Guide to the Garden District in New Orleans
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This article was updated in February 2020
New Orleans is a vibrant city, and has so much to offer beyond Bourbon Street and boozing. Some people never venture out of the French Quarter, especially if they’re strapped for time, and while we love this neighborhood too, the magic of Nola is found in the whole of the city, in the pockets of flavor and character that extend into its many different neighborhoods. One of our favorites is the Garden District.
We decided to visit the Garden District one morning before an afternoon tour in the French Quarter, and took the St. Charles streetcar to get there. I highly recommend taking the streetcar as it’s fun, inexpensive and a quintessential New Orleans thing to do. You can also take the Hop-on-Hop-off bus through the Garden District, where there is a stop. But either way, make sure you leave enough time to walk around.
The Garden District is where you find all the stately, antebellum mansions, many of them in Greek Revival and Victorian styles, and with spacious gardens and courtyards. It’s a totally different part of Nola, and walking around the neighborhood makes you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time in southern history. To give a sense of the history, the Garden District was built in 1832 after the Louisiana Purchase, as a place for wealthy Americans to live away from the European French Quarter. These Americans hired leading architects of the time to build large homes on large plots of land, with lush, green gardens – hence the name the Garden District.
If you want to experience southern charm in all its glory, a trip through the Garden District is a must. Wander the residential streets and feast upon the architectural jewels and landscape of this picturesque neighborhood. Admire homes one after the next, tree- lined streets that look out of the movies, a setting that reminds you of the Secret Garden. All the charming front porches with rocking chairs will make you want to climb up with a glass of iced-tea and rock the time away watching passer-by’s.
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Walking around the Garden District may feel like you’ve stepped back in time to an American grandeur from long ago, yet there is also a hip freshness to it reminiscent of a Brooklyn. Magazine Street, the main commercial street, is full of artsy boutiques, antique stores, old-school barbour shops and funky restaurants. Mardi Gras beads can bee seen hanging from the balconies and trees, a reminder that we are in current Nola, and the party doesn’t stop at the French Quarter! Also, on a side-note, we walked by Beyonce and J-Z’s house – a converted church – adding to that feel of pop-culture meets antebellum times. My daughter LOVED that we saw Queen B’s house!
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On Magazine Street we came across so many cool and delicious looking restaurants, it would have been hard to know where to go. Which is why I was so glad to have bumped into my blogging friend Hilary from Hilarystyleme ! We’ve been following each other for some time now, but me being from New York and she from L.A., had never met. When we discovered we were going to be in Nola at the same time we made plans to meet up, which we had two nights prior. I wasn’t sure if we’d see each other again on this trip. So it was serendipitous that we happened to bump into each other in the Garden District, at the Lafayette Cemetery (the oldest cemetery in New Orleans) of all places! Our families were both on our way to lunch, so we all joined together and had a delicious meal at Dat Dog. Her kids proclaimed favorite, it was very good! I loved all the bright colors of the restaurant too, and the relaxed, mellow vibe. Indeed we could have been in Brooklyn. Or perhaps Hilary would say Venice Beach.
There are quite a few restaurants and pubs on Magazine street, all with their own fun-loving décor. Next to the cemetery is Commander’s Palace, a Nola institution, with a classic southern menu, white linens and the nicest wait staff I’ve ever come across. Note you need to make reservations weeks in advance. Hilary has great ideas of where to eat in Nola, Commander’s Palace being one of them, as well as great tips for where to go and what to do, so make sure to check out her site.
We loved everything about the Garden District. For a relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon, head to this beautiful, stately, yet ever so funky neighborhood and walk around at leisure and take it all in. For us, it was just as an important part of our trip as the French Quarter was. So, what does Beyonce’s house look like? See below!
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A front porch with a rocking chair – the dream!!! I love the Garden District and it so nice to revisit with you Corey. How fantastic you got to see Beyonce’s house too – and meet up with Hilary!
Thanks Joy – yes, lots of fun things going on in the Garden District!
Meeting up with you was a true highlight of my trip! Hoping we can make it happen again soon!
Corey, I love this post, and not just because you’ve so graciously mentioned me, but because your words really give feeling to just how amazing a place NOLA really is! Fantastic! #farawayfiles
Aw thanks so much! I take that as a great compliment coming from you :)).
The faded beauty of the buildings in the Garden District are one of the major reasons I want to go to New Orleans. It would be such a lovely bonus to bump into you two gorgeous ladies too! Thanks for joining #FarawayFiles
Perhaps we need to plan a meet up there – you can count on Hilary and I showing up!
Look at that architecture #farawayfiles
New Orleans is on my bucket list. I’ll be sure to make time to visit the Garden District while we’re there. #citytripping
Nola is the best – hope you make it some day!
I love seeing a bit beyond Bourbon Street and definitely need to go back and explore more slowly lovely New Orleans. I LOVE that you got to meet Hilary there – so fun! Thanks for sharing with the #FarawayFiles community – cheers, Erin
So fun. x
This post has been sat in my inbox waiting for me to read as we’d really love to visit this area so I’m glad I finally got a read. Your pictures are fab and it’s sparked even more of a desire to visit now, hopefully next year. And how lovely you got to meet Hillary – it’s always great to meet people in the flesh after knowing them online for so long. A bit strange sometimes #citytripping
So true Alex! Can be strange sometimes to know so much about a person online without ever meeting them!
So charmed by this place! I would not miss it if I visit New Orleans. I am so into these elegant, historic areas. So cool you were able to meet Hilary. And, so cool the are has a hip and modern feeling. #TheWeeklyPostcard
Yes, it was so much fun meeting Hilary!
I visited the Garden District as a kid, need to go again as an adult, I know I would appreciate it more. So nice you got to meet Hilary and see Beyonces house! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Yeah you would really appreciate it now. One of my favorite parts of Nola!
So awesome that you and Hilary got to meet up! How awesome that you got to see Beyonce’s house. Pinned for later as we hope to go to NOLA one day! I’ve yet to go! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
You will love it when you eventually go – not if, but when!!
We just returned from New Orleans last week and enjoyed a walk around the Garden District one evening before dinner. Such a nice, quiet contrast to other parts of the city, and beautiful houses, of course! #theweeklypostcard
So nice! Isn’t it the best?! Hope you had a great trip :).
We completely agree – Going to New Orleans and not seeing the city beyond the French Quarter is a huge mistake, and the Garden District is tops in our book! All of the history, beautiful architecture, great food, and overall “coolness” makes it one of our favorite places to spend a day in NoLA. So cool that you bumped into Hilary, too! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!
Thank you! Next time I’d love to rent bikes and cruise around the Garden District on wheels..so much to see!