This is precisely what comes to mind when most people think “plantation.” A splendid white house, its porch lined with giant columns, approached by a magnificent quarter-mile drive lined with stately oak trees (the 1839 house has 28 fluted Doric columns to match the 28 trees)—yep, it’s all here. Consequently, this Hollywood honey is the most famous plantation house in Louisiana. It’s also the slickest operation, with hoop-skirted guides and golf carts traversing the blacktopped property.

Oak Alley lay disintegrating until 1914; new owners and restorers were responsible for its National Historic Landmark designation. The tour provides fewer details about the families who lived here than about general plantation life. In 2013 a row of re-created slave quarters was added; they need a few years (or centuries) to feel authentic, but the well-researched displays do a good job of illuminating slave life and the means by which this plantation survived. Our favorite feature (besides the truly impressive row of mighty oaks) may just be the scholarly “Confederate soldier” in the rustic tent out back, who converses with visitors in full character as he polishes his boots or goes about other business of being a soldier (he’s not always here; call ahead to check). A sit-down restaurant and casual cafe are on-site, and you can also stay in one of five pretty, century-old Creole cottages, now bed-and-breakfast rooms.