VACHERIE, Louisiana - From New Orleans, Laura Plantation is only an hour away by car, but it represents a journey back in time more than 125 years, to a period when sugar cane and slavery were two of the foundations of Creole society.
Every visit to the River Road plantation is guided, and you can take a tour in English or in French. Guides tell the story of Laura -- one of the many strong Creole women who ran this historic home -- along with stories of the many complicated relationships that happened between all the families who lived here, both free and enslaved.
"What we're doing here that's really important is taking our visitors on a walk in the footsteps of four generations of one Louisiana Creole family and really focusing on the Creole aspect of Louisiana, showing why and how Louisiana is such a very different place from the rest of the country," says Joseph Dunn, the man in charge of public relations at Laura Plantation.
The namesake Laura was only 13 years old when the plantation was named for her. She broke tradition, and left the Creole world behind in order to become a modern American woman.
Interesting Fact: Some of the "Br'er Rabbit" tales originated here. The clever rabbit was known as "Compair Lapin" in the Creole world. The fable-like stories teach lessons of life and survival, and were passed down from generation to generation by descendants of the West-African slaves who lived at Laura.
Interpreting the slave experience is a main focus of Laura Plantation. There are authentic slave cabins, and a new exhibit showcases more than two decades of research with compelling wall displays covering such topics as religion, agriculture, slave trade, and the role of slaves during the Civil War. It's called "From the Big House to the Quarters; Slavery on Laura Plantation."
Laura's full name was Laura Locoul Gore, and she wrote her memoirs in the 1930s, finishing them at the age of 74. Her legacy lives on with every visitor who steps into this 19th-century time warp. Interesting Fact: Laura was born in 1861, and she never owned slaves.
Tickets to Laura Plantation are $20 for adults and $6 for kids ages 6 and up.
Lonely Planet Travel named named the guided tour at Laura Plantation "The Best History Tour in the United States."