A Complete Oak Alley Visitor Guide – A Stunning Louisiana Plantation

After her own visit to the stunning Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana, Travelista’s Editor Jessica Ruth Gibson has put together this compressive visitor’s Oak Alley Guide.

Before we get started, let me say a few words. Before visiting Louisiana, I knew I wanted to include at least one sugar plantation and historic house on my itinerary. I was advised by Explore Louisiana to include Oak Alley on my 12 day itinerary, as well as the equally spectacular Houmas House – and I have no regrets. A visit to Oak Alley is a captivating experience that really brings to life the rich history of the antebellum south, as well as North America’s slave trade and Civil Rights Movement. I will never forget the jarring feeling of being in a place of such spectacular beauty but also such historic inhumanity, all at once. It’s a fascinating place and one of the very best things to do in Louisiana. Read on for my complete Oak Alley Guide.

Oak Alley Guide Louisiana Plantation

This article has been created in partnership with Explore Louisiana and is based on my own experience in Louisiana.

Jump Menu

Introducing Oak Alley
Planning Your Visit 
Main Points of Interest at Oak Alley
Food and Drink at Oak Alley
Accommodation and Short Breaks at Oak Alley 
Oak Alley Day Tours from New Orleans

A Complete Oak Alley Guide

Introducing Oak Alley 

Oak Alley Plantation is a historic sugar cane plantation on the banks of the Mississippi River (otherwise known as the Great River Road), in the River Parishes of Louisiana. It’s arguably the most famous and most photographed plantation in Louisiana and is specifically located in the community of Vacherie – 54 miles from New Orleans (approximately a 1 hour’s drive). Dating back to 1839, the plantation gets its name from a stunning avenue of  28 huge oak trees that frame a unique 240 pathway to the main house. These live oaks were planted in the 18th century and can be recognised in many various films including Interview with The Vampire (1994). 

Oak Alley Foundation respectfully exhibits the history and stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked on the estate, directly contributing to the soaring wealth and prosperity of this sugar cane plantation. Ticket prices for Oak Alley (with a guided tour of the Big House) costs $27.79 per adult. 

Oak Alley is open daily from 8:30 am-5:00 pm. Guided tours for the ‘Big House’ are offered daily from 9:00 am-4:30pm. The time for these tours are assigned when tickets are purchased.

Insider Tip: Come as early as you can in the day to avoid the afternoon crowds.

Planning Your Visit 

Tickets for Oak Alley Plantation can be booked in advance and it’s advised that you should arrive 30 minutes prior to your selected time. Head straight to the ticket booth next to the main car park.  Oak Alley is a ‘self guided’ visitor experience, apart from when you visit the ‘Big House’, during which time you will join one of the guided tours that take place every 15 minutes throughout the day. Pets and dogs are not allowed on the site apart from guide dogs. You would need a minimum of 2 hours to explore everything there is to see at Oak Alley, but if you wanted to factor in a lunch stop in the restaurant and a slow pace, you could spend around 4 hours or more at this historic site. 

Main Points of Interest at Oak Alley

The Grounds 

The expansive grounds of Oak Alley, with all its nooks and crannies, are best explored in your own time. Don’t miss the East and West Gardens which are the formal gardens of the estate, with manicured lawns and pastures. 

The “Big House” Plantation Mansion

The mansion house of every plantation was most common called the ‘Big House’. These houses are made to look even bigger in comparison to the nearby enslaved dwellings and other outbuildings. The house was designed with grandeur in mind, to impress any guests or business people who may visit the estate. A knowledgable Oak Alley guide will take you, along with a small group of visitors, through all the key rooms of the house and share their rich history. The plantation house itself is incredibly well preserved with many original features and antebellum period furniture still adorning the opulent rooms. It’s worth nothing that the second floor is only accessible by stairs. As part of the Oak Alley house tour, you also get the opportunity to visit the kitchens where the enslaved house staff would prepare and cater for the family in residence. 

The Slavery at Oak Alley Exhibit 

The dedicated Slavery Exhibit is what, I feel, sets Oak Alley apart from other plantations in Louisiana’s River Parishes. This respectful and informative public exhibition honours the lives of the enslaved people that once lived and worked at Oak Alley. Their stories are told through a series of replica shack-like outbuildings which they once called home. Real artefacts such as shackles and tools are on display as well as mock-ups of their very basic living conditions. It also covers their emancipation and how some enslaved people became employed labourers who continued to live in the slave quarters until the 20th century. 

This exhibit provides a stark contrast to the grandeur and luxury of the ‘big house’ and the unique juxtaposition falls in to place. 

Oak Alley Guide Slavery Exhibition

The Sugar Cane Theatre 

At the Sugar Cane theatre you can learn how sugarcane was grown, harvested and processed. Its a good idea to visit this exhibit before your guided tour of the ‘Big House’ as there at lots of stories about the plantation as well as the intrinsic part that slavery played in creating the plantation and wealth to build the mansion house itself. 

The People of Oak Alley Exhibit

Don’t miss The People of Oak Alley Exhibit, which tells the full timeline from the first owners in 1866 to the last resident owners who purchased the property in 1925.

The Blacksmith Shop 

Many sugarcane plantations in Louisiana had their own forge for a working blacksmith who created a large mount of metalwork for use around the estate. This replica gives you an idea of how the Blacksmith Shop would have looked. 

Food and Drink at Oak Alley

Day visitors are well catered for at Oak Alley Restaurant which is open daily for breakfast and lunch. The menu offers Cajun and Creole dishes such as Crawfish Étouffée over Fried Catfish, Gumbo and a Vacherie Burger. 

“As we were overnight guests, My friend and I ate at the Oak Alley Restaurant for breakfast during our stay and we enjoyed a traditional Southern breakfast with eggs, bacon, grits, potatoes and beignets. It was my first time trying grits and I loved trying this traditional Southern breakfast in such a memorable setting.”

Jessica ruth gibson
Oak Alley Restaurant Southern Breakfast with Grits and Beignets

Accommodation and Short Breaks at Oak Alley 

Visitors to Oak Alley can choose to extend their stay by booking overnight accommodation at The Oak Alley Plantation Inn . The Inn itself offers a collection of cosy cottages across the grounds of Oak Alley Plantation. Each cottage is comfortably furnished with all modern amenities including a fridge, microwave, cooking utensils, coffee maker, hairdryer, iron and ironing board. With cottages feel like a true home-from-home. 

Another benefit of staying at the Oak Alley Inn is that guests can access the grounds out of official opening hours, meaning they can enjoy late eerie night strolls or a peaceful early morning walk through the stunning grounds and gardens. It’s a great way to photograph the alley of Oak trees without a single person in shot. 

“We stayed one night at the Oak Alley Inn and our incredibly spacious cottage offered a large open-plan living and dining area as well as two bedrooms and two bathrooms. As we arrived late at night, the inn arranged for a pre-prepared meal of Gumbo, rice, salad and cheesecake to be left in the fridge of our cottage so we could heat it up and enjoy when we got there. This was added such a convenient and homely touch to our stay.

I remember reading in the visitors book in our cottage that many guests like to walk through the grounds at night with flash lights / torches to look for ghostly figures and goings on. It seems this has become quite a popular phenomena with Oak Alley guests, but I can’t guarantee what you may or may not see. What I can say is that there were a number of unexplained noises in our cottage throughout the night, which led me to wonder whether some of the cottages, including ours, could potentially be haunted.”

jessica ruth gibson

Check in for the cottages is from 3pm and check out is 11am or 12pm with a Do Not Disturb Package.

However you choose to visit Oak Alley plantation, I hope this Oak Alley guide has provided you with a better understanding of what to expect at this world-famous historical site and on one of the most magnificent plantation tours in the United States. Other top plantations in the area include The Whitney Plantation and Houmas House

Oak Alley Day Tours from New Orleans  

If you’re visiting Oak Alley from New Orleans, there are plenty of full day tours from New Orleans which include transportation from your hotel or a pick up point. This means you can still visit Oak Alley without the need of a hire car and some even include additional activities such as a swamp tour. Here are our top picks for day tours to Oak Alley from New Orleans.

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Useful Links

Check out this Day Trip Itinerary for Louisiana’s River Parishes by Explore Louisiana 

Find out more about the history of Oak Alley Plantation 

Read More

I visited Oak Alley as part of a 12 day trip to Louisiana with Explore Louisiana

If you’re interested in visiting Oak Alley whilst exploring the wider state of Louisiana, be sure to read our following articles;

The Very Best 10 Day Louisiana Itinerary – 4 Stops 

The Ultimate 18 Day Deep South Road Trip Itinerary 

How to Spend 48 Hours in New Orleans 

Jessica Ruth Gibson is the Founder and Editor of Travelista and an award-winning travel content creator of 10 years. She lives in York, UK with her son and has travelled to over 50 countries; her favourites being Italy, Canada and Vietnam.

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