Category: Louisiana

A Visit to Saint Francisville, LA

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Greenwood Plantation

During our visit through Louisiana, we drove to the town of Saint Francisville. A town of just under 2,000 people, is located about 30 miles north of the capital Baton Rouge. It is a hidden gem worth a visit.

Greenwood Plantation

Unfortunately, the original Greenwood Plantation from 1830 built by William R. Barrow in Greek Revival Style with its 28 columns burnt down in 1960. All that was left behind was the columns and the front steps. It was re-built based on original blueprint and style. The mansion now stands tall among the multiple alleys of mature, majestic, moss draped oaks. Of course, this home is a favorite of Hollywood serving as the location for such movies as:   “Louisiana,” “North & South,”  “GI Joe II,”  and “Jeepers Creepers III.”

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The Myrtles Plantation (circa 1796)

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Myrtles Plantation

The Myrtles Plantation claim to fame is that it is one of the most haunted mansions in history. You can learn about the history of this antebellum style home by visiting visit Myrtlesplantation.com

One can book a stay here for a night or more as this plantation serves as a bed & breakfast and who knows you may prove during your visit or stay?

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Entry Way

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Stairway Where William Winters Died and Presumedly Still Haunts.

Legends has it that a total of ten murders occurred at Myrtles Plantation. There is only evidence of one murder, that of William Winter, occurring at Myrtles Plantation. William Winter died on the 17th step of the house. According to historical records, Winter was shot on the front porch and presumedly crawled up the stairway to his death on the 17th stair.

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Rosedown Plantation (circa 1835)

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The third stop on our visit to  the small town of Saint Francisville was in West Felicia at the state owned RoseDown Plantation historical site. The original plantation compromised some 3,400 acres with cotton being the main crop production. Rosedown was built in 1835 by cotton planters Daniel and Martha Turnbull, it is one of the most documented and intact plantation complexes in the South and is known for its extensive formal gardens surrounding the house.

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Mural in Foyer of Rosedown- A Must See

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Oaks at Rosedown

 

Learn More about Saint Francisville and West Felicia Parish


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Houmas House Plantation

Houmas House Plantation & Gardens

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Adding to the list of plantations visited during our visit to the New Orlean’s area, is Houmas House Plantation.  This Greek Revival plantation that sits in lush gardens that are well maintained. The house is really two homes connected by a carriageway with the older home dating back to around 1775 per the docent during our private tour this evening. The private tour was not planned, but just happen that we were the only ones to be present for the hours tour time. Learn more about the history of the Houmas House and its connection to Native Americas, slavery, and why it is also known as the Sugar Palace here

This plantation stands out from the others we’ve seen because of the gardens, three restaurants, and the option for overnight accommodations. In 2015, this home beat out another famous home- Biltmore Estate according to the USA Today.  at #2.

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Pet Cemetery

Tour Options: 

Houmas House with Transportation 

Houmas House with Transportation in French

Houmas House Mansion and Gardens Tour

Stay at Houmas House:

The Inn

and of course, The Restaurants

Enjoy your visit to this historic plantation.  Please consider reading more about the reviewing on TripAdvisor


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Plantations Along Lousiana’s River Road

I recently read the Louisiana Plantation Guide as a means to assist me in planning a trip to New Orleans. We weren’t able to visit all of the plantations in this wonderful guide, but did manage to cover quite a few ground along Louisiana’s River Road, which parallels the east and west banks of the Mississippi River for about 70 miles (actually 100 miles of driving per Laurence and Jessica Norah). During the drive, we passed through Louisiana’s parishes of St. Charles, and St, John. I think we missed St. James….  This historic road was lined with some 350 antebellum plantation homes ranging from basic farm houses to grand mansions.

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Evergreen Plantation Entrance

These historic plantations served one main purpose to grow a profitable crop for the landowner. These crops included rice, indigo (a plant to create a distinct blue dye), tobacco, and the move to the most profitable crop; sugar cane. This wealthy part of our young nation’s history prior to the Civil War was all made possible through the use of forced labor of thousands of slaves. Each of these plantations now offer some historic prespective on the history of slavery. Some do this better than others.

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Below are the plantations we were able to visit during our stay in New Orleans with a mix of my thoughts and recommendations. There is so much to see in the south that a long weekend just isn’t enough time. This just gives us an excuse for another trip!

When to Visit?

This really depends on your preference for weather and crowds. The south is often known for is relatively mild winters and striking hot/humid summers. The best option for tours would be between November and May.  You would want to avoid festivals and events as these will make New Orleans the most crowded, increase the cost of hotels, and transportation. These are events to consider: the Sugar Bowl (early January), Mardi Gras (February/early March), French Quarter Fest (April), Jazz Fest (April/May), and Halloween. I would avoid the months of June, July and August. Do consider hurricane season that runs from June through the end of November.  Of course, if you wish for very  reasonable cost hotels and don’t mind the heat, the summer months would offer the cheapest rates.

Destrehan Plantation (original circa 1790, rebuilt ~1840)

The first stop on our drive out of New Orleans was the closest plantation (about 10 miles) known as Destrehan Plantation. This is one of the oldest and best-documented buildings from the state’s colonial period. It is worth a visit not just for ease of access, but for the nature beauty offer in and around the home. The tour guide offered a detailed history of the home past, including touching enslaved individuals. Actually, this is where you begin the tour. In the re-constructed slave cabin to the side of the home.

One interesting part of the tour is an historical artifact signed by  both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison assigning four men, including Jean Noel Destrehan, to the Orleans Territorial Council.  This is part of your admission ticket and you see this prior to visiting the inside of the home.

Other interesting facts include that this and many other plantations have and are still being used as filming location: This one was used for  Interview with the Vampire (main house interiors) and 12 Years a Slave (1830 mule barn).

Tour options:

Driving own vehicle and touring with the next group with tours beginning at 9:30 am and ending at 4:00 pm. You can purchase tickets at the gift shop located on site or online. We did not find it crowd during our visit, but I suspect during peak season this plantation could be very busy.  Other tour options for hotel pickup and drop-off from New Orleans include:

A Day tour with Swamp Boat

If you are a AAA member or senior, please be sure to point this out during your booking at the site or online 

Another unique option is to stay at one of the two self-catered Creole-style cottages that are often available for rent. Please explore this lodging option here

Destration Plantation

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Live Oaks of Destrehan

Whitney Plantation

We had planned to visit San Francisco Plantation, but alias it was closed during our arrival and so, we moved on to the Whitney Plantation. This plantation should be on your list of historic plantations to visit if not for the fact that it is truly a museum offering a story of slavery with a several memorials throughout the site.

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The Spanish style Creole main plantation home had murals painted. The property also had the only French Creole barn in the United States, and the oldest detached kitchen in Louisiana. If you are fan of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, this plantation was the setting for some scenes for Django Unchained.

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Reconstructed Holding Cell for Slaves

The tours here begin usually with time for you to see and reflect on the many quotes from parts of the Federal Writers Project where former slaves (mostly the children and young adults during the time of slavery) were interviewed and known as the Slave Narratives Collection

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Sugar Cane Bowel

Tour Options:

House Tour: You can drive to site and purchase a ticket at booth on site. This is the option we chose.  Expect this one to be a little on the $$ side and crowded as it rather popular.  Discounts for: AAA, Military, Seniors and Students

Whitney Plantation Tour: This tour options is available for visitors who need transportation to and from Whitney Plantation from New Orleans. It is great option if you do not plan on hiring a car.

The next three plantations on our list were very close to each and should all be visited (if time allows). These include: Laura Plantation,  The Oak Alley Plantation, and St. Joseph Plantation.  We explored each of these in this ordered and all offer a distinct feel for what southern live was during antebellum time and one is still a family-run sugar can plantation that adds that unique spin to your visit.

Laura Plantation

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Laura Plantation

Of the three below, Laura Plantation was one that felt rather rushed by the docent and we were not sure the rationale as it was midday. Perhaps they were just tired and needed a break? Anyway, you get the feel for another home from the antebellum era, but keep in mind you are looking at a restored French Creole plantation. Unfortunately, the main home suffered extensive damage during a major electrical fire in 2004. It has now since been restored except for the pantry area for historical reasons.  Other historical facts about this plantation is that is it known for Laura Plantation is for being one of the locations where folklorist Alcée Fortier (born at Petit Versailles Plantation) recorded the African stories of the trickster Br’er Rabbit from the slaves (known as Compair Lapin in French Creole).

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Fire Damage to Wall in Pantry

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Tour Options:

Self-Paced Tour: You can drive to site and purchase a ticket at a booth on site.  The outside of the plantation and property is self-guided with the purchase of a ticket. You will need a guide to explore the hour. This is the option we chose.

Double Plantation Tour This tour options is available for visitors who need transportation to and from Laura Plantation from New Orleans. It is great option if you don’t plan on hiring a car.

Oak Alley Plantation

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Oak Alley

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The Grand Dame or Oak Alley Plantation is perhaps one of our favorite Greek Revival style homes that we toured in Louisiana.  This plantation is famous for its 26 oaks dating back to nearly 300 years that were saved when the Arm Corps of Engineers put in the levy. Another home we visited Houmas House had a similar grand entrance that did not see the same result. This plantation property has also taken advantage of its popularity and offers a two restaurants, a bar area, stay options, and a nice gift shop. All of these are in addition to the wonderful grounds one can just get lost in exploring the history before taking in a tour of the main house. All well worth a visit here. If you only had time for one plantation, this should be the one.

You will also find that this plantation is definitely been seen in several films including: Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Primary Colors, and Interview with the Vampire.

Tour Options:

Self-Paced with House Tour: You can drive to site and purchase a ticket at a booth on site.  The outside of the plantation and property is self-guided with the purchase of a ticket. You will need a guide to explore the hour. This is the option we chose.  Expect this one to be a little on the $$ side and crowded as it rather popular. Discounts for: AAA, Military, Senior 65+, First Responders, Teachers and Students 19+

Guided Tour This tour options is available for visitors who need transportation to and from Oak Alley Plantation from New Orleans. It is great option if you do not plan on hiring a car.

St. Joseph Plantation

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St. Joseph Plantation is still working 1,000 acre sugar cane plantation that is been in the same family since 1877. This property is next two the more popular Oak Alley. It is worth a visit to see a different perspective of southern life and a slower pace, perhaps. If you are lucky, you will be guided by one of the owners during the house tour as we were during our time here.  One thing to keep in mind is that this home is not completely renovated to period and you will notice this in several of the rooms as you tour the house.

St. Joseph

Of course, this plantation has been scenes for such films as 12 Years a Slave, and the 2016  Roots mini-series. In addition, some scenes were done at the family’s other property that is not open to the public known as Felicity Plantation.

Tour Options

Tours of St. Joseph Can can easily be purchased on-site or online 

There is also transportation option to visit St. Joseph Plantation

The plantation is open 7 days a week with tours of the main house offered at the following times: 10: 00 am, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm (last daily tour)

Cost of Plantation Tours

 We found that the cost varied from $12 to $22 per person (with discounts) and all prices included a guided tour. Tipping of your guide is truly appreciated and often expected if you enjoyed your time with them. Of course, tipping is not obligatory. 

Discount Options

If this is your first time visiting New Orleans or even you are planning to visit this part of Louisiana again, consider the New Orleans Pass  The pass option currently offers discounts and free visits to 25 sites (as of February 2019) including free entry to both the San Francisco Plantation and the Oak Alley Plantation.  In addition, don’t forget the optional discounts mentioned above if you are AAA member, senior, visiting with children, an active military (thank you for service), and a local resident. Many of the plantations offer discounts in various forms. When in doubt, just ask…

Travel Options to Louisana’s River Road Plantations

Public transportation is limited outside the New Orleans area and this includes the River Road plantations area. The best options are a) driving  or b) setting up a group bus tour, c) a private tour, or d) hiring a private car service to take you to each of the plantations of your choice.  Below is map of the several of the plantations we visited.

Map of river road

Map courtesy of https://i.pinimg.com

If you are interested in Tours of the River Road Plantations, please consider exploring Viator as this site offers many different day tours, ability to choose which plantations to visit and decide on a group tour from New Orleans.

I do not recommend using any of the taxi service or Uber/Lyft option for visiting the River Road Plantations. You would most likely be wasting time waiting for your pickup when you could have been visiting another plantation through a more direct route or guided tour option.

Learn more about the River Road Plantations by reading the Louisiana Plantation Guide




New Orleans’ French Quarter

French Quarter

Greetings, fellow travelers! After a long, exciting, and fun long weekend in New Orleans, I am back home.

If you have plans to visit New Orleans, Louisiana;  a visit of the French Quarter, also known as the Quarter, the Vieux Carré, or Vieux Carré; should be on your list. There is a wonderful history to this district dating back to 1718 that is worth exploring through a walking tour or visiting several of the historic homes.

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Corner of St. Peter and Burgundy

Bourbon Street

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View of Bourbon Street in the Evening

In what is often known as the heart of the Quarter there is Bourbon Street. It is a street full of nightclubs, bars, and trendy restaurants. This is certainty worthy of a quick visit, but don’t just see this part of the French Quarter. You will be missing so much of the history behind the mixture of colonial, French, and Spanish influences of NOLA.

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Things to Explore in the French Quarter

I continued my exploration of the French Quarter through strolling through the quaint streets taking in the sounds, music, and coming across great finds such as the Faulkner House Books. The Faulkner House Books  is located in the apartment where Faulkner lived in 1925. More details about the bookstore can be found by visiting the website.

faulkner book store

If you love taking in  historical mansions, the French Quarter offers several opportunities to step-back in time and enjoy a guided tour through history. You can take advantage of such offerings from  The Women’s Exchange, which continues to maintain and preserve several historical homes including: The Gallier & The Hermann-Grima Houses.  In addition, the Beauregard-Keyes House is not too far form the Gallier House (just around the block) and also, worth a visit.

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The Gallier House

The Gallier House was one of the first homes to have running h/c water and indoor bathroom during slavery. According to the docent, it would have been a challenge and potentially dangerous to heat the water and keep it running to avoid an explosion. The other images depicts one of the bedroom, a sitting room, and a means of allowing heat to escape to the attic via openings in the ceiling (pre-ceiling fans).

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The Hermann-Grima House

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The Cistern for Water Collection

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French Quarter’s Only Working Stable

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Beauregard-Keyes House

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Courtyard of Beauregard-Keyes House

Located at 1113 Chartres St. in the Quarter, The Beauregard-Keyes house is just across the street from the old Ursuline Convent and is now maintained by the Keyes Foundation. The house dates back to 1826 has many different residence, but thanks to the author Frances Parkinson Keyes, this historic home is preserved for others to enjoy. A short video on the house: https://youtu.be/YRwK3LbfL5U

Places to Grab Bit and Drink

The French Quarter has many options to for places to eat, enjoy a drink, and listen to some wonderful local music. If you have just three places to explore, I recommend the following (in no particular order):

Brennan’s * must try the Banana Foster here.

Court of Two Sisters. *steep in history and great for jazz.

Antione’s Restaurant  *hint–they have twenty cent martinis (limit is 3) during lunch hour – ask a local)

Brennan’s

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After a long walk exploring the Quarter, we had to stop into Brennan’s for a bit and of course, a drink (or two). They have happy hour with bar bit specials in the Roost Bar. This top restaurant is beautiful

Antione’s Wine Cellar

If you are looking for a place to eat that full of history and family owned for generations, Antoine’s Restaurant is the one to consider.  It is the oldest French-Creole restaurant in the French Quarter that is still run by the same family for 175 years. As you make your way to the establishment walking along Royal Street, you may find people looking through a small window with bars. This is Antione’s famous wine cellar. The cellar is 165-feet long ending with this little window looking into Royal Street.

Court of Two Sisters

I am torn between the two above just because of my love for history.  This place goes back to around 1726 with the present structure dating back to 1832. There is some history of royalty as well that is intriguing. This two floor restaurant should be explored just for the atmosphere and don’t forget to check out the Grand Marquis dining room on the second named in honor of former French governor.  Oh and the food and drinks are good too!

Places to Stay

Below of just some of the French Quarter stay options:

Lamothe House 

Inn on Ursulines 

Inn on St. Ann

Inn on St. Peter

Each of the above stay options are at varied locations within the French Quarter. You can  find a stay outside the French Quarter and walk into the district. The choice is yours and whether or not you are looking to stay in a traditional style hotel or bed and breakfast or in a more commercial hotel.  I chose the Inn on St. Peter as this stay option was off the from the main area of Bourdon Street, the noisy area, and offered a relatively quiet evening with a safe walk back and forth to my room.

More to come on my visit to New Orleans with the Plantation Adventure posts coming soon…


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