The Audubon and University District of New Orleans is the location of the city's famous Audubon Park including the Audubon Zoo, Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans. Various historic residences and local shops and restaurants are in the streets around these institutions.
New Orleans was a rapidly growing city in the 19th century, spreading upriver, incorporating what had been farmland, plantations, and villages into the quickly developing boundaries of the city. By 1870 the area was pretty much filled in with the exception of a single plantation, whose boundaries included the majority of what is now this neighborhood. The city bought the land to turn into a park, but nothing much was done for some years until the city decided to hold a World's Fair here, the 1884 "World Cotton Centennial". About the only thing remaining here from the 1884 World's Fair is the curious metallic bolder on the east side of Audubon Park golf course; some locals will call it "the meteorite", but historians have documented it to actually be a huge chunk of iron ore that was on display here during the Fair but it was decided it was too much bother to remove it afterwards. After the Fair, the land between the Mississippi River and St. Charles Avenue was developed as Audubon Park. The area on the back side of St. Charles was divided into new homes for Tulane University and Loyola University, which both had previous smaller campuses elsewhere in the city.
This district also includes a long narrow strip on either side of Broadway (despite the grand name, the street isn't particularly broad). Before it was annexed to New Orleans in 1870, this was the town of Greenville; you may still hear some locals refer to the neighborhood near the river just upriver from the Park as "Greenville". Historic Greenville Hall is on St. Charles Avenue up from Broadway in the middle of what had been the district's third University, St. Mary's Dominican College, from 1910 to 1984; in 1984 the St. Mary's Dominican campus was bought by Loyola and is now a satellite campus of that University.
The area is pretty easy to drive to from other parts of town, but parking at and around the Universities and the Park can be a bit of a problem once you get here.
There's a good sized parking lot for the Audubon Zoo, but even that tends to fill up on holidays and busy weekends.
The St Charles Streetcar is a famous and convenient route along the main street from the edge of the French Quarter through the CBD, all the way through Uptown, bisects the Audubon/University section, and then on to the main section of Carrollton.
Bus 15, the "Freret Street" Route, runs from the corner of Freret and Broadway to the Central Business District at Canal Street & University Place. The "Freret Jet" is generally the quickest route between the Universities and the CBD & French Quarter; it passes through a section of Central City that is generally ok during the day, but late at night one may feel safer and more comfortable taking the streetcar or a cab.
Bus 11, "Magazine Street", is the quickest way between Audubon Zoo and the French Quarter/Central Business District. Magazine at Canal Street to Magazine Street just below Broadway in Audubon Park near the Zoo entrance.
Bus 16 "South Claiborne" runs along Claiborne Avenue from the corner of Carrollton Avenue down to Canal Street & Magazine.
Bus 10 "Tchoupitoulas" along Tchoupitoulas Street from Magazine & Canal to the East edge of Audubon Park.
Some who visited before Katrina may remember the Broadway Bus line; it has been discontinued, but Bus 32 "Leonidas" now incorporates the part of the route between St. Charles Avenue and Magazine Street, where it ends by the Zoo entrance. The other end of the Leonidas line is at Esplanade & Carrollton in Mid-City, making it the quickest transit route from this part of town to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art. The Leonidas line goes through some rather troubled parts of the Hollygrove section on the way, and that the line only runs less than once an hour.
- Audubon Park. Pleasant park to walk around, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same fellow who designed Central Park in New York City. Runs from St. Charles Avenue to the river.
- 1 Audubon Zoo. M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su 10AM-6PM. Very good zoo, see the rare white alligators, at the upper end of Magazine Street. Riverboats connect the Zoo to the Central Business District; also accessible from the St. Charles Streetcar via a shuttle bus that runs back and forth from the main entrance to Audubon Park on St. Charles to the Zoo.
- The Butterfly. A park along the Mississippi River front, on the other side of the Zoo.
- Cascade Stables. Horse stables, riding lessons.
- 2 Tulane University. The main campus of New Orleans' most famous university stretches from St. Charles Avenue across from Audubon Park back to Claiborne Avenue. It includes a few attractions of special interest to some:
- 3 Newcomb Art Gallery.
- Tulane Jazz Archive, Jones Hall on Freret Street. New Orleans jazz fans can see a display of photographs and artifacts, and research by reading or listening to interviews with historic jazz musicians.
- 4 Middle American Research Institute. With a major renovation of Dinwiddie Hall being completed, the pre-Columbian artifacts are not on public display at writing but will return in 2012. However a few items are on display elsewhere on campus, and the Institute sponsors special events. Lovers of ancient Meso-America should check the website for details.
- 5 Loyola University New Orleans.
- Uptown Crescent City Farmers Market. Market with fresh produce and fresh prepared local dishes. Every Tuesday 9AM-1PM, University Square parking lot (formerly known as Uptown Square), 200 block of Broadway, near the riverfront, a couple blocks on the upriver side of Audubon Park.
- Campus Connection, 800 Broadway. University, fraternity & sorority related merchandise
- Elio's Wine Warehouse, 6205 S Miro St (back from Calhoun & Claiborne), ☏ . Good selection of wine, liquor, and beer.
- Mushroom, 1037 Broadway (Back from Freret just off the corner of Zimple Street), ☏ . New and used records; posters, t-shirts, and assorted paraphernalia.
- Bud's Broiler, 3151 Calhoun St. Local fast burger chain
- Crepes a la Carte, 1039 Broadway (corner of Zimple, a block back from Freret), ☏ . Fresh made sweet or savory crepes for a meal or snack. Has a small bench and when the weather is good a couple of little outdoor tables, but most business is "to go"; the crepes come in a convenient paper cone so they can be eaten while walking.
- Felipe's Taqueria, 6125 S. Miro (just down from Calhoun & Claiborne), ☏ . Daily 11AM-10PM. Popular location of small chain; fresh made Mexican
- Café Freret, 7329 Freret St (at corner of Lowerline, 2 blocks up from Broadway), ☏ . Tables are shaded under a roof but not walled in. "Pet friendly" if you're looking for a place to eat with your dog. Prices reasonable, though service can be slow.
- Naked Pizza, 6307 S Miro St (Corner of Claiborne Avenue), ☏ . Pizza with all natural healthy ingredients; even vegan and gluten free options. Original location of what is has become a growing franchise. Take out or delivery.
- Pyramids Cafe, 3151 Calhoun Street, ☏ . Middle Eastern. Eat in or delivery.
- Ted's Frostop, 3100 Calhoun (at Miro just off Claiborne), ☏ . Daily 7AM-8PM. Old school style burgers, shakes, fries & rootbeer. Also simple breakfasts.
- Wing Zone, 6221 S. Claiborne Ave, ☏ . Branch of chain, chicken wings, chicken fingers, burgers
- Kupcake Factory, 6233 South Claiborne Avenue. Cupcakes and gelato
- First Cup Cafe, 3146 Calhoun St (a block and a half back from Claiborne), ☏ . M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa Su 7AM-4PM. Nice small coffee house, free Wi-Fi for paying customers.
- PJ's Coffee & Tea. 2 locations of popular local chain on the Tulane campus; 6501 Willow (Willow Hall); and in the breezeway of Stern Hall on Freret at McAlister.
- Audubon Clubhouse Cafe, 6500 Magazine St, on Golf Club Drive (Off Magazine Street inside the park, follow the signs -- don't confuse it with the Audubon Tea Room which is open only for special events.), ☏ . Old clubhouse is open to the public for breakfast, lunch, and Sunday brunch. The reason to come here is for the relaxing view of the park and golf course; sit on the porch having a leisurely meal while sipping mimosas or bloody marys.
- Tartine, 7217 Perrier Street (Just up from Broadway near University Square), ☏ . French style bakery & cafe; breakfast & lunch. Also has fresh baguettes, scones, etc to go for a tasty picnic in the nearby Audubon Park.
- The Boot, 1039 Broadway St. (Entrance is actually just off Broadway on Zimple Street), ☏ . A favorite University District bar for decades. Also has a grill serving bar food and a small convenience store attached.
- Felipe's, 6125 S. Miro (just down from Calhoun & Claiborne), ☏ . Daily 11AM-10PM. Mexican restaurant listed at "eat" above has a nice bar, with frozen margaritas and Mexican beer on tap in addition to standard bar drinks. Unlike most New Orleans bars, not open late.
- The Palms, 7130 Freret (at Broadway), ☏ . Bar & grill, mostly University clientele
- Robert's Bar & Liquor Store, 3125 Calhoun St (just back from Miro, a block back from Claiborne), ☏ . Old neighborhood smoky dive bar; pool table and ping-pong table.
Park View Guest House, 7004 St. Charles Avenue (at upper corner of Audubon Park), ☏ , toll-free: . Beautiful historic guest house that was built for visitors to the 1884 World's Fair. The side yard is Audubon Park and the streetcar stops right outside, hard to beat the location.
Wi-fi offered at some of the coffee houses listed above.
This is generally one of the safest sections of New Orleans. However criminals sometimes hunt for individuals with their guard down especially late at night. Lone students wandering dark streets after too much to drink are particularly tempting targets for them, so play it safe and call a cab or a friend.
The Carrollton neighborhood is adjacent just up river; much is within walking distance, and the further parts of Carrollton just a short streetcar ride up. St. Charles and its famous streetcar line also link the Audubon and University section to the French Quarter and Central Business District at the far downriver end, passing through Uptown on the way.