Explore the Garden District of New Orleans

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Robinson House (1862-66) at 1415 3rd Street

Waiting for the St. Charles Line

Waiting for the St. Charles Line

New Orleans has so much to offer tourists!!! Where do you begin? After exploring the French Quarter which is both exciting and little crazy, it is fun to step away from the madness for a bit and see other parts the city. We hopped on the St. Charles Line for $3 round trip and headed to the Garden District where we embarked on a free, self-guided tour down the narrow sidewalks. Hop off at the St. Charles Ave. and Washington Ave. stop to see the Garden District. Step off to your left, cross St. Charles Ave. and head 2 blocks down Washington Ave. where you will run into the beautiful, sea-blue, two-story house with white trim restaurant called the Commander’s Palace. The Commander’s Palace is famous for their 25₵ Martinis! Sadly, we were not dressed for the event and were not able to dine. However, it is a great place to take pictures in front of and a fabulous place to dine for lunch. Be sure that you plan your day accordingly and are dressed the part if you wish to stop in for lunch. Shorts, flip-flops, and non-collared shirts are not permissible. They do not accept reservations and there was a line of people waiting out front. Step inside the Commander’s Palace and pick up the free pamphlet about the Garden District which includes a walking map.

Commander's Palace

Commander’s Palace

The Garden District was laid out by an architect named Barthelemy Lafon. It is a very old neighborhood located right off of St. Charles Ave. bordered by 1st Street, Magazine Street and Toledano Street.  The neighborhood has beautiful, large trees consisting of oaks, magnolias, and pines throughout the streets with elegant homes and gardens. The homes in the Garden District include Spanish, French, English and Greek architectural influences. Many of the homes have 20-30 bedrooms with hand painted murals, hand carved banisters, winding staircases, verandas and Italian marble mantles. 

Step back into 1832, when the first Americans settled in New Orleans after the Louisiana Purchase. It is considered to be one of the most well-preserved collections of historic Southern estates. Prior to the development of these homes, the area was made up of plantations. Wealthy Americans purchased this land as an alternative to living in the French Quarter. The Garden District officially became part of the city of Lafayette in 1833 and part of New Orleans in 1852. The new Americans built their own community in the Garden District to include a church, a grand hotel, cemetery, theater and a railroad.

IMG_9897When the Garden District was first designed there were only a couple of homes per block and each one was surrounded by a large garden, thus earning the name. Some of the lots were subdivided in the late 19th century. As a result the style of the homes vary, some are early 19th Century while others have the gingerbread Victorian appearance. Many of the homes in the Garden District today are owned by the descendants of the original owners.

Many famous people have called the Garden District home. Some of them include Drew Brees, Sandra Bullock, Nicolas Cage, Mos Def, John Goodman, Gloria Henry, Archie Manning, Eli Manning, Lola The Vamp, Peyton Manning, Trent Rezno, Anne Rice and Sean Yseult.

The Women’s Opera Guild owns the home with grilled ironwork fencing and large, white columns pictured below. The home was built in 1859 for an American merchant and is open for tours today. The architecture of the home is influenced by Italianate and Greek Revival styles. The grilled ironwork on many of the homes was a sign of wealth.

2504 Prytania Street, Owned by Women's Opera Guild

2504 Prytania Street, Owned by Women’s Opera Guild

Probably the most famous of the Garden District, is the Nolan House located at 2707 Coliseum Street. The Nolan House is known as the “Benjamin Button” House as it was featured as the nursing home in the move “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. The house was built in 183 and was home to three generations of the Nolan Family, one of whom played the role of the doctor in the movie. The Garden District is a family friendly, free, stroll at your own pace, activity. We loved viewing the homes and walked down St. Charles Ave. afterwards to grab some oysters on the half shell at The Blind Pelican!

2707 Coliseum Street AKA the "Benjamin Button House"

2707 Coliseum Street AKA the “Benjamin Button House”

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Maui Wine on Ulupalakua Ranch

 

Maui Wine

Maui Wine, King’s Cottage

Hula Circle

Hula Circle

While visiting paradise on the island of Maui, take a scenic drive up to Ulupalakua Ranch to tour Maui Wine sitting at 2000 feet above sea level, established in 1974. IMG_1287On the drive upcountry, take in spectacular views of the the islands of Lanai and Molokai. There are several overlooks where you can pull aside and take pictures. Each winery is unique in their own way and at Maui Wine they are known for their pineapple wines! 30 minute tours for the whole family are offered daily at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The tour begins

The tour begins

We decided to tour in the morning since it was in June and we thought it may be cooler. It was the perfect day trip as we dined for lunch and stopped off at a park afterwards. There is a designated parking area at the winery where you will see the King’s Cottage built in 1870. In the picture above, notice the Hula Circle created by cypress trees for King David Kalakaua as a designated area where he could watch hula dancers. The trees are over 150 years old and have since been cut way down and carved. Look very closely to determine what each carving displays.

Hula O Maui, pineapple wine

Hula O Maui, pineapple wine

The tour began in the historical room in the King’s Cottage with a complimentary pour of sparkling wines. First we had a glass of the LokeLani, Hawaiian Sparkling Rose Wine and a glass of Hula O Maui, Pineapple Sparkling Wine.

Family Friendly

Family Friendly

You will be greeted with the fresh pineapple aroma prior to taking your first sip.  Listen as Auntie Em (Emily) describes how the property started out as a plantation, then moved to ranching and most recently, wine making. Take your time looking around at all of the sepia pictures hanging on the wall displaying the ranch families. The historical information is great for all ages. Our kids really enjoyed learning about the ranch as well as the production of wine. The tour is only 30 minutes, short and sweet for all ages.

Make your way from the King’s Cottage to the production area via a pathway along the beautifully manicured property. The 10:30 a.m. tour was nice and cool, a little overcast with ocean views. UlupalakuaIMG_1273 is the perfect place to take pictures and spend time walking around. We made our way down to the production area with the first stop at the machine which skins the pineapples for Maui Wine’s pineapple wines. These wines are unique because they use pineapple rather than grapes. It was our first experience in sampling wines and sparkling wines infused with pineapple. The pineapple wines are made with Maui Gold pineapples. Next stop, the production plant where Auntie Em explains the process of wine making. It was fascinating to find out that Maui Wine does not use any wood barrels to process their wine as it is not conducive with the Hawaii climate and wood eating bugs.

IMG_1270Maui Wine has a fantastic wine tasting bar and gift shop. Kids are allowed in the tasting room but not up at the bar. Our kids enjoyed exploring the gift shop while we took in our 3 samples of complementary wine. I loved the white wines while my husband preferred the estate red wine. All of the wines are for sale at the winery. We left with two bottles of wine and a “Maui Wine” etched wine glass to bring home as a souvenir.

Tasting Bar

Tasting Bar

If you are tasting wines with someone else, share the samples so that you can actually sample 6 varieties. The staff are very knowledgeable about the wines. They even informed us as to which wines are for sale at our local Costco and which wines are sold only at the winery. The information provided by the staff helped us in choosing which wines to purchase and bring home. We signed up for their mailing list to receive information about upcoming events such as parties, holiday festivities and local music.

Ulupalakua Ranch Store

Ulupalakua Ranch Store

After wine tasting, walk across the street and have a bite to eat at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store. Located in a green, plantation-style house with a lanai to sit and dine at Paniolo style. Choose from Maui Cattle Company’s slow roasted cattle brisket, Upcountry Caesar salad, Elk or the famous Ulupalakua Lamb Burger. If you like sauces, you will love dining at the Ranch Store!

Brisket wrap

Brisket wrap

Each table has house made BBQ sauces to choose from and some are really spicy! You will smell the BBQ smoke while touring Maui Wine. The best part is that the Ranch Store serves only Maui grown produce! While waiting for your food to grill, shop around the store which features local artisan products.

 

King's Cottage

King’s Cottage

Open Monday- Sunday 10 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.