The fastest roads out from New Orleans toward the west are speedy I-10 and US-61; you can also drive along the River Road, which hugs both banks of the Mississippi all the way to Baton Rouge, seventy miles upriver. It’s not a particularly eventful drive, winding through flat, fertile farmland, but a series of bridges and ferries allows you to crisscross the water, stopping off and touring several restored antebellum plantation homes along the way.

Before the Civil War, these spectacular mansions were the focal points of the vast estates from where wealthy planters – or rather, their slaves – loaded cotton, sugar or indigo onto steamboats berthed virtually at their front doors. The superb Laura plantation excepted, tours, generally led by costumed guides, can skimp on details about the estates as a whole, and in particular their often vast slave populations. The cumulative effect can be overwhelming, so it’s best to pick just one plantation or two.

Though you’d never guess it from the tourist brochures, hulking chemical plants dominate the River Road landscape. There are rural stretches where wide sugar-cane fields are interrupted only by moss-covered shacks – the prettiest views are around the small town of Convent, on the east bank of the – but you’ll more often find yourself driving through straggling communities of boarded-up buildings.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

The many faces of changing Detroit: America's comeback city

In 2013 Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy. But now the city is on the rebound: cool start-ups are filling once-neglec…

23 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate local_activity Special feature
A city in motion: why Detroit should be on your radar

A city in motion: why Detroit should be on your radar

Perhaps no city in history has fallen from such heady heights as Detroit. Through the earlier half of the twentieth century, the city bubbled with industry. Det…

22 May 2018 • Jacqui Agate insert_drive_file Article
King of the road: on the Civil Rights Trail through America’s south

King of the road: on the Civil Rights Trail through America’s south

This year marks 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, and also the launch of a new Civil Rights Trail through the USA's south – a r…

04 Apr 2018 • Ella Buchan local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs