THE NEW ORLEAND PLACE YOU HAVE TO VISIT
THE NEW ORLEAND PLACE YOU HAVE TO VISIT
Because of its mouthwatering cuisine, exciting music scene, and stunning architecture, New Orleans is among the top places in America to visit. All three of these can be found in the Garden District and many other uptown districts, also known as upriver or up the Mississippi River.THE NEW ORLEAND PLACE YOU HAVE TO VISIT
Known for its grand mansions, oak-lined avenues, as well as some of the city’s best shopping along Magazine Street, the Garden District was established as a residential neighborhood in the late 1840s and officially incorporated into the City of New Orleans in 1852. Located about a 15-minute streetcar ride southwest of the French Quarter, the Garden District Historic District is bordered by Magazine Street to the south, Carondelet Street to the north, Josephine Street to the east, and Delachaise Street to the west, according to the Historic District Landmarks Commission of New Orleans. However, the beauty and charm of the Garden District extends beyond those streets in other neighborhoods upriver like the Irish Channel, the Lower Garden District, and the Uptown/Carrollton, which is home to Audubon Park and Tulane University.
Consider this your guide to the best restaurants, hotels, and things to do in New Orleans’s Garden District and beyond.
Things to do
There’s something for everyone to do uptown. History and architecture buffs will delight in the landmarked mansions the Garden District is famous for, while fashionistas and souvenir hunters can spend an entire afternoon perusing the shops along Magazine Street. Birdwatchers, golfers, and children alike will be drawn to the open spaces of Audubon Park. At night, music lovers have plenty of venues to choose from to listen to jazz, dance to zydeco, and more.
A walking tour of the Garden District’s historic landmarks
Stretch your legs on a walking tour of the Garden District’s landmarks, including the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, Commander’s Palace restaurant, and the neighborhood’s historic mansions. Architecture buffs will recognize a wide range of styles, including Greek revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne Victorians. Of course, it’s possible to wander at your own pace on a self-guided tour, but you can also join a group with a company like Haunted History Tours or Two Chicks Walking Tours for even more context to noteworthy former residents like Anne Rice and filming locations of movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Where to eat and drink
It’s not uncommon to visit New Orleans with one goal: to eat and drink your way through the city. While the mostly residential Garden District only has a handful of restaurants within its official borders, there are dozens of options throughout the entire uptown area. Here, a curated list of some neighborhood classics worth visiting, plus some buzzy new spots.
One of the best places for seafood in New Orleans, Casamento’s is a Magazine Street institution that’s been around for more than 100 years, where diners can watch shuckers tackle piles of oysters from their table. Former New Orleans resident Scott Hocker recommends ordering the oyster loaf undressed, without the lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise you’d expect from a po’boy sandwich. “That way there is little between you and bivalve bliss but two planks of buttered white ‘pan’ bread and a superb fry batter,” Hocker says. “A dose of hot sauce is all else you might need—and maybe some lemon.” Casamento’s, being family run, is cash only and closed during the summer.
A New Orleans institution, Commander’s Palace is known for launching the careers of Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. A Garden District landmark since 1893, it still serves Creole classics like gumbo, bread pudding soufflé, and turtle soup. On Saturdays and Sundays, a jazz trio makes its way from table to table, but the lunches on Thursday and Friday are nearly as iconic thanks to the 25-cent martini special.
Hansen’s Sno-Bliz has been serving snowballs—cups of finely shaved ice doused with sweet flavorings in a rainbow of colors—since 1939 and is still family run today. The selection of flavors is vast—from strawberry to ginger cayenne to Thai tea—and you can mix and match to your heart’s delight.
Opened in 2021, Mister Mao is a self-described “tropical roadhouse restaurant” located on the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Jena streets. Cambodian American chef/owner Sophina Uong and her husband/partner William Greenwell describe their menu as “unapologetically inauthentic.” Though they mostly serve dinner Thursday through Monday, it’s also worth visiting for Sunday brunch to order dishes like pani puri stuffed with potato masala and Louisiana strawberries, crispy lumpia, and inventive cocktails with names like “Thirsty Sarah” and “Uncle Butthead.”
Molly’s Rise and Shine
Chef Mason Hereford’s Molly’s Rise and Shine is a casual breakfast restaurant on Magazine Street that serves biscuit sandwiches and sides in a dining room decked out in ephemera left over from a ’90s childhood. A must-order is the Grand Slam McMuffin, which consists of an English muffin topped with sage pork patties, a layer of crispy hash browns, griddled onions, and American cheese.
Hereford’s other two restaurants located nearby are also worth a visit: Turkey and the Wolf serves inventive sandwiches like the fried bologna sandwich and collard green melt a few blocks away from Molly’s Rise and Shine, while his newest opening on Magazine Street—the delightfully ’80s-themed Hungry Eyes—is his first full dinner service restaurant.
Mosquito Supper Club
James Beard Award–winning chef Melissa Martin runs Mosquito Supper Club from a 19th-century house on Dryades Street. Here, Martin serves a multi-course tasting menu Thursdays through Sundays at communal tables using local seafood from businesses with sustainable fishing practices. Family-style meals can include dishes like Brightside oysters, smoked fish dip, crab claws, pickled shrimp, crawfish bisque with stuffed crawfish heads, and stuffed crabs.
After leaving his namesake restaurant and John Besh’s restaurant group behind, chef Alon Shaya opened Saba, an Israeli–New Orleans spot, in mid-2018. It serves bottles of natural wine, fluffy pitas pulled straight from a wood-fired oven, and bowls of creamy blue crab hummus among other Israeli specialties. The airy dining room on Magazine Street is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday and lunch Friday through Sunday.
Where to stay
Although the hotels in the Garden District aren’t as centrally located as the ones near Canal Street, staying in this part of New Orleans is ideal if you’d like to avoid the rowdiness of the French Quarter. (Plus, during Mardi Gras season, you’ll be close to the parades that roll down St. Charles Avenue.) Here, three of AFAR’s favorite hotels in the Garden District and surrounding neighborhoods:
Hotel Saint Vincent
Originally opened as an orphanage in 1861, Hotel Saint Vincent was transformed into a 75-room hotel in 2021. It’s now owned by the MML Hospitality group run by hotelier Liz Lambert. Enjoyable any time of year, this hotel particularly feels ready for Mardi Gras celebrations thanks to the psychedelic marble wallpaper in the rooms, an outdoor pool, and dramatic neon lighting in the guests-only Chapel Club cocktail bar. Located on the corner of Magazine and Race streets in the Lower Garden District, Hotel Saint Vincent is an easy walk—two blocks—from St. Charles Avenue.
Located in a renovated 19th-century mansion directly on St. Charles Avenue between Milan and Marengo streets, the Chloe is a 14-room hotel from LeBlanc+Smith, a local collective of beloved restaurants and bars, including Barrel Proof and Sylvain. Its large porch, along with other common spaces like the bar and restaurant, draw in neighbors and visitors alike. Its pool even sells day passes on a first-come, first-serve basis, making it a popular hangout spot in the summer.
During a recent stay, AFAR contributor Kristin Braswell described the decor in the rooms as “personal in its approach. New Orleanian designer Sara Ruffin Costello gives all guests something to discover or relish: a bathroom accessed through a wardrobe closet, say, or a soaking tub framed by a light-filled window.”
Getting to the Garden District
The easiest—and most scenic—way to get to the Garden District is via the St. Charles Streetcar line. From the Central Business District downtown, it takes about 15 minutes to reach the eastern edge of the Garden District at the intersection of St. Charles and Jackson avenues. These iconic green streetcars also make plenty of other stops along oak-lined St. Charles Avenue, so you can hop on and off to visit other places in this guide.
It costs adults $1.25 per ride on the streetcar, which can be paid with exact cash when you board or via the Le Pass app of the New Orleans RTA. For multiple rides on the streetcars (as well as buses and ferries in New Orleans), it’s best to purchase a Jazzy Pass from the app for 1, 3, 7, or 31 days unlimited rides ($3, $8, $15, and $45, respectively).
New Orleans also has its own bike share program called Blue Bikes, but keep in mind that stations only go as far west as Louisiana Avenue (i.e., the western edge of the Garden District). While you can easily take them past that boundary—say, if you’d like to bike all the way to Audubon Park—it’s impossible to dock them farther uptown than the Garden District.
For the fastest way to get from point A to point B in New Orleans, Ubers and Lyfts are also widely available.
THE NEW ORLEAND PLACE YOU HAVE TO VISIT