Escape to Plantation Country
New Orleans has plenty to distract, but nearby plantation country, with its grand homes, period antiques, and oak-lined drives, is worth a detour. Rent a car and head west along the Great River Road. Highlights include Laura Plantation, where a 70-minute tour takes you through the main house, sugarcane fields and plantation gardens as well as the slave quarters, San Francisco
Plantation, a steamboat Gothic home that was the basis for Frances Parkinson Keyes' Steamboat Gothic
, and Oak Alley, a stunning antebellum mansion set on 25 acres. Oak Alley also has 19th century cottages where you can shack up for the night.