On my first-ever road trip through the Southern USA with my friend Matt of Nomadic Matt, I was able to see and do so many incredible things. Some of my favorite experiences were Mardi Gras in New Orleans, chowing down on BBQ in Memphis and watching the sunset over the Mississippi River in Mississippi!
We visited quite a few plantations and Antebellum style homes in Mississippi, but I was most excited to visit Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana.
Interesting Facts about Oak Alley Plantation
Built in 1839, Oak Alley was originally established to grow sugar cane.
Oak Alley is named after its distinguishing feature, an alley or canopied path created by a double row of live oak trees about 800 feet (240 meters) long, planted in the early 18th century – long before the present house was built. (source)
Oak Alley kept a detailed history of slavery on the property. From the early 1800s through emancipation, nearly 200 enslaved people lived and worked on the plantation.
The plantation has been featured in many movies and music videos including Interview with The Vampire, Django Unchained and Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu” music video.
The Mansion and Grounds of Oak Alley Plantation
Upon arriving, I was completely awestruck by the fantasy-like setting the oaks created at the entrance of the property. I’d seen plenty of photos of Oak Alley, but it was even more grand in person.
We took a tour of the big house and learned about the history of the plantation as well as the families that once ran the estate, including the slaves. While slavery is always a dark piece of American history to discuss, Oak Alley features one of the best exhibitions on plantation slavery of any historical Antebellum home I visited in the south.
The 28 oak trees that line the pathway to the plantation are around 300 years old. While the owners of the plantation died long ago from tuberculosis and other diseases of the time, the oaks are still very much alive and stand strong.
As the saying goes, “if these trees could talk!”
Staying at Oak Alley Plantation
When I was initially researching my visit to Oak Alley, I discovered you could stay on the property! You can’t stay inside the mansion, but there are multiple guest houses on the property.
Upon arriving, we were greeted with an ice-cold glass of fresh squeezed lemonade ( LOVE that Southern hospitality! ) and shown to our guest house. The little house was within walking distance of the mansion and featured a cozy living area, kitchen, two bathrooms and two rooms complete with Tempur-Pedic mattresses.
One of the biggest bonuses of getting to stay as a guest at Oak Alley, is that you are allowed to walk around the property before and after public visiting hours. So, for photograph obsessed travelers (like yours truly), it means you get the whole place to yourself.
Helpful Tip: Even if you aren’t staying overnight at Oak Alley, I highly suggest arriving before the property opens to the public so you can be the first one through the gate to great photos. The tours are packed so, by midday, all of your photos will be crowded with other visitors.
I explored the property at sunset after all other visitors were long gone and got up early the following morning to catch the sunrise and get some shots of the mansion and oaks with beautiful lighting. It was a dream come true!
Note: Big House tours are not included in your stay and are sold separately
Dining at Oak Alley Plantation
While you might not expect world-class dining at a national historic landmark, Oak Alley features a full restaurant, cafe and even a small bar where you can get a Mint Julep. Yes please!
Before checking into our room, we enjoyed lunch at the restaurant where I ordered crawfish étouffée with fried catfish. It was my first time trying crawfish étouffée and I was blown away. SO YUMMY!
Breakfast was included in our stay where I ordered a crawfish étouffée omelette that was exceptionally delicious. While I didn’t save space for dessert after either meal, I did hear that their praline cheesecake is to die for!
In My Opinion
Whether you stop by for a Mint Julep and a tour of the property and big house or plan to stay overnight at Oak Alley, it will be an experience you won’t soon forget. Staying at Oak Alley Plantation was one of the biggest highlights of my trip through the south and I highly recommend adding it to your itinerary if you are traveling through the region!
Hotel: Oak Alley Plantation
Location: Vacherie, Louisiana
Accommodation: Historic, Boutique
Price Range: $$
Big House Tour: $20 for adults (19 years old+)
Special thanks to Oak Alley Plantation for hosting me as their guest. As always, the content & opinions expressed here are entirely my own.