Open houses and guided tours along historic River Road. Plus picture-perfect plantation weddings.
A 45-minute drive from New Orleans, Destrehan was built in 1787 by a sugar planter and is the oldest plantation home in the lower Mississippi Valley. Tours are offered daily, 9 am-4 pm. $18 adults, $16 AAA/active military, $15 seniors, $7 children 7-17 and free 6 and under. Advance group rates available. Closed all major holidays. www.destrehanplantation.org. 13034 River Rd., Destrehan, La., 877.453.2095.
This gorgeous Greek Revival is a working sugar cane plantation and a private home, with the largest collection of extant slave quarters and outbuildings of any plantation. Tours are offered M-Sa at 9:30 am, 11:30 am and 2 pm. $20 adults, $6 ages 8 and under; free for children under 5. www.evergreenplantation.org. 4677 Hwy. 18, Edgard, La., 985.497.3837.
HOUMAS HOUSE PLANTATION AND GARDENS
Houmas House is famous for its imposing Greek Revival architecture and lush grounds, and for having “starred” in many films (most memorably “Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte”). Tours are offered daily, 9 am-7 pm. $24; $15 grounds only. Overnight accommodations available. Old South Tours provides transportation via luxury buses that depart daily from the French Quarter; call 877-303-1776 for details. www.houmashouse.com. 40136 Hwy. 942, Darrow, La., 225.473.9380.
LAURA: A CREOLE PLANTATION
This 1804 structure is one of the oldest and largest complexes on River Road. Laura bases its tours on 5,000 pages of documents detailing 200 years of Creole plantation life by the women, children and servants who lived there. The West African folk tale “Br’er Rabbit” was also allededly recorded on the site. Named the “best history tour in the U.S.” by Lonely Planet travel guide. Guided tours are offered daily, 10 am-4 pm. $20 adults, $6 children ages 6-17. www.lauraplantation.com. 2247 Hwy. 18, Vacherie, La., 888.799.7690.
MADEWOOD PLANTATION HOUSE
This 21-room manse, built in 1846, derived its name from being constructed of wood from trees on the property. Overnight accommodations are available both in the antiques-filled main house and in a nearby Greek Revival cottage. Tours are offered daily, 10 am-4 pm. $10 adults, $6 children. www.madewood.com. 4250 Hwy. 308, Napoleonville, La., 985.369.7151.
NATIONAL HANSEN’S DISEASE MUSEUM
Designed as an 1850s plantation home by architect Henry Hobson Richardson (who was born at St. Joseph Plantation and designed Nottoway Plantation), this site later served as a federal leprosarium for more than a century. Free tours are offered TuSa, 10 am-4 pm. Reservations required. www.hrsa. gov/hansens/museum. 5445 Point Clair Rd., Bldg. 12, Carville, La., 225.642.1950.
OAK ALLEY PLANTATION
This pictureperfect Greek Revival mansion, with its 28 evenly spaced 300-year-old live oaks, is a spectacular sight. “The Grande Dame of Great River Road” offers overnight accommodations in century-old cottages, Creole and Cajun fare and mint juleps on the gallery. Guided tours are offered daily, 9 am-5 pm. $22 adults, $8 ages 13-18 and $5 ages 6-12. Group rates available. www.oakalleyplantation.org. 3645 Hwy. 18, Vacherie, La., 888.279.9802.
RIVER ROAD AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM
”Learn about the past to understand the future” is the motto at this plantation museum, which explores the often-unsung contributions of African Americans along River Road. Numerous artifacts are featured, along with exhibits touching on everything from slavery and free people of color to folk art, jazz and African influences on local cuisine. Open W-Sa, 10 am-5 pm; Su, 1-5 pm; and by appointment. $5. www.africanamericanmuseum.org. 406 Charles St., Donaldsonville, La., 225.474.5553.
SAN FRANCISCO PLANTATION
This grand home, built in 1856, boasts hand-painted ceilings and fine decorative finishes. Its fanciful exterior is a mixture of six different architectural styles: Greek Gothic, Italianate, Spanish, Corinthian, Greek Revival and Victorian Gingerbread. The brightly painted gem recently received a $1-million restoration. Open daily, 9:40 am-4:40 pm. $17 adults, $16 AAA/active military, $10 ages 6-17, free ages 5 and under. Group discounts. Closed major holidays. www.san-
franciscoplantation.org. 2646 Hwy. 44, Garyville, La., 888.322.1756.
ST. JOSEPH PLANTATION
Birthplace of architect Henry Hobson Richardson, this circa-1830 Creole manor house has been family owned since 1877. The important role of sugar production along River Road is explored here. Guided tours are offered Th-Tu on the hour, from 10 am to 3 pm. $20 adults, $18 seniors/AAA/active military, $13 college, $10 ages 13-18, $8 ages 6-12, free for children 5 and under. Group rates available. Old River Road Plantation Adventures provides transportation from the French Quarter. www.stjosephplantation.com. 3535 Hwy. 18, Vacherie, La., 225.265.4078.
Recently opened to the public for the first time in its 262-year history, this plantation explores slavery through a variety of exhibits, historic structures and moving first-person accounts. Guided tours are offered W-M on the hour, 10 am-3 pm. $22 adults, $15 seniors, free for children under 12. www.whitneyplantation.com. 5099 Hwy. 18, Wallace, La., 225.265.3300.