The Good Life: Plantation Country
Afton Villa Gardens
Plantation Country takes its name from the gracious estates built by Louisiana’s cotton and sugar planters. Many of these mansions still remain; they and the slave cabins around them together paint a picture of what life was like in bygone times.
But this region of southeastern Louisiana is much more than a history lesson. Its cities and towns are home to cutting-edge medical facilities, lots of places to enjoy the outdoors and a wide variety of neighborhoods from which to choose. People who retire in Plantation Country will find a friendly welcome and plenty to do.
History comes alive when you tour Plantation Country’s beautiful antebellum treasures, many of which lie along the scenic River Road. Houmas House, Oak Alley, Nottoway, The Myrtles – each one has a story to tell. Some of the plantations are house museums while others have been converted to bed-and-breakfast inns. Many have restored their outbuildings, so visitors can see what it was like to be a worker on one of these estates. Some of these homes have elaborate holiday celebrations, with special meals and activities.
In Donaldsonville, the River Road African American Museum and Gallery tells the story of the African Americans who lived along the Mississippi River.
At the Audubon State Historic Site in St. Francisville, you can see Oakley Plantation, the home where famed artist John James Audubon once sketched. Admission to state historic sites is free for those 62 and older.
Baton Rouge Highlights
Plantation Country is home to Louisiana’s capital city, and there you will find many historic sites, such as the restored Old State Capitol, which has a political museum. Louisiana State University and Southern University bring many exciting athletic matchups to town, along with the cultural activities prevalent on college campuses. You can learn about Louisiana’s agrarian past at the LSU Rural Life Museum or take in a show at the Shaw Center for the Arts, a multiuse museum and theater complex.
If you’ve got grandkids to entertain, head on over to Blue Bayou Water Park and the adjacent Dixie Landin’ Amusement Park. Each year from May to Labor Day, the young (and young-at-heart) can thrill to water slides and roller coasters.
You can find all the shopping you want at the Mall of the Americas in Baton Rouge. If medical care is needed, you don’t have to go far; the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center delivers the most up-to-date treatment close to home.
Enjoying the Outdoors
Plantation Country offers its residents many ways to enjoy Louisiana’s moderate weather. At Tickfaw State Park, a mile of boardwalks connects trails that go through swamps and forests; you can even hike at night. Cabins are available for rental. Other outdoor spots include the Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area, northwest of St. Francisville, where you can go hunting, fishing, bird-watching, hiking or biking – or simply take pictures of the varied wildlife.
If golf is your game, consider Carter Plantation, a resort in Springfield with a David Toms golf course and a fine restaurant.
Lovely Small Towns
Life is gracious in Plantation Country’s small towns. One of the loveliest is St. Francisville, with a historic district that includes churches, cemeteries and inviting antiques and gift shops. You can relax in a B&B or enjoy Louisiana cuisine in a café. You won’t want to miss Afton Villa Gardens, with its 250 acres of flowers. Another popular destination, New Roads, lies along the False River, where fishing is the thing.
Because it encompasses such a wide variety of hometowns, Plantation Country also provides just about any neighborhood a retiree could want, from easy-maintenance new subdivisions and town houses to lots of older homes for those who desire their own piece of history. Plan a visit to this unique area of Louisiana, and you’ll see why so many people decide to make Plantation Country their retirement choice.