The Garden District is the crown jewel of New Orleans. Its huge, historical homes draw from colonial, Greek revival and Victorian architectural styles, with ornate wrought-iron fences and baby blue porch ceilings.
A stroll through these streets is a must on any trip to the Crescent City; I book a walking tour of the opulent neighborhood every time I visit.
Two Chicks Walking Tours has been a favorite among visitors since the company formed in 2014. It's no surprise that the Grand Garden District, Gracious Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 walking tours are among Two Chicks' most popular offerings.
The Grand Garden District tour starts in front of one of my favorite New Orleans food spots, District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew. on Magazine Street. Arrive extra early for the tour and grab a fried chicken slider and a Nutty Buddy doughnut for breakfast. The Gracious Garden District tour appropriately starts in front of Gracious Bakery on St. Charles Avenue.
Colorful homes and homeowners
Once the tour is underway, one of Two Chicks' charming local guides leads visitors through the uneven, enchanting streets of the Garden District. Guests will pass dozens of colorful homes dating to the 1800s on their way to Buckner Mansion, made famous by the FX series "American Horror Story: Covenant." A stop at the Cornstalk Fence Mansion, the former home of Confederate Col. Robert H. Short, for sale at over $4 million, prompts our guide to recount two stories — one salacious and one more plausible — about New Orleans' two cornstalk fences.
Along the way, you'll stop to take photos of the pink plantation home where Anne Rice is said to have written "Interview With the Vampire." No matter your NFL allegiance, when passing by the childhood home of Eli and Peyton Manning, don't snap off a fleur-de-lis from their parents' iron gate, as many other tourists do.
The group will likely saunter by Sandra Bullock's mansion, right next to the house where they filmed "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." On the corner, you'll pass by some of the neighborhood's most exquisite mansions, including the former home of musician Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and the current home of actor John Goodman. If you're lucky, you may even see him walking his dog around the neighborhood.
Another highlight is Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, where you'll learn about New Orleans' French-style burial system, the classic movies and TV shows shot on the grounds and some of the city's more notable family tombs. The Gracious Garden District tour spends more time in the cemetery than the original Grand Garden District tour.
The Grand Garden District tour has start times ranging from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m., and the Gracious Garden District tour has afternoon options from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Each tour costs $34 and has different routes that are subject to change.