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Although these New Orleans plantations are well cared for and look beautiful, years ago they housed slaves who worked endlessly and tirelessly day in and day out. So it was very important for us to go on a New Orleans plantation tour while we were in New Orleans.
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This wasn’t the first time Aiden had heard about his history. When we visited Ghana, it was very important to learn about slavery firsthand. Aiden was about four years old when I started talking to him about slavery and the real truth about it.
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We visited the Whitney Plantation and it was disturbing, painful and eye-opening to see the conditions slaves lived in, and all they had to endure without much choice.
If you plan to take your children on a plantation tour, I highly recommend reading a book from this collection first as your children reach out to them about slavery, the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, and more.
Regardless of race, background or ethnicity, it is important to talk to your children about slavery. Talking to your children about these topics and being open about them will give them a solid foundation and a better understanding of what they will see and learn on the plantations.
Would you like to know which plantation you should visit? Then click here to read more about each plantation in New Orleans individually.
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If you haven’t talked to your kids about slavery yet, you absolutely should, and if you’re in New Orleans, make sure you show them too.
The doors of this museum opened to the public for the first time in the museum’s history in 2014 and this is the only plantation in New Orleans based on the views of slaves and everything they endured.
The museum at the Whitney Plantation features memorial artwork, many first-person accounts of slaves, restored buildings, and can provide a unique perspective of the enslaved people who lived there.
From New Orleans you can drive to the plantations or go with a tour group. We went with a tour group because we didn’t rent a car and it went well.
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When I read this below, my heart ached thinking about everything the slaves had to endure and how strong and resilient they were.
There are plenty of plantation tours in New Orleans, so it’s important to make sure you book a tour to the specific plantation you want to see.
All tours below include pickup from New Orleans, so be sure to inquire as to where exactly the pickup location for your tour is when booking.
Please note that you can visit some of these plantations on your own, but purchasing a ticket in advance is a must. However, I highly recommend a guided tour, especially because you get a more in-depth explanation of everything.
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If you are traveling with children and looking for tips, click the links below and read more: Walking the grounds of a slave plantation can be surreal – especially for African Americans. The horrors, cruelties and inhumane conditions that exist in these now tranquil environments are disturbing and no amount of careful landscaping can change that. But does that emotional discomfort mean we shouldn’t go? Absolutely not. If you visit New Orleans, a plantation tour should be high on the list of things to do.
There are several Antebellum Plantations along Louisiana’s River Road: Evergreen, Whitney, and Oak Alley Plantations to highlight a few. We spent several hours at the latter.
The 50-minute drive from downtown New Orleans to Oak Alley is beautiful in itself, passing over swamps, through farmlands and eventually along River Road. The weather is intense: hot and humid. And it’s not incredibly difficult to imagine the dire conditions that men and women worked to make Oak Alley successful nearly two hundred years ago.
“Between 1836 and the Civil War, more than 220 men, women and children were enslaved in Oak Alley,” reads a plaque placed in a replica of a slave house. “Dehumanized and quantified like any other commodity, they appear in sales documents and inventories, but as people they have been forgotten by history.
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This is a respectful acknowledgment of the people on whose backs this plantation was built. For most of them, a name is all that remains of their story.”
The above mentioned people usually worked in the ‘Big House’ or worked in the sugar cane fields. In this southern region, the main cash crop was sugar or “white gold,” as it was called at the time – and not cotton. The women and children who worked in the house were given tasks such as cheering on adults as they dined and gossiped for hours.
The previous owner of Oak Alley once wrote to her son, “We will always be the masters.” Fortunately, she lived long enough to see many of those slaves freed as her finances evaporated and her core beliefs were finally smothered. You kind of enjoy seeing other African Americans walking around her former grounds as confident, safe, and free citizens. I am one of them.
My father’s family roots are in Louisiana, and with the last name Berry (of French, British descent), my ancestors may have worked on a plantation like this one. Revisiting our history shows us where we come from, helping us understand our place and how we can shape our future. Therefore, it is imperative for anyone who has the opportunity to visit places like this.
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Eric has been going in and out of passport controls for more than twenty years. From his first archaeological field school in Belize to rural villages in Ethiopia and Buddhist temples in Laos, Eric has brought smiles to smiles with all walks of life. The LA native, writer, photographer and entrepreneur believes the power of connectivity and community is enriched through travel. With SO many plantations near New Orleans (seriously… like 20 choices within 1.5 hours of NOLA), it’s hard to decide which ones to choose. After serious deliberation and many reviews from friends and colleagues, I decided to visit three plantations: Houmas House Plantation and Gardens, Nottoway Plantation House, and Oak Alley Plantation. These seemed like real winners, and spoiler alert…they were pretty awesome!
Just for your information, if you are ambitious, it is entirely possible to visit all three of these plantations in one day as they are all very close to each other. Think of it like a wine tasting in Napa Valley, but instead of wine you’ll try different flavors from the antebellum era. Suggested route: Start with Nottoway Plantation (furthest from New Orleans) and work your way back to Oak Alley (closest to New Orleans).
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I’ll start by saying that I enjoyed Houmas Housemost of the three plantations I visited. This sugar cane plantation has it nailed on several levels, with in-character guides (no exaggeration), picturesque antebellum home (spiral staircase and all), and absolutely beautiful grounds and gardens. I would 100% recommend this place to anyone who is more interested in the grounds than the mansion itself.
Plantation & Airboat Tour Combo
Here’s my suggestion when visiting: grab a drink at the Turtle Bar (a picturesque spot on a plantation) and sip slowly past the fountains, trees, shrubs and ponds that make this site so vibrant. Also like the supernatural and ghost stories If this thrills you, ask your guide about Houmas House’s haunted past.
Ticket prices (without transportation from New Orleans): $24 (ages 13+), $10 (ages 6-12), free (ages 5 and under)
Ticket prices (with transportation from New Orleans): $59 (ages 13+), $40 (ages 6-12), free (ages 5 and under). Check ticket availability here.
You know that iconic plantation image of the entrance to a mansion lined with gigantic and spectacular live oak trees, creating a tunnel-like illusion? If you don’t know, maybe this photo of Oak Alley Plantation will refresh your memory.
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Oak Alley is the classic antebellum plantation you probably imagined before coming to South Louisiana. The estate is complete with a grand mansion, reconstructed slave quarters, 25 acres of land, the plantation blacksmith shop, a Civil War encampment, and of course, the breathtaking alley of 300-year-old live oak trees. The reconstructed slave quarters and Civil War Encampment was particularly interesting, as neither Houmas House nor Nottoway had these types of interactive exhibits.
To sum it up, I’d say if you’re looking for the overall pre-war experience, you really can’t go wrong with Oak Alley.
Tour prices (with transportation from New Orleans): $67 (ages 13+), $33 (ages 6-12), free (ages 5 and under). Check ticket availability here.
Nottoway Plantation and Resort is home to as many as 53,000
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