The New Orleans Neighborhood You Must Visit

Where to eat, shop, and stay in the Garden District and other uptown neighborhoods in New Orleans.

New Orleans is one of America’s best cities to visit for its delicious food, lively music, and beautiful architecture. You can find all three of these things in the Garden District and a variety of other neighborhoods uptown—aka upriver, or up the Mississippi River.

Known for its grand mansions, oak-lined avenues, as well as some of the city’s best shopping along Magazine Street, the Garden District was established as a residential neighborhood in the late 1840s and officially incorporated into the City of New Orleans in 1852. Located about a 15-minute streetcar ride southwest of the French Quarter, the Garden District Historic District is bordered by Magazine Street to the south, Carondelet Street to the north, Josephine Street to the east, and Delachaise Street to the west, according to the Historic District Landmarks Commission of New Orleans. However, the beauty and charm of the Garden District extends beyond those streets in other neighborhoods upriver like the Irish Channel, the Lower Garden District, and the Uptown/Carrollton, which is home to Audubon Park and Tulane University.

Consider this your guide to the best restaurants, hotels, and things to do in New Orleans’s Garden District and beyond.

Things to do

There’s something for everyone to do uptown. History and architecture buffs will delight in the landmarked mansions the Garden District is famous for, while fashionistas and souvenir hunters can spend an entire afternoon perusing the shops along Magazine Street. Birdwatchers, golfers, and children alike will be drawn to the open spaces of Audubon Park. At night, music lovers have plenty of venues to choose from to listen to jazz, dance to zydeco, and more.

Exterior of white plantation-style Garden District Mansion, with two stories of columned porches

Architecture in the Garden District includes a wide range of styles, including Greek revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne Victorians.

Photo by Jade3234/Shutterstock

A walking tour of the Garden District’s historic landmarks

Stretch your legs on a walking tour of the Garden District’s landmarks, including the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, Commander’s Palace restaurant, and the neighborhood’s historic mansions. Architecture buffs will recognize a wide range of styles, including Greek revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne Victorians. Of course, it’s possible to wander at your own pace on a self-guided tour, but you can also join a group with a company like Haunted History Tours or Two Chicks Walking Tours for even more context to noteworthy former residents like Anne Rice and filming locations of movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Relax in Audubon Park

Audubon Park is a 340-acre public green space near Tulane University bordered by the Mississippi River to the south and St. Charles Avenue to the north. Founded in the late 19th century, this park is home to a public golf course, a zoo, and more than 1,000 live oaks, some of which date back to the French Revolution. Bird-watchers take note: The park’s lagoons serve as sanctuary for egrets, herons, ibises, and plenty of ducks.

Yellow house decorated for Mardi Gras, with two stories of porches

The Maple Leaf Bar decorated for Mardi Gras

Photo by William A. Morgan/Shutterstock

Listen to live music

No visit to New Orleans is complete without listening to live music. Of the many venues located uptown, these three standouts are worth a visit:

  • Bayou Bar: A small wood-paneled cocktail bar on the ground floor of the Pontchartrain Hotel with live jazz five days a week (and no cover charge!)
  • Maple Leaf Bar: A local watering hole found way uptown in Carrollton with live music seven days a week from bands playing blues, funk, R&B, rock, zydeco, jazz, and more
  • Tipitina’s: A legendary live music venue open since 1977 that hosts large touring bands as well as monthly Cajun dancing nights

Go shopping on Magazine Street

Looking for some non-cheesy New Orleans souvenirs? Head to Magazine Street, which is lined with block upon block of small local businesses. Here are a few favorites:

  • DNO Garden District: A gift shop filled with unique New Orleans–themed apparel, art prints, and such items as a “More Jazz” baseball cap or tarot card–inspired throw blankets
  • Peaches Records: A family-owned record shop since 1975 that sells both new and vintage vinyl
  • Pop Culture NOLA: A Black woman–owned clothing boutique with colorful fashion and fun beaded accessories
  • Potsalot: Part studio, part showroom filled with functional ceramics like bread bowls, pitchers, and more
  • Terrance Osborne Gallery: A Black-owned art gallery featuring the colorful, locally inspired work of the eponymous painter
  • Trashy Diva Uptown: A woman’s clothing boutique featuring 1940s-inspired silhouettes in sizes 0 to 24 with new colors and patterns introduced monthly

Where to eat and drink

It’s not uncommon to visit New Orleans with one goal: to eat and drink your way through the city. While the mostly residential Garden District only has a handful of restaurants within its official borders, there are dozens of options throughout the entire uptown area. Here, a curated list of some neighborhood classics worth visiting, plus some buzzy new spots.

Casamento’s Restaurant

One of the best places for seafood in New Orleans, Casamento’s is a Magazine Street institution that’s been around for more than 100 years, where diners can watch shuckers tackle piles of oysters from their table. Former New Orleans resident Scott Hocker recommends ordering the oyster loaf undressed, without the lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise you’d expect from a po’boy sandwich. “That way there is little between you and bivalve bliss but two planks of buttered white ‘pan’ bread and a superb fry batter,” Hocker says. “A dose of hot sauce is all else you might need—and maybe some lemon.” Casamento’s, being family run, is cash only and closed during the summer.

Exterior of Commander's Palace restaurant in a teal building with teal-and-white striped awnings.

Commander’s Palace restaurant is easily recognized by its teal-and-white striped awnings.

Photo by William A. Morgan/Shutterstock

Commander’s Palace

A New Orleans institution, Commander’s Palace is known for launching the careers of Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. A Garden District landmark since 1893, it still serves Creole classics like gumbo, bread pudding soufflé, and turtle soup. On Saturdays and Sundays, a jazz trio makes its way from table to table, but the lunches on Thursday and Friday are nearly as iconic thanks to the 25-cent martini special.

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz has been serving snowballs—cups of finely shaved ice doused with sweet flavorings in a rainbow of colors—since 1939 and is still family run today. The selection of flavors is vast—from strawberry to ginger cayenne to Thai tea—and you can mix and match to your heart’s delight.

Mister Mao

Opened in 2021, Mister Mao is a self-described “tropical roadhouse restaurant” located on the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Jena streets. Cambodian American chef/owner Sophina Uong and her husband/partner William Greenwell describe their menu as “unapologetically inauthentic.” Though they mostly serve dinner Thursday through Monday, it’s also worth visiting for Sunday brunch to order dishes like pani puri stuffed with potato masala and Louisiana strawberries, crispy lumpia, and inventive cocktails with names like “Thirsty Sarah” and “Uncle Butthead.”

Molly’s Rise and Shine

Chef Mason Hereford’s Molly’s Rise and Shine is a casual breakfast restaurant on Magazine Street that serves biscuit sandwiches and sides in a dining room decked out in ephemera left over from a ’90s childhood. A must-order is the Grand Slam McMuffin, which consists of an English muffin topped with sage pork patties, a layer of crispy hash browns, griddled onions, and American cheese.

Hereford’s other two restaurants located nearby are also worth a visit: Turkey and the Wolf serves inventive sandwiches like the fried bologna sandwich and collard green melt a few blocks away from Molly’s Rise and Shine, while his newest opening on Magazine Street—the delightfully ’80s-themed Hungry Eyes—is his first full dinner service restaurant.

Plate of 15 oysters on ice

A dish of Brightside oysters served at Mosquito Supper Club

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Mosquito Supper Club

James Beard Award–winning chef Melissa Martin runs Mosquito Supper Club from a 19th-century house on Dryades Street. Here, Martin serves a multi-course tasting menu Thursdays through Sundays at communal tables using local seafood from businesses with sustainable fishing practices. Family-style meals can include dishes like Brightside oysters, smoked fish dip, crab claws, pickled shrimp, crawfish bisque with stuffed crawfish heads, and stuffed crabs.


After leaving his namesake restaurant and John Besh’s restaurant group behind, chef Alon Shaya opened Saba, an Israeli–New Orleans spot, in mid-2018. It serves bottles of natural wine, fluffy pitas pulled straight from a wood-fired oven, and bowls of creamy blue crab hummus among other Israeli specialties. The airy dining room on Magazine Street is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday and lunch Friday through Sunday.

Where to stay

Although the hotels in the Garden District aren’t as centrally located as the ones near Canal Street, staying in this part of New Orleans is ideal if you’d like to avoid the rowdiness of the French Quarter. (Plus, during Mardi Gras season, you’ll be close to the parades that roll down St. Charles Avenue.) Here, three of AFAR’s favorite hotels in the Garden District and surrounding neighborhoods:

Bathroom (L) with red paint and patterned wallpaper; dark lobby bar glowing red from neon lights at the Hotel Saint Vincent

The Hotel Saint Vincent’s design is dramatic from the wallpaper in its bathrooms to the lighting in its lobby bar.

Courtesy of Hotel Saint Vincent

Hotel Saint Vincent

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Originally opened as an orphanage in 1861, Hotel Saint Vincent was transformed into a 75-room hotel in 2021. It’s now owned by the MML Hospitality group run by hotelier Liz Lambert. Enjoyable any time of year, this hotel particularly feels ready for Mardi Gras celebrations thanks to the psychedelic marble wallpaper in the rooms, an outdoor pool, and dramatic neon lighting in the guests-only Chapel Club cocktail bar. Located on the corner of Magazine and Race streets in the Lower Garden District, Hotel Saint Vincent is an easy walk—two blocks—from St. Charles Avenue.

The Chloe

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Located in a renovated 19th-century mansion directly on St. Charles Avenue between Milan and Marengo streets, the Chloe is a 14-room hotel from LeBlanc+Smith, a local collective of beloved restaurants and bars, including Barrel Proof and Sylvain. Its large porch, along with other common spaces like the bar and restaurant, draw in neighbors and visitors alike. Its pool even sells day passes on a first-come, first-serve basis, making it a popular hangout spot in the summer.

During a recent stay, AFAR contributor Kristin Braswell described the decor in the rooms as “personal in its approach. New Orleanian designer Sara Ruffin Costello gives all guests something to discover or relish: a bathroom accessed through a wardrobe closet, say, or a soaking tub framed by a light-filled window.”

View of New Orleans skyline from Hot Tin at Pontchartrain Hotel

The rooftop bar, Hot Tin, at the Pontchartrain Hotel offers 180-degree views of downtown.

Courtesy of Pontchartrain Hotel

The Pontchartrain Hotel

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Located directly on St. Charles Avenue and the corner of Josephine Street, the Pontchartrain Hotel has welcomed guests like Frank Sinatra and Truman Capote since it opened in the 1940s. A 2016 renovation retained that vintage glamour while bringing the hotel into the 21st century with 106 rooms decorated with an eclectic mix of European- and Caribbean-style furniture. The hotel’s public spaces are where it truly shines, attracting locals and travelers alike. Its ground floor Bayou Bar has live music—with no cover charge—five days a week, while its rooftop bar, Hot Tin, offers 180-degree views of downtown.

Green St. Charles Line streetcar in New Orleans between rows of trees

The St. Charles streetcar remains an affordable way to get around New Orleans for just $1.25 a ride.

Photo by William A. Morgan/Shutterstock

Getting to the Garden District

The easiest—and most scenic—way to get to the Garden District is via the St. Charles Streetcar line. From the Central Business District downtown, it takes about 15 minutes to reach the eastern edge of the Garden District at the intersection of St. Charles and Jackson avenues. These iconic green streetcars also make plenty of other stops along oak-lined St. Charles Avenue, so you can hop on and off to visit other places in this guide.

It costs adults $1.25 per ride on the streetcar, which can be paid with exact cash when you board or via the Le Pass app of the New Orleans RTA. For multiple rides on the streetcars (as well as buses and ferries in New Orleans), it’s best to purchase a Jazzy Pass from the app for 1, 3, 7, or 31 days unlimited rides ($3, $8, $15, and $45, respectively).

New Orleans also has its own bike share program called Blue Bikes, but keep in mind that stations only go as far west as Louisiana Avenue (i.e., the western edge of the Garden District). While you can easily take them past that boundary—say, if you’d like to bike all the way to Audubon Park—it’s impossible to dock them farther uptown than the Garden District.

For the fastest way to get from point A to point B in New Orleans, Ubers and Lyfts are also widely available.

Lyndsey Matthews is the former senior commerce editor at Afar, covering travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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