Plantations, New Orleans
There are many different group bus tours available in New Orleans that will take you to the plantations and swamps. We opted for the cheaper and more flexible approach and decided to do our research to find a plantation that particularly interested us and then rented a car for the day and went on our own. At any of the plantations you can pay to get in and take part in the tours without being a part of a tour group. It only took us about 45 min to an hour to get to the plantation, and that is with taking the slower route that avoided the highway for the most part. In planning for our trip I emailed the plantation with some questions about the best routes to take and time to arrive to avoid the rush and the response came quickly and was friendly and informative. There is plenty of free parking available if you decide to drive.
We chose Oak Alley because of the pictures we were finding of the magnificent Oak trees that are located throughout the grounds. They were absolutely breathtaking in person...being hundreds of years old with branches that had grown so heavy that they lay on the ground and continue to grow. Because we weren't on a bus tour we were able to arrive early and avoid most of the crowds. The grounds are extensive so even though we weren't the only people there we were able to explore peacefully and take our time wandering the property after our tour of the main house was complete. As you will see from my pictures, I was able to get great shots without throngs of tourists hogging the spotlight. The tour guides and staff were all dressed in period costumes and were friendly and welcoming.
Visit the plantation country! If you have a car it's about 40 miles out of New Orleans. If not, be careful about what tour company you use. Some tour operators pay bellman $20 for each person they book with them. We had a BAD experience with a swamp tour company that does plantation tours on the side.
This information came from a licenced tour guide that we met at the plantation. He said he and other guides support a web site that directs visitors to quality plantation and city tour companies that only use the best New Orleans tour guides.
The docents at the plantations did a great job, but our tour company driver was really ignorant! Go with a company that uses real tour guides!
There are different Plantation tours:
San Francisco (built in 1837, a steamboat gothic style, the only one authentically restored home on Old River Road)
Laura (built in 1805, it was first on our list but the main house was burnt some years before)
Oak Alley (built in 1837 with beautiful setting)
We preferred the Oak Alley Plantation. It was a nice tour through the history of the plantation, we saw the beautiful (and famous) oak alley of course, where the 28 gigantic oaks stand alive, believed to be at least 100 years older than the house itself! The tour inside the house lasted about 30’, I think It was short but it was informative with the lady that was our guide dressed in traditional costume but they don’t allow you to take pictures. Of course, you can take as many as you wish on the balcony with gorgeous views. It was really impressive when we were on upper floor, it was kind of dark and suddenly she opened the balcony door and all the light came in…
The plantation was a sugar plantation that era with the owners Jackques Telesphore and his wife Celina that were using the house to impress her guests with dances and expensive dinners. The house itself is impressive with high ceilings and large windows, there used to be marble floors but we saw wooden ones! They had many slaves, all of them were living in wooden structures out of the house of course, unfortunately you don’t hear much about their story during the tour.
The mansion has been used in many films so it may look familiar to some of you
Then we spent some time on the gardens and the general area, don’t go there only for the house tour, it’s a pity to loose the majestic grounds with all these live oaks. At the end we visited the café to relax for a while before we drove back to New Orleans with the tour van. The prices at the café were outrageous, $5 for a latte??!! Many people go crazy with the mind julep there.
The Oak Alley Tour was part of our compo tour with Swamp Tour but you can visit it on your own, the entrance fee is $18 (Oak Alley Foundation that owns and operates the plantation claims that it’s a non profit foundation…)
Dont miss the oportunity of see 18th - 19Th century wealthiest families. Make a River road plantation tour and enjoy this history of the south of Louisiana.
WE make a Parish Ascension Tourist guide Tour. Visited many Plantation, loke: Teezcuco Plantation, Rosewood Plantation and others
I dont hav idea how it its afetr Katrina Hurricane......
If you are interested in seeing the plantation and prefer to avoid the tour bus crowds, consider staying the night. We arrived in the evening, spent the night and were able to wake up early and walk the beautiful grounds all by ourselves. The cost was no more than a typical hotel in New Orleans, and it gave us a chance to enjoy the drive and take in the sights on our own schedule.
The first photo shows the cottage we stayed in. Those that follow show some of the grounds in the morning light.
Where it once stood is now converted into a garage for vintage cars. The Creoles used to own about a hundred slaves to work on the plantation. Our tour guide mentioned that it was something that the Creoles were not very proud of.
We were told by our tour guide that the Creoles were smaller in size. This was evidenced by the low dining table with small chairs that sits 10 people. The Creoles had big families and the descendants either remain in America or return to France.
One of the things which I decided to do was to visit a plantation. When we lived in New Iberia, we visited a plantation with Oak in the name (Shadows on the Teche was not yet open to the public). Bob thought we visited Oak Alley, but I think it was Oak Lawn.
The various plantations each have their strengths and weaknesses. We went to Oak Alley because I wanted to combine a swamp tour with a plantation tour before it got too cold, and that was the one recommended by the hotel concierge.
Oak Alley has appeared in the movies, and there was a story about the filming on TV. The story goes that the movie crew wanteded the oaks hung thickly with Spanish Moss, so they hired cherry pickers and decked the oaks all out. Then Oak Alley had a wedding on the weekend, and the bride didn't want the moss, so they had to take it all down again.
The long alley of Oaks in front and in back of the house are the real stars of the site. The house didn't impress me.
November through February 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(last tour begins at 5:00 p.m.)
March through October 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
(last tour begins at 5:30 p.m.)
Adults (19 yrs.& over) $10.00
Students (13 to 18 yrs.) $ 5.00
Children (6 to 12 yrs.) $ 3.00
They offer AAA and Active Military Discounts - $1.00 off regular admission.
Personal checks and Credit Cards are not accepted for tour admission.
The website is a bit defensive about the amount they charge because the have the following chart comparing other plantation admissions.
Plantation Adult Student Child Miltary
Destrehan $10.00 $5.00 Free $9.00
Houmas House $20.00 $15.00 $10.00 Grounds Only $10
Laura Plantation $10.00 $5.00 Free $9.00
Nottoway $10.00 $4.00 Free
Oak Alley Plantation $10.00 $5.00 $4.00 $9.00
San Francisco $10.00 $5.00 Free $9.00
St. Joseph Plantation $8.00 $6.00 $4.00
Those several-hundred-year-old oaks make the place seem haunted and spooky. Sometime in the early 1700s, an unknown French settler planted 28 live oak trees in two evenly spaced rows, reaching from his small house to the Mississippi River. What happened to this house is unknown, but the trees were kept. In 1837-1839, a wealthy French sugar-cane planter, Juckes Telesphore Roman, built the Greek revival-style mansion for his bride. Take a tour of the plantation. The history of the place and the stories of slavery are worthwhile to hear. Relax and have a mint julep after you finish the tour. It's not my drink, but I had to try one since I'm in New Orleans, no?
Since we were in the South, we thought be great to visit a real plantation, so we booked a tour to go visit Laura, a Creole Plantation. This was built in 1805 and is one of the few Creole Plantation in Louisiana, an hour from New Orleans.
How do you distinguish it from a regular plantation? According to our tour guide, you can distinguish it by the color of the building. This particular Creole Plantation had a yellow building as its main home.
Cost of Admission:
$10 for Adult
$ 5 for child
Free for Under 6
Since it was a booked tour guide, we actually paid more
This is in my opinion the nicest place to go in New Orleans.....
Oak Alley Plantations was for me pretty much
the entire point of this trip-aside from of course spending time with my father :)
As soon as you get off the bus you feel this energy about the place....something about the 300 year old trees.....maybe it's the ghosts that seems to still haunt the area...
This is probably one of those rare cases where i would say - if only the walls could talk -
The history is rich,the backround and the slavery stories-this is something that you
you just have to see it i'm telling you
plus you know they filmed part of interview with a vampire......mmmm vampires.....
Even our friends who weren't really interested in visiting the plantations enjoyed this tour. This was the only plantation we visited, so I cannot compare it with others, but I enjoyed the personal stories of the former occupants and felt they added a lot to the tour. The plantation is undergoing restoration, so it is possible to see some older layers of wallpaper in some of the rooms. I am unsure whether they plan to leave such "layering" intact, but I found it informative and interesting. If you are in New Orleans, but do not wish to rent a car, several tour companies also offer transportation to Laura Plantation.
Took a tour out to Oak Alley Plantation. The thing I love about this plantation are the 28 Oak Trees that are all lined up evenly in front of Oak Alley. The trees were planted in the early 1700's and have been there even before the house was built in 1839.
If you are in New Orleans with a few days to see the sights, I strongly recommend seeing some of the plantation homes along the Mississippi River. The homes are beautiful and offer a glimpse into the state's history. You can reach a few with an hour's drive, and there are companies that arrange tours leaving from New Orleans. I have tips for two of these homes in the "Must See" section of my Louisiana pages. I urge you to see those tips if you'd like more detailed information.
In those tips, I tell you about the Oak Alley Plantation and the San Francisco Plantation. I don't recommend between the two of them in those tips. Here, I'll say that if you can only see one, Oak Alley is probably the more popular and gives the better glimpse of the "classic" plantation home. If you hoped to see a plantation on your visit to Louisiana, this one will probably be closest to your expectations. On the other hand, I really had a good time at the San Francisco Plantation.
The website I've included is for a company that runs tours from the city to the plantations. I've never taken any of their tours, and I include it only for those who may not have transportation or those who just like going with a guide. I can't recomend for or against them.
This place is exactly what you think a plantation looks like. In fact it was the location used in Interview with a Vampire, remember? Gorgeous Oak Trees lining the way up to the white pillared mansion, dripping with the true South.
In the French Quarter you can get the same 5 tours anywhere. This one was a 8 hr trip out of the city to visit Laura Plantation and Oak Ally Plantation down plantation ally as they call it. I booked it with Grayline tours (http://www.grayline.com ), it was $60.00 per person. But the very first and coolest thing is YOU GET TO GET OUT OF THE FRENCH QUARTER!
The drive is just so sweet. First you roll up to Laura Plantation and it’s a very modest house with the grounds still in tact. This place actually has the slave quarters in the back. But you have to know this: they do not talk about slaves. No one does. It’s like it never happened. They tour you around talking about the kitchen, the furniture, where the family cam from and so on. But nothing about owning humans.
I have actually been on this tour two times. The second time I skipped the tour and just went and hung out around the slave quarters. I bought the diary of Laura and read it for a few hours where slaves would have had their own personal gardens, next to shacks they called home. It is very eerie, but I felt a one of a kind experience.
Then you drive to Oak Ally plantation, and it’s like day and night. This place is totally the Disneyland of Plantations. First off, everyone is dressed in modified brides maids dresses they make to look like old-fashioned dress. And they give you mint juleps and you take a tour of an amazing house. And afterwards you invited to buy *** in the gift shop. Yes Virginia, they do have Aunt Jamima stuff. Idiots.
After a full day of plantations, your dropped off in the French Quarter and it’s back to drinking.