Article by: David G. Hedges, the founder at NOLA Tour Guy free walking tours
The Garden District was born of the American settlers' desire to distance themselves from the Creoles who first settled in The French Quarter.
Today, The French Quarter might be the most iconic neighborhood in New Orleans, but The Garden District is a clear second place.
This is the over-the-top, opulent side of New Orleans, the neighborhood with book-worthy Southern mansions that inspired writers like Anne Rice and Mark Twain. The Garden District should be on everyone’s bucket list when visiting New Orleans
In New Orleans, the Mississippi River is the moving compass of the city, so the 'up' in Uptown means 'upriver,' as opposed to 'downtown,' which is downriver. The Garden District is considered Uptown but not part of the nearby neighborhood of the same name.
Here’s what you need to know about The Garden District and how to get there:
The Garden District is 10-15 minutes from The French Quarter. If you've rented a car, you'll be pleased to know that parking in the District is much easier than parking in the Quarter. Rideshare is another easy way to get between the two neighborhoods.
While it is possible to get from The French Quarter to The Garden District by foot, the journey is about 3 miles and does cross a major highway. If you’re not a walker, consider another option.
Take the scenic route from The French Quarter to The Garden District with the historic Saint Charles Streetcar. The ride takes about 45 minutes each way and flows past some of New Orleans’s most famous homes, plus the Central Business District and Audubon Park.
In The French Quarter, head to the intersection of Canal Street and Bourbon Street. From there, you’ll be able to board the St. Charles Streetcar.
Bring exact change only. The fare is $1.25 per ride or $3 for a 1-Day Pass.
Beautiful, ornate, and steeped in history, the neighborhood's grand southern mansions define the entire Garden District. Here, you’ll walk along ancient oak trees among the cheery streetcars, celebrity homes, and gardens straight out of a novel. Explore the charming Victorian, Italianate, and Greek Revival estates at your own pace via our free, self-guided walking tour. Or on a guided walking tour of the Garden District.
Defining The Garden District to the south, Magazine Street is packed with high-end, opulent shops. Pre-Hurricane Katerina, this area was almost entirely made of independent, locally owned boutique shops. While these businesses are still a majority on Magazine Street, some commercial names have moved in.
Tip: Re-fuel and use the restroom at Mojo Coffee House.
A combination of low elevation and high water tables meant that corpses in New Orleans were traditionally enclosed in cities of the dead, beautiful cemeteries filled with raised tombs and classy mausoleums. The Garden District's Lafayette No. 1 is one of the most famous cemeteries in NOLA, and iconic scenes in Interview with the Vampire, Double Jeopardy, and Dracula 2000 were filmed here.
As of 2022, Lafayette No.1 is closed, but our free cemetery tours take you to an area where you can still look through the gate. We've also made a list of all New Orleans' cemeteries open in 2022 and 2023.
Tip: NOLA's cemeteries are unlike any other, so arm yourself with cemetery etiquette before you go.
Trust us when we say that every single neighborhood of New Orleans has incredible food options, and The Garden District is no exception. These are some of the tastiest places to eat, drink and let the good times roll in The Garden District:
Stein's Market and Deli is a Jewish and Italian deli in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans. Stein's is best known for its traditional and specialty sandwiches and for serving its delicious breakfast sandwiches all day.
Step into Joey K's and feel like you're going home to a place you've never gone. This sunny little cafe is known for its flavorful Creole eats and 18-oz. beers in massive frosted mugs.
Looking for a cute and potent coffee shop to fuel your mansion site-seeing? Molly's Rise and Shine is a Garden District icon, an ideal spot to grab some breakfast and espresso for your day.
Pro tip: The Bloody Marys at Molly's are legendary.
If you're on the hunt for a killer Po-Boy, the game is over: Domilise's has been serving some of New Orleans's finest beer and Po-Boys since 1924. The atmosphere here is comfy and laidback, the type of diner that makes every guest feel like a returning friend. Domilise’s has some of the best Po-boys in town, and we highly recommend making the two-mile journey out of The Garden District.
If you are both fancy and well-organized enough to have made advanced reservations, Commanders Palace is the best place to eat dinner in The Garden District. Established in 1893, the Palace has earned its title as one of the city's most haunted sites and one of the best places to get delicious Creole food. Note: Commander's Palace has made it onto our solo female traveler's guide to New Orleans due to its iconic status and safe location.
Grab a drink in The Garden District
Most people think of Bourbon Street when they think of 'New Orleans bars.' However, The Garden District offers plenty of places to kick back with a good cocktail and live music. Here are our top suggestions:
Verret's Lounge is a dingy dive bar just two blocks from the million-dollar Garden District neighborhood. If cozy and unassuming are what you're after, Verret's is where you will find it.
Locals love Parasol's, a dive bar with tasty Cajun eats and an especially messy Roast Beef' Po-boy. Only a block away from the bustling Magazine Street, Parasol's stays low-key until it's time to turn up for their famous St. Patty's Day parties.
Upscale without being fussy, The Columns Restaurant & Bar inside the hotel of the same name was built in 1883, and the building has maintained its moody charm throughout the years.
Courtyard Brewery is known for its tasting room that caters to beer connoisseurs. Specialties include a 3-barrel brewing system, IPAs, and Saisons. Garden District locals love to relax in the Courtyard’s laidback, welcoming atmosphere.
Only a short 10-minute walk from The Garden District is Igor’s Lounge, a pool hall, laundromat, and bar all rolled into one. Next door is Igor's Garlic Clove, a delicious local food spot.
Tip: Igor’s is right on St.Charles Ave and easy to get to via the Streetcar.