Self Guided Garden District Tour | Things to See
Many people come to New Orleans and never get out of the French Quarter, what a shame! A lovely afternoon can be spent exploring the uptown neighborhood known as the Garden District. Below is our guide to touring around the Garden District on your own, as well as suggestions for food, accommodation, and more in the area! Be sure to check out our full list of self-guided tours of New Orleans. Click here to view this tour as a PDF to download to your smartphone.
Why go on your own when you could join us on our guided tour of the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery?
To begin your journey you may want to buy an all day “Jazzy Pass” to take the St. Charles Streetcar from Canal Street to Washington Ave. Press the link to find the best location to buy them. Be sure to read our blog post on getting to the Garden District from the French Quarter.
Before paying upfront for a tour, be sure to check out our pay-what-you-wish Garden District Tour
While on your journey to the outskirts of town you will pass through the first of the “American Neighborhoods”. Known today as the Central Business District ,it was the first neighborhood for the American prospectors arriving in town shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Many of the properties in this area date back to the 1820’s. You will then pass around Lee’s Circle, The General of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Stick your head out the car, can you see him up there?
Shortly after Lee’s circle you will come to Washington Ave. The conductor will call out the street name. You will also know to get off because many people will be exiting excitedly. Use this link for directions to the starting point.
Click the map to enlarge
A Jaunt among the Gardens
You have a choice as to how you begin your tour. If you would like to begin with lunch and then walk it off, get off the car and walk two small blocks south to the corner of 6th and St. Charles Ave.
The quintessential New Orleans deli you will get a local experience of ordering a Po’Boy. A Po’boy is New Orleans version of a Hoagie, or Sub. Made most often with Leidenheimer French Bread delivered fresh daily, you will want to order the Roast Beef, and when they ask, “You want that dressed, baby?” You say, “Yes!” This means a Roast Beef Sandwich with debris with lettuce mayonnaise tomato pickle. Grab the whole paper towel roll you will need it! Good accompaniments are Zapps Potato Chips and a Barqs in a bottle. Afterwards head back to Washington Ave and turn Right.
If you arrive early to see the area get off the streetcar and walk one block left. At that corner you will see a mustard colored building called THE RINK. Built in 1884 in preparations for the World’s Fair that year in New Orleans as an Ice skating rink you can go inside today and check out the Garden District Book shop, as well as Still Perkin Cafe for a quick pastry and coffee. Try the Cafe’ Au Lait, or a Chicory Coffee. As you exit the coffee shop you will see Lafayette #1’s white Cemetery wall. Continue to walk east on Washington Ave.
3. Lafayette #1 Cemetery
The cemetery entrance is in the middle of Washington Ave. Lafayette Cemetery was established in 1833.• This municipal Cemetery is the 3rd oldest still standing cemetery today. Do to no affiliation with the Catholic Church there are over 27 different nationalities interred in the cemetery today. Due to Southeast Louisiana’s high mortality rate the cemetery’s structures were erected at break neck speed. As you walk down the center aisle to the right 4 tombs in you will see a grave for Sercy, Mary Love and Edwin children all passing away within 24 hours of each other. You begin to realize how death helped to mold the way of life in the region. You will notice the above ground tombs that are so popular in New Orleans. Done for practicality as well as tradition you see them in abundance. Embalming was not used predominantly in North America until after the American Civil War. When the deceased were placed inside of the tombs without embalming it was realized the tombs were like ovens and the disintegration process would be accelerated. For that reason you can find tombs with up to 35 family members inside. The stand out tombs include the Jefferson Fire Companies Benevolent Tomb in the center aisle as well as the Orphan Boy’s tomb to the left of that. Movies and Hollywood productions are often being filmed inside. Past glimpses of the cemetery can be found in Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd, American Horror Story Coven, and NCIS New Orleans. Read and download our self-guided tour of the cemetery.
Exit Cemetery on Washington Ave. and walk left to Prytania, continue left on Prytania St.
This house, at 1448 Fourth St., was built by architect Henry Howard for Kentucky Colonel Robert Short in 1859. The story goes that Short’s wife complained of missing the cornfields in her native Iowa, so he bought her the cornstalk fence. An explanation given by the current owners is that the wife saw that it was the most expensive fence in the building catalog and may requested it. Governor Nathaniel Banks lived inside with Major General Benjamin Butler after the property was commandeered in September of 1862. New Orleans fell early in the war as it was a pivitol port for the Union. Best thing to happen so that New Orleans was not destroyed in Sherman’s March. Continue North down Prytania St.
5. BriggsStaub House 2605 Prytania St
The Briggs home is the only true example of Gothic Revival architecture in the entirety of the Garden District. It was erected in 1854. Because this style reminded the Protestant Americans of the Catholicism of their Creole antagonists, it was not popular. Original owner Charles Briggs did not hold African slaves but did acquire Irish indentured servants. The large servant quarters can be seen to the left of the home. Continue North on Prytania
6. Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel 2523 Prytania St.
The beautiful Madonna and canopy in the yard denotes a small Catholic chapel, used to stand here until Anne Rice, author of Interview with a Vampire, purchased the property. It’s the setting for her novel Violin. The home was designed by the Architect Henry Howard in 1857. He predominantly used the Italianate style that you can see. Italianate homes in the Garden District on Average have 17 foot tall ceilings. You will also notice the exquisite metal work adhered. When looking at the metal columns you will notice Romeo Spikes. Folklore states that they were installed to keep young men from climbing into young women’s rooms. Most likely, they are there to prevent robbery. You will also notice a gas light on the porch that burns all day and all night. That is upholding the tradition that J.H. Caldwell arrived in New Orleans in 1833 and started installing the gas lines into homes throughout the region. The Garden District would have never been without light.
The stand out homes in Garden District’s often include more than one style. Designed by William Freret in 1859, this building, combines Greek Revival and Italianate metal work with Queen Anne. Now owned by the Women’s Opera Guild, the home can be toured on Monday’s from 1 to 4 pm. Recent filming in the House includes the motion pictures Elsa and Peter with Shirley McClaine and Christopher Plummer, and the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained. Continue down Prytania
8. Toby’s Corner 2340 Prytania St.
The Garden District’s oldest still standing residence was built in 1838. You can note the basic Doric Columns which speaks to the home’s age. Some would argue that even though built for an American it takes on a lot of practical Creole building techniques. The house has a raised basement for flooding as well as ventilation. The ceiling height is 15 feet tall. By opening the windows that surround the structure cross breezes coming off the Mississippi would be taken advantage of. You will see the Sugarcane bowl being used as a fountain in the yard paying homage to Southeast Louisiana’s biggest crop. During the Carnival Season notice the owners three King of Rex, King of Mardi Gras, flags.
9. Bradish Johnson House and Louise S. McGehee School 2343 Prytania St
Architect James Freret designed this Second Empire style mansion for sugar barron Bradish Johnson in 1872. It is quintessential reconstruction era architecture. You see this style farther up town in the neighborhoods being developed at that time, like Audubon Place. Today, the property is the private Louise S. McGehee School for girls. They celebrated their centennial in 2012. Return and turn left on First Street.
10. Archie Manning House 1420 First St
This is the home of former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning and the childhood home of Peyton, Eli, Cooper Manning. It is not uncommon to see one of the family members coming in and out of the house. A lot of footage from the documentary of the family called the Book of Manning (2013) was shot at the home. Continue on First Street.
11. Morris Israel House 1331 First St.
By the 1860’s, the Italianate style was the most popular style of architecture in the Garden District. You will notice how narrow the home is, but that it continues very far back into the next block. Property tax, which was calculated by how much of your house fronted the street, was high during these periods and may have been an instigating factor in having narrow homes. People who have visited Disneyland in Anaheim California might recognize this house as it is the house the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland was based on. The house is said to be haunted. Continue on First Street.
12. BrevardMahat / Anne Rice House 1239 First St
Originally designed in 1857 as a Greek Revival home you can see modern additions like an Italianate bay have been added. Notice the Rosegate fence, this is said to be one of the first chain link fences in the world. However, when people pass by they often speculate that the rosebuds more closely resemble skulls. When you admire the roses on the Lattice work on the house they also appear to be cow skulls. This was the predominant residence of the novelist Anne Rice and the setting for her Witching Hour novels. She sold the home in 2003 when unfortunately her husband Stan passed away. Continue on First Street.
13. Payne Strachan House 1134 First St.
The President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, died in this house in December, 1889. He had been traveling to New Orleans to give a lecture and became ill. He was brought to this house owned by Judge Charles Fenner and promptly died. A plaque in front of the house bears the date of Davis’s death, December 6, 1889. When you look up, notice the sky blue ceiling of the porch gallery. The color is believed to keep winged insects from nesting there and to ward off evil spirits. Many Garden District homes adhere to this tradition. It is called Haint Paint. Continue to 2nd Street
14. Joseph Merrick Jones House 2425 Coliseum St.
This home is currently the home of the Actor John Goodman. Known for playing the role of Roseanne’s husband on that 90’s sitcom as well as many movie roles. He moved to New Orleans over 30 years ago after making the movie the Big Easy with Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin. New Orleanians take him as an honorary son as he is an advocate for the city. Many will say their favorite role of his was in the post Katrina HBO show Treme written by David Simon, the creator of the Wire. Before goodman owned the home, the singer of Nine Inch Nails,Trent Reznor, owned the property. Some would speculate he was not a good fit as he had quite a few unconventional guests and a recording studio installed inside. Turn left on Colesium Street.
15. Musson Bell House 1331 Third St.
The pink home was built in 1853 for Michel Musson, one of the only Creoles living in the Garden District before the Civil War. He was the uncle of French artist Edgar Degas. Degas briefly lived with Musson on Esplanade Avenue during a visit to New Orleans. You can tour the home on Esplanade Ave. Originally there was a drinking water cistern included on the property. These water tanks were common in the Garden District. Mark Twain once stated that it looked as if everybody in the neighborhood had a private brewery.
16. Robinson House 1415 Third St.
Building on this property began in 1859 and did not end until 1865. It was designed by architect Henry Howard for tobacco merchant Walter Robinson. The property is one of the largest in the Garden Distric ‘at being 12 thousand square feet. The roof is flat and once gathered rainwater for the homes indoor plumbing and drinking water. The house went up for sale in 2010 and the listing price was $12.5 million. As of 2015 the home is still for sale. Continue down Coliseum.
17. Eustis/ Sandra Bullock Residence 2627 Coliseum Street
This Swiss Germanic Chalet, built in 1867, is one of only three homes of this style in the entirety of New Orleans. It is not a practical style of architecture in a part of the country that gets as warm as New Orleans does. It was designed by Architect William Freret for James Eustis, a one time U.S. Senator. Today, it is the home of the Oscar Winning Actress Sandra Bullock. She bought the home in late 2009, shortly before her adopted son Louis was born in New Orleans. People flock to the home, but she is rarely here. She allows other celebrities to stay inside and you never know who might come out the front gate. Continue to the corner of Washington Ave. and Coliseum.
The bright turquoise building on the corner was erected in 1883 for Emile Commander to be run as a restaurant. It is now considered to be one of the best restaurants in the United States and has been owned by the Brennan family, since 1974. Locals attend the weekday Martini Lunches, but the weekend brunch is also a nice option. Reservations are required and there is a strict dress code.
- By Streetcar — Take the St. Charles Streetcar Line. Fare is $1.25, though day passes are also available.
- By Bus — Take Bus 11 or 91 from Canal Street towards Magazine.
If going to the Garden District from the French Quarter, check out our post specifically dedicated to traveling between the two neighborhoods.
For many, the highlight of the Garden District is its beautiful architecture! This special neighborhood features many stunning homes that are truly an ode to New Orleans’ unique history.
- Take a walking tour of the Garden District with us!
- Visit Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
- New Orleans Fire Department Museum
- Strolling up and down Magazine Street
- Prytania Park — 1525 Prytania Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. A small, courtyard style hotel.
- Creole Garden’s — 1415 Prytania St, New Orleans, LA 70130. A casual and comfortable bed and breakfast. Pet friendly.
- Sully Mansion Bed and Breakfasts — 2631 Prytania Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. A quaint bed and breakfast run by a married couple.
- The Hampton Inn Garden District — 3626 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana, 70115. Standard hotel in the heart of the Garden District.
- The Indigo Hotel — 2203 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130. A small hotel with beautiful oak trees, right along St. Charles.
- Joey K’s — 30001, Magazine St., New Orleans, LA. Specializes in home-cooked, New Orleans style cuisine such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, po-boys, and catfish.
- Another Broken Egg –2917 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA. A southern chain restaurant that specializes in breakfast/brunch foods.
- Commander’s Palace — 1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA. As mentioned before, this restaurant is considered to be one of the best in the country. Dress code is enforced.
- Tracey’s — 2604 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130. Established in 1949. Serves classic Irish pub food as well.