Top Things to Do in the Garden District
New Orleans’ most prestigious neighborhood, the Garden District, offers a spell-binding stroll through the city’s antebellum past. Boasting some of the city’s loveliest homes and gardens, the district offers a peaceful break from some of the more touristy areas of the city. Behind elaborate wrought iron fences and tidy privet hedges lie magnificent Greek Revival mansions and sprawling raised cottages, built with an eye to hosting magnificent parties, particularly during the high social seasons of Carnival and Christmas. Exquisitely situated in the heart of the Garden District, the Maison St. Charles hotel offers an elegant respite from a busy day of sightseeing, exploring, shopping and dining.
Take a Tour of the Garden District
Though you can easily stroll the streets of this beautiful area of the city on your own, New Orleans Garden District Tour offers intriguing insider information on the history and legends surrounding these sprawling, garden-shrouded homes. Central Coliseum Square is surrounded by especially glorious homes and gardens, many designed by renowned architects including Henry Howard, William Freret and Lewis E. Reynolds. Constructed in the mid-1800s on the former Livaudais Plantation, the district was once a separate city built by wealthy American newcomers not welcome among the Creoles in the French Quarter. Due to snobbery and prejudice, the two cities existed side-by-side yet culturally separate, a phenomenon that is reflected in the vastly different architecture and spirit. The setting for many novels and films, the district has lured literary and celebrity residents including Anne Rice, Truman Capote, Nicholas Cage and Sandra Bullock.
Shop Magazine Street
Offering six miles of outrageous shopping, gentrified Magazine Street is a legend among retail fanatics, lined with colorful vintage shops, intriguing art galleries and boho boutiques. Pick out a one-of-a-kind frock, browse fine and funky jewelry or roam cutting edge design studios. The neighborhood’s commercial center, Magazine Street offers everything from designer duds to old world barber shop shaves. Take a break to savor fine fare in dining establishments ranging from French bistros to sushi spots and Mediterranean restaurants and stay to sample some of the area’s lively pubs and lounges.
Explore Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
One of the city’s major attractions, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is known for its intriguing above ground tombs. In continual use since 1833, the burial ground was once the final resting spot for residents of the Garden District mansions and is considered perhaps the most beautiful cemetery in the city. A popular film location, this “city of the dead” is home to numerous above ground, multiple-burial tombs, typically housing numerous corpses; one lists 37 entombed. Hours are limited, so check before heading over. Save Our Cemeteries runs excellent volunteer-led tours of the cemetery with all donations going toward maintenance and repair of this historic area. Stop in at the iconic Commander’s Palace restaurant after a cemetery stroll and experience the historic restaurant’s legendary Haute Creole cooking.