Louisiana River Road Plantations
I have to start by saying this was a bucket list trip for me! I love all things old and enjoy the South. This trip was full of southern hospitality, fantastic food, and history.
We stayed and toured three Sugar Cane Plantations. I wanted to stay at all three places, so I could give all of you some insight so you could decide what the best fit for you would be. Hopefully, this post will help you determine what plantation you would like to stay at, or maybe all three! I will say you will not be disappointed with whichever one you choose. They are all great and unique in their own way.
We started our Trip in White Castle Louisiana at the Nottoway. Please listen when I say this Antebellum Mansion is stunning. We pulled into the plantation around 11 p.m. They have someone 24/7 on the grounds, so it is no problem checking in after hours. The gentleman that checked us in was very knowledgeable of the property and was eager to share information. We stayed in one of the cottages by the sugar cane field. It was spotless and spacious. I think next trip I will stay in the plantation itself for one night. I have never spent the night in an actual plantation before, so I’m looking forward to that. The cottages were great, however. You will not be disappointed if you choose them. I enjoyed the front porch, and if our kids had been with us, it would have been perfect because the cottages are a little more secluded and they could have played outside.
This resort has a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, hot tub, and workout facilities. They even have bikes you can ride around the grounds. You could go to Nottoway and make it a getaway where you could relax for the weekend and not leave.
We enjoyed a quick workout, followed by a delicious breakfast. The breakfast was a buffet, so there was no waiting, and it was excellent. We did not have any other meals there, but they do serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also have a bar that is open all day.
The tour took around an hour; the tour time will depend on how many questions you ask the tour guide. The tour guide was excellent and dressed in historical costume. She explained the history of the plantation well. I enjoyed this tour and learned a lot about the character of the plantation owners. The Randolph’s were `fascinating people. Nottoway is 53,000 sq ft. The architecture in this house is unbelievable. Nottoway is also one of the few that survived through the Civil War. The mansion was completed in 1859. It had indoor plumbing, so it was very modern. The ceilings were 15 1/2, large 11-foot doors, marble fireplaces, pure white oval ballroom, and don’t forget the floor to ceiling windows they used to access the wrap around porches. This Antebellum Mansion is impressive.
Next stop Houmas House.
We left White Castle and drove to the Houmas House, which is in Darrow, Louisiana. We checked into our room, which was perfect. Our room had a fireplace and a luxurious bathroom; there was a rain head faucet in the shower, along with a separate tub. There was also a sit-down vanity for all the ladies :). This room met all of my expectations. We decided to walk the grounds that day and wait to take the tour until the morning.
The Gardens at the Houmas House are fantastic. You can buy tour tickets just for the garden area if you do not want to tour the mansion as well. My advice would be to visit both. I found that each mansion had its own story, which made each of them very unique.
The gardens are full of color and fragrance. They create a natural display of plant life and blooms along side the more formal presentation of selected exotics that add to the overall experience. Each courtyard also displays a dramatic water feature. These water features bring a sense of peace and calmness to the property. It will not matter what season it is the gardens will be alive with new planting, and growth even in winter.
They have many great pieces woven throughout the landscape outside. It’s fun to see how many you can find. I love the birdhouse in the picture above.
The pineapple is a sign of hospitality in the south, but if you were out your welcome, then you may find a whole pineapple on your nightstand the next morning.
After walking the grounds, we went and got ready for dinner. I have to say that dinner was delicious! It was some of the best food I had on our trip. There are two restaurants you can choose from for dinner. We picked the Carriage House. Everything that we ordered was excellent. We also had a complimentary breakfast that is included when you stay at the Houmas House Inn. It was also amazing. I had Crawfish Benedict. Where other than Lousiana can you have crawfish for breakfast.
After dinner, we had a cocktail at the Turtle Bar. The bartenders are very friendly and know how to make a great drink. Bloody Mary’s in Lousiana are the best! Also, try their French Martini.
The next morning we toured the Houmas House Plantation. The grounds of the plantation was initially selected by the Houmas Indians. The fertile land next to the Mississippi was a great place to raise the White Gold known as Sugar Cane. For over 240 years, the Houmas Mansion has evolved and grew with the times and with the owners of the grand mansion. The current owner felt it was impossible to restore the house to a definite period without sacrificing elements from other significant periods, so the choice was made to showcase a legacy of each family in the mansion. The tour of the estate was very informative; their were many owners of the mansion and many stories. The three-story staircase is also a show stopper. The guides were very informative and answered any questions. Men make sure you go first up the stairs. Women do not show your ankles. :)
Last stop…Oak Alley
We left Donaldsville and drove to Vacherie Lousiana, It was approximately a 30 drive. After arriving, we decided to eat lunch first since it closed at 3. I had the Creole sampler for lunch. It was red beans and rice, etouffee, gumbo. It was delicious, the etouffee was my favorite.
After lunch, we checked into our room. The room was very spacious and spotless, I was pleased. There is a small living area, along with a small kitchen, and the screened in porch was my favorite. There is also plenty of room to roam outside. The cottage was charming.
We went on one of the last tours of the day. Oak Alley stays pretty busy, so this gave time for the property to clear out. Another one of the perks of staying on the property is they allow you to walk around after closing. The tours and crowds stop around 5 p.m, so we had plenty of time to roam and get some awesome pictures after hours.
I would suggest taking the tour also. I enjoyed each tour I took because every plantation has a story and I enjoyed hearing it.
Valcour Aime, a prominent sugarcane farmer, purchased the land in 1830 and established a community of enslaved people to care for the property. A few years later Aime traded the plantation with his brother-in-law Jacques Telesphore Roman who would eventually build the mansion that sits on the property today. The Roman family continued to live at Oak Alley until just after the Civil War when it was sold at auction due to the high cost of maintaining it.
In 1925, Andrew Stewart purchased the property as a gift for his wife, Josephine. Together, the Stewarts initiated a restoration project that would last the span of their lives. In 1966, Josephine established a non-profit foundation to preserve the home and 25 acres of the grounds.
There is much history to be learned. There is also have a Civil War Exhibit, along with a self-guided slave exhibit.
After touring the plantation, we went about 8 minutes away to get boiled crawfish for dinner. This was one of our favorite parts of the trip. We picked up 8 pounds of crawfish and 2 pounds of boiled shrimp. It was delicious! The cottage made it easy to do this. The screened in porch with the table made it easy to keep everything mess free. I highly recommend trying out some of these delicious crawfish if you make it down to Lousiana you will not be disappointed. After devouring our crawfish, I had a piece of chocolate pecan pie waiting in the refrigerator. This made for a great night.
Also, if you stay in the cottage, breakfast is included the next morning. My crawfish omelet was delicious!
This trip was everything and more I had hoped for it to be. It was indeed a trip I will always remember. I gained knowledge of the South in the past and present form. I met some genuinely sincerely kind people, who reminded me to do what you love. This trip was the start of that. There are some neat trips around the U.S., and I have to say this should be on everyone's list.
All three plantations that we visited met all my expectations and more. You will not be disappointed with any of them and will learn something different at each of them. Take time out of your year and go and visit River Road Plantations and spend your nights at one or all three of these magical pieces of history!
If you have any questions about River Road Plantations please contact me and let my know. Enjoy your trip to the Deep South.