Join me on a free self-guided Garden District Walking Tour ... it's the best way to enjoy the prettiest neighborhood in New Orleans!
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New Orleans is one of my favorite cities. In fact, my husband and I got married there.
Obviously, this is a city that holds a lot of meaning for me. And since my husband travels there on business at least once a month, I was able to tag along a few times recently. And of course, I documented it all so I could share it with you!
Today, we're going to explore the beautiful Garden District, a must see neighborhood on any trip to New Orleans.
Garden District Walking Tour
This charming, historic neighborhood is best explored on foot, so I'm going to take you on a Garden District walking tour.
I took approximately eleventy billion photos of all the beautiful houses and mansions (seriously, each one is more beautiful than the next), so let's jump right in!
About the Garden District
Exploring the Garden District is one of the best things to do in New Orleans, especially if you love history and architecture.
The Garden District was originally home to a number of plantations, that were eventually divided up and sold in parcels to wealthy Americans who didn't want to live with the Creoles in the French Quarter. Today, it's home to one of the best-preserved collections of historic mansions in the Southern United States.
When the area was first developed, there were only a couple of houses per block. The houses were surround by large gardens, which is where the district gets it's name. As New Orleans became more urban, these large lots were subdivided. These days, you'll find early 19th-century mansions next to Victorian homes and small shotgun cottages, and the neighborhood is most known for its gorgeous architecture.
The boundaries of the Garden District are St. Charles Avenue to Magazine Street and from Jackson Avenue to Louisiana Avenue. With all those mansions, it's a pretty swanky neighborhood. Some of its more famous residents are Drew Brees, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Eli and Peyton Manning, Trent Reznor, Anne Rice, and Beyonce and Jay Z.
When it comes to New Orleans Garden District attractions, you can't beat checking out all the beautiful homes and mansions! And that's what we're going to focus on in this self-guided Garden District Walking tour.
How to Get to the Garden District
It's easy to get to the Garden District from the French Quarter or the Central Business District, which is where most visitors stay in New Orleans.
The most fun way to get to the Garden District is on the St. Charles Streetcar. If you're starting in the French Quarter, board the streetcar at Carondelet at Canal Street.
It costs $1.25 to ride the St. Charles Streetcar (one way), and you need to have exact change. The streetcar runs along St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District (hence the name), and stops every couple blocks or so.
If you want to follow my New Orleans walking tour exactly, get off the streetcar at Jackson Avenue.
You can also take the #11 Magazine Street bus from the French Quarter or the CBD. It's much quicker than the streetcar, but of course, it doesn't have the same charm! If you do take the bus, get off at Magazine at Jackson Street.
Free Self-Guided Garden District Walking Tour
We are starting this Garden District New Orleans walking tour at the intersection of St. Charles Avenue and Jackson Avenue.
A couple of tips before you get started:
- As you can see, we are going to meander around a bit. You'll start by walking down Jackson Avenue toward Magazine Street, then follow the arrows around the map.
- There is plenty to see off the path of my Garden District self-guided walking tour, and I couldn't cover everything. Most of the homes in this area will stop your breath, historic or not. So if something catches your eye, check it out!
- Don't have enough time to follow this whole Garden District walking tour map? Start at St. Charles and Washington instead, then walk toward Prytania Street. You'll see Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 across the street, and the iconic Commander's Palace restaurant is near by. Check out the cemetery (I'll have a whole post on that soon!), then walk down Prytania Street (where many of the homes on this tour are located) toward Jackson Avenue.
- You can download a copy of this map here and print it out if that helps.
- I've also created a Google map for this free walking tour of the Garden District. It's an interactive version of the map above, and when you click on the blue icons it will tell you the name and address of each home. Don't start your walk without it!
- Plan to spend at least a few hours for this Garden District walking tour. Although if you're anything like me, you could make a day out of it ... especially if you plan on stopping for a meal or two, exploring the cemetery, or shopping on Magazine Street.
- Keep in mind that people live in these homes, so keep a respectful distance (don't go on their lawns, open their gates, etc.).
See that Hotel Indigo right by the start on the map above? That's where we stayed (and the reason we're starting the tour there), and I LOVED it!
I've always stayed in the French Quarter or in the CBD in the past. It was such a nice change of pace to stay in the Garden District which is much quieter, but still within easy reach of the French Quarter ... plus, all this gorgeousness is right outside the door!
So if you see the Hotel Indigo, you know you're in the right spot to start. You'll want to walk down Jackson toward Magazine Street first.
The first stop on our walking tour is St. Mary's Chapel at 1516 Jackson (above), which was built in 1844. It was originally located on Josephine Street near Constance, but it's moved around a bit over the years!
In 1863, this chapel was relocated to St. Joseph Cemetery No. 1 after the dedication of St. Mary's Assumption Church. Then, in 1997 it was relocated to its current site on Jackson Street, replacing the Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel (more on that chapel later) which was established in 1925 and had been located at 2325 Prytania Street.
Check out the inside of this small chapel here.
The next stop on our tour is the Buckner Mansion at 1410 Jackson (below). Fans of American Horror Story: Coven might recognize the exterior of this home as Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, although the show's interior scenes were shot on a sound stage.
The home was built in 1856 by a cotton magnate, and the interior is gorgeous!
You can read about the AHS set and see pics of the current interior here.
Check out this detail on the beautiful cast iron gate that surrounds the mansion.
Trinity Episcopal Church is located across the street on the next block at 1329 Jackson.
The building was consecrated in 1866 ... read all about its interesting history here.
Next up is the lovely Goldsmith-Godschaux House at 1122 Jackson Avenue.
This home was designed by the noted nineteenth century architect Henry Howard in 1859.
It's known for its painted interiors and has more fresco wall decoration and stenciling than probably any other mid-nineteenth century residence in the South.
As you're following this self-guided Garden District walking tour, make sure to keep an eye out for all the pretty details that surround you.
I love checking out the cast iron gates on many of the old homes.
They're so beautiful!
When you get to Magazine Street, take a right.
Magazine Street is full of shops and restaurants ... some of my favorites in the city! It's the perfect place to find a unique gift or souvenir, antiques, clothing, and more., as well as enjoy delicious food.
You'll find most of the shops and restaurants on Magazine between Felicity and Phillip, and then even more in a big stretch between Eighth and Upperline.
I'm planning to share more about Magazine street later. It's one of the best things to do in the Garden District, so make sure to check it out when you're done with the walking tour.
I loved this festive fence I spotted along Magazine Street.
It's always Mardi Gras time to them, I guess!
Follow Magazine Street for two blocks, then make a right on First Street.
You can see where the Garden District gets it's name ... so pretty, right?
I didn't take a picture, but the Payne House at 1134 First Street is where Jefferson Davis (the first and only president of the confederacy) died in 1889.
A little further down the street is the Brevard-Rice House at 1239 First (below).
This Greek Revival home was built in 1857. It was owned by a number of families before being purchased by the novelist Anne Rice and her husband, the poet and painter Stan Rice in 1989.
It is said to be the setting for her Mayfair Witches novels.
Make sure to look down as you walk through the Garden District streets.
One of the unique features you'll see are tile street signs set in the sidewalks.
The nearby Carroll-Crawford House at 1315 First Street is a pink beauty!
It was built in 1869, and its original carriage house is still standing.
The owner was friends with Mark Twain, and he was known for his lavish parties.
I took a peek through the ornate gate at the Carroll-Crawford house.
Can you spot the two dogs on the front steps?
On the corner of First Street and Coliseum, you'll see the Morris Israel House (1331 First).
This beautiful home is know for its Italianate architecture. It was designed by Samuel Jameson who also designed the Carroll-Crawford House.
You can read more about this distinctive home here.
Around the corner is a side entrance to the Morris Israel House ... isn't it the cutest?
Before going down Coliseum for the next leg of our tour, make sure to check out the Pritchard-Pigot House at 1407 First Street.
I didn't get a photo of this home, but you'll recognize it by its stately white columns.
Make a right on Coliseum next.
This street has a row of shotgun houses that are quite the contrast to the surrounding Garden District mansions.
Shotgun houses are one room wide, one story tall, and several rooms deep. It's said that they get their name from the fact that you could shoot a gun through the house without hitting anything.
I could definitely live in one of these cute homes!
Across from this shotgun house you'll see The Manse at 2328 Coliseum.
It's kind of hidden by the trees, but there is a historical marker on the fence so keep any eye out for that.
This home was erected in 1859, then purchased in 1871 by the Prytania Street Presbyterian Church for use as the minister’s residence. An artist noted for designing Rex Carnival parade floats purchased the house from the church in 1947.
When you get to Phillip Street, make a left, then make another left onto Prytania Street.
On the corner of Phillip and Prytania is the Louise S McGeehee School (2343 Prytania) and the Bradish Johnson House (2341 Prytania / below).
This French Second Empire–style mansion was built for sugar planter Bradish Johnson in 1872 at a cost of $100,000 ($1.6-plus million today). Since 1929 it has been the private Louise S. McGehee School for girls.
Across the street, you will see Toby's Corner at 2340 Prytania.
This Greek Revival style home was built in 1838, and it's the oldest house in the Garden District.
The Adam Jones House (below) at 2423 Prytania is next on our Garden District walking tour, and it's one of my favorites!
This home was built in 1896 for John I. Adams, a merchant who purchased the Garden District part of the former plantation of Jacques Francois de Livaudais.
It's just so beautiful surrounded by all those plants and that towering oak tree.
At 2500 Prytania, you'll see the Women's Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association.
This Greek Revival designed home was built in 1859. The mansion, furnishings and art were donated to the Women's Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association in 1965.
You can tour or rent this home for events.
The Gilmour-Parker House (below) is located next door at 1520 Prytania Street.
It was built in 1853 for an English cotton merchant.
Isn't it gorgeous?
One thing you'll notice nearby are these old fashioned horse hitches.
There's a line of them running down the sidewalk.
Across the street at 2523 Prytania is Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel.
It has an interesting history, too. This Greek Revival mansion was built in the mid-1800's, and in 1925 the Redemptorist Fathers bought it and turned it into a Catholic Chapel.
The writer Anne Rice bought the chapel as a home in 1996 and used it for scenes in her book the Violin. Actor Nicolas Cage later lived here from 2005 until 2009, before he was foreclosed upon. It's currently part of the Saint George Episcolpal School.
The cast iron pavilion holding a statue of the Virgin Mary is a remnant of the chapel (below).
The Briggs-Staub House, located at 2605 Prytania (below), is the only neo-Gothic building in the Garden District.
It was built in 1849 for Cuthbert Bullitt. When he refused to pay for it, the home was sold to Charles Briggs, an English insurance broker.
Make a left on Third Street for a quick detour.
You'll see the Walter Grinnan Robinson House at 1415 Third Street (below). This home was built in 1859 in a Greek Revival Italianate style.
It doesn't look it from the photo, but this opulent home has 9 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, including those in a carriage house.The ceilings are 16 feet high. I love the the distinctive curved sides and the vine covered gate.
I don't have a good photo because it was being renovated, but make sure to check out Musson-Bell House at 1331 Third Street, too. You won't be able to miss the unique cast iron railings on both levels of the home.
To keep following this Garden District walking tour, retrace your steps and head back to Prytania Street. Make a left onto Prytania, then walk until you get to Fourth Street and make another left.
At 1448 Fourth Street, you'll see one of the most iconic homes in the Garden District, Colonel Short's Villa, which was built in 1859.
It's a beautiful home featuring cast iron railings on both levels, though it's especially well known for its fence.
The one of a kind fence features a pattern of morning glories and cornstalks, and it's the most famous cast iron work in the Garden District.
There is a romantic story behind the fence! It was purchase by Colonel Short for his wife, who was homesick for her native Iowa.
And guess what? It's your lucky day, because this home is for sale. It can be all yours for a few million.
Are you a fan of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? If so, head a little further down Fourth to 2707 Coliseum Street, the childhood home of Benjamin Button. I don't have a photo, but you can read more about it here.
After you check out that home, turn around and head back to Prytania Street and make a left.
RN Girlings English Apothecary (below) is located at 2726 Prytania. This building housed Robert Nash Girling's Engish Apothecary in the 1880s and 1890s. Girling was instrumental in Louisiana becoming the first state in the nation to license pharmacists. After his death in 1894, the building continued to be used as a pharmacy until the 1950s.
Across the street from the Apothecary is The Rink, a 19th century skating rink that's now a small shopping center. There's a bookstore and coffee shop in there, so it makes a good pit stop.
At 2727 Prytania, next to The Rink, you'll find Claiborne Cottage. I don't have a photo, but this is another home that was owned by novelist Anne Rice.
At the corner of Prytania and Washington, you'll see a wall surrounding Lafayette Cemetery No.1, the Garden District cemetery. We are going to come back to the cemetery later, so keep walking until you get to Eighth Street, then make a left.
Walk down Eighth until you get to the George Washington Cable House at 1313 Eight Street.
This house was built in 1874 and was the home of George Washington Cable, an American author who wrote about Creole life. The cottage was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled, because the house is almost completely hidden by a large hedge!
Continue walking down Eighth Street until you get to Camp, then make a left.
You'll see a number of shotgun houses as you walk down Camp Street.
Aren't they charming?
When you get back to Washington Avenue, make a left.
Keep walking until you spot the Commander's Palace at 1403 Washington ... with its turquoise exterior, it's hard to miss!
Commander's Palace is one of New Orleans' most famous restaurants. It opened in 1893 and has been serving fancy (and expensive!) Creole cuisine ever since.
Across from Commander's Palace is Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
If you've ever wanted to visit a New Orleans cemetery, this Garden District cemetery is the one. It's easy to get to, and there are always lots of other people around so you don't have to worry about safety like you might at some others.
I wrote a whole post about Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 ... make sure to check it out! This is one of my fave NOLA cemeteries, and I shared lots of tips and info about the history and interesting tombs.
After you've checked out the cemetery, keep walking up Washington toward St. Charles, then make a right. We are nearing the end of this Garden District walking tour.
The Alfred Grima House (below) is located at 2701 St. Charles Avenue. It was built in 1857 in the Greek Revival style.
As you make your way back to Jackson Avenue, you will pass a number of distinctive homes along St. Charles Avenue, including the Squires House at 2220 St. Charles (no photo). It's currently home to The House of Broel, a dress shop that opened in 1970.
You made it to the end of my free self-guided Garden District walking tour ... you deserve a cookie!
I hope you enjoyed this fun jaunt around the Garden District.
Let me know if you take this walk. I want to hear all about your favorite houses!
Other Things to Do in New Orleans
Now that you know about the Garden District, you can start planning the rest of your trip.
Start by reading my New Orleans Travel Guide ... it has everything you need to know to plan your trip. Then, check out some of my favorite things to do in NOLA:
- Visit a museum. There are so many amazing museums worth visiting in this historic city. I especially love the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park, the WWII Museum in the Warehouse District, and the quirky Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter.
- Tour a city of the dead. New Orleans is known for its beautiful cemeteries. Take a self-guided walking tour of my favorite, Lafayette No. 1 ... also located in the Garden District.
- Experience Mardi Gras. A trip to NOLA during Mardi Gras is on many bucket lists. But if you're traveling to NOLA at another time of year, you can still enjoy the fun at Mardi Gras World.
- Escape the tourists. It's never not touristy in New Orleans. Need a break from all the people? Take the ferry across the river to quiet, charming Algiers Point.
- Deal with the crazy weather. New Orleans is notorious for its bad weather ... it's often hot and rainy, maybe both! Here's how you can beat the heat in summer and here are the best ways to spend a rainy day.
- Grab a bite to eat. If you're traveling with a vegetarian, this can be a tricky city. Check out my favorite New Orleans vegetarian-friendly restaurants that will please your whole group (veg or not!)
- Save a buck. NOLA can get expensive, but not every activity has to be super pricey. Here are my favorite free things to do in New Orleans.
Have you ever been to the Garden District? What was your favorite part?