I truly love all things New Orleans. I’m drawn to its history, its architecture and its culture.
And as much as I’m in love with the Crescent City as a whole, my favorite neighborhood is the Garden District. There’s something about the beauty of the old plantation homes, sprawling oak trees, cemeteries and private gardens that speak to my soul in a way no other area (except Paris) does.
So when it came time for a girl’s trip to NOLA, it wasn’t a surprise that although we stayed in the French Quarter, we ended up spending the majority of our time in the Garden District. It’s the perfect place for friends to relax, explore and make memories.
I’ve assembled a list of a few of our personal experiences and recommendations to share. If you visit, I hope you have as much fun as we did!
Shopping, Booze and Beignets in the Garden District
7 Places You Must Visit During Your Girls Trip!
Are you a shopping enthusiast? Then Magazine Street is where it all happens for you. The street is lined with clothing boutiques, art galleries, antique/specialty shops and charming eateries.
Before tackling Magazine Street though, you need to know a couple of important things. First, this shoppers paradise is 6 miles long, so don’t try to attack it all in one outing. You could literally spend a week browsing these neat stores and talking with the shopkeepers. I recommend setting aside a couple of days to shop, sip and stroll.
Must do: Champaigne & beignets for lunch!
It was pure serendipity that we stumbled across The Vintage while strolling down Magazine Street. And oh my, it was everything we hoped it would be! The ambiance is niche, roomy, old-timey and glamorous. The vibe is part coffeeshop part bar and it works in the best way possible.
We ordered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut Rose and beignets and spent a leisurely afternoon enjoying each other’s company while sipping bubbly. It was carefree, indulgent and magical. (So magical, in fact, that we came back the next day for a visit.)
Pro-Tip: Their gourmet beignets are fabulous and worth every penny. Also, the truffle fries… ORDER THEM. You’re welcome.
Shake Your Bon Bon
Must do: Treat yourself to something beautiful!
Another serendipitous discovery for us was this lovely little boutique. We knew the minute we saw it that we needed to go inside. Feminine, sophisticated and stylish Shake Your Bon Bon has unique pieces that are to die for not to mention staff that make you feel like VIPs. (So gracious and southern!) Also, they gave us rosé within minutes of entering. Instant love!
As an aside, I’m a huge believer in supporting local entrepreneurs and after reading this dreamy love story about the owners, I knew I had to include them in this article. Many happy wishes on their continued success!
Ashley Longshore Gallery
Must do: Visit. Purchase art. Have fun.
The entire reason we embarked on our Magazine Street adventure this trip was to hit the Ashley Longshore Gallery. (Sharon is a huge fan and wasn’t leaving town without something from that gallery.) In case you are unfamiliar, Ashley Longshore is internationally renowned and 100% badass. Her paintings are loved by Blake Lively and featured on the regular in magazines such as Vogue and Elle.
Although I didn’t know much about Ashley before going in, I must say that I fell in love with her within 60 seconds. Her paintings are fun, colorful and smartass. (All traits I personally appreciate.) Also, the bling!
Pro-tip: Check the gallery’s hours before you visit. We almost missed out. Also, come camera-ready. So many great photo ops in the gallery!
The Cupcake Collection
Must do: Eat them all!
We sought this baby out after reading about it online. We’re cupcake aficionados and were committed to our “research” in every city we visit.
We happened in on this establishment during a Saints football game and were completely amused by the owner’s preoccupation with the game. She was adorable and enthusiastic and OMG does she make some killer cupcakes! Every one we tasted was exceptionally delicious. But the sweet potato cupcake, in my humble opinion, was next level. Just go with me on this. EAT THE CUPCAKE.
Pro-tip: Weekend warriors beware, The Cupcake Collection is not open on Saturdays. Plan accordingly.
Garden District Book Shop
Must do: Buy a book or three! Support local authors and independent booksellers.
When I tell you that I’ve had an obsession with this book shop for years, I mean it. Located in a small shopping center that once housed the South’s first roller rink, the Garden District Book Shop is one of the finest in the area and counts author Anne Rice among its biggest fans. I met Anne at a book signing in Towson, Maryland while I was in college. She was so gracious and kind and mysterious that I became obsessed with her books and, in turn, New Orleans. She spoke often about this bookshop so it was a must-visit for this book nerd.
Must do: Treat yourself to an exquisite meal.
There is literally no way you could miss this local icon. Commander’s Palace is a giant teal Victorian mansion with a white striped awning that sits on the corner of Coliseum St. and Washington Ave. across from the Lafayette Cemetery #1. Built by Amil Commander in 1893, the restaurant has been serving up specialties for 126 years.
And, although all NOLA food is good food, the girls and I wanted at least one signature meal to be an occasion.
We chose wisely.
Commander’s Palace was, hands down, the best meal experience I’ve ever had anytime, anywhere in the United States. I didn’t expect that. Don’t get me wrong, I expected a wonderful meal, I just wasn’t prepared for the perfection I was served.
We chose ‘Chef Tory’s Playground Tasting Menu’ with the wine pairing. This five course menu included items like Louisiana wagyu beef, cornbread spaetzle & corn fried oysters, pan roasted gulf fish and yellowfin tuna muffaletta carpaccio among others. The wine ranged from France to Oregon, California to Hungary with a little Champagne thrown in for good measure. We also sipped a few signature drinks as well and they were divine.
The service was outstanding and we especially enjoyed the company of Richard our charming ‘beverage service technician.’ (That’s technically not his title but I think it suits him better than front waiter. Honestly, we spent more time with Richard that anyone else on staff which probably says a lot about our priorities. Don’t judge.)
As you can tell, our NOLA trip was a smashing success. We left with tighter pants, a new appreciation for great architecture and pillowy pastries and the belief that there’s nothing quite as magical as a girl’s weekend away!