Part 2: River Road Plantations
The road that follows the Mighty Mississippi in south Louisiana is home to some of the state's most historic plantation homes. Throughout the past couple of weeks I have had the privilege to visit five of Louisiana’s historic antebellum homes. These homes, dotted along the river, can be found after a short drive from either New Orleans or Baton Rouge. They allow you to get lost in the mystique of the antebellum period. Each River Road plantation tells its story in a unique way and, though no two are the same, all are interesting and beautiful.
I enjoyed visiting four beautiful antebellum homes in a one-day whirlwind tour of the river parishes. This post will introduce you to those sites and show what makes each distinctive.
Oak Alley Plantation
Oak Alley Plantation is a beautiful antebellum home known for its avenue of live oaks lining the path to the front door of the mansion. The plantation employs more than 100 people to ensure an excellent and complete guest experience.
When I arrived, ladies in traditional hoop skirts welcomed us to the property. One thing that makes Oak
Alley unique is the land surrounding the home is still a working sugar cane field.
Oak Alley offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the Civil War by hosting Conversations with Colonel. This is especially relevant since we commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in April and will continue with events throughout the next four years.
Oak Alley also has overnight cottages so guests can wake up on the beautiful plantation grounds.
I recommend visiting Oct. 15 or 16 to enjoy the annual Fall Arts & Crafts Show. Oak Alley also has a Christmas bonfire each year. This year’s party will be on Dec. 3. It is a great time to bring the whole family to the plantation to see the mansion decorated for Christmas.
You can look at Laura Plantation with its brightly painted exterior and know that it is different from the rest. I recommend our international guests visit Laura since the tour can be enjoyed in six different languages.
Laura tells the Creole sugar cane plantation story—a story of owners, women, slaves and children who called this magnificent land home. When you visit the 1840s slave cabins you will see firsthand where the famous story of Br’er Rabbit was first recorded.
The grounds are marvelous, boasting 50 varieties of roses and a bountiful fruit and vegetable garden. While on the tour guests often get to nibble something fresh from the garden. The gift shop has products from about 40 different local vendors.
We had an incredible lunch at Ormond Plantation. A well-known chef recently took over the kitchen and started lunch service, which is proving to be a hit. I had the crab-and-brie dip appetizer, grilled redfish with crab beurre blanc as my entree and crème brûlée for dessert. The food is as outstanding as the atmosphere. You can eat inside of the mansion or dine alfresco under a canopy of live oaks in the courtyard.
Destrehan Plantation was our last stop of the day. The grounds and mansion are beautiful. Destrehan does a great job educating visitors about Louisiana’s history and the lifestyles of those living during the antebellum period.
Destrehan recently opened a new exhibit in its education center commemorating the slave revolt of 1811. The exhibit is full of powerful visuals and art showing the historic significance of the revolt.
Destrehan is a great place for children, boasting daily period-craft demonstrations that show how things were made before we had modern conveniences.
Destrehan hosts a Fall Festival each year with more than 150 artisans and craftsmen. This year it will be held Nov. 12 and 13.
Louisiana’s antebellum history is unique and there is plenty to explore throughout the entire state. I hope next time you are visiting you will venture to one of these magnificent sites and learn more about our great state.