It has been nearly ten years since the city of New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers to adequately protect the city from the power of high water generated from it’s storm surge. On this anniversary, the city is experiencing an influx of new residents, as well as more tourists than ever before; all of them eager to get a small taste of the good times that make the crescent city unlike any other in the country.

If you’re planning a visit to the Big Easy, your first decision is where to stay. Although many people spend their entire trip in the French Quarter, the somewhat quieter surrounds of the Garden District provide a reprieve from the all night party atmosphere of the old city. Located less than two miles from the historic Jackson Square, the former city of Lafayette offers numerous hotels, resorts, and bed and breakfast options for people who only want to visit the party, and not live it 24/7.

After checking in to your home base, you’ll want to get yourself acclimated with this little part of paradise. The Garden District, so named because of their large manicured lawns, is best seen by following an expert guide. Fortunately many of the cities myriad of tour companies offer walking tours of the district.

On a recent trip to the city, the staff of Palm Beach Happening were lucky enough to find a tour company that covered a little bit of everything in the former American sector; Magic Tours NOLA. They offer a daily tour of the neighborhood, starting just outside the Still Perkin’ Coffee shop, and down the street from Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. (In addition to the Garden District Tour, Magic Tours NOLA also offers tours of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the French Quarter, as well as a Ghosts, Haunts and Voodoo Tour.)

The tour began with a brief jaunt through the graveyard, where some of the burial traditions were explained. It continued with a roughly two mile walk around the streets, stopping to show off some of the large mansions located in this part of town. Did you know that the Garden District is home to both Loyola and Tulane? Highlights of the tour included John Goodman’s House, Sandra Bullock’s House, and the former home of Anne Rice. Other highlights included a home where Edgar Degas spent time in the city, as well as numerous other historic sites.

The Garden District is located just a quick streetcar ride away from any of the tourist friendly areas of the city, and makes up the heart of the Mardi Gras parade route. No trip to the Big Easy is complete without at least a visit to this beautiful and historic part of New Orleans.

 Next week, we’ll explore the Audubon Nature Institute; home to sharks, alligators, butterflies, and werewolves?!?

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