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A Tricentennial Ode to New Orleans

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Departure Dates

  • Oct 21, 2018 - Oct 25, 2018


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A Tricentennial Ode to New Orleans

New Orleans’ antebellum splendors, gracious interiors, lush private gardens, fascinating people, and enduring legacy of historic preservation take center stage on this custom-designed tour of the South’s grandest historic city, which celebrates its 300th birthday this year. Savor delicious Cajun cooking and stay at the luxury boutique Soniat House, an architectural gem in the heart of the French Quarter. Highlights include a VIP tour through Evergreen Plantation; a visit to a meticulously restored Creole country house; a tour of the Ninth Ward revealing the impact of Hurricane Katrina; and special visits to important historic homes.

Led by longtime National Trust Tours’ study leader John Meffert, a historian and much-loved travel companion, is a long-time proponent of preservation. As former director of the National Trust’s Southern Office, John now serves as a consultant on heritage conservation services in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, where he has also served as the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston preserving the historic resources of the city.

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For more information or with any questions call 888-484-8785 or email

Ship Information

Soniat House was born of a dream. New Orleanians Rodney and Frances Smith have spent years traveling the world for business and for pleasure.  Always in search of the perfect small luxury hotel,  none ever quite hit the mark.  Then in 1982, the opportunity arose for them to acquire a group of adjoining early 19th century French Quarter  homes. They decided to stop searching. They set about the task of creating the hotel they had dreamed of discovering.

The project was undertaken with their keen eye for design and decor, a preference for preservation over renovation, and a desire to seamlessly incorporate modern amenities into the historic structures. Their effort garnered the distinction of being the best restoration for commercial use in the French Quarter in the past 50 years. Each of the 31 accommodations is individually decorated and furnished with carefully selected period antiques. Soniat House has been honored with a feature spread in Architectural Digest, and is one of Fodor’s Choice Top 20 hotels in the world. The many accolades, and guests who return year after year, attest to the Smiths’ success in creating the hotel everyone dreams of discovering.

Please make use of our navigation links to read more about Soniat House, to view photographs of the property, for room descriptions, amenities, rates and availability.

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Laissez les bon temps rouler!- October 21
Independent arrivals at the Soniat House, ideally situated in the heart of the French Quarter.  At 4:00 pm, meet for a lecture by study leader favorite John Meffert on the history, ecology, and personalities of “the Big Easy”. Enjoy an orientation walking tour of the French Quarter, including a visit to the iconic Jackson Square where iron fences, benches, and Parisian-style landscaping remain intact from the original 1851. See the three significant 18th‑century buildings that flank the square: the St. Louis Cathedral; the Cabildo, the former city hall; and the Presbytère. Savor a welcome dinner at one of the French Quarter’s best restaurants. Soniat House (D)

The Soul of the Crescent City – October 22
Begin with a guided tour of the Faubourg Tremé neighborhood, home to the largest pre-Civil war community of free people of color with a rich and vibrant history. See Congo Square, formerly an open-air market where “Creoles of Color” brass and symphonic bands performed, providing a foundation for the birth of jazz.  Learn about the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing recovery efforts during a visit to Ward 9. Meet a collector of Mardi Gras Indian artefacts, and discover “the still vibrant but century-plus-old tradition wherein black New Orleanians create ornate suits and parade the streets.” Following a lunch of local specialties, visit Longue Vue House and Gardens, an opulent 1939 Classical Revival mansion with original furnishings, including a remarkable collection of English and American antiques and furniture. Ellen Biddle Shipman designed the eight acres of manicured formal gardens, which are considered her masterpiece. The evening is at leisure.  Soniat House (B, L)

Cemeteries and Wars – October 23
See why New Orleans is one of the country’s hot spots for preservation with a leisurely expert-led tour of the elegant former City of Lafayette, established by the Americans in the 1830s to rival the Creole-dominated Vieux Carré. Visit the area’s two designated historical districts: the Irish Channel, the working-class riverfront neighborhood where first-generation Irish and German immigrants settled before the Civil War; and the Garden District, where wealthy immigrants from Great Britain and the North came and made their fortunes on cotton. In contrast to the dense development of the French Quarter, gracious suburban villas are set on quarter-square lots, surrounded by lush landscaping. Return to the French Quarter, and enjoy free time or an optional visit to the Hermann-Grima House, a splendid Federal mansion and house museum that accurately depicts the gracious lifestyle enjoyed by prosperous 19th-century Creole families. The museum houses a remarkable American Empire and early Victorian furniture collection. Soniat House (B, L)

Plantations and Art – October 24
Visit the Pitot House Plantation, an 18th-century Creole country home that showcases American and Louisiana antiques from the early 19th century. The house was saved from destruction by the Louisiana Landmarks Society in 1964 and restored to its original splendor. The garden at the Pitot House grows plants traditional to the time period when the house was built. Continue to the New Orleans Museum of Art, the city’s oldest fine arts institution for a guided tour of collection highlights. With more than sixty sculptures spread across five-acres, NOMA’s garden is considered one of the nation’s most important sculpture installations. Return to the French Quarter for an independent afternoon. Bid au revoir to “the Big Easy” at a memorable farewell dinner. Soniat House (B, D)


Farewell New Orleans – October 25
Drive to Evergreen Plantation, one of the South’s most intact historic plantations, with 37 surviving buildings.  Still a working sugarcane plantation, Evergreen is owned by Matilda Stream, who has actively supported a wide range of preservation causes in and around New Orleans. Be dropped off at the New Orleans airport in time to catch flights departing after 2:00 pm. (B)