The Deep South used to be a hotbed of plantation activity and the slave trade. White families lived in comfortable quarters in the “Big House” while their African-American slaves toiled for long backbreaking hours working in sugar cane fields, picking cotton and the blue gold, Indigo. Of the few remaining plantations, many have converted to museums and hotels where you’ll often share drafty rooms with unsettling residents who never quite go away… Lo and behold, our list of the best plantations to sleep and play in the Deep South.
Hide your ankles from the ghosts of Nottoway
Nottoway Plantation House, White Castle, Louisiana
The Nottoway Plantation house is the South’s largest remaining Antebellum mansion. Act the part of a Southern Belle in the White Ballroom with an original mirror placed so that girls could see if their ankles or hoops were showing beneath their skirts- a big No-No in those days! Built in 1859, like most plantations, it was once surrounded by sugarcane fields that were worked by the 200 slaves.
All ankle scandal aside, not only can you tour the property, but you also have the opportunity to stay the night and wake up to their Nottoway’s full plantation breakfast.
Tour the vampire stomping grounds of Destrehan Plantation
Destrehan Plantation, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana
If you’re too creeped out by numerous ghostly rumors to spend a night, visit the Destrehan Plantation during the day, lovingly restored to its former sugar gold glory and open for daily tours. The property has also been used in several movies, including 2014 Academy Award Winner 12 Years a Slave as well as Interview with the Vampire. Who knows- Maybe Brad Pitt will be by shooting another movie!
Wait for ghosts with bated breath at the Oak Alley Plantation
Oak Alley, Vacherie, Louisiana
Oak Alley is named after the canopied path of double row oaks, planted in the early 18th century that run alongside the house and the Mississippi River. Expect to see ghosts! There have been many mysterious disturbances over the years on the property, both inside the house, on the porch and among the trees. This is a place to keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready since they sometimes catch what the naked eye doesn’t see.
Sip Mint Juleps in the shade alongside the rich and famous
Monmouth Plantation Historic Inn, Natchez, Mississippi
This National Historic Landmark plantation is set on 26 acres of perfectly manicured gardens. Expect gracious Southern hospitality, wonderful cuisine and wines and period furnishings. Think mint juleps and hors d’oeuvres in the garden alongside famous past guests like the Clinton’s, Alec Baldwin, and Maya Angelou.
Spend the evening and stay the night in the Big House.
Get to know the Nutt’s of Longwood who lived in an unfinished house
Longwood (Nutt’s Folly) Nantchez, Mississippi
You sure haven’t seen an antebellum mansion like this one. This giant octagonal house is only partially completed so expect to see an ornately decorated first floor and completely unfinished upper floors. You might recognize it as the home of Vampire King of Mississippi and Louisiana Russell Edgington from the HBO series True Blood.
Picture growing up on a working plantation at Shirley
Shirley Plantation Charles City County, Virginia
Take the scenic byway of State Route 5 to visit the oldest active plantation in Virginia, the Shirley Plantation. The Upper stories of the house are occupied by members of the eleventh generation of the Hill Carter family, who have lived there since 1738 and still operate one of the oldest family owned businesses in the US. They graciously allow visitors in the first floor rooms to sneak a peak at the house they have called home for over 250 years.
Spend the night in nearby Richmond
See the site of Jefferson’s Affair with his slave at Monticello
Monticello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was home to America’s third president Thomas Jefferson. Originally, it was a sprawling 5,000 acres of tobacco and mixed crops that were labored by slaves whose families had labored there for four generations. A grounds exhibit called Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row at Monticello tells the story of the hundreds of slaves who lived and worked at the plantation. While Jefferson was an advocate for the abolition of slavery, it is curious to see the home where he kept so many of his own slaves although in far more humane conditions than many of his plantation neighbors.
See where to stay near Monticello here
See Spanish Moss and Carolina Gold at Mansfield
Mansfield Plantation, Georgetown, South Carolina
You might recognize this plantation as the backdrop of the classic Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot. Once nearly 1,000 acres of forest, swamps and, “Carolina Gold” rice fields that were the main money-makers for the plantation owners. They perfected the use of tidal water and dykes for irrigation and used African-American slaves to work the expansive fields. Mansfield is said to be the only American plantation saved from development and reclaimed by a direct descendant of the original owners.
Stay in nearby Georgetown