Thursday, October 29, 2015

New Orleans Garden District: A Photographic Tour

There's a lot to fall in love with in New Orleans.  The food.  The music.  The hauntingly beautiful cemeteries.  The gorgeous Garden District homes.  The food.  The resilient spirit of everyone from your cab driver to your antique shop owner that is happy to see you and so eager to share what they love about their city.  And did I mention the food?

Needless to say, if you have a chance to get away for a week or just a weekend, you'll find plenty to do here.  If you love old homes, a walking tour of the Garden District should definitely be on your list.  I used this map as a general guide, but if you just start walking you're going to find plenty of gorgeous homes to distract you from needing any more official path. Just watch the sidewalks because while the homes in this area are in fantastic shape, the footpaths are a little more like a ferocious family of cement chomping groundhogs are in residence. I only know this because I lost a large chunk of toe not too far into the walk.  This is why people should really make fun of you when you try to walk and hold a cell phone in front of you taking pictures at the same time.

Before You Start Walking: Grab Some Food!
 I picked up a spicy maple praline donut and a Vietnamese iced coffee at hipster donut paradise District Donuts, Sliders, and Brew.  I was in such a sugar coma from this I didn't manage to work up the stomach for beignets at Cafe du Monde later in the trip.  But it was so, so worth it.
Then start exploring!

Cute street signs are tiled into the sidewalk on many of the Garden District's avenues.

The Carroll-Crawford house is super distinct with it's pink exterior and dark gray ironwork.  Mark Twain used to be a frequent guest when this home was a rocking part of the New Orleans social scene.

The Pritchard House dates back to 1858 and stands out as being one of the only Greek Revival homes in the area with its massive white columns.

This home is not exactly historic, but its bright pink stucco and large white frescoes are definitely show stoppers.  It's on a street corner that borders a school's playground, so I imagine there are tons of stories that kids make up that are more interesting than "someone built this weird pink house" which is all I can really find out about it.

All decked out for Halloween

The cast iron cornstalk fence is the calling card of popular Garden District home, Colonel Short's Villa.  Stories say Colonel Short's wife missed Iowa where she grew up, but other tales report she just picked out the most expensive fence in the catalog.  You know, rich people.  This home (and fence) can be yours for just $5.85 million.

A great place to end your walk is in the Lafayette No.1 cemetery.  This is a popular stop for tours, so you may find it hard to explore the area with peace and quiet.  But it's a great example of the kind of grand yet crumbling exterior that New Orleans seems to embrace.  Many of the tombstones are quite shabby - missing stones, overgrown with weeds.  But something about this lack of polish makes it that much more intriguing. Life, death; it's real here.

I kept walking down Magazine Street even after my mapped route was done.  It's a great place to pop in and out of antique stores as you head back into the downtown area of the city.  You'll see plenty of beads everywhere.  It's just a reminder that this city doesn't take itself, life, or even death too seriously.  It's all just a part of life, and you should probably dance, and eat great food, and listen to great music at 3 AM while you're living it.

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