Discover a different side of Louisiana’s vibrant heritage and culture just outside the bustling city of New Orleans. Within an hour’s drive, soak up the rich history and diverse ecosystems of Louisiana’s Plantation Country. This picturesque 60-mile stretch along the Mississippi River, also known as the River Parishes, offers a captivating blend of captivating history, agricultural traditions, mouthwatering Cajun cuisine, and awe-inspiring swamps and bayous.
Experience a regional culture shaped by the influences of Germans, Acadians (Cajuns), French, Spanish, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans. Explore sugar cane plantations, delve into Louisiana’s mystical swamps, and savor the flavors of local Cajun delicacies.
Uncover the hidden gems that make this area truly distinct even within the enchanting state of Louisiana.
Discover the hidden treasures of the River Parishes in the 1800s, where sugar cane plantations flourished, while the rest of the South focused on cotton. These plantations were the backbone of America’s sugar consumption, producing half of the nation’s sugar.
And they were harvested and tilled by the enslaved, which is commonly, and thankfully mentioned on all plantation tours these days.
Fast forward to today, and you have the opportunity to explore ten extraordinary properties, each offering a unique glimpse into plantation life. But it doesn’t stop there – some of these plantations even offer cozy accommodation. Ranging from B&Bs, RV campgrounds, and charming cabins, you can immerse yourself in history for a truly unforgettable experience.
My visit was Destrehan Plantation, the closest to New Orlean’s Louis Armstrong International Airport. Destrehan is the oldest documented plantation house in the lower Mississippi Valley. Tours by costumed historical interpreters offer guided accounts, artisan demonstrations, and an exhibit on the 1811 slave revolt.
After an amazing plantation tour, I couldn’t wait to satisfy my hunger at VooDooBBQ & Grill. Their famous barbecue, especially the Slow-Smoked BBQ Platter, is simply mouthwatering. The meat is dry rubbed with a delightful blend of Cajun, Creole, and Caribbean spices, then slow-smoked with oak and pecan for a perfect combination of flavors.
This tasty platter comes with two sides and cornbread. Make sure to try the signature corn pudding, Voodoo chips, or Gris-Gris Greens. Trust me, it’s a meal you won’t want to miss!
Houma’s Bayou Country
Discover the allure of Houma, Louisiana, nestled in the heart of Bayou Country just an hour southwest of New Orleans. Immerse yourself in the charm of this picturesque town, famous as the filming location of the hit TV series “Swamp People.”
Experience the enchantment of being surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, tranquil bayous, and breathtaking moss-draped cypress trees. Get ready to fall in love with the authentic and welcoming atmosphere of this incredible destination.
Experience the thrill of Cajun Man’s Swamp Tour with Captain Billy Gaston in Houma, Louisiana. Embark on a rustic pontoon boat and immerse yourself in the vibrant eco-system of the bayous and swamps guided by a true local expert. Learn about the diverse wildlife, from mesmerizing birds to the renowned alligators, as Captain Billy shares fascinating facts and even introduces you to some of the gators he knows by name.
Prepare to be amazed as you witness Captain Billy’s Cajun-accented call summoning a gator to swim towards the boat. And for the adventurous, get ready to feed a gator using a long pole with a chicken treat.
Houma’s Unique Fairly-Tale Castle
Step into a fairytale castle at Ardoyne Plantation! This magnificent Victorian Gothic sugarcane plantation has captured the essence of enchantment since 1888. But, its roots go back even further, as it has been a bustling sugarcane plantation since 1835.
Passed down through six generations, the mansion is currently inhabited by the builder’s family, making for an authentic and immersive experience. The tours are led by a knowledgeable resident, who will share fascinating tidbits about the plantation’s rich history, captivating memorabilia, and former inhabitants. Ardoyne Plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
**This property is temporarily closed
Get ready to be amazed and blown away by the extraordinary Chauvin Sculpture Garden. This unique garden is home to 100 captivating life-size concrete sculptures that will leave you in awe. Crafted by the land owner (who mysteriously vanished afterwards), this garden has sparked countless theories and discussions about the artist’s true purpose and message.
Best of all, you can explore this fascinating oasis absolutely free!
Taste the flavors of Houma and Cajun Country at Boudreau & Thibodeau’s Cajun Cookin’. From crawfish to catfish, oysters to shrimp, and even gator and frog legs, this local hangout is a seafood lover’s dream. But the real star of the show? Charbroiled Oysters. Trust me, they’re the best I’ve ever had!
Picture plump oysters on the half-shell, smothered in garlic butter and topped with a heavenly blend of Romano and Parmesan cheeses. Cooked to perfection over an open flame, this South Louisiana tradition is simply irresistible. Don’t miss out on these mouthwatering delights!
Another local favorite is Cajun Critters. Their boiled house specialties include Crawfish, Shrimp, Royal Red Shrimp, Blue Crabs, Dungeness Crabs, Snow Crabs and King Crabs. I had one goal before I left Houma—to try Gator Bites, along with some Gumbo, and I can say I wasn’t disappointed.
I left Louisiana a happy camper!
Thanks to New Orleans Plantation Country and Houma for hosting Sandra on this trip. The reviews and opinions are her own.
This article was originally written and published by Sandra Chambers in 2019. It has been partially updated by staff in 2023.
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