The Secret Gardens of the New Orleans' French Quarter
What a wonderful trip (even if we do say so ourselves)! Huron Tours has spent considerable time in gardens with our travelers over the 27+ years we've been bringing people on garden tours. Our New Orleans garden tours are some of the best days we've experienced, and we love running these tours every year.
Year in and year out, since it's initial offering, this tour has consistently been one of our most popular. Judging by our phone calls and recent online inquires, 2017 will be no different.
We know people have heard a lot about, and fall in love with New Orleans. This year we've combined the best of our previous year's tours into a wonderful itinerary. Please read on for a detailed itinerary, then come join us in New Orleans on this very special adventure.
Thursday, October 12
Arrival, Welcome Dinner at Antoine's Restaurant
Let Huron Tours arrange your airfare from your home town to New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International airport (MSY).
Settle in to our perfectly located, quiet, and traveler loved French Quarter hotel, the Hotel Mazarin. The Mazarin features full breakfast buffet daily, a welcome drink in their "prohibition" style bar, high speed wireless internet, in-room coffee facilities, 24 hour access to the fitness center and more. They have a lovely courtyard themselves, and make the prefect location for our further French Quarter explorations.
This evening, join your fellow travelers for a short stroll for a very special, private "welcome to New Orleans" dinner at our beloved Antoine's Restaurant, operating out of the same location since 1840. We'll enjoy a special tour of the restaurant's many private rooms and secret passages, before spending some time together enjoying a lovely multi-course meal with wine.
famous Blue Dog in the New Orleans sculpture garden
Friday, October 13
New Orleans Botanical Garden private tour, New Orleans Museum of Art Tour, Sculpture Garden, Royal Tea at the Windsor Court, Free Evening
Following the nice breakfast at the hotel, we'll head out via private deluxe motor-coach for the short drive to the wonderful hidden gem that is the New Orleans Botanical Garden for a private tour.
Opened in 1936 as New Orleans’ first classical garden, the charming collection consists of over 2,000 varieties of plants from all over the world, set among the Nation’s largest stand of mature Southern Live Oaks. The site also contains the Conservatory of the Two Sisters, the New Orleans Historic Train Garden, the Yakumo Nihon Teien Japanese Garden and theme gardens containing aquatics, roses, native plants, and ornamental trees, as well as shrubs and perennials. Susan, the head education at the botanical garden, will spend the morning with us helping us appreciate what makes this garden so special.
Following our visit to the botanical garden, and on our way to the New Orleans Museum of Art, we'll take a few minutes to enjoy a hidden gem - the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a stunning five acre space of meandering footpaths dedicated to showcasing over sixty sculptures from a wide variety of artists, with a worth an estimated at $25 million dollars. The sculpture garden, set beneath Cypress and Magnolia trees, is a delight.
Just around the corner is the exceptional New Orleans Museum of Art, the city's oldest fine art institution. Established in 1911 "NOMA" houses a magnificent permanent collection of nearly 40,000 art objects spanning 400 years of art history. In addition to the great art, NOMA is a magnificent neo-classical Breaux Arts-style building, and is New Orleans' most visited museum. We'll enjoy a nice docent led visit as we learn about the museum, and appreciate the artistry.
Lastly, to help punctuate a wonderful day, we will we experience the delightful New Orleans tradition of afternoon tea at The Windsor Court (New Orleans' most luxurious hotel!)
A table filled with fresh cut roses adorns the entry to Windsor Court Hotel, where we will arrive for our afternoon tea. This isn't just any afternoon tea - but "Royal Tea" featuring the finest loose-leaf teas, an incredible first course of assorted tea sandwiches as well as smoked salmon and caviar canapés, strawberry and walnut scones, and assorted sweets featuring tartlets and petits fours. You'll also enjoy a nice glass of sparkling wine, Chardonnay, or Spanish sherry, to sip while the harpist helps you soak in the exquisite atmosphere. The perfect ending to a wonderful day, and a truly quintessential New Orleans experience.
This evening dinner is on your own. Don't worry - John and Katie have a great restaurant list of their favorite restaurants in New Orleans, many of which are within easy walking distance of your hotel. You may also want to consider making a reservation at some of our world famous dining establishments like Emeril's, Brennan's (newly restored and getting rave reviews, and we can personally recommend the table-side preparation of Steak Dianne), or Mr. B's, a New Orleans classic.
Such a great dinner tonight!
Saturday, October 14
Breakfast, French Quarter Carriage Ride, Secret Gardens Day One, Free Evening
This morning following breakfast, your private New Orleans’ carriage awaits. Your “buggy ride” through the French Quarter offers an excellent overview of this interesting historic neighborhood, and will give you a fun preview for this afternoons garden tours.
Today is our first taste of some of the very best private gardens, and we'll enjoy an intimate look at the Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre. As you stand on the street, outside some of these gardens, you'll have no inkling of what awaits you behind a skinny wooden door of flaking paint, or a shaded passageway to seemingly nowhere. These hidden gardens are a sanctuary of calm in the bustle of the French Quarter, and stepping into them you'll feel as though you've entered an alternate reality. Graceful cranes and wrought-iron fence posts stand tall in garden beds tucked peacefully away, hidden far from the revelry of the "Big Easy." These are the gardens and private spaces tourists and most natives never see. Lush, alluring, and absolutely magical. Today, you are an exclusive guest into this world of hidden beauty.
John and Katie will help you navigate the French Quarter from garden to garden, but you are free to experience these gems at your own pace as well. Following the afternoon of garden visits, you are free to continue exploring the French Quarter, and you will no doubt have spotted areas of interest while on your carriage ride. Royal Street boasts antique and art galleries galore. The New Orleans Historical Society has fascinating rotating exhibits in a charming courtyard of their own. The Cabildo houses the Louisiana State Museum offering a unique look at America's beginnings, and the Old U.S. Mint offers free admission to a variety of exhibits from New Orleans Jazz to Newcomb Pottery and crafts.
Dinner this evening is on your own, and your comprehensive restaurant list and French Quarter explorations should provide excellent ideas of how to make the most of your evening.
Sunday, October 15
Private Tour of Beauregard-Keys House, Secret Gardens Day Two, Free Evening
This morning after breakfast we'll enjoy a pleasant stroll through the awakening streets of the French Quarter on our way to one of the most romantic and fascinating old houses in a city which boasts of many interesting landmarks - the Beauregard-Keyes House, the sumptuous house in the heart of the city's fabled French Quarter.
“No garden should be without a wall,” says garden writer Mirabel Osler in The Garden Wall. This seems to be a given in the New Orleans French Quarter and nowhere more apparent than at Beauregard-Keyes. The grounds feature a parterre garden that is a symphony of formal simplicity and is currently planted with plants popular in New Orleans from the 1830s to the 1860s. This visit was the run-away surprise of our 2016 tour, and we are very pleased to offer it again this year.
This afternoon is day two of the wonderful Secret Gardens tour, and another chance to enjoy New Orleans like a local, strolling the streets and experiencing their charm, and secrets.
The French Quarter has been making an excellent move in the past few years to return to its roots a bit. As a result there are now quite a few excellent clubs where one can catch quality Jazz music every night of the week. Katie and I often joke, in what we are sure is a horribly snobby way, that in other parts of the world when a venue advertises "Live Music" it should be seen as a threat, rather than an inducement. But not in New Orleans! We'll include a list of our favorite spots to catch live music while you are in New Orleans (so you may judge for yourselves) - many of which are world famous, and an easy walk from our hotel, in addition to offering free or very reasonable admission.
Such a great lunch this afternoon!
Monday, October 16
Private Walking Tour of the Historic Garden District, Lunch at World Famous Commander's Palace
People visiting New Orleans are often told to visit the Garden District. There is usually some confusion of where exactly this is, and often visitors aren't sure they've actually been to the right place! Well, you won't have any of those problems today!
We know exactly where the Garden District is (and equally as importantly, where it isn't!) We've arranged a local expert to lead us through this wonderful grand unique neighborhood (by foot, no busses allowed!). Our local expert will help inform us on what makes this neighborhood so special. Block wide houses and live-oaks hundreds of years old punctuate this quiet, quirky, and charming neighborhood - home to authors, NFL quarterbacks, important New Orleans personalities, and Hollywood stars (last year we were just in time to see John Goodman take out his trash!)
Just when your mind starts to wander and you start thinking to yourself "You know, some Champagne would be really great right about now" we'll pop inside New Orleans' most recognized and popular "special occasion" restaurant - Commander's Palace - for a private lunch as only Commanders can serve.
We've specially selected the menu to give you a great taste of New Orleans, and so you can experience this special setting that is so dear to New Orleans.
Following our fabulous lunch, our private motor-coach will return us to the French Quarter where you have just begun to scratch the surface. Are you interested in a Ghost or Vampire French Quarter Tour? Jazz dinner cruise on the Mississippi? Cajun cooking class? A ride along the Saint Charles street car? A visit to the cocktail museum? Some time at Harrahas Casino? A visit to the excellent National World War 2 museum? Let us know so we can help you make it happen!
The Court of Two Sisters
Tuesday, October 17
Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch, Depart for home with wonderful memories!
We don't want you to leave New Orleans without getting to try all the wonderful food you will have been hearing about! Near our hotel, through a graceful arching entryway is the Court of Two Sisters restaurant, who offer a wonderful Jazz Brunch.
We'll discuss the weekends wonderful garden visits as we listen to traditional New Orleans jazz in a lovely courtyard setting. This is a great, fun, New Orleans buffet, with a chance to try nearly every New Orleans specialty under the sun: Boiled Shrimp, Crawfish, Grillades and Grits, Creole Jambalaya, Pecan Pie, Coconut Cake, you name it, they've got it! A fitting send-off for this great tour.
Sadly, all great trips must come to an end! You'll leave New Orleans with a new appreciation for this special city, having experienced it "like a local."
A $500 per person deposit will hold your space. Please use the link above or below to access our online shopping cart. If you'd like to reserve over the phone, we'd be happy to talk to you and can be reached at either (504) 267-2057 or (800) 734-1192.