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Oak Alley Plantation

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Oak Alley Plantation
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  • Oak Alley Plantation
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Anne Rice fans--or, more likely, Brad Pitt fans--may recognize Oak Alley Plantation as the estate Louis called home in the big-screen adaptation of Interview with the Vampire. Minus the blood-stained upholstery and leftover southern belle snacks. But while the occasional disquieting presence has been seen and heard throughout the antebellum manor, today it is more famous as an inviting and grandiose respite in the Louisiana River Region than a stomping ground for the gallivanting undead.

Situated on the Mississippi River about 50 miles west of New Orleans, Oak Alley takes its well-deserved name from an 800-foot double row of live oak trees canopying the gateway to its regal white Big House. The plantation spans 25 acres, most of which were originally used to grow sugar cane. Having passed through many hands since its 1839 construction, contemporary Oak Alley welcomes both day guests wishing to tour the estate's gardens, blacksmith shop, and antique car garage, as well as overnight guests searching for some peace and serenity in the handful of century-old cottages dotting its grounds.

Guides dressed in period gowns lead afternoon guests on tours of the Big House, a French Creole design built by George Swainty for Jacques Telesphore Roman. After passing through the mansion's colonnade of 28 Doric columns, visitors receive 35- to 40-minute historical recounts of the plantation's life and owners, optionally capped off with a Mint Julep on the way out. The remainder of the grounds are open for self-guided tours, and those who acquire hunger pangs from covering the extensive acreage, or the munchies from downing a couple Mint Juleps, can enjoy breakfast or lunch at the Oak Alley Restaurant, a quaint 19th century cottage not far from the Big House. Adult admission for the day is $18.

Those looking for a true escape to Oak Alley will enjoy overnight accommodations in the estate's 1- and 2-bedroom plantation cottages. All have been upgraded with central air conditioning, Tempur-Pedic mattresses, cable TV, and WiFi, and stocked with a microwave, coffee maker, refrigerator, and board games. A full country breakfast at the Oak Alley Restaurant is included in cottage rental rates, which range from $145 to $200 per night, depending on size and appointments. Solo travelers, or larger parties of up to 8 people, also have the option of renting the René House--either individual rooms at $90 to $135 per night, or in its entirety for $455 per night.

Throughout the year, Oak Alley Plantation hosts a number of special events, including Christmastime bonfires and Champagne brunches, a Mother's Day Luncheon, and spring and fall arts & crafts festivals. Check the calendar in advance of your visit to see if it just might coincide with a plantation hootenanny.

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