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While most people visit New Orleans for the French Quarter and party vibes, my favorite part of the city is the leafy Garden District, which is known for its tree-lined streets and beautiful mansion homes. It’s a very peaceful area and feels like it’s worlds away from the chaos of Bourbon Street.
Exploring the Garden District should take about half a day and is definitely worth including on your New Orleans itinerary. To help you plan your visit, I’ve put together a list of the best things to do in the Garden District, as well as information on how to get there.
Where is the Garden District?
The Garden District is located southwest of the French Quarter in the 11th Ward of New Orleans. This leafy neighborhood is part of Uptown New Orleans, meaning upriver from the Mississippi River. Its official boundaries are St. Charles Avenue to the north, 1st Street to the east, Magazine Street to the south, and Toledano Street to the west. You can see where it is on a map here:
It’s about a fifteen minute drive from the French Quarter or a 50 minute walk. If you travel by streetcar, the journey should take around 30 minutes.
How to Get to the Garden District, New Orleans
To get to the Garden District from the French Quarter, take the historic St. Charles Streetcar (green and brown), which runs 24 hours a day, seven days per week. If you don’t want to take public transportation, you can also order an Uber or hail a taxi.
The best way to buy tickets for the streetcar is by downloading the Le Pass app, which allows you to check schedules and purchase tickets. A single ride costs $1.25, but if you plan on riding it a few times, you can buy a Jazzy Pass for unlimited rides. A single day pass costs $3, so if you plan on riding the streetcar, bus or ferry more than 2 times, it’s worth it.
If you can’t download the app then you can also buy a single ticket in cash from the driver when you board the trolley, or you can purchase tickets from vending machines along Canal Street and certain stores around the city.
In the French Quarter you can catch the streetcar from the corner of Canal Street and Carondelet Street, or at the corner of St. Charles Street and Common Street.
The best stop to get off the streetcar when you reach the Garden District is St. Charles at Washington, which is close to Lafayette Cemetery No 1. However, there are numerous stops along St. Charles Ave so it doesn’t matter too much which one you choose.
When you reach your stop, just pull the cord above the windows to tell the driver you want to get off.
Why Is It Called the Garden District?
The Garden District was developed in the 19th century, more specifically from 1832 to 1900. The area was once home to a number of plantations, which were eventually sold off in parcels to wealthy newcomers who didn’t want to reside in the French Quarter with the Creoles.
The district was planned by New Orleans architect Barthelemy Lafon and originally featured only two houses per block, each surrounded by a large garden. This is how the Garden District got its name!
Eventually some of the lots were subdivided with more houses built. This is why you’ll see a variety of 19th century mansions interspersed with houses from the late Victorian period.
Things to Do in the Garden District, New Orleans
As I mentioned previously, you can get off the streetcar anywhere on St. Charles Ave but most people opt for St. Charles & Washington because it’s close to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. From this stop, you can easily wander around the tree-lined streets of the Garden District as the area is very walkable. Below are some of the top things to do in the Garden District.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
FAQs About Visiting the Garden District, NOLA
Apparently Sandra Bullock and John Goodman live in the Garden District. Nicholas Cage, Anne Rice, Peyton Manning’s family and Beyonce & Jay-Z have also owned homes there at some point or another.
Yes, the Garden District is totally worth visiting! It’s my favorite part of New Orleans because it’s so peaceful, green and beautiful.
Yes, the Garden District is totally walkable. That’s the beauty of it! The streets all have pavements so you can wander around and admire the stunning mansions and gardens.
Yes you can drive through the Garden District in New Orleans. The roads are arranged in a grid pattern and the cross streets (roads running north to south) are one-way. Avenues such as St Charles Ave, Coliseum St and Magazine St are two-way. Driving through the Garden District you’ll be able to see plenty of oak trees and mansions through your car window.
If it’s your first time visiting New Orleans I would stay near the French Quarter since this is where all the major attractions are. You’ll probably spend most of your time around Bourbon and Frenchmen Street, so it’s best to stay close so you can easily get around on foot. The Garden District is a 30-minute streetcar ride away, so if you stay there you’ll have to go back and forth on the streetcar or spend money on Ubers. That being said, the Garden District is gorgeous and very peaceful, so you won’t be woken up by street noise. If you don’t mind spending time traveling to and from the French Quarter, then you may really enjoy it.
A Final Word
The Garden District is beautiful at any time of year and is one of the best things to do in New Orleans. If you’re visiting NOLA in summertime the weather can get very hot and humid, so I’d suggest visiting in the morning and then cooling off at a hotel pool during the afternoon! For more inspiration, check out my USA travel guide, which features my latest blog posts, itineraries and practical info for traveling the USA.