis XIVth of the South” and reported to be the wealthiest person in the South. After Dr. Mericq’s death, the Sugar King’s daughter Josephine (married to Alexis Ferry) took over the plantation. The adjoining plantation property was built for the other daughter—both named Felicity.
A testament to how beautiful the property is—Live Oak Society of Louisiana has certified 16 live oak trees on the St. Joseph grounds, each more than 300 years old. McCool Travel tip: if you tour New Orleans Plantations in October, be sure to check out the authentic French Creole Mourning Tour here.
Two views of St. Joseph Plantation. In one direction, the West Indies style house built in 1830s. The other is the film…
Other New Orleans Plantations to Tour
Oak Alley Plantation
— popular from The Vampire Diaries, Oak Alley Plantation has an onsite restaurant and overnight cottages.
San Francisco Plantation
— called the most opulent plantation house in North America and registered as a National Historic Landmark, San Francisco Plantation is a great venue for events and weddings.
— Ormond Plantation offers public tours, lunch, dinner, and a B&B. They also host a lot of private events and weddings. I love that their website is Plantation.com so they must have been one of the first New Orleans Plantations to jump on the internet bandwagon.
— I am not saying that there are haunted New Orleans Plantations but Poché Plantation offers Grave Yard Tours in the fall. This plantation is unique, offering spots for campers and RVs, in addition to a B&B.
— many visitors find Whitney Plantation the most poignant and authentic plantation experience because it is the only New Orleans Plantation 100% concentrating and presenting the slave perspective.
Where to Eat in New Orleans Plantation Country
Fresh seafood and Cajun/Creole specialties dominate the menu at Ormond Plantation Restaurant. My local catfish was fresh and delicious.
Spuddy’s Cajun Foods
Stop into Spuddy’s for unpretentious Cajun food, fellowship, and fun. Spuddy, aka “The Jambalaya Man,” makes hams around the holidays and told me one of his mottos is “garbage in, garbage out” so he uses high quality ingredients possible. Before, during, or after your meal, walk around the place and check out all the local history on the walls.
He is currently designing and refining his Cajun Cooking Experience, where guests will make their own andouille sausage and Cajun foods. German ancestors will appreciate sausage making and history, because andouille was invented in this area by German settlers. How about that!
Bec’s at the Lake
For friendly people and great food, Bec’s at the Lake is the place to go. Classic dilemma though. Opt for a seat at the bar where you watch the magic from George Becnel and his staff. Or sit on the porch with a peaceful view of Lake Pontchartrain. I know, go more than once and alternate.
The stuffed fish maurepas is a wise choice as is the bread pudding for dessert.
So many advantages to being a travel writer/blogger/journalist/whatever the kids call it today. One is being…
A local restaurant worker strongly suggested I visit Cafe Perique in Gramercy for their remarkable donuts. Alas, I did not but it is on the list for next New Orleans day trip. It is located across the river from and near Whitney Plantation.
Other Things to Do in New Orleans Plantation Country
Cajun Pride Swamp Tour
You are guaranteed to see gators during your Cajun Pride Swamp Tour experience. If not on the boat ride then at least around their grounds before and after. But on the boat ride, I saw many gators and I am sure you will also. Oh, and Captain Tom is a riot and has the thickest Cajun accent I ever heard.
Just heading out on Cajun Pride Swamp Tours with Captain Tom, with his amazing Cajun accent. RiverParishes TouristCommissionNew Orleans Plantation CountryLouisiana TravelUS Gulf Coast | McCool Travel
Trespass at your own risk. Gator IS real and spectacular.Cajun Pride Swamp ToursRiverParishes TouristCommissionNew Orleans Plantation CountryLouisiana TravelUS Gulf Coast | McCool Travel
The Cajun Village
Located in Sorrento, less than a mile from I-10, The Cajun Villages is a collection of traditional Acadian structures now housing craft, gift, food, and other shops. Stroll around back for a glimpse of the resident guard gators, Nubby and Big Boy. The coffee shop makes some really good beignets.
Two distinct experiences await visitors to Historic Riverlands. The oldest building in the town of Reserve Louisiana was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its social, ethnic, and religious significance.
One experience is the “feel the spirit” story of Our Lady of Grace being the first Catholic church for African Americans in this area. Visitors can witness and immerse themselves in the history of the people and parishioners. The second experience is Soul River Music Journey covering the history of African influenced music (by enslaved and free citizens), starting in Africa and journeying to Louisiana.
Where to Stay in New Orleans Plantation Country
In addition to B&B and camping opportunities at New Orleans Plantations (already listed) and area chain hotels, here are a couple of places to consider for your next Cajun road trip.
Inn at Houmas House
Experience relaxed luxury across the street from the mighty Mississippi River at the Inn at Houmas House. The cottage rooms are surrounded by gardens and oaks and are located a short walk from the Houmas House and restaurants—or you can take a golf cart ride.
Please watch my video below from my Inn at Houmas House room.
Houmas House and GardensUS Gulf Coast
Posted by Charles McCool on Sunday, March 24, 2019
Cajun Village Cottages
The Cajun Village Cottages are adjacent to the Cajun Village Shops. Stay in one of their historic and restored Acadian cottages, including a 2 bedroom/2 bath option that is great for a family.
Here are more inns, hotels, and other places to stay near New Orleans Plantations.
Consider also vacation rentals, including condos, apartments, and houses. >>> To receive $40 off your first Airbnb rental, click here.
New Orleans Plantations Resources
To prepare for your next US Gulf Coast trip, please read these fun travel articles:
- 15 Fun Day Trips From New Orleans LA
- 51+ Coastal Mississippi Hidden Gems on The Secret Coast
- Cool Things to Do in Gulf Shores Alabama
- Fun Things To Do On The Mississippi Gulf Coast
- Louisiana Bayou Tour at Greenwood Gator Farm