19th-Century Plantation Mansion Overlooking the Mississippi River
In 1849, wealthy sugar-cane planter John Hampden Randolph enlisted a renowned New Orleans architect to build him "the finest house on the river." Ten years later, his dream was realized with the completion of Nottoway Plantation, a 64-room Italianate mansion with towering pillars, hand-carved marble fireplaces, and a private bowling alley set on the banks of Mississippi River. Most plantations in the area were wiped out during the Civil War two years later, but Nottoway survived to become the largest remaining plantation in the South and, after a $14 million restoration, a luxury bed and breakfast.
The white mansion sits on a 37-acre estate dotted with iris ponds and century-old oak trees. Inside, antique furnishings and gold-framed paintings adorn grand public rooms; Mr. Randolph was especially fond of the White Ballroom, where he hosted five of his daughters' weddings and regular oat-eating competitions. The room's hand-carved Corinthian columns, crystal chandeliers, and elaborate plasterwork also caught the eye of Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick, who unsuccessfully requested permission to film the movie at the estate. During a complimentary tour of the mansion and grounds, you'll glimpse other artisan details, such as hand-painted porcelain doorknobs, and learn about the plantation's history at the onsite museum.
Individually decorated guest rooms and cottages are scattered among the estate's five buildings. Room 3, located in the Boy's Wing, where the Randolph boys lived with their servants and tutors, features a Victorian wooden bed and a red-brick fireplace. Rooms 9 and 10 in the Overseer's Cottage share a sitting area and a veranda overlooking the iris pond. After settling in, grab a table on the glassed-in rotunda at The Mansion Restaurant, which was converted from the children's old bowling alley and serves classic Louisiana cuisine and a complimentary breakfast buffet of Southern staples, such as homestyle grits and spicy sausage.
Plantation Country, Louisiana: Riverside Antebellum Homes Outside of New Orleans
White Castle is located about 90 minutes west of New Orleans, in the heart of Louisiana's Plantation Country. The historic region, which stretches along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, is famous for its beautiful antebellum homes, which were built here during the prosperous decades leading up to the Civil War. While most have fallen as a result of war, fire, or neglect, a handful of the 19th-century estates remain, and some of the most impressive can be found on River Road.
A drive along this fabled winding corridor reveals traditional white-pillared homes draped in spanish moss, and eclectic creole homes painted in shades of yellow, green, and red. Many of these properties are open for tours, in which you can glimpse stunning antique collections and tractors with chrome rims. For a more adventurous afternoon, hop on one of the local tour companies’ swamp boats to get a closer look at the wildlife of the bayou.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.