As the Mississippi River winds its way southeast between Baton Rough and New Orleans, taking a final bow before the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find its most fertile alluvial plains. Dozens of historic plantations, such as Oak Alley, have long brought home the kind of financial windfall that can construct unrivalled palatial mansions. While this wealth came at a heavy cost to human life and dignity, the plantations endure as national heritage sites, steeped in local history, ongoing sugarcane cultivation, and remarkable natural beauty.
Oak Alley Plantation is best known for the mossy branches of its wizened old oaks that line the road up to the colonnaded facade of the main house. Because it lies roughly an hour’s drive to the west of New Orleans, Oak Alley Plantation makes for the perfect tour from the Big Easy. Here are five of the best tours, taking many factors into account including the itinerary, value for money, and the reviews of previous guests.
From $54/per person
At the entry-level, this basic tour is a good option that includes transportation and entry to Oak Alley Plantation, plus a decent amount of time allocated to explore the grounds. You can enjoy a 40-minute guided tour, which includes the main building, with its neoclassical design, plus the slave quarters and gardens. Then wander the grounds past the wonderfully gnarled oak trees that have been around for centuries before returning to New Orleans. This tour lasts around four hours and departs daily.
From $67/ per person
The natural archway formed by two rows of 18th-century oak trees leading up to the Oak Alley Plantation house is like something out of a fairy tale. The reality was far from that though for many of the people forced to work here in the past. This guided tour focusses on plantation life, complete with demonstrations of original farm machinery by a guide dressed in period costume. This daily tour lasts between five and six hours and includes pick-up and drop-off at your accommodation in New Orleans.
From $69/ per person
A slightly shorter version of the above tour indulges in the Southern hospitality and Old South whimsy through stories on this educational tour. You’ll also learn about the building’s restoration, the history of the plantation, which was built in 1839, and its interest to Hollywood film companies in the present day: scenes from Primary Colors and Interview with a Vampire were shot here. This tour departs from a pre-arranged point in New Orleans and lasts roughly five hours.
From $119/ per person
With the mighty Mississippi River emptying into the Gulf of Mexico only a few score miles from New Orleans, this part of Louisiana is certainly no stranger to water. Swamps are as much a part of life here as the plantations once were. This excellent combo tour explores the best of both, starting out at Oak Alley Plantation with a guided tour of the buildings and main house, before heading out to the swamps. Here you’ll take a boat past an Indian burial mound and Cajun cemetery while the possibility of spotting wildlife is high. This daily tour usually lasts over eight hours.
From $138/ per person
Another good combo tour option offers you the chance to visit one of three local plantations, including Oak Alley (Laura Creole and Whitney Museums are the other options). You’ll learn all about the lives of those who lived and died on the plantations before heading into the Louisiana swamps to look for alligators, snakes and birds. You’ll learn all about these wetlands as well as hearing a history of the Louisiana Bayou, particularly in the early days of exploration here.