Spring Blooms in New Orleans
April 13 - 18, 2021
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.
Spring Blooms in New Orleans is marvelous! The city and its beautiful gardens are coming alive as the days get warmer but humidity is still relatively low. It is the perfect weather for enjoying the splendid list of gardens included on this exclusive tour.
In addition to great gardens, April is the perfect time to enjoy New Orleans’ wonderful outdoor dining scene and explore our historic neighborhoods.
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.
Tuesday, April 13
Arrival, Check-In to the Royal Sonesta & Welcome Dinner at Antoine’s Restaurant
Travel from your home town to the brand new, state of the art New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International airport (MSY). If you prefer to drive to New Orleans, let us send you a list of convenient parking options.
Settle in to the Royal Sonesta New Orleans, our Four Diamond AAA rated hotel located in the heart of the historic French Quarter. During your stay you will enjoy luxurious amenities and service in the grandest of hotel traditions with the best of the Big Easy all under one roof!
The Royal Sonesta New Orleans is truly a destination within a destination. Without even leaving the hotel you’ll be treated to multiple options for dining and entertainment including Huron favorite Restaurant R'Evolution, the Jazz Playhouse, Desire's Oyster Bar, PJ's Coffee, Oasis pool bar and more.
At the end of our touring days you can browse unique and eclectic art galleries as well as a variety of antique shops located just one block away on historic Royal Street or relax on one the hotel’s wrought-iron balconies, cool off in the stunning pool or find serenity in the lush tropical courtyard with its gorgeous fountain.
Every spacious guest rooms is filled with thoughtful amenities and delightful little extras like complimentary wireless Internet, Keurig coffee maker, in-room refrigerator, pillow top mattresses, king size pillows, iron and ironing board, robes, hair dryer and laptop size electronic safe.
Huron Tours realizes now more than ever you will find peace of mind knowing The Royal Sonesta New Orleans is a multiple AAA Inspector's Best of Housekeeping award winner. Their rigorous health and cleanliness program “Stay Safe with Sonesta” follows the latest CDC recommendations and uses Ecolab hospital-grade cleaning products.
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 in the restaurant’s most famous private dining space – The Rex Room, named after the King of Carnival.
Wednesday, April 14
New Orleans Botanical Garden, Lunch at Ralph’s on the Park, Besthoff Sculpture Garden, Private Streetcar ride, Free Evening
Following our included 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.
Located in vibrant City Park and 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. The garden is also home to an impressive collection of sculptures by the late Enrique Alvarez, the famed Mexican-American New Orleans artist. Susan, the head of education at the botanical garden, will spend the morning with us helping us appreciate what makes this garden so special.
Just across from City Park, on a street lined with stately live oaks trees draped with Spanish moss, is the outstanding Ralph's on the Park, our perfect stop for lunch. Built in 1860 by a French immigrant to serve as a coffee shop and concession stand for the nearby park, the building is as amazing as the food. We'll enjoy a fresh iced-tea (or a Ramos Gin Fizz) on our private veranda ("gallery" as folks in the South call it) before enjoying a wonderful lunch in our private dining room. This is a very special setting.
Following lunch, we’ll have the pleasure of a visit to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a stunning eleven acre space of meandering footpaths dedicated to showcasing over ninety sculptures from a wide variety of artists including Renoir, Rodin, Rene Magritte and Roy Lichtenstein. The sculpture garden is set beneath Cypress and Magnolia trees along with native plants and peaceful lagoons is a true delight.
We’ll be transferred back to our hotel this afternoon in true New Orleans style (and one of our favorite ways to travel!) – aboard a charming Streetcar! Our private street car reserved just for Huron Tours will take us from the Oak-tree lined neighborhood of Carrollton (just a couple of blocks from our house) past Audubon Park, Tulane and Loyola Universities, fabulous block-sized mansions on St. Charles Avenue, restaurants, shops and neighborhoods through the Central Business District all the way back to the French Quarter. This is the perfect way to see New Orleans, and take in the fresh spring breezes through the streetcar’s open windows.
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, Commander’s Palace, Galatoire’s or Mr. B's, a New Orleans classic. We’ll also be sure to include our favorite smaller, local places where you can dine out in a lovely courtyard or under oak trees filled with sparkling lights.
Thursday, April 15
Breakfast, Longue Vue House & Gardens, Tea at Windsor Court, Carriage Ride, Free Evening
This morning, following breakfast, we'll make the short drive to the wonderful hidden gem of Longue Vue House and Gardens where we will enjoy a private tour. Longue Vue was born of the dreams of Edgar and Edith Stern, pillars of the New Orleans community, and is a wonderful charming oasis of beauty. The house is one of the last great houses to be custom-built in America, taking the Platt brothers three years (1939-1942) to create.
Edgar and Edith Stern were energized by two ideas–beauty and civic responsibility–and the intersection of the two is exemplified in their serene home and gardens. This multifaceted historic estate featuring a world-class house museum and eight acres of stunning gardens.
The ever-changing gardens of Longue Vue provide an inspiring destination year-round but especially in the spring when the unparalleled collection of Louisiana irises are in bloom. We'll explore the gardens' gentle curves uncovering hidden rooms, quiet spots for meditation, and incredible craftsmanship. The collection includes a stunning alley of Oaks; the "Pan Garden" providing a lovely setting for a sculpture of Pan, the Greek God of nature and planted with Japanese magnolias, sweet olives, and amaryllis; the ”Yellow Garden,”; the ”Spanish Court Garden,”; the ”Canal Garden”; and the "Walled Garden" which was originally designed as a kitchen garden and served as a “victory garden” during WWII. The designs for these "rooms" were inspired by Edith Stern's travels around the world, and she brought materials, and craftsmen, back to New Orleans to implement these gorgeous designs. Have a look at their site here for some lovely images.
Next, to help punctuate a wonderful time spent at Longue Vue, we will we experience the delightful New Orleans tradition of afternoon tea at The Windsor Court (New Orleans' most luxurious and expensive hotel!)
A table filled with fresh cut flowers 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.
After tea, your private New Orleans’ carriage awaits! Your “buggy ride” through the French Quarter drops you back at the doorstep of the Royal Sonesta and offers an excellent overview of this iconic neighborhood. The perfect ending to a truly quintessential New Orleans day.
Friday, April 16
Houmas House & Gardens
This morning after breakfast we travel across the Mississippi River for a visit to the most celebrated plantation garden in the country, Houmas House Plantation & Gardens. Here we will experience the splendor of the "Sugar Palace" which was first the hunting ground of the Houmas Indians and later part of a land grant from Louis XIV, King of France.
We have a memorable day planned, one that is exclusive to Huron Tours and designed especially for our travelers by event liaison Cecily Boudreaux.
Our time at Houmas House begins with a self-guided visit to the new ‘Great River Road & Steamboat Museum’. The museum tells the story of life on the Mississippi during the height of the Plantation era, concentrating on the area between Baton Rouge and the mouth of the Mississippi. The museum also includes a walkway and bridge leading to a promenade atop the levee that affords us the opportunity to spend some time strolling alongside Old Man River.
Springtime is a spectacular season in Southern Louisiana, and this the perfect time to enjoy the gardens of Houmas House. Hardy irises, delicate orchids, and sturdy elephant ears surround walkways and garden benches throughout the property, and fountains spray mists of cool water. An arched footbridge spans an impressive Giverny inspired pond filled with waterlilies and lotus blossoms. The garden paths are tranquil and picturesque, providing a shady place to catch a cool breeze off the Mississippi. These gardens are stunning!
After our time spent in the gardens we’ll enjoy lunch together in one of Houmas House’s gorgeous private spaces dining on Louisiana specialties.
After lunch, the guided mansion tour leads us through the architectural evolution of the mansion and details how a succession of owners and the Mississippi River grew this manor house to today’s grand estate. Period antiques, artwork and artifacts help the costumed guides tell the story of plantation life. Once sprawling over 300,000 acres, Houmas House has survived wars, floods, abandonment, and the test of time.
Last but not least, the large gift shop is the perfect place for gifts ranging from souvenirs to cookbooks to high-end gifts and art.
We'll be back in the French Quarter later this afternoon - leaving you with plenty of time to explore, shop, or walk along the banks of the Mississippi and enjoy the perfect April temperatures. We'll include some recommendations in our final tour documents of where you can catch some great Jazz performances if you're in the mood.
Saturday, April 17
Private tour of the Garden District, Lunch at Brennan’s
Love at first sight is a common experience for first time visitors to the Garden District. First because if you picture New Orleans in your mind’s eye, you will surely conjure this neighborhood with its majestic, manicured and inspiring grand mansions and live-oaks hundreds of years old that punctuate this quiet, quirky, and charming place.
We've got a wonderful walking tour lined up for you today, with a local expert to help inform us on what makes this neighborhood so special. Home to authors, NFL quarterbacks, important New Orleans personalities, and Hollywood stars (one year during our tour we were just in time to see John Goodman take out his trash!) it has all the glamour of a bygone era and you’ll be regaled with stories as we slowly meander our way through its cobblestone streets.
We’ll also tour Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, the oldest of the seven municipal, city-operated cemeteries in New Orleans. There are over 1,100 family tombs and more than 7,000 people buried in the cemetery located in a single city block.
After our time in the garden district we’ll head back to the French Quarter for a memorable lunch at Brennan’s Restaurant, a New Orleans institution. For nearly seven decades, this fine dining landmark has charmed the palates and hearts of patrons with its splendid ambiance, impeccable service and innovative Creole cuisine featuring influences from the city’s French and Spanish ancestry. We’ll dine privately in the restaurant’s glamorous ‘Queen’s Room’ a dazzling tribute to feminine reign celebrating the opulence of dining in a city where dining revelry is taken seriously.
Following our fabulous lunch, you’ll have the late afternoon and evening free to continue your Crescent City explorations. Are you interested in a Haunted History Tour? Jazz dinner cruise on the Mississippi? Cajun cooking class? A visit to the cocktail museum? Some time at Harrah’s Casino? Let us know so we can help you make it happen
Sunday, April 18
Depart for home with wonderful memories!
Sadly, all great trips must come to an end! You'll leave New Orleans with a new appreciation for this magical city, having experienced it "like a local” with a small group of fellow gardeners to make the experience that much more special.
Extend your time in New Orleans
There is so much to see in New Orleans! Why not extend your stay with special hotel rates and some activity recommendations? We boast the award-winning World War II Museum, great boutique shopping along Magazine Street, Swamp Boat and bayou tours, Cooking Classes and much, much more!
A $50 per person deposit will hold your space. Please use the link above or below to access our secure 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.