7. From New Orleans: Two Plantation Visits Half-Day Trip
Visit two historic plantations on the Great River Road on a full-day trip from New Orleans. The Mississippi River properties to choose from include Whitney Plantation, Laura Plantation, and Oak Alley Plantation.
Perhaps the most photographed plantation over the years, Oak Alley has been the setting for such motion pictures as Interview with a Vampire, Primary Colors, and the wedding of Bo and Hope from the daytime soap opera, Days of our Lives. Experience the grandeur of New Orleans’ antebellum south and take a journey through time to the manicured estate and into the gorgeous home, built in 1839. View stunning architecture, oak‐lined esplanades, and enduring sugar cane fields while learning about the plantation’s fascinating – and often somber – histories from expert guides. From its 28 magnificent Oak trees, each over 250 years old, to its open spaces, to its hidden nooks and crannies, Oak Alley’s Landscape tells the story of a plantation in its evolution.
In 2014, the Whitney Plantation opened its doors to the public for the first time in its 262-year history as the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery. Through museum exhibits, memorial artwork, restored buildings, and hundreds of first-person narratives, visitors to Whitney will gain a unique perspective on the enslaved people who lived and worked here. Generations of Africans and their descendants were enslaved here to establish and maintain indigo, rice, and sugar crops. The early owners of Habitation Haydel, later known as The Whitney Plantation, became wealthy producing indigo before the plantation transitioned to sugar in the early 1800s. Whitney is also significant because of the number of its historic outbuildings which were added to the site over the years, thus providing a unique perspective on the evolution of the Louisiana working plantation. The “Big House” is one of the finest surviving examples of Spanish Creole architecture and one of the earliest raised Creole cottages in Louisiana. The Whitney Plantation Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Laura Plantation tour, a Creole plantation, is based upon 5,000 pages of documents found in the French National Archives and upon Laura’s "Memories of the Old Plantation Home," in which she details 250 years of true-life stories of the Creole women, children, and enslaved people who lived and worked here. A new, permanent exhibit honors the men, women and children who were enslaved here, including detailed biographies of former slaves who fought for the freedom in the Union Army during the Civil War. Your experience includes a guided tour of the "Big House" and gardens and self-guided tours of the daily life of those who worked the Laura Plantation and original its 1840s slave cabins. The West African folktales of Compair Lapin (later known as Br'er Rabbit) were recorded here over 140 years ago.