Some of the most impressive and oft-photographed antebellum houses in the U.S. are in Louisiana. Especially noteworthy are those in the area around St. Francisville, north of Baton Rouge. Several of them offer dining and accommodations—we can't think of a better treat than to spend a night in one of these palaces.
A good first stop is at St. Francisville's West Feliciana Historical Society, a combination museum and information center. The surrounding area has such landmark plantations as the Cottage (on Highway 61), which has a well-preserved main house and some of the original dependencies, including the plantation school.
At the junction of Highways 10 and 61, just northeast of St. Francisville, is Rosedown Plantation, a magnificent estate with centuries-old oaks and gardens teeming with azaleas and camellias. The mansion still has its original furnishings. If you can see no other, do not miss Rosedown. Just a few miles/kilometers north, Greenwood is a vision of the Old South with 28 columns—the perfect setting for a romantic stroll. The ornate house and sprawling grounds of a similarly named plantation (Butler Greenwood) have been owned by a single family for eight generations, a rarity in the post-Reconstruction South.
The Myrtles, north of St. Francisville, grew from a cottage to a grand antebellum mansion. It is now reportedly haunted by many ghosts. Ornithologist and artist John James Audubon worked as a tutor at Oakley Plantation, south of St. Francisville in the Audubon State Historic Site. The mansion there was built in the West Indian style. There's an annual Audubon Pilgrimage in early spring that includes a tour of several homes and gardens in the area.
Twenty mi/32 km up the beautiful and scenic Tunica Trace is the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. There's a fascinating museum at the entrance, and every weekend in October, thousands of visitors head to the notorious prison for the Angola Prison Rodeo, one of the wildest events in the South. 90 mi/145 km northwest of New Orleans.
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