Considered one of the prettiest and greenest districts of New Orleans, the Garden District exists on land which was once plantations. When the original plantations were subdivided, expensive homes were built on large parcels of land and surrounded by magnificent gardens, which is how the area got its name. Today you’ll find there’s still a large collection of original architecture in this Historic Landmark District.
The Garden District is a labyrinth of gardens, parks, canals and fountains. The layout is based on the original 1806 design by Barthelemy Lafon, a French architect who lived and worked in New Orleans. It’s dotted with charming shops that were once cottages and small homes. Many of these buildings still retain original 19th-century architecture. The Garden District embraced the Greek revival period of construction in the late 1830s. A good deal of the streets still bear the names of Greek muses.
Visit George Washington Cable House, a national monument on Eighth Street. Washington, an important figure in the history of Louisiana, was a writer who portrayed early Creole life. A little further south, be treated like a VIP at the Commander’s Palace, a celebrated restaurant built in the 1800s. It has a long and impressive history as the restaurant of choice in New Orleans and is now regularly ranked as one of America’s finest.
Shoppers will want to visit Magazine Street, a commercial avenue lined with souvenir shops, antiques halls and gourmet delis. Further north, St. Charles Avenue offers shopping of a different kind, with bed and breakfasts mingling with fashionable boutiques and trundling street cars.
Several public events are staged here during the year and visitors are always welcome. Dress like the undead for the Zombiefest parade every October, or sample the creations at the annual bake-off competition in July for a true taste of Southern hospitality.
The Garden District is a wonderful place for a stroll, and tours complete with information about the historic mansions are available. The neighborhood is accessible by bus or streetcar, and there’s plenty of on-street parking as well.