One of the things I love about New Orleans is its architecture. The city really is a beautiful place. One of its more popular places to wander is the Garden District. This area is primarily a residential neighbourhood so don’t expect to see big ticket items. However, it is a very lovely area with both a picturesque cemetery and some great residential architecture to check out.
The best way to start your exploration of the Garden District is by streetcar along the St. Charles line; if you’re starting from the French Quarter, you’ll catch it on Canal Street. Also, you’ll need exact change to purchase a fare or a day pass. The best place to disembark is at Washington Avenue. Don’t worry about missing it – not only are the stops generally called out, most other tourists will be getting off here, too!
Lafayette Cemetery #1
Along Washington Avenue lies the gates to Lafayette Cemetery #1. It was established in 1833, making it the third oldest cemetery in New Orleans. I absolutely loved all the cemeteries I visited in NOLA and this one was no exception. It is very atmospheric with the broad aisles, large ornate headstones, and vegetation slowly creeping in amongst the tombs in contrast with the dead stone. One tombstone for which you should look out sits along the center aisle on the righthand side. The Sercy family, sadly enough, lost three children in two days due to yellow fever.
Bonus: If you’re curious about NOLA’s medical history (and it’s a doozy considering the city was built in a swamp), check out the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter.
The Garden District is filled with beautiful homes, many dating to the 19th-century. While beautiful homes lie all over the neighbourhood, do check out the houses along Prytania Street and First Street. Ornate fences, colourful shutters, spacious verandahs, gas lights, and columns galore – your camera trigger finger will be kept happy, that’s for sure. For me, it also made me kinda sad I don’t live there! Oh, and several celebrities have homes in the Garden District – so, who knows…you may see someone you recognize (I wouldn’t hold my breath, though). Once you’ve had your fill wandering up and down the streets of the Garden District, you can either hop back on to the streetcar or walk back up to the French Quarter. It will probably take an hour to 90 minutes, if you’re strolling. I walked on a sunny, hot, HUMID day and while it was a nice walk, I certainly needed another shower back at my hotel!