Upriver from Downtown, St Charles Avenue winds its way up to First Street, the heart of the refined and residential Garden District. Blocks of palatial Greek- columned mansions hide lush gardens and courtyards behind wrought-iron gates. Many of the founding families of these mansions rest in the lavish vaults and tombs of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. The grande dame of New Orleans dining, Commander’s Palace, serves sumptuous dishes for the well-heeled, while over on Magazine Street, locals browse the antique shops in nearby Audubon Park. Catfish splash in the calm lagoons as families picnic in the grounds.
Metairie and the Lakefront
Suburban Metairie is close to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. Lake Ponchartrain City Park is the main draw, its moss-draped trees and sleepy lagoons providing a peaceful afternoon respite. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the New Orleans Botanical Garden sit at the main entrance to the park. Outside the city, the Great River Road takes you past a string of plantation homes. Further out are a smattering of tiny villages amid the swamps and bayous of Cajun Country, where you can dance at a lively zydeco music brunch or get out on the water on a swamp tour.