An insight into Southern life before the Civil War
Word to the wise: On your way to the Laura Plantation, also visit the truly impressive Oak Alley Greek Revival mansion. The quarter-mile canopy of giant, 300-year-old oak trees is enough alone to wow you.
Louisiana's landowners were made rich by sugar, rice and fruit plantations run off the back of slave labor, and a visit to one of these impossibly grand mansions and estates offers a look into the fascinating lives of creole plantation owners and slaves in the antebellum South.
The Laura Plantation (founded 1805) offers unmatched insight with historian-led 70-minute tours of the mansion and grounds. Drawing upon the memoirs of Laura Locoul Gore, a creole who ran the plantation in the 19th century (she died in 1963, aged 101), it is filled with stories from four generations of her family and the lives of her slaves.
Located just over an hour's drive from the city (directions on the webpage), the only public transport option is with a tour group - try Tours By Isabelle - or by private car.
Other plantations worth considering are the extraordinary and whimsical 'steamboat gothic'-style mansion at San Francisco Plantation, and the beautiful Houmas House, known as 'The Sugar Palace'.