One of many remarkable things about New Orleans is all the little pockets of the unexpected. Here it is, a relatively big city, with some typical big-city landscape, but also the Garden District and the Marigny. And also the Longue Vue mansion. Just about at the point when you cross over into the good (which is to say, the interesting) part of the suburb of Metairie, no more than 20 minutes from the center city (depending on traffic, of course) is a unique expression of Greek Revival architecture set on an 8-acre estate. It's like stumbling across a British country-house estate. You expect plantations (it never was one, but you will be forgiven for having brief Tara flashbacks) in these here parts, but not just a few minutes from a Home Depot. Add it to your list of "nice places to ramble on a pretty day."
Constructed from 1939 to 1942, Longue Vue House & Gardens is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is accredited by the American Association of Museums. The mansion was designed to foster a close rapport between indoors and outdoors, with vistas of formal terraces and pastoral woods. We think that if you've seen one big fancy house you've seen them all, so you may not want to bother timing your visit with one of the house tours. Leaks caused some (though not as much as initially feared) damage to the collections, while flooding destroyed the electrical system, now repaired. The charming gardens, some inspired by the Generalife, the former summerhouse of the sultans in Granada, Spain, naturally, got pounded by the storm and flooding, requiring extensive restoration. From a garden standpoint, this is both depressing and exciting; years and years of hard work are gone, but then again, the possibilities for the future are many. And the future is now; replanting is ongoing (salt content in the soil has made some of this process drag on), but it's already looking pretty good. Look also for fountains and a colonnaded loggia. It goes without saying that this is a must for garden enthusiasts, but you might be surprised what a nice time you could have regardless. We are completely smitten with the delightful Discovery Garden, fully back up and running. Once again, kids can play (and maybe even learn) from various clever and amusing exhibits. It costs more than a park, and there is nothing that goes beep (though there might be exhibits on insects, which will buzz!), but it's something to keep in mind for an alternate kid-friendly activity.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Highly Recommended 2009
- Highly Recommended 2010