By Elaine Warner
New Orleans Plantation Country – quick, what’s the first thing you think of? I’ll bet its ancient live oaks and mansions. You’ll find those here, but, as I discovered, there’s so much more. You’ll find an amazing mix of cultures and traditions and stories of communities that most history books skipped over.
You’ll visit Laura, a Creole plantation, with a strong French heritage and a history of strong women. There you’ll learn about the complex relationships between the owners and the enslaved whose backs supported the plantation. You’ll experience the Creole way of life which dominated the area for 200 years – and of Laura, who left her home to embrace a new way of living. It’s a complete story of plantation life – the good, the bad and the ugly – history as it should be told.
The face of Whitney Plantation may be the 1790 mansion, but the heart of the story here is told from the perspective of the enslaved. From panels describing the roots and routes of the slave trade to a video about what it’s like to be someone’s property, you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of history – more realistic than romantic.
With so many historic plantations in the area, choosing is difficult. At Destrehan you can mingle with artisans demonstrating skills used on the plantation. Oak Alley is the picture of Southern elegance with a great tour and informative exhibits on its inhabitants and the foundation of its prosperity – sugar cane. You can choose from over ten historic house tours!
For a tour of another sort, choose a fast ride or a leisurely glide past lazing alligators and beautiful birds with a pontoon or airboat swamp tour. Cajuns and Native Americans have respected and protected these lands for centuries, and they continue to remain a cornerstone of our culture. Indulge your sense of wonder and adventure as you commune with the great outdoors in the Manchac Swamp.
Then take a Soul River musical journey through African American music from spirituals to jazz, blues and more contemporary expressions at Historic Riverlands Christian Center Church.
It wouldn’t be Louisiana without some great cuisine. From fresh, smoked andouille at one of the local smokehouses to an eating experience at Houmas House or Ormond Plantation, no one leaves hungry. Be sure to get your hands dirty at Spuddy’s Cajun Cooking Experience!
So, what can your group expect in New Orleans Plantation Country? Spanish moss, historic homes, and history – but, oh, so much more!