New Orleans, Louisiana audio tour: Esplanade Ridge: The Creole Garden District

Esplanade Ridge: The Creole Garden District

Walking Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

Welcome to the Esplanade Ridge, home to the Faubourg St. John, romantically referred to as the Creole Garden District. Beginning at the upper boundary of the musical Faubourg Tremé, the Faubourg St. John harbors a history and lore just as lush and enticing. The history of Esplanade Ridge begins in 1708, a full decade before Bienville founded the city of New Orleans. The faubourg grew from those proud French roots and is often hailed as the Creole response to the American incursion following the Louisiana Purchase.

From the elegant architecture to the Free People of Color Museum to the bustling Ponce de Leon Triangle to the quiet elegance of the “Sanctuary of Angels” built on the grounds of a one time leper colony, the Creole Garden District will enter your dreams and have you singing a few lines of Hoagy Carmichael’s “If you've never seen a quaint old Southern city, Just think of New… think of New Orleans. It will remind you of old fashioned lace, while a glass of wine will greet your smiling face.” So, how about it? Won’t you join me for a leisurely stroll through this Creole Garden District.

A video trailer for the walk, which includes some of the sights you'll see, can be viewed here:

Tour Producer


Denise Altobello

Daughter of a butcher and a restaurant maven, granddaughter of a one-armed Cajun barbecue chef and a German gravedigger, I hail originally from the now famous Ninth Ward of New Orleans, just downriver from the French Quarter and the Faubourg Tremé. Growing up among the graveyards of my French, German and African-American neighbors, I played hide-and-seek in the cities of the dead, learned to decipher the voodoo markings adorning the above-ground ovens and honed my skills in palm reading, bar-hopping and fire baton twirling. My most recent adventure was scriptwriting LULU WHITE: Queen of Storyville,” a musical cabaret that tells the story of one of New Orleans’ most fascinating madams and her opulent Mahogany Hall.
During my adult summers I travel, write, edit and lead talented teens in travel writing and photography workshops as part of NOLA Travel Writers. When not traveling, teaching, and scribbling, I continue to wander the neighborhoods of New Orleans with the same curiosity that I brought to my childhood games of graveyard hide-and-seek. Who knows what I may unearth next?

Major Landmarks

  • Free People of Color Museum

  • the Luling Mansion

  • St. Louis #3 Cemetery

Directions to Starting Point

At 2035 Esplanade Avenue, about a half-mile from the edge of the French Quarter on Rampart Street. If you are driving, parking is available all along Esplanade Avenue.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

By all means, enjoy the shade of the hundred-year-old oak trees inside Fortier Park at the end of the route. And don't miss a chance to pop inside the Fair Grinds Coffee Shop for a delicious hot or cold drink. The neighborhood vibe in this funky coffee shop will show you why this neighborhood is so popular with locals and local "newbees." St. Louis Cemetery #3 is a walk through history. Finally, be sure to stop by Le Musée de Free People of Color, a historic home that is one of the country’s few attractions dedicated exclusively to preserving the culture and vibrant history of free people of color.

Best time of day

Daylight hours afford the best views of the exquisite architecture, and the St. Louis Cemetery #3 is open for visits from 8:00 am until 4:30pm. The route is lined with shade trees for most of the way, so the walk or bike ride is nearly always pleasant!


Wear sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes. Old New Orleans sidewalks always require careful walking.


Her Treme tour is the top choice in the City in part because it is the most interesting to people interested in the jazz history of the city. But for this neighborhood she does a great job. Note that this is not the famous Garden District.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , almost 2 years ago

We are locals and this is one of our favorite spots in the city - but to really dive in and intently walk the streets of the Esplanade Ridge was absolutely incredible! We learned so very much and at our own pace could really digest the intricacies and fascinating history of the area. We loved the small details, folklore and stories that really brought the area alive for us. You could imagine the residents in each house sipping a cognac and telling tales in the parlor ! We celebrated at the incomparable Cafe Degas and we simply cannot recall a more pleasant Saturday afternoon! The rich history is brought to life in a way that few other venues can offer. This is a must do!!!

Posted by Rebecca , about 2 years ago

Super interesting and well structured tour. Highly recommend

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , over 3 years ago

This is the best NOLA tour - second only to this same woman’s Treme tour. She’s da bomb

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , over 3 years ago

Looooooved this!!!! I've found my favorite New Orleans walk!!!

Posted by Brian , over 3 years ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Esplanade Ridge: The Creole Garden District