I guess I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I don’t know what was bothering me, but I knew I didn’t feel like working. One of the benefits of my job is that I can take a day when I need to – and today was the perfect day. Believe me, I didn’t have to twist my wife’s arm when I told her that I wanted to drive through New Orleans and on to the Louisiana plantations in St. James Parish for the day.
I think working on AntebellumTrail.com gave me the fever. You see, we love visiting historical sites and have been to quite a few over the years, including Monticello, Mount Vernon, Arlington and the Myrtles Plantation. I guess I wanted to go see a little bit of history today.
Visiting these types of places gives us the opportunity to forget about the day to day grind in our own lives and sends us back to a simpler, albeit very humbling and unfamiliar, place in time. Also, exploring an older home and the grounds can be very relaxing. I enjoy spending the day outside, especially on a beautiful March afternoon.
We drove through New Orleans and jumped on US Hwy 61 in LaPlace. When you get to Gramercy – and I can’t stress this enough – make sure you stop at the St. James Parish Welcome Center. It’s on the right as you turn off US61 just before you get to the Veterans Memorial Bridge and cross the Mississippi. The lady at the Welcome Center was very nice and patiently answered all our questions. And, she gave us free samples of Zapp’s chips – made in Gramercy.
Turning right as soon as we crossed the River, we hit the River Road and drove on to our destination – Vacherie, Louisiana and the two antebellum sugar cane plantations of Oak Alley and Laura. It’s about a seven mile drive from the bridge on the curvy River Road following the levee to Oak Alley Plantation, passing Laura Plantation on the way.
Oak Alley Plantation
In the early 1700’s an unknown settler planted 2 even rows of 14 Live Oak trees – 28 trees in all spaced 80 feet wide – from the banks of the Mississippi stretching almost 1,000 feet inland to his humble cottage. Over one hundred years later, the land was purchased by a rich sugar cane planter expressly for the purpose of building a home magnificent enough to persuade his wife to stay in the country instead of New Orleans.
Imagine our surprise when we pulled up to Oak Alley and saw a steamboat docked on the levee! And then, that magnificent view of the home through the canopy of 28 three hundred year old oak trees – talk about being transported to another place and time. It seemed like everything just stopped – time, work, problems, everything – and nothing mattered. Very relaxing to say the least!
We ate lunch at the Oak Alley Restaurant and did the the tour. Our guide, dressed in period attire, was great and combined her presentation of the history of the home with a dry sense of humor that everyone enjoyed. She was also knowledgeable and professional.
The view from the second story balcony through the oaks to the levee is just as magnificent as the view from the River to the house. And, walking through the oaks with a mint julep in hand is worth every penny you spend there, and it’s going to be a bunch. Oak Alley Plantation has got to be a money making machine for the non-profit Oak Alley Foundation.
More Info About the Louisiana Plantations in St. James Parish
- PlantationParade.com is owned and managed by the same folks that own OakAlleyPlantation.com – I am assuming the Oak Alley Foundation. Visit here to find out more information about tours and tickets to Laura, Oak Alley, Houmas House and San Francisco plantations. PlantationParade.com has been registered since 1999 at NetSol.
- NewOrleansPlantationCountry.com is a site made by the Graham Group of Louisiana for the River Parishes Tourist Commission and the Louisiana Office of Tourism. It’s a great place to learn about all the attractions, places to stay and eat, specials and deals, maps and tours. The Graham Group owns a few decent domains like CajunCoast.com, IberiaTravel.com and LouisianaCooking.com. The Louisiana Office of Tourism owns and maintains websites at LouisianaTravel.com, AudubonTrail.com, LouisianaSeafood.com and Atchafalaya.org. NewOrleansPlantationCountry.com was registered in 2003 at Go Daddy.
- OakAlleyPlantation.com is billed as the Deep South’s Most Spectacular Antebellum Setting – and it is. Just getting the opportunity to walk the alley of oaks is worthy of the admission price alone. OakAlleyPlantation.com was registered in 1997 at NetSol. OakAlley.com was also registered in 1997 and would be a nice domain for these guys, but its ownership is hidden behind privacy so at first glance I can’t tell who has it. What’s interesting is that OakAlleyFoundation.org is hosted on the same IP address – so it could very well mean the Oak Alley Foundation or someone with an interest in Oak Alley registered these the domains.
- LauraPlantation.com was registered at NetSol in 1997. Laura Plantation – established in 1805 by the Duparc family and later the Locoul family – has been at the forefront of interpreting the Créole experience, sugarcane plantation life and slavery in early Louisiana. Laura.com is for sale, but there is no need in thinking about buying it – LauraPlantation.com works just fine.
- HoumasHouse.com was registered in 1998 at Network Solutions under a private individual who also happens to own OakAlleyTour.com, OldSouthTours.com and a handful of defensive registrations. Houmas House is a beautiful plantation located in Darrow, Louisiana that was completed in 1828. Houmas House is billed as the Crown Jewel of Louisiana’s River Road.
- SanFranciscoPlantation.org was registered in 1997 at Network Solutions and is under privacy. For some reason they never bothered to purchase the .com – SanFranciscoPlantation.com was registered at Enom in 2007 is under privacy and for sale. I would go after SanFrancisco.com instead of SanFranciscoPlantation.com – why not go for the home run domain name, right? San Francisco Plantation is the only grand mansion on the River Road to be authentically restored. Built in 1855, it is now owned by the San Francisco Plantation Foundation and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.