Plantation Mansion Tours Near New Orleans:
The best collection of large Antebellum Mansions in the United States lies in Plantation Alley along the Mississippi River just outside of New Orleans. During your guided tours, you’ll get an amazing history lesson on Southern plantation life from the grand mansions to the tiny slave quarters. While the slavery side of a visit can be emotional and somber, it is extremely important to highlight the real-life conditions of the time to contrast the romanticized Gone With the Wind-style part of the experience. Overall, the plantation tours from New Orleans are very educational and are one of those things like Bourbon Street or a swamp tour that you simply must do to fully experience the Big Easy.
Group Tour -or- Car Rental:
There are a bunch of tour bus companies in New Orleans that will take you to various plantations, but you are better off renting a car. You’ll save money with your own transportation and get to be on your own schedule. With a car, you can better pick and choose which mansions to visit and will have extra time to explore the grounds or even stay overnight. Having a car also opens up the option of visiting the drive-through safari North of New Orleans and will save you $20 a person on most of the swamp tours.
Prioritizing Your Time:
With 10 worthwhile plantation tours near New Orleans, it can be hard to prioritize. We have the top 3 mansions all rated equally as high as each other, but for different reasons. The Laura Plantation has the best tours, an amazing story, and a unique Creole viewpoint. Nottoway Plantation has the largest Antebellum mansion in the American South, the most beautiful interior, and is the only one you can stay overnight inside the main house. And finally, Oak Alley Plantation has the most activities to do, a great tour with costumed guides, and storybook rows of oak trees. To see it all, we suggest seeing Evergreen, Laura, & Oak Alley all in one day, then stay overnight at Nottoway, and on day two tour Nottoway, San Francisco and whatever else you can on the way back to New Orleans.
Top 10 Plantation Mansions Tours:
1. Nottoway Plantation:
About Nottoway Plantation: Built in 1859 for John Randolph, this 53,000 square foot massive mansion is the youngest property on our list. The Goliath size of Nottoway makes it the largest Antebellum mansion still standing in the American South. There is a lot of cool symbolism that attentive Randolph added including 365 openings (200 windows, 165 doors) to match the days in a year. The exterior of the home is a mash-up of an antebellum mansion and the White House with 22 columns surrounding tons of balconies that look amazing from any angle. The inside of the 64 room Nottoway Mansion also impressive as the 3 story monster has 15 1/2 foot high ceilings, 11-foot-high exterior doors, and 12 hand-carved Italian marble fireplaces. The mansion is large enough that it is actually divided into a boys’ wing and a girls’ wing for Randolph’s 11 kids. Every single bedroom looks like it is straight out of a movie and the magnificent White Ball Room, where 6 out of Randolph’s 7 daughters were married, will blow your mind.
Being built so close to the Civil War, it is amazing the masterpiece of a home only suffered a single bullet hole of damage while other mansions were trashed. A Union gunboat almost did blow up Nottoway during the war, but at the last second the captain realized he had been a guest at the home before and spared it. John Randolph had often had large parties at the house and was really lucky he had once invited that boat captain. We are glad that everything is intact as today Nottoway is our favorite place to stay in Louisiana and simply a magical place. While there are a series of cottages on the property you can also stay directly in the old overseer’s house and the bedrooms of the main mansion itself. You can see the house from the road but it would be a shame to not tour the mansion or grounds.
General Hours: Opens Daily at 9am. Tours: Daily every hour 9am-4pm; Thursday-Sunday 11am-4pm tours can add a traditional meal for only $2.99 extra. Admission Cost: $8 for grounds only; grounds plus Mansion tour is $20 for Adults & $6 for Children. Plantation Website: (HERE).
Rating: 10 out of 10.
2. The Laura Plantation:
About The Laura Plantation: Known for its award-winning tours, the Laura Plantation has a unique Creole twist and a rich history. In 1804, just 1 year after the Louisiana Purchase, US President Thomas Jefferson “gave” Frenchman Guillaume Duparc the land for this plantation in exchange for the help he gave America in the Revolutionary War. The only issue was there was a hundred-year-old Native American village already located here when Duparc arrived. Instead of just kicking the Natives out, as other plantation settlers did, Duparc paid them for moving and let them live on the back end of the 6,000-acre property which they did until 1915.
The bright yellow main house, nicknamed The Big House, was built in the traditional raised Creole style making it different than other area plantations. The first floor of the home is elevated on brick columns, not to protect against the nearby Mississippi River flooding, but to help regulate the temperature of the home and created cool dry good storage space below the home. It was from this home that 4 generations of women ran the family plantation after Duparc’s death in 1808 starting with his wife Nannette. As Nannette later built a retirement mansion next to the main house, the younger generations expanded the property until it needed 69 slave cabins housing 2 families each. Even after the emancipation of slaves in Louisiana in 1866 many of the families continued to live and work on the grounds for over 100 more years as free men. In 1870 one of the neighbors and author Alcée Fortier interviewed many workers to get a better idea feeling for the Creole lifestyle. He later used his experiences to record the tales of Compair Lapin, known as Br’er Rabbit which was a hit story and was featured in Disney’s 1946 movie Song of the South. The parents of American musician Fats Domino, known for his song Blueberry Hill, had lived on the plantation for a time.
In 1891, Duparc’s great-granddaughter Laura, whom the family plantation had been renamed after, sold the property and moved to Saint Louis Missouri with her husband. The socialite Laura, who lived to be 102, later wrote a book about her 1st hand experiences living on and running the plantation. The book was published in 1936 and is the basis for much of the information covered in the Laura Plantation’s guided tours today. Workers continued to live in the old slave cabins until 1977 and four years later the plantation operations closed. Today the property is 13 acres, has 27 buildings including 12 original slave cabins, is surrounded by 1500 acres of active sugar cane farm, and is a delight to visit.
Visiting Hours: Available by tour only. Guided Tours: Depart Daily every 40 minutes from 10am-4pm and take between 70 & 90 minutes to complete. French tours added at 11am, 1pm, & 3pm. Cost: $20 for Adults; $6 Children; Under 5 free (Cost Includes Tour). Plantation Website:(HERE).
Rating: 10 out of 10.
3. Oak Alley Plantation:
About Oak Alley Plantation: An amazing alley of 300-year-old mega-sized oak trees leads the way to a true Southern belle, the Oak Alley Plantation. If this beautiful estate looks familiar it’s because you may have seen it in the prized films Interview With a Vampire, Primary Colors, plus many others. The huge gnarly oaks were mysteriously planted around 1725, over 100 years before the plantation was even established. Perfectly framed by the alley, the beautiful Greek Revival mansion was built with 28 columns to match the number of mighty oaks. With how perfect Oak Alley is, it is no wonder the family of Jacques Roman first called the mansion Bon Séjour, or good living, when it was completed in 1837.
Touring the picture-perfect estate is tons of fun as the guides are all dress in proper period clothing. We love that Oak Alley also lets you free-roam parts of the grounds with a paid admission making taking the perfect photo even easier. While exploring the grounds, make sure to check out the 20 re-constructed salve cabins sitting behind the mansion. Even more famous than any of the plantation owners, we love the stories of a slave named Antoine. He was a gardener who came up with and grafted the award-winning paper shell style of pecans still sold today.
If you really want to feel at home, Oak Alley has overnight cottages from the 1800’s so you can stay right at the plantation. There is also a very interesting Civil War Encampment, Blacksmith Shop, and 15 other exhibits on the ground to give you the full old-world experience. If you are hungry, check out the restaurant for lunch or dinner which offers both Cajun and Creole cuisine. You can see the oak alley leading up to the house from the road, but to truly see the property or walk among the amazing trees you’ll need to pay admission.
Grounds Hours: March-October Daily 9am-5pm; Closes 30 minutes early on weekdays in Winter. Colonial Tent on Monday and Fridays. Guided Tours: Depart every 30 minutes. Cost: $20 for Adults, youth $7.50, children $4.50 (Cost Includes Tour). Plantation Website: (HERE).
Rating: 10 out of 10.
4. Evergreen Plantation:
About Evergreen Plantation: The front of the Evergreen Plantation mansion is visible from the road if you are in a hurry, but we really like their historic tour including the old slave quarters. Built in 1790, the grounds of the Evergreen Plantation still hold 37 original buildings, making it one of the most completely preserved plantations in the country. While the most iconic feature may be the elegant dual staircase on the front of the Antebellum mansion, but the rest of the property will really put your visit over the top. Behind the main house, oak-lined alleyways covered in hanging Spanish moss form tunnels leading to 22 former slave quarters. Even after the slaves were freed in Louisiana in 1866, Evergreen kept free men of color on staff and worked their sugar farming all the way until 1930. Because the Evergreen Plantation was kept in operation as a working farm for so long, it really helped to keep the buildings extremely well preserved.
The grounds almost feel frozen in time which has led Evergreen Plantation to be part of numerous Hollywood films. The plantation’s most noticeable exposure on the big screen came in 2013 when was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s smash hit movie Django Unchained starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo Dicaprio. In the film, the exterior of the mansion served as Bennett Manor which was home to the character Big Daddy. The slave quarters on the back of the property were also heavily featured in numerous scenes in Django Unchained. Although the owners do not tote the Hollywood connections much on the tours, fans of Django will love visiting, especially since the other main plantation mansion featured in the movie called Candie Land wasn’t a real place.
Visiting Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:30am-2pm; Closed Sundays. Guided Tours: Depart at 9:30am, 11:30am, & 2pm. Admission Cost: $20 for Adults; Kids $6 (Cost Includes Guided Tour). Plantation Website: (HERE).
Rating: 9 out of 10.
5. San Francisco Plantation:
About The San Francisco Plantation: The beautiful San Francisco Plantation was first started in 1822 by a free man of color Elisée Rillieux who bought a bunch of land around the St. John neighborhood. After just 3 years he sold the estate to Edmond Marmillion for $100,000 which was a huge amount of money back then. Edmond spent the next couple of decades expanding the plantation’s growing operations to ensure his kids would be set for life. As growing became more successful, the family built the colorful main house you see today.
From its bright blue silos to the detailed woodwork on all sides of the house, the San Francisco is by far the most playful mansion in Plantation Alley. If being the funkiest looking plantation building in the area wasn’t cool enough, San Francisco’s excellent guided tours are conducted in classical Southern dress. Highlights of a tour include 14 beautiful rooms in the main house and a couple of former slave quarters nearby. Touring the mansion is easy and quick even if you pressed on time as it is right on the main road. You can see the outside of the house from the road but it’s worth paying for the tour.
Visiting Hours: Daily 9:30am-5pm (4pm in Winter). Guided Tours: Departs every 20 minutes and lasts 45 minutes. Cost: $14 for Adults (Cost Includes Guided Tour). Plantation Website: (HERE).
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
6. Houmas House Plantation:
About Houmas House Plantation: General Wade Hampton bought the land for the plantation and moved here from Virginia in 1810. It took 15 years until his daughter Caroline and her husband took over for work to begin on the plantation’s Houmas House. The result was a beautiful mansion with columns on all four sides complete with excellent gardens. Caroline also greatly expanded the land holdings and built the plantation up to over 300,000 acres. It was so much land that she was able to sell the property for $1 million in 1857 to John Burnside. Burnside quickly built up a train line called the Sugar Line to get his good to market while many competitors only relied on the Mississippi River Boats. With the rail in place, the plantation worked 98,000 acres at a time and pushed the Houmas House as the largest producer of sugar cane in the United States by the Civil War.
The first time we went to the Houmas House there was a movie being filmed there which was quite cool. It has been featured on many projects including a 2010 episode of the hit show Top Chef. The outdoor gardens and grounds are worth a stop even if you don’t have time for the mansion tour. To stay overnight, they have a collection of 4 room cottage houses on the grounds as well.
Visiting Hours: Open Daily 9am-7pm. Cost: $20 for tour, gardens, & grounds; $10 for grounds & gardens only. Plantation Website: (HERE).
Rating: 7 out of 10.
7. Destrehan Plantation:
About Destrehan Plantation: Built in 1787, the Destrehan Mansion is the oldest major home on our Plantation Alley tour. Jean Noel Destrehan’s family came to New Orleans from France in the early 1700s and got very wealthy growing sugar cane. Noel was also very popular as he became the first Deputy Mayor of New Orleans in 1803. It probably didn’t hurt that his brother-in-law was the acting Mayor at the time of his appointment.
Inside the large Destrehan Mansion, they have a display showing the Jefferson Document. The decree is from 1804, is actually signed by Thomas Jefferson, and was used to appoint Destrehan to the New Orleans Council. In addition to the home, there are also former slave houses you get to tour. Because of its 6 days a week live Carpentry exhibits, this plantation is one of the top ones visited by school groups.
Visiting Hours: $18 for Adults; $7 for Kids. Live Demonstrations: Once a day they have costumed artisans performing carpentry or blacksmith methods from 1780 as educational exhibits. Plantation Website: (HERE)
Rating: 7 out of 10.
8. Malus Beauregard Mansion & Battlefield:
About Malus Beauregard Mansion & Battlefield: The Malus Beauregard Plantation Mansion is the closest one to New Orleans and part of the Chalmette Battlefield National Park. It isn’t as impressive and the main gems on Plantation Alley, but history buffs will like the battlefield displays. It was here that in 1815 one of the last battles of the War of 1812 took place called the Battle of New Orleans. As an added bonus The Mississippi River paddleboat Creole Queen travels from New Orleans’ French Quarter to the battlefield in just 25 minutes; visit the Creole Queen website for sailing times and ticket information
Visiting Hours: Open Tuesday-Saturday; Closed Sunday & Mondays. Admission Cost: Free. Creole Queen Paddle Boat Rides Website: (HERE).
Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
9. Whitney Plantation:
About Whitney Plantation: While many of the local plantation tours take time to cover the lives of the slaves on their properties, the Whitney Plantation solely focuses on the slave side of the story. Originally called the Habitation Haydel, there has been a plantation on the property since the German Haydel started their business in 1752. After WW1 the property was bought by Bradish Johnson who renamed it after his grandson. If you have taken our Garden District Walking Tour, you may remember the beautiful home that Bradish built with his plantation profit which is now part of the Louise S. McGehee School of Girls.
Hours: Wednesday-Monday 9:30am-4:30pm; Closed Tuesdays. Cost: Adults $22; kids 12 and under free. Mansion Website: (HERE).
Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
10. Saint Joseph & Felicity Plantations:
About Saint Joseph & Felicity Plantations: The Saint Joseph Mansion was built in 1830 as part of a 1,000-acre property. While the grounds and mansion are not as grand as the others in Plantation Alley, the tours consistently get high reviews from guests. On the edge of the property, the family also owns a sister mansion that was once part of the Felicity Plantation and seems to always have a film crew at it shooting various movies.
Hours: Thursday-Tuesday with hourly tours 10am-3pm; Closed Wednesdays. Cost: Adults $18; Discounts for seniors, veterans, students, and kids. Mansion Website: (HERE).
Rating: 6 out of 10.
11. Bocage Plantation:
About Bocage Plantation: The Bocage Mansion was a gift to Fanny Bringier from her dad in 1801 in celebration of her marriage at only age 14. She married a guy named Christophe Colomb from France who claimed to be related to the sailor Christopher Colombus. Living in a mansion was nothing new for Franny as she was born in the family White Hall Plantation Mansion and had always known wealth. While the Bocage Mansion is a little smaller than others and a little plain on the outside, it is light on the tourist crowds and is very pretty inside. Young Franny’s attention to detail is easy to see on the interior including the furniture, gold reliefs, and rich wood accents. In 2016 the owners decided to close the mansion for tours and now are a venue for events and weddings.
Mansion Website: (HERE).
Plantation Mansions Near Baton Rouge:
1. Rose Down Plantation: North of Baton Rouge in St Francisville is a 374-acre property that once covered 3,455 acres. It is by far the most secluded of the Plantation Mansions you can visit in the area and is managed by the National Park Service. Plantation Website: (HERE).
2. Greenwood Plantation: Roman Columns on all four sides is a recreation of the original mid-1800s Mansion that stood here but was burned in a lightning fire in 1960. North to South was filmed here. Plantation Website: (HERE).
3. Poplar Grove Plantation: This beautiful mansion was built as the Bankers’ Pavilion at the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884 in New Orleans. Two years later it was bought and moved by barge to the Plantation to serve as a home for sugar planter Horace Wilkinson and his wife, Julia. Plantation Website: (HERE).