A plantation-house bus tour is a stress-free way to visit the River Road region from New Orleans (someone else deals with planning and transportation), though most of the tours visit only one or two of the houses described below. In general, tour guides are well informed, and the buses are an easy, comfortable way to get around in unfamiliar territory. Almost every New Orleans tour company operates a River Road plantation tour.
The 4 1/2-hour tours offered by Gray Line (tel. 800/535-7786 or 504/569-1401; www.graylineneworleans.com) are a reliable choice, visiting either Oak Alley or Laura Plantation, and prices include admission and transportation from Toulouse Street at the Mississippi River in the French Quarter. Tours depart around noon for Oak Alley on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and for Laura on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Exact times vary during the year, so call ahead. The price is $52 for adults and $26 for children 6 to 12.
If you prefer a smaller group, Tours by Isabelle (tel. 888/223-2093 or 504/398-0365; www.toursbyisabelle.com) takes up to 13 people in a comfortable van on an 8-hour expedition to Oak Alley and Laura Plantations, plus a bayou tour. The $146 cost includes lunch at Oak Alley's restaurant; for $180 the swamp tour is done via speedy airboat. The tour runs only when six or more people request it, so you might have to wait a day or two for a large enough group. Isabelle offers many other tour permutations, including an All Day Plantation tour, from 8am to 5pm, and visits Destrehan, San Francisco, and Houmas House, where one can purchase lunch. The cost is $125.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.