I highly recommend leaving the societal cess pool of New Orleans, and driving about two hours to The Myrtles in St. Francisville, La. Deemed "the most haunted house in America" by The Wall St. Journal, I have spent many nights there and highly recommend it. Not for the faint of heart, or easily spooked, this great experience is off the beaten path and well worth the trip. They currently have a "historical tour" and a "ghost tour" that are both fun and informative. All the murders, mayhem and intrigue of the house are covered in graphic detail. If staying the night, be sure to ask for a room with a bathroom. Several rooms share a common bathroom located up the hall. (Trust me, you don't want to be walking down that dark hall at 2am... by yourself... in the night... in the dark... in America's most haunted house!) Sleep tight, and pleasant dreams.
There are many plantations that are visited from New Orleans - Laura (a Creole plantation that was burned in 2004), Oak Alley (which is distinguished mostly for the huge live oak trees which were planted 100 years before the house was built), Destrehan from the late 1700s which is the oldest plantation in the Mississippi valley, San Francisco which advertises itself as the only authentically restored plantation house in Louisiana (Oak Alley has been furnished with non-original antiques), Belle Alliance, Madewood and Nottoway, the South's largest plantation home.
But to my mind, the best, the most authentic, and the MOST off the beaten track plantation is Shadows on the Teche in New Iberia. This home was owned by a single family from the time it was built (1834) until it was donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1958. It has almost all of the original furnishings (unlike Oak Alley) and extensive documentation. It isn't the biggest, and it didn't have to be 'restored' because it was original.
Guided tours daily 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
317 E. Main Street, New Iberia, LA
At the intersection of Highways 14 & 182
More pictures are on my New Iberia page
A tour of the plantation homes is a must. It is amazing to see how people of the day lived. No matter how the life of the slave is glossed over, it must have been a terrible life. Mostly sugar cane was grown in this area. The story of the Cajun history is very interesting.
The Houmas House Plantation and Gardens is also known as The Sugar Palace. It is one of the oldest Plantations in the South built in the 1770's.
We went to tour this place. Admission was about $10 a piece and it included a short film regarding the history and information about Houmas House. Also included was a guided tour of the Home with a very knowledgable guide.
Tours are available Mon. and Tues. 9am- 5pm and Wed. - Sunday 9am-8pm.
There is also a restaurant on the premisses.
The Houmas House is actually two houses. The first house was not as big or fancy then the second house was built connected to the first house so it looks like one big house.
The art in the house isnt original to the house but it is art and artifacts of the time period. You get to see a little taste of life in that era. I thought this place was beautiful and worth the price of admission.
While we waited for our tour to begin we sat at a little bar that they had there and we had a few drinks. You can also drink during the tour of the house as long as it wasnt red wine. Rob said they made the best Blood Marys in all of New Orleans. So try one here.
For more pictures on the Houmas House you can look at my travelogues. :)
Nottoway is the largest surviving plantation home in the South. It was built in 1857 by John Hampden Randolph, who amassed a great fortune in sugar. The house has 50 rooms, which were certainly needed, as John Randolph had 11 children. It is said that Nottoway was the first Plantation Home to have a bathroom on the second floor.
The White Ballroom is the most beautiful room in the house. It was the center of all of the Randolph's entertainment activities, with parties, receptions and balls.
Houmas Plantation was a tract of land along the Mississippi River purchased from the Houmas Indians in colonial times.
The magnificent Greek Revival Mansion was built in 1840 and is furnished with early 19th-century antiques, including a collections of armoires.
An authentically dressed southern belles will guide you through this beautifully restored antebellum home and tell you all about its history.
Take a tour of local plantations that take you back to the days of the Old South. Visit some of the plantation houses, like Nottoway, Houmas or Oak Alley along the Mississippi River Valley north of New Orleans and experience a way of life that is gone but not forgotten. Magnificent settings, beautiful architecture and fascinating history are waiting for you to visit.
River Road. Elaborate plantation homes line the banks of the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge along what's known as the River Road, a series of sinuous levees on the east and west banks of the Mississippi, between 60 and 90 minutes' drive from New Orleans.
Tours of these hallmarks of antebellum ostentation tend to cater to common preconceptions about the elegance and 'Southern charm' of American planters. Past owners' deeds are sometimes outrageously embellished and supernatural happenings are frequently invoked to jazz up an otherwise mundane tour. Sadly, the history of their sizable slave populations is often ignored. Nevertheless, the scenic grounds and handsome mansions offers a potent reminder of the legacy of King Cotton. Full or part-day tours can be arranged from most hostels and hotels in New Orleans.
Interstate 10 offers the quickest access to the east bank levee roads. Parallel to I-10, slower Hwy 61 passes through suburbs and intersects rural crossroads. Ferries still outnumber bridges across the river.
Check out Tours by Isabelle and take a plantation tour.
TOURS BY ISABELLE
P.O. BOX 740972
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA 70174
I took the Westbank Plantation Tour and loved it. Got to see Laura, a real Creole sugar cane plantation and the 'Grand Dame,' Oak Alley. Pricey, but worth it to see what life was like in rural Louisiana.
The many Antebellum Plantation Houses that are located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Many of these are open to the public and have costumed guides who lead groups through out the houses. It is a great way to look into the past at a long bygone era. 2 of the best are Nottaway House and Oak Alley Plantation. The later evokes memories of 'Gone with the Wind'. If you love history or architecture, a visit to these stately homes are a must. Locations and directions can be obtained from the Louisiana Tourism Office. They can also be visited by taking a day tour as well.