The 7 Best New Orleans Plantation Tours

Learn about the Big Easy's history through one of these daytrips.

U.S. News & World Report

The 7 Best New Orleans Plantation Tours

Best New Orleans Plantation Tours

With a tour from New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours, travelers could visit one of three plantations, including Oak Alley, pictured above.(Courtesy of New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours)

Known for its Creole cuisine, Mardi Gras festivities and iconic architecture, New Orleans has something to offer every traveler, especially history buffs. Visitors with an interest in the area's agricultural and social history will want to book a plantation tour, which offers a glimpse into how the area's farmers and slaves lived on these grand antebellum properties centuries ago. Analyzing both traveler opinion and expert sentiment, U.S. News identified seven of the top plantation tours in New Orleans.

New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours – New Orleans Plantation Tour & Swamp Kayak

This eight-hour excursion includes a guided paddle through the Manchac Swamp, as well as a tour at one of two historic New Orleans plantations: Oak Alley or Whitney. Plantation availability varies by day. You'll also make a pit stop at B&C Seafood Market & Cajun Restaurant along the way. Reviewers regularly sing the praises of the tour guides and their time paddling the swamp. Though most tourgoers hoped to visit Whitney Plantation, many were impressed with Oak Alley. Tours are offered Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday through Friday. Tickets start at $175 per person; tourgoers must be at least 6 years old. The company also runs kayak tours that do not include plantation visits.

Cajun Encounters – Oak Alley & Laura Plantation Combo Tour

While Cajun Encounters also hosts tours of the ever-popular Whitney Plantation, its daytrip to Oak Alley and Laura plantations warrants consideration. Oak Alley enchants visitors with its tunnel of live oak trees leading up to the "Big House." Laura Plantation, which was once run by a French Creole family, gives tourists a glimpse into the lives of the Louisiana elite and the enslaved African Americans who worked there more than 200 years ago. Reviewers seem to agree this tour, which lasts seven hours, is well worth the high cost: Tickets start at around $93 per adult and $70 per child ages 4 to 11. The tour offers pickup daily beginning at 9 a.m. Cajun Encounters also offers city tours and swamp tours in New Orleans.

Gray Line – Whitney Plantation Tour

Opened to the public in 2014, Whitney Plantation offers a distinct look at how slaves lived and worked more than 200 years ago. This Gray Line tour, which lasts up to seven hours, allows history lovers to access museum exhibits, artwork and recorded first person slave narratives. Reviewers say this tour is particularly powerful and important and describe it as a must-do activity. The tour departs daily at noon and 1 p.m. from March 1 to Oct. 31; from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 tours depart at noon. Ticket prices start at $67 for adults and $33 for children ages 6 to 12. Gray Line offers other plantation tours, ghost tours, swamp tours and more.

Swamp Adventures – Airboat and Destrehan Plantation Tour

Take a trip to Destrehan Plantation on this approximately six-hour excursion. The plantation, which was established in 1787, was once home to the most successful sugar producer in St. Charles Parish. In addition to your stop at Destrehan, you'll take an airboat ride through Louisiana swamp. Tourgoers call the airboat ride a wonderful experience and enjoy their time at the plantation. This tour departs at 10:30 a.m. You can book a small boat tour for $143 per person or a larger boat for $128 per person. Swamp Adventures also offers airboat-only excursions.

Whitney Plantation's exhibits are largely devoted to the lives of the slaves who lived and worked on the property hundreds of years ago.(Courtesy of Beyond the Bayou)

Beyond the Bayou – Paddle and Plantation Tour

This eight-hour combo tour from Beyond the Bayou appeals to history buffs and active types. Following a two-hour guided walking tour of Whitney Plantation, you'll stop at a Cajun seafood restaurant and then paddle your way through a scenic swamp. Multiple travelers say this tour is enjoyable and praise Whitney Plantation for its emphasis on slave history. Tours depart at 8:45 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and tickets start at $175 per person. Beyond the Bayou offers additional kayak and boat tours, as well as multiday tours of Cajun country.

Cajun Pride Swamp Tours – Combination Tours

Cajun Pride offers travelers the chance to spend time at a historic plantation with a bonus of seeing the notorious wildlife that inhabit Louisiana swamps. These swamp tours take place on a private section of the Manchac Swamp where you're more likely to see alligators, birds and other critters basking in their home territory. Once the swamp tour concludes, you'll board a bus to either Oak Valley or Laura Plantation (you choose which plantation you see) for a leisurely visit and guided tour. Travelers favorably review this company overall, although some say the plantation portion of the trip was rushed or disorganized. The company offers pickup times starting at 10 a.m. daily and the entire trip can last around eight hours. Tickets start at $96 for adults and $55 for kids ages 4 to 12. Cajun Pride also offers swamp-only and plantation-only tours.

Tours by Isabelle – San Francisco & Houmas House Plantations Tour with Lunch

Consider booking this tour to explore the historic San Francisco Plantation, which features steamboat Gothic-style architecture. You'll also stop at Houmas House Plantation where you'll nosh on a gourmet lunch followed by a guided tour of the plantation to view antiques and peer at famous Louisiana artwork. This tour earns high marks overall, with visitors calling it interesting and a great way to learn the area's history. Tickets start at $158 for adults, $79 for children 6 to 11 and $25 for children 5 and younger; lunch is included in your ticket price. Tours depart at 8:30 a.m. daily, provided the six-person minimum is met. Tours by Isabelle also offers city tours, swamp tours and guided tours of other plantations in the area.

Holly Johnson, Contributor

Holly Johnson is an award-winning writer who focuses on credit cards and credit, personal ...  Read more

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