Explore the rich African-American history found in the Greater Baton Rouge area.
Itinerary for the the Great River Road
Traveling along the Great River Road will take you up into Plantation Country, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Start early because there is plenty to experience on the African American Heritage Trail.
- From New Orleans, head upriver to Evergreen Plantation. This plantation features a virtually intact quarter's complex that includes twenty-two original slave cabins.
- Next stop is the San Francisco Plantation in Garyville. The plantation offers a student program that highlights African-American culture and life.
- Near San Francisco Plantation, in Reserve, is Our Lady of Grace Historic Sanctuary. At one time, it was the only Catholic Church in the area that served African American parishioners exclusively when it was built in the 1930s.
- One of the most intriguing tours along River Road is offered by Laura Plantation and focuses on the white and black Creole families that lived at this place in the nineteenth century.
- Later, head to Donaldsonville to visit the River Road African American Museum, which outlines the history and accomplishments of this unique black community. No other venue in the state offers such a detailed and intimate portrait of African American life in a particular place and time.
- Walk or bike along the levee of the Mississippi River.
- Wrap up your night enjoying dinner and entertainment in downtown Baton Rouge.
Itineraries for Baton Rouge
- Start your day by visiting the Louisiana State Capitol in downtown Baton Rouge. While in the front lobby, see the bust of P. B. S. Pinchback, a larger-than-life figure who became the first African American governor in our nation's history.
- Downtown has plenty to offer a visitor — a variety of museums, the USS Kidd, a Farmer's Market, and entertainment.
- Head up Highway 61 to Port Hudson State Historic Site and Battlefield, site of the first major use of African American troops in combat during the Civil War. Several regiments of the Louisiana Native Guards, locally recruited from ex-slaves and free people of color in the New Orleans area, served in the besieging Union army and participated in the bloody assaults against the Confederate defenses.
- Another state historic site to visit is the Centenary State Historic Site in nearby Jackson. The site focuses on the history of early education in the United States as well as the Civil War, as it was as a Confederate hospital and Union recruiting/training center for freed slaves.
- If time allots, head north to Southern University campus, the largest historically black university.
- Across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, don't miss the West Baton Rouge Museum in Port Allen. The museum is offers tours and educational programs from antebellum slavery period to the Civil Rights era. www.westbatonrouge.net
- Return to Baton Rouge for an overnight stay.
Itinerary for St. Francisville Area
Quaint, small town St. Francisville is not far from Baton Rouge with beautiful scenery and much to explore. Discover even more things to do in St. Francisville.
- Explore Rosedown State Historic Site originally built by the Turnbull Family. Take part in African American influenced cooking demonstrations in the historic kitchen.
- Tour the Audubon State Historic Site / Oakley House, a plantation home where the famous naturalist John James Audubon once worked as a tutor. Take part in African American influenced cooking demonstrations in the historic kitchen and visit two slave cabins for a fuller picture of life during this period.
- One of America's most haunted homes, The Myrtles Plantation, is located in St. Francisville. Take a tour, book a room, and explore the grounds of this legendary home.
Learn more about the African-American Heritage Trail in Louisiana. Or explore more trip ideas and things to do in Baton Rouge area, or the St. Francisville Area. Learn more about the plantations around River Road.