There are different faces to New Orleans, and although the French Quarter is its most famous tourist destination, there are more to see and explore in the city.
This self-guided tour will focus on the galleries and museums in the art district and will continue strolling down the streets, viewing the mansions and the wide streets of the Garden District.
Arriving at the starting point: The tour starts on Poydras Street Sculptor Exhibition at one of the female creations there. Getting from the French Quarter area is either by foot or by the St. Charles streetcar. However, if you wish to walk along Poydras street to view more sculptors, you can start at Convention Center Boulevard, walk along the street and enjoy the different sculptors.
Duration: This itinerary has a full day planned, but you may stop at any point and continue on a different day or add optional stops on the way.
Recommended time: Any day with welcoming weather. If it is too hot or too rainy, you may focus on the indoor options and remove the Garden District part from your itinerary. Another option is to purchase a Jazzy Passes for the day and ride buses/streetcars between the places.
Guided Tours options: If you are interested in learning more about the Garden District history and its mansions, add a guided tour: check some options here.
1. Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition
610 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70130.
‘Octet’ by Lin Emery is one of 33 exterior sculptures in the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition located along Poydras St. between Convention Center Boulevard and South Galvez.
The exhibition has started as a private initiative of a sculptor who wanted to “lift the public spirit” after Hurricane Katrina and expanded with the help of several organizations in the city.
2. Lafayette Square
S Maestri Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130.
The second oldest urban park in New Orleans was built in 1788 by the Spanish. Still in use for concerts, festivals, public events, inaugurations, weddings, films and more. During springtime, it hosts the free annual concerts series YLC Wednesday at the Square.
The square is named after the French general, Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, and the statue in its center is of Henry Clay, an important political figure in the 19th century.
The heart of the Art District is on Julia Street, which is full of different and interesting galleries. Among the female-operated galleries are Sasik Gallery, owned by and presenting the work of Beata Sasik, and Octavia Art Gallery, founded by Pamela Bryan and managed by women, showing local and well-known artists.
Enjoy walking along the streets of the Art District area discovering interesting buildings, shops, and galleries.
The following nearby museums are highly recommended.
Choose one of them to visit, or make time to visit all of them:
900 Camp St, New Orleans, LA 70130.
This modern art museum presents “the art of our time”, without limitation to a specific kind of art.
On the first two floors, there are rotating exhibitions, while on the third and fourth there is the “Shop”, a creative co-working space to create art (Closed on Tuesdays, free for Louisiana residents on Sundays).The museum opened in 1976 by a group of visual artists and was managed as an artist-driven community, and this unique vibe is still present in the atmosphere of the museum and the community involvement.
945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130.
This is one of the nation’s largest museums that preserves and exhibits the story of the American experience in WWII, leaders as well as people.
The exhibitions include multimedia experiences, a collection of artifacts and personal oral documentations that will connect the visitor to the story of the war that changed the world.
7. Ogden Museum of Southern Art
925 Camp St, New Orleans, LA 70130.
The museum showcases different modern southern art types and enables a great opportunity to see the impact on the southern art scene by the southern traditions in music, culinary, and more.
Exhibitions are rotating with the museum permanent collections as well as guest artists.
Check the museum calendar for special events and guided tours (free for Louisiana residents on Thursdays).
8. Margaret Haughery Statue
1142 Margaret Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130.
One of the first memorials honoring a woman in the USA and the first in the south.
Dedicated in 1884, to the “Mother of Orphans”, Margaret Haughery, a businesswoman and philanthropist who supported orphans and widows, as well as building orphanages in the city.
When she died in 1882, almost all assets were donated to charity.
9. The Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery No.1
This neighborhood is the opposite of the noise and crowd of the French Quarter. Its streets are full of historical, beautiful mansions; some are owned by celebrities.
The area started to develop in 1832 when wealthy Americans wanted to live separated from the Creole who lived in the French Quarter.
In the beginning, in each block there were only a few houses with large gardens (hence its name ‘Garden District’), but at the end of the 19th century more houses were built with the development of New Orleans, and the district started to look more like a neighborhood.
The garden district borders are St. Charles Avenue to the north, Magazine Street to the south, First Street to the east, and Toledano Street to the west.
We recommend walking along Prytania St., First St., and Coliseum St. as much as you like.
If you join a guided tour, you can hear more juicy stories about the current and previous residents of the area.
Do not miss Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, still an active cemetery since 1833, hosting some cool designed tombs, and is still one of the most filmed cemeteries in the city.
10. Magazine Street
From Lafayette Cemetery No.1 walk south for a few blocks arriving at Magazine Street (or use the bus to get there).
It’s a long street that starts at Canal St. and ends after five miles and is well known for many dining options, bars, local boutiques, and art galleries, mostly in the 2000-4000 buildings’ numbers.
From here if you wish to go back to the French Quarter area, there is a bus heading in this direction.