The gorgeous Garden District, a distinguished New Orleans neighborhood, is only a short streetcar ride from the French Quarter and represents one of the most opulent collections of historic southern mansions in the United States. Developed in the mid-1800s by the “nouveau riche,” the area has been home to modern-day celebrities such as Nicholas Cage, John Goodman, Archie Manning, Anne Rice and Sandra Bullock.
If you make your way to this area―a feast for the eyes that will have you fantasizing about relocation faster than you can say “bayou”―wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a camera. You’ll see indescribably beautiful architecture; it will take photos to convince folks back home. A few stops you don’t want to miss:
- Grab a coffee or tea at the Garden District Book Shop in The Rink, at the corner of Washington and Prytania Streets.
- Walk by the former home of author Anne Rice, at the corner of First and Chestnut Streets. This residence inspired the setting for six of her novels.
- Tour the notorious Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, with its above-ground tombs (closed to the public on Sundays).
- Be sure to see the famous cast-iron cornstalk fence surrounding the former home of Col. Robert Henry Short. Legend has it Short erected the fence to soothe his wife, who was homesick for Kentucky.
Rollin’ Down the River
Geographically speaking, two of the most inspiring elements of the city include the majestic Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. Enjoy strolling along the esplanade or, for a more on-deck experience, partake in one of several riverboat tours or cruises, many of which include food, drink and live music. A few suggestions:
- John James Audubon Riverboat (www.steamboatnatchez.com)
- New Orleans Creole Queen (www.creolequeen.com)
- New Orleans Paddlewheels.com (www.neworleanspaddlewheels.com)
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Underneath its devil-may-care exterior, New Orleans is a spiritual city full of devout and sometimes superstitious folk. In a locale with such colorful and often traumatic history, ghost stories and legends abound. If the suspense of the supernatural excites you, you’ll find plenty to raise your hackles in this town. Enjoy one of many spine-chilling walking tours of the city including ghost tours, vampire tours, voodoo tours, cemetery tours and others.
Once you’re in New Orleans, you’ll find plenty of tour companies to accommodate you, and the concierge at the expo host hotel can also assist in a booking. If you want to plan in advance, here are a few companies to consider:
- Haunted History Tours (www.hauntedhistorytours.com)
- Bloody Mary Tours (www.bloodymarytours.com)
- Magic Walking Tours (www.neworleansmagictours.com)
- New Orleans Spirit Tours (www.neworleanstours.net)
They’re Playin’ My Tune
New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz, but the city reigns supreme in music of all types including blues, zydeco, R&B, bluegrass, hip hop, funk and heavy metal. Whatever your melodic fancy, you’ll find a seat with your name on it in one of the town’s hundreds of nightclubs. Following are a few suggestions to get you started. (Note: Snug Harbor not only offers acts like Ellis Marsalis and Charmaine Neville, its restaurant serves what is quite possibly the best cheeseburger on the planet.)