Gracious Antebellum plantation near the Mississippi River
Atmospheric and historic property dating to 1837
Private cottages with kitchenettes and full kitchens
Restaurant and cafe on-site
Bar in rustic wood shed where Mint Juleps are a specialty
Free country breakfast
Gift shop of local crafts and food
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Tours of the plantation not included in room rate
Guest cottages are worn
Restaurant is expensive but lacks charm
Pets not allowed
The Oak Alley Plantation is a 19th-century property with eight cottages in Vacherie, Louisiana, about a one-hour drive from New Orleans. The three-pearl property, has an cinematic atmosphere, and the exterior actually makes an appearance in the film "Interview With A Vampire." Built for a sugar baron in 1837, the Greek Revival main house and its reproduced slave quarters draws tourists for guided tours. Unfortunately, admission to the tour isn't included in room rates. The Cottages here have one or two bedrooms plus kitchenettes or full kitchens and feature traditional decor and homey, if worn, interiors. And there is a diner-style restaurant with expensive entrees where lunch and a free country breakfast is served.
A long stretch of southern live oaks lead to the Antebellum home that is the jewel of the Oak Alley Plantation. Unfortunately, plantation guests must still pay an entry fee to tour the historic house and its grounds, where guides in period dress will lead visitors through the finely decorated main house. But there's also a Civil War exhibit, antique cars, and reproductions of slave quarters that are open to the public without need for a guide. The property's guest cottages are a five-minute walk from the main house and several outbuildings, including a restaurant where a free country breakfast is served.
On the banks of the Mississippi, an hour's drive from New Orleans
Oak Alley Plantation is part of St. James Parish, Louisiana's River Road District, a stretch of road flanking the Mississippi River that's dotted with historic plantations. The Laura Plantation, a Creole property owned by a former sugar baron, is a seven-minute drive away. The Evergreen Plantation, where parts of the film "Django Unchained" were shot, is a 19-minute drive. The Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management area is a 33-minute drive. New Orleans and Baton Rouge are each just over an hour away by car, while it's a 50-minute drive to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
There are five One-Bedroom Cottages and three Two-Bedroom Cottages on the grounds of Oak Alley Plantation. While some have microwaves for limited food preparation, others come with kitchens complete with full-size, inexpensive appliances plus dining rooms with large oak tables. The cottages are humble and have old-fashioned decor including inexpensive printed cotton valences and dark-brown faux-suede and exposed wood on the sofas. The windows are small and the walls and trim could use sanding and repainting. Bed linens vary in print and style, and the beds have Tempur-pedic mattresses. All cottages have air-conditioning and heat, and a few have bricked-up fireplaces. Some also have small, screened-in porches. The bathrooms are of an average size and come with hairdryers and robes plus pedestal sinks and traditional fittings such as clawfoot tubs, though they could use some updating or at least a fresh lick of paint. Game boards are included in the cottages, but guests should note that cottages 5A and 5B, which share a roof, are for adults only; cottage 7 is handicapped accessible.
A free country breakfast, gift shop, and bar -- but tours are an extra fee
As a small historic property, the Oak Alley Plantation offers a fair amount of additional comforts. A full country breakfast is served free of charge in the on-site diner; lunch items such as gumbo are also available here and dinner is available if ordered before 2 pm. (Guests will have to later heat it up in their cabins.) The property has a big gift shop with a range of local food and handicrafts as well as more generic items including candy and candles for sale. Stiff drinks, including the plantation's famous mint juleps, are served up in a rustic barn with cafe seating indoors or teakwood tables and chairs outdoors under umbrellas. There's also a small cafe with limited seating that sells self-serve sandwiches and wraps in plastic containers and ice cream. A meeting room in a rustic barn-like room can be reserved. Tours of the property, which take about two hours, are not included in room rates. Parking and Wi-Fi are free.
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