St. Francisville, Louisiana
St. Francisville, set on a ridge above the Mississippi River, is a popular stop for the steamboat cruises plying the lower section of the historic river. The town itself is well preserved, as are the many historic plantation estates located just outside of town.
What We Love
Scenic Strolls: With a population of less than 2,000 people, the town is more than manageable on foot. The downtown is protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with lots of activity along Commerce and Ferdinand streets. Check out the historic courthouse, churches, and office buildings before stopping for a lunch of crawfish and cracked crab — all caught not far away from here.
Best Known For
Historic Homes: The immediate area boasts seven antebellum homes that are open to visitors, all near the downtown area. Highlights include the Audubon State Historic Site, which has a plantation house to tour and is also where John James Audubon painted many of his famous bird illustrations. A series of trails lead into the woods and bayous, where you can do some bird watching of your own.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Lovers: The historic homes may be the draw here, but there are also lots of opportunities to explore the nature around them, including hiking and biking along trails and canoeing and kayaking in still water bayous.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Temps Are High: It’s pretty listless and hot in the height of summer, especially when there is no breeze coming inland off the river.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.