New Orleans Plantation Tours Road Trip
This post was most recently updated on September 23rd, 2020
There are several plantation tours that you can take for the day from New Orleans. But with most of these tours, you get to visit one, maybe two plantations at the most.
We wanted to see as many of the plantations as possible on our trip. Even though they are all plantations, each of them are unique and well worth visiting. So we rented a car and got out of New Orleans for a couple nights.
Planning For Your Plantation Tours
If you decide to visit quite a few plantations like us, you’ll need to plan ahead of time. The Plantations near New Orleans get booked up pretty early since they’re so much easier to reach. Plus some plantations are closed on certain days.
We first mapped out the 8 plantations that we wanted to see. Then based on location, and time slots available, booked what ones we could. Even though there was a little bit of backtracking, it all went smoothly. Oh, except for the slight detour because of road work. And our little scenic side tour when we got lost for an hour. Our GPS didn’t recognize some of the addresses. So have a back up system.
Whitney Plantation Tours New Orleans
Location – 5099 Louisiana Hwy #18, Edgard, Louisiana
Cost – $25 for a 90 minute tour
After picking up our rental car at the New Orleans airport, we made it to our 11:00 reservation just on time. Even though the Whitney Plantation is 35 minutes from the airport, our car pickup time was 9 am. So give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Coming from downtown New Orleans, it’s an hours drive.
If you only have time to visit one plantation, I highly recommend it be this one. The visitor centre has a small museum with plenty of exhibits to read before you start your tour.
The Whitney Plantation tour focus’s more on the history of slavery than a lot of the other plantations. The property dates back to 1752, and had a total of 350 African slaves working the indigo, rice, and sugar plantation at one point.
The white mansion is the owners house which was built in 1790 in a French Creole style architecture. And the rustic, wood shacks where they housed their slaves. The tour guides are very informative and passionate about telling the real history of slavery that you don’t learn in school.
Touring Whitney is a very eye-opening, and emotional experience. They have wall memorials with every slaves name that ever lived there. Plus you’ll hear several very painful and personal stories of some of the children and adults. It’s a very insightful tour well worth taking. It will leave you haunted and moved by this very dark time in history.
Laura Plantation Louisiana
Location – 2247 Highway #18, Vacherie, Louisiana
Cost – $25 for an 80 minute tour
A short 8 minutes west along the Mississippi River, you come to the Laura Plantation. We had a 1:20 reservation, which gave us just enough time.
The Laura Plantation tour has a strong focus on the Duparc family, and the 4 generations of women that mostly ran this business. The plantation story is told through the eyes of Laura Locoul Gore and her memories of living in the mansion.
This 200 year old Creole plantation is comprised of 12000 acres. The owners house was built in 1804, and the slave cabins date back to the 1840’s. This is the original kitchen that was used by the slaves to cook the owners meals and fellow slaves.
On your tour you’ll learn about the families interesting politics, hear how the main house was constructed, and see most of the original furnishings.
All the information about Laura’s time at the plantation came from her manuscript that she completed in 1936. And that’s what you’ll hear on the tour, is her story of life on the plantation.
It left me wondering if the 186 slaves that resided there would have seen it the same way. There is also a museum near the gift shop where you can learn a little more about the slaves that lived on the Laura plantation.
Oak Alley Plantation Tours
Location – 3645 Hwy #18, Vacherie, Louisiana
Cost – $25 for about a two hour self guided tour
No Advance Reservations
The Oak Alley mansion is one of the most lavish plantations on River Road. It’s only another 8 minutes drive farther west from the Laura Plantation. Try to get there by 3 since they close at 5, and you’ll need at least couple hours to see everything. The main house has a tour guide that’ll show you around. The rest of the tour is self guided outside.
These gorgeous 300 year old oak trees gracing the front yard are the first thing you notice on this 25 acre property. The Greek Revival house was built in 1839 by the enslaved labor. Oak Alley has been run as a sugar plantation and a cattle ranch at different times over the years.
Approximately 120 slaves lived and worked up to 18 hour days at the plantation. This slave cabin was where two separate families would have lived. Some of the slave quarters here are original, while others have been reconstructed.
Walking around the grounds you’ll see a slave exhibit showing what kind of living conditions they would have endured. Plus a short film on sugarcane production. The Oak Alley field slaves harvested 600 acres of sugarcane each year.
They do have a restaurant and cafe to eat at. Or overnight accommodations in some pretty cottages. Oak Alley is also one of the popular plantations for weddings.
Location – 4677 Hwy #18, Edgard, Louisiana
Cost – $20
After staying overnight at the Best Western in LaPlace, we headed back over the bridge for a 30 minute drive to the Evergreen Plantation. We had a tour booked for 9:30 so we could get started first thing.
The original house was built on Evergreen in 1777. After being damaged by a hurricane, Christophe Heidel built a much larger Creole style house in 1790. The house you see now was renovated in 1835 to a more Greek Revival look.
Evergreen Plantation has the most original buildings still on sight of all the plantations. It includes 22 slave cabins where the 54 slaves that worked here would have stayed.
The owner of Evergreen always hired skilled slaves. And for over 200 years different slaves did the back breaking work of looking after sugarcane on this plantation. Evergreen is still an actual working sugarcane plantation to this day.
St. Joseph Plantation
Location – 3535 Hwy #18, Vacherie, Louisiana
Cost – $20 for about an hour tour
Another one of the river road plantations in Louisiana is St. Joseph. From Evergreen, it’s a 15 minutes drive west. Parts of this plantation might be recognizable.
It’s one of the filming locations for Oprah’s Queen Sugar TV series. Plus several movies including 12 Years A Slave, Mudbound, and All The Kings Men used this location for certain scenes.
The owner of this plantation was one of the richest men in Louisiana. The home was built around 1830 by slave labor and boasts 16 large rooms. St. Joseph’s has had several different owners over the years.
Today it’s still a working sugar cane farm with over 2500 acres. Before your tour of the main house, you watch a film on the production of sugar cane.
A heavy emphasis on this tour is places on the production of sugar cane, and around the antiques on the premise. You’ll get a pamphlet explaining what the different buildings are outside that you can view on your own.
Location – 31025 Hwy #1, white Castle, Louisiana
Cost – $20 for a 45 minute tour
From St. Joseph’s, it’s a 45 minute drive west to Nottoway Plantation. This is one of the best Louisiana plantations to host a fancy wedding.
A rich man named John Randolph had this stunning 53000 square foot mansion built in 1859. John, his wife, and 11 children lived here while he built up his wealth in sugarcane.
He had his mansion fashioned in a Greek and Italian style with the purpose of showing off to everyone. And he would have succeeded.
The whole tour is focused on this massive house with very animated guides dressed in period costumes. After, you can wander around the grounds on your own.
The grounds are just as pretty as the house. There’s a beautiful courtyard with a fountain, plenty of magnolia trees, and over 75 rose bushes along with other plants.
Even though 176 enslaved men and women worked here at one point, the mansion takes centre stage on this tour. Not a whole lot is even mentioned about how the slaves would lived.
There are suites, 9 cottages, and even rooms in the house that you can book for the night. The mansion restaurant is an elegant spot if you want to stay for a meal.
Self guided audio tours are also available which you never need reservations for.
San Francisco Plantation
Location – 2646 LA 44, Garyville, Louisiana
Cost – $20 for a 45 minute tour
After staying our second night at our hotel in LaPlace, we headed 20 minutes west to the San Francisco Plantation.
This distinctive plantation house was built in 1855 by Edmond Marmillion. He had it built for himself and his 2 remaining sons after his wife and 6 of his children died from tuberculosis.
Then less than a year after it was finished, Edmond himself died and the house was left to his two remaining sons. The tragic history of the house continued over the years with death, sickness, and financial problems for many of it’s owners.
This is another one of the plantation tours that focus’s more on the house and families that lived there. Although the house has been restored as much as possible to it’s original state, most of the furniture here has been replaced.
The tour guides take you through the home dressed in period costumes. Then you’re free to look around the property at all the historic buildings.
One building is an original slave cabin from the 1840’s, and another a school house dating back to the 1830’s.
Location – 13034 River Rd, Destrehan, Louisiana
Cost – $22 for a 45 minute tour
One of the closest plantations to New Orleans is the Destrehan Plantation. To take a Destrehan Plantation tour, it’s only a 30 minute drive from downtown New Orleans. From the San Francisco Plantation, it was another 30 minutes east for us.
This plantation was built in 1790 and is one of the oldest homes in Louisiana. A carpenter and 6 slaves built this home for the owner. 59 enslaved people first worked here growing indigo.
Then later, it was changed over to a sugar cane plantation with over 200 slaves on the property. During the Civil War, the Destrehan plantation was seized by the Union.
There’s a museum at the plantation with an 1811 Slave Revolt Exhibit which is very informative. The Destrehan Plantation is also the location where one of the trials from the Slave Revolt took place.
After the house tour, you can walk around the grounds and see the different period demonstrations. There’s also a couple cottages for overnight stays.
We really enjoyed all of our 8 plantation tours. Some were a huge learning experience, while others were a chance to tour these grand mansions. The plantation tours will leave you with a greater knowledge of what life was like years ago for these men, women, and children both good and bad.
Thankfully a lot of the structures have survived the hurricanes and other elements over time. And others have put a lot of effort into restoring buildings to make them as historically accurate as possible. The plantation tours are definitely a must do if you’re ever in the New Orleans area.