Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Garden District, New Orleans

  • Published 2022/11/27

Garden District is a historic neighborhood in uptown New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana.

It’s home to some of the best architectural masterpieces in the country, many of which date back to the 19th century.

While only a small neighborhood, Garden District is packed with exciting things to do, headed by its bustling food and shopping culture.

There are plenty of specialty stores here, and each has unique qualities that will have you exploring the district for hours.

The restaurants and hotels also have a unique vibe and ambiance thanks to the neighborhood’s rich architectural heritage.

This historic neighborhood acts as a small town on its own.

To understand the place better, here’s a list of the best things to do in Garden District, New Orleans.

Visit the Iconic Buckner Mansion

Front view of Buckner Mansion's exterior

Jade3234 /

There are many historic homes in the Garden District, and you can best enjoy them by joining the neighborhood’s architectural guided tours.

However, if you’re planning an adventure, this list will pinpoint a few homes you can prioritize.

Buckner Mansion is the first on the list.

Facade of Buckner Mansion

Jeff Hitchcock, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located at the eastern end of Garden District along Jackson Avenue, Buckner Mansion is perhaps the most visited among the sprawling historic homes here.

A big reason is its relevance in pop culture; Buckner Mansion was the setting of American Horror Story.

While its interiors may have been used as a haunted house, Buckner Mansion is one beautiful piece of architecture and makes for an ideal first stop in your adventure.

Shop for Vintage House Decor at H Rault Locksmiths

Magazine Street is home to several of the neighborhood’s quirkiest and most fun places, and this list begins with the iconic H Rault Locksmiths.

H. Rault Locksmiths is the second oldest locksmith store in the U.S.

It specializes in locks and knobs, with vintage themes that transport you back to the 1800s.

Besides the locks and door knobs, they also have other house decor like door handles, display items, vintage keys, and old-fashioned jewelry.

The interior layout of H Rault Locksmiths is an attraction on its own.

Many passionate photographers or social media enthusiasts would love the vintage aesthetic of this place.

Their fantastic staff will happily show you around and answer any questions you may have about their products.

Marvel at the Unique Carroll-Crawford House

The Carroll-Crawford House rounds out the top three historic houses on this list, and a big reason is its unique design.

Built in 1869, Carroll-Crawford House is an Italianate mansion with beautiful ironworks for its gates and facade.

Renowned American writer Mark Twain used to visit this house, owned by Lieutenant General Joseph Francis Carroll, the founding director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The house also stands out because of its simple yard accentuating its intricate design and pinkish color.

Carroll-Crawford House is along the neighborhood’s eastern side, along First Street.

Tour the New Orleans Opera Guild Home

Facade of the New Orleans Opera Guild Home

Wangkun Jia /

The New Orleans Opera Guild Home is just a few blocks from Buckner Mansion, along Prytania Street.

Unlike Buckner Mansion, you can enter the New Orleans Opera Guild Home during a tour.

Even if you choose not to go inside, the yard and facade of the mansion are breathtaking on their own.

Exterior of the New Orleans Opera Guild Home

Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built in 1859, New Orleans Opera Guild Home is a Greek Revival-style mansion, now a famous spot for weddings and other special events.

With its sprawling gardens and majestic facade, New Orleans Opera Guild Home offers a great photo opportunity!

Check in at Sully Mansion

If you want the intimate experience of a bed and breakfast in the Garden District, look no further than Sully Mansion.

Found along Prytania Street, Sully Mansion is a historic home converted into a cozy bed-and-breakfast hotel perfect for couples and small families.

While a historic home, the hotel boasts many modern designs and amenities that blend 19th-century aesthetics with 21st-century convenience.

One of the best-selling points of Sully Mansion is its gorgeous porch and yard, often used for wedding photos.

If you want to set up basecamp at Garden District, give Sully Mansion a try.

You’ll both have premium hotel comfort while experiencing the beauty of the district’s historic homes.

Ride the St. Charles Streetcar

People boarding the St. Charles Streetcar

William A. Morgan /

If you want to experience the scenic beauty of the Garden District further, one of the best options is to take the St. Charles Streetcar.

Beyond a mode of transportation, St. Charles Streetcar is an iconic historic landmark.

It is the oldest running streetcar line in the world, operating since 1835.

It’s not exclusive to the Garden District, as the streetcar takes you to other famous historical and tourist sites in New Orleans.

Interior of a St. Charles Streetcar

Just Another Photographer /

You can reach places such as Audubon Park, Loyola Universities, Tulane, and the rest of Uptown New Orleans through the St. Charles Streetcar.

You can have a straightforward route from the Garden District to the French Quarter through this streetcar.

This is another historic area in New Orleans along the Mississippi River.

Front view of a St. Charles Streetcar

Wangkun Jia /

Go Shopping at Magazine Antique Mall

Magazine Antique Mall is another store along Magazine Street that offers a wide range of antique products.

This place is perfect for more general items with a tinge of authentic history.

With such a wide selection, you’ll easily spend two hours or more just scouring the place.

Many highly sought items are vintage house appliances, particularly old-school rotary telephones and other antique furniture.

There’s a lot to unpack at Magazine Antique Mall.

Watch the Ghost Manor Show During Halloween

Speaking of horror, there’s a privately-owned mansion in the neighborhood that may pique your interest if you’re fond of creepy vibes.

Ghost Manor is a moniker given to a house along Magazine Street because of its spooky aesthetic and show during the Halloween season.

Ghost Manor is a must-see in New Orleans during late October, with spiderwebs, pumpkins, and jaw-dropping Halloween lighting throughout its yard and facade.

The house’s porch is the best part; many skeletons and zombies dance and fly around during the show.

To complete the experience, these skeletons sing, adding another dimension to its awesome but spooky Halloween vibe.

Enjoy an Intimate Dinner at Commander’s Palace

Exterior of Commander’s Palace

Wirestock Creators /

Located along Washington Avenue in the heart of Garden District lies Commander’s Palace, one of the top restaurants in New Orleans.

As an institutionalized restaurant that doubles as a historic landmark, Commander’s Palace has existed since the 1880s.

Because of its longevity, its elegant interiors will take you back to the 19th century, making it the perfect place for an intimate dinner.

Of course, the food itself won’t disappoint.

Signage of Commander’s Palace

Wirestock Creators /

Commander’s Palace specializes in classic Louisiana creole cuisine and has all sorts of culinary masterpieces perfect for food photography.

Some of their most highly rated items include bread pudding, turtle soup, and souffles.

There’s a dress code at Commander’s Palace, so prepare to have some spare semi-formal or smart casual clothes during your trip.

Bright facade of Commander’s Palace

Fotoluminate LLC /

Check Out Local Art at Zèle NOLA

Zèle NOLA is another additional Magazine Street store to explore if you want to shop or see lots of local art.

Many local artists specializing in paintings, dioramas, and handcrafted souvenirs sell their products at Zèle NOLA.

This makes this an invaluable place if you’re an art enthusiast, as it doubles as a mini museum and a gift shop.

Zèle NOLA also has other merchandise on the non-artistic side.

Maybe you can find other things here if you still have money to spare.

Either way, you’ll have a blast checking the local art at Zèle NOLA, even if you’re not buying.

Check Out the Merchandise at Fleurty Girl

Exterior of Fleurty Girl

William A. Morgan /

Just a short distance from H Raults Locksmith is Fleurty Girl, a quirky place selling many New Orleans merchandise, including T-shirts, toys, and other home decor like pillows.

Unlike H Raults Locksmith, Fleurty Girl is on the trendy and modern side when it comes to their items, so younger adults and children would greatly appreciate this.

While they have a wide range of products, their bread and butter lie in their numerous T-shirt and bag designs that are fantastic New Orleans souvenirs.

Lots of the items here are locally designed by artists from the city, so you may want to take this opportunity to grab something unique.

With so many items in store and a cute aesthetic, Fleurty Girl is a great visit during your Garden District trip.

Splurge on Desserts at Sucré

Because Garden Street is famous as a wedding and events area, it’s no surprise that a highly touted dessert shop, Sucré, is also in the neighborhood.

Located along Magazine Street, Sucré is famous for its modern interiors and top-notch desserts.

Many locals and tourists rave about the macaroons, gelato, and cakes at Sucré.

There are more to try at Sucré, like brownies, pies, and other pastries that’ll either make you come back or buy their products by the box.

This place is a must-try if you love sweets or just craving good ice cream after your neighborhood exploration.

Stroll along Lafayette Cemetery 1

Daytime view of Lafayette Cemetery 1

Christian Ouellet /

Garden District’s Washington Avenue is home to Lafayette Cemetery 1, one of the most visited attractions in the neighborhood.

Lafayette Cemetery 1 hosts historic tombs.

Mainly, you’ll see a lot of above-ground tombstones here, coupled with several 19th-century statuary that gives it a unique aesthetic.

Headstones at Lafayette Cemetery 1

Ruben Martinez Barricarte /

Whether that fascinates or spooks you, Lafayette Cemetery 1 is an excellent destination since there aren’t many 19th-century graveyards left.

Just be sure to visit during the daytime if spooky places aren’t your thing!

Angel sculpture at Lafayette Cemetery 1

TLF Images /

Search for Books at Garden District Bookshop

Another place that receives a good amount of foot traffic is the Garden District Bookshop, located in the Rink Shopping Center along Prytania Street Suite.

Quaintly designed with an excellent layout for book searching, Garden District Bookshop is a haven for bookworms looking to find their next read.

There’s a bit of everything for everyone here, including contemporary books, children’s books, and even rarer ones that have been out of print.

Garden District Bookshop also caters to those looking for eclectic titles you won’t usually find in mainstream bookstores.

The place is a convenient addition to your itinerary, as other shops and cafes surround you in the Rink Shopping Center.

Try Various Beers at the Bulldog

Signage of the Bulldog

William A. Morgan /

The Bulldog is a go-to pub along Magazine Street that makes for a perfect destination if you want to beef up your evening itinerary in the neighborhood.

The patio seating setup at the Bulldog is one of its selling points, as it always has a great atmosphere, whether during the day or at night.

Another selling point is their wide selection of alcoholic beverages, especially craft beers you can enjoy via tap.

Of course, their food isn’t a pushover, too.

Try their signature crawfish and burger dishes.

With great music and a lively ambiance, the Bulldog is a fantastic place to enjoy a beer with friends on a night out.

Final Thoughts

The Garden District is a cultural and historic hub that you can’t miss during your trip to New Orleans.

It’s brimming with many awe-inspiring historic mansions and a shopping street that blends modern culture with its rich 19th Century heritage.

The best things to do in Garden District, New Orleans, await you!

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