New Orleans is one of my favorite places in the world. If the summers weren’t so horribly hot, I would have absolutely zero reservations about moving down there right this minute. Seriously, even the hurricanes wouldn’t be a deal breaker, I live in Ohio, we get tornados, and hurricanes are just giant, wet tornados, right!? But, I digress. Point is, I love New Orleans with every fiber of my being. Which is why my family can regularly be found spending our spring breaks in New Orleans, and this year was no different. Come Easter Sunday, we were driving to Indianapolis to catch an early morning flight to New Orleans on Monday morning.
We love the French Quarter, and the Garden District, and the food, and the shopping, and the people, so we regularly don’t make it out of New Orleans proper. This time however, we took a day (and a very long drive) and made our way out of the city to Old River Road where the old plantations are. A lot of the true, southern plantations didn’t survive the carpetbaggers and horrors following the Civil War (yes, I said horrors, I’m a firm believer that the utter crippling of the South following the Civil War was most uncalled for and rude, but thats just me). One of the gorgeous plantations that did survive is Oak Alley.
Oak Alley Plantation is probably one of the most recognizable plantation houses in American history (though Tara from Gone with the Wind is a definite contender, even if it is fictional). Oak Alley, has a literal “oak alley”, which was planted in the mid 1700s by an unknown person for unknown reasons, but thanks God they did! The combination of the towering, ancient trees, the gorgeous Greek Revival architecture, the gardens, and the immense history of the place is truly breathtaking.
Oak Alley is truly a Nation Treasure, and anyone who is able should make the trek to see this amazing piece of land. The history of the land and families involved with this home are far too much to go into here, and not truly my story to tell anyway. While I was enraptured by the Oaks, garden, house; there is so much more history to experience here. Aside from the Civil War General on site, there are also reconstructed slave shanties and an extensive exhibit on slavery at Oak Alley and in New Orleans. The tour guides in the house are very knowledgable and passionate about the story of this enchanting place.
When you’re at Oak Alley Plantation, time seems to slip away. You feel as though around every corner you will find a ghost of the past. A gaggle of beautiful southern belles blushing as they sweep by. A handsome gentleman tips his hat to you as he passes. Young children streak by, evading their mammy. The distant sound of men singing as they work the fields. The metallic clang of a dinner bell. Visions of lavish parties and distinguished guests spinning in time to soft music…..
I truly urge you, if you’re ever in New Orleans, enjoy the drive and visit this beautiful place. You’ll be glad you did.