New Orleans Plantation Country, LA Visitor's Guide

New Orleans Plantation Country is located Northwest of the city along the Mississippi River. Be mesmerized by 200+ year old oaks, lush gardens, lavish homes, and stories of 18-19th century antebellum history. Unlike the city, Plantation Country focuses on the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast and Southern Louisiana. Families can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere filled with local eateries, helpful tour guides, and open areas to rest. Whether you take a tour from the city or book an overnight stay in nearby Thibodaux, make this part of your itinerary.

New Orleans is known to have a moderate climate; the average daily temperature from October through March is 60°F, and from April through September the daily average is 77°F. Freezing weather is rare, and the temperature rises above 95°F only about six days per year. So when visiting New Orleans be sure to pack a variety of light and heavy clothing whether visiting in January or July.

New Orleans Plantation Country is thick with landmarks from historical to modern. Most travelers make a point to visit historical areas and monuments like Oak Alley Plantation, The Mississippi River, Laura Plantation and Houmas House. There are several plantations on River Road (AKA Along the Mississippi River) that have historical significance - all have a unique story to tell. The stories of these plantations owners have even reached to Hollywood, where hit movies like "12 Years A Slave" were filmed.

Things To Do
Whether into history, dining, entertainment, family-fun activities, or simple relaxation, New Orleans Plantation Country has got you covered. Some of the more popular things to do involve visiting the plantations. However, there are several museums and historical sites just outside the River Road that are just as fascinating. The Jean Lafitte Cultural Center in Thibodaux, LA is a great place to visit to learn about Creole beginnings in the area. Another great museum is the River Road African American Museum located in Donaldsville, LA. Explore the history and heritage of more than 300 years of southern African American life.

When visiting the area, the most popular thing to do is visit a plantation. With over 20 plantations to visit, there are many options that include dining, lodging and tours. The most popular plantation would have to be Oak Alley - known for their 200+ year old oaks and grandeur style. If you don't have transportation, don't worry! There are many tour operators that drive you from the city.

Dining & Nightlife
Although the nightlife is best spent in downtown New Orleans, there are many upscale dining options available during your plantation visit. If you're looking for something more casual, we suggest checking out the Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant for a delicious creole meal. Order an original mint julep or try something exotic like fried alligator bites. Incorporate the meal in your overall visit for a complete experience.

If you're looking for something a little higher end, make your way down to Houmas House Plantation for a dining experience you won't forget. The Carriage House Restaurant serves an intimate, relaxed, club-like atmosphere great for couples. The Houmas House Plantation is great for an after-dinner walk to captivate the evening. You may never see such a lavish grounds as you would at the Houmas House.

Unlike the city, Plantation Country does not offer a lot of lodging options in a close proximity to tours and attractions. Within the surrounding cities near the River Road, there are a handful of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and RV parks. Most transient visitors opt to stay in a hotel rather than a plantation B&B due to the price - $199-$399 per night. In nearby Thibodaux, there are a handful of hotels that are within 20-30 minutes from Oak Alley and Laura Plantations. In particular, the Carmel Inn & Suites starts out at $70/night and includes a hot breakfast.

If you decide to stay in the city, don't worry! Several tour operators offer transportation from the city for a nominal fee.

Although Plantation Country doesn't have the most extravagant shopping malls that you would find in the city, the retail outlets and antique stores along River Road make for an interesting visit. Find original works of art, crafts, and handmade foods and jams at the plantation gift shops. Find history books and maps that tell the story of each plantation. Take a drive and stop at one of many antique shops that sell 18th and 19th century farm tools and toys. When you shop in Plantation Country, be prepared to take something home original and unique that you won't find anywhere else.

Annual Events
1) Festival of The Bonfires, Mid-December. Large bonfires along the levy light the way for the boaters coming down the mighty Mississippi making way for Papa Noel's visit for Christmas. Come to Lutcher Recreational Park for a cajun celebration with live entertainment, food, and bonfire lighting!
2) Frisco Fest Spring Garden Show, 1st week of March. Enjoy an array of activities hosted at San Francisco Plantation. Shop at over 100+ Crafter & Artist Booths, Open Car Show, "Prayers & Plantations" 25 & 40 Mile Bike Tour, Fun Run 5k & 1 Mile, Cracklin Contest, Pony Rides-Petting Zoo-Rock Climbing-Space Walks-Euro Bungee, and MORE!
3) Louisiana Catfish Festival, Late October. Enjoy catfish infused cuisine, live music, and arts/crafts from local merchants. See why Louisiana is the catfish capital of the world!
4) Oak Alley Plantation's Annual Christmas Bonfire Party, Early December. Celebrate the Christmas Season in one of the southland's most beautiful settings. The mansion will be dressed in fresh fruit, greenery and seasonal floral arrangements, reminiscent of Creole Christmases past. Delicious Cajun/Creole buffet, open bar, lively dance band, and plenty of good cheer combine to heighten the holiday spirit throughout the famous alley of oaks and the lovely antebellum mansion. One of the most popular events of the season, ticket reservations accepted 1st Tuesday of September. Dress code is festive holiday attire or semi-dressy, remember if it is cold to please dress appropriately as this event is held outside (wear your thermals and the right shoes to dance in).
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