Garden District Walking Tour With a Local
A Garden District walking tour with Unique Nola Tours will bring you through one of the finest neighborhoods in the country with close to two centuries of stories, successes and scandals. When you stroll with a local, you have a more informed, more nuanced, more “inside” experience.
There are numerous books, online tours and, of course, there are many tour companies who offer Garden District walking tours. Heck, even the great Commander’s Palace hands out a guide map to their guests. However, learning a bunch of facts and recounting them does not a quality tour make.
When you walk with one of our locals as a guide, you are walking with actual experts on New Orleans’ history, architecture, culture and all the other shining facets that make this place unique. Our guides are award-winning authors, local personalities and geeked-out historians who would rather tell the real stories and not fabricate or repeat convenient mistruths that so often mar lesser tours.
We employ guides who have toured the Garden District for over twenty years. Not only can we share the state of the Garden District now, but how it evolved from the days before Katrina. Who has moved in? Who has left? What are the latest rumors racing along the New Orleans grapevine?
Having a Local on your Walking Tour
Another advantage to having a local bring you along on a Garden District walking tour is the familiarity with the residents of the area. Most residents of the Garden District are super proud of their homes and love showing them off, our local guides have years-long acquaintance with them, making it more likely to get a quick chat. Some of these folks are a part of old, important families. Our joke is that these are the families who have New Orleans streets named after them. It is such a joy to get a nugget of history from someone who is actually a part of it.
Though it is extremely rare, and no promises are being made, we sometimes meet celebrity residents as they go about their lives – walking their dog, loading their cars and other day to day activities. One time, in a once in a lifetime tour between the holidays, our group said hello to John Goodman, Archie Manning and Nicholas Cage! Our local guide had to assure the group that this is not usually Beverly Hills.
If you think about it, one of the attractions of the Garden District is, well, the gardens. Our local guides know what’s growing where, what’s about to blossom and what just bloomed. New Orleans is semi-tropical, and we are lucky enough to have a spate of lovely flowers and plants.
The lovely fences, pergolas, gazebos and other features of the Garden District are festooned with color year round. Everything from parti-colored pansies to grandiose magnolias flourish here. In the dead of heavy summer bougainvillea and crape myrtles are like floral celebrations. When winter is bleak in the rest of the country, the Garden District boasts stately, vibrant camellias and clouds of azaleas. We know the growing seasons, because we are part of the world of New Orleans.
Beyond the floral excitement of the Garden District, there are many fragrant and wonderful fruit varieties we would love to share with you. Back in the day, though the Garden District was the height of elegance, New Orleans still was surrounded by swamp, and at times it can get a little, shall we say, odiferous. To add pleasant notes to the local aroma, we will see kumquats crowding on their bushes and Meyer lemon trees sagging under the weight of gigantic fruit. We will enjoy the bouquet of perfume-y sweet olive and jasmines and spicy shell ginger plants. Our local guides love exploring these verdant gems.
A Walking Tour of Nature, Too!
Mockingbirds and cardinals sing their loud songs from rooftops and wires, while a resident osprey offers his opinion. New Orleans, being situated on a river and close to the Gulf of Mexico, is a veritable crossroads of bird life. The quiet Garden District allows a respite for normally skittish species. From twittering chickadees to Mississippi kites and even an occasional Bald Eagle, our locals can spot them out for you.
Finally, to get this far into a discussion of the joys of a Garden District walking tour, and not mention the actual houses, goes a long way to capturing how fascinating this gem of a neighborhood really is. Goethe said “Architecture is frozen music,” and a Garden District walking tour is one of the most delightful concerts you’ll ever attend.
Our locals know the intricacies of the many styles early designers utilized. You will see Italianate, Victorian, Queen Anne, Swiss Chalet, Beaux Arts and more. There are even a few shotgun houses nestled in the area. We can demonstrate, for example, pure examples of Greek Revival and at the same time examples of a mishmash of a bunch of different traditions.
Overall, a Garden District walking tour is a bucket list experience which will certainly be a pleasant and treasured memory from your trip to New Orleans.