Day Trips

New Orleans traditions begin at the historic Columns Hotel

Day Trips
Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The Columns Hotel in New Orleans is well known around the world as the queen of the Garden District from films, television, and its Sunday jazz brunch. Nothing says "Southern charm" like sitting on the mansion's front porch sipping a mimosa or a Bloody Mary garnished with a green bean.

Built in 1883 as a private residence, the 19-room boutique hotel's first floor lives up to its reputation as a place to see and be seen. The magnificent front porch has some of the most sought-after seats in the Garden District for afternoon drinks or a breakfast of the Crescent City's finest French toast.

Day Trips

Beads from past Mardi Gras parades decorate the towering oaks in the front yard like sparkling Christmas decorations. The red-and-green St. Charles streetcars (currently closed for track maintenance) clang past the front door.

Hemingway or Fitzgerald would have felt at home in the hotel's dimly lit Victorian Lounge. On Monday evenings, top-notch musicians perform a free house concert in the ballroom across the hall from the bar.

The bedrooms upstairs have lost the shine that the downstairs exudes. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, but a bit weary from the wear. At least the towels are luxurious, and the beds are comfortable.

The Columns Hotel is at 3811 St. Charles Ave., in New Orleans, about halfway between downtown and Audubon Park. For reservations call 504/899-9308 or go to

1,190th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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