How To Take On New Orleans: A Comprehensive Guide To Visiting The Historical City
Consisting of three Roman Catholic cemeteries, the St. Louis Cemetery includes above-ground vaults that were mostly constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although all three are very well-known, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous and was opened in 1789. In continuous use since its inception, the cemetery is the burial home to many famous New Orleanians — despite only spanning just one square block. Though extremely well-known and rich with New Orleans history, the cemetery is not open to the public if not accompanied by a licensed tour guide. St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 and St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, however, are both open to the public for self-guided tours.
Although New Orleans is filled with plenty of museums and buildings that host historical content, the World War II Museum is one that you won’t want to leave the city without stopping by at least once. Opening its doors almost 20 years ago, the museum has seen nearly two million visitors since. An ideal stop for history buffs and patriotic citizens, the extraordinary artifacts, powerful images, and immersive exhibits will allow guests the ability to evoke the many emotions that come with going off to war. Taking you on a visual story of the war’s prelude all the way to the battles of the Pacific Islands, this museum holds a rich amount of history pertaining to WWII that you won’t find anywhere else.
Known as the oldest Catholic church in the United States, the St. Louis Cathedral is one of the tallest and most recognizable structures in the French Quarter. Both a local and international architectural icon, the church is the oldest and continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. Although a house of worship for Catholics, the St. Louis Cathedral’s rich and beautiful history makes it a staple in New Orleans culture and one that deserves to be explored by everyone.
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Jackson Square offers more than just a good look at the Mississippi River. This historic and famous landmark is surrounded by historic buildings like the St. Louis Cathedral, Louisiana State Museum, the Presbytere, and Cabildo, and the oldest apartment buildings in the United States — the Pontalba Apartments. The latter, which are broken down into the Lower and Upper, host a number of retail shops, galleries, restaurants on the bottom level and prestigious housing on its second and third floors. The Square also offers local artists the ability to paint, draw, and display their creative works on the square’s fences.
What’s there to say about The Escape Game that their guests haven’t already said (seriously, look at these reviews)? Tucked right into the edge of the historic French Quarter, The Escape Game offers an hour of uncompromising adventure suited for the whole family. The staff is incredible (again, the reviews speak for themselves), and the games themselves are experiences of their own. The immersive environments feel like you’ve stepped right into a movie and there’s nothing that feels quite as heroic as accomplishing your mission with a ticking clock. Not only could this be the best hour of your trip, but it’s walking distance from several other must-sees on this list.
Looking for a venue that offers live music all night long? You’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for on Frenchmen Street. The center of nightlife, culture and — of course — music in New Orleans, Frenchmen Street is located on the edge of the French Quarter. Hosting more than 20 clubs and bars, the iconic area will leave you feeling revived and energized once your night is over. From local musicians playing the sounds jazz and brass bands to worldwide bands offering latin, funk, electronic, EDM sounds and more, there’s not one person who will leave Frenchmen Street without hearing their desired sounds. And, there’s no telling who you may see while you’re out there.
If adventure is something that you crave while traveling, then you’ll definitely want to stop by City Park. Enchanting the city of New Orleans since 1854, visitors can find 1,300 acres of an outdoor oasis that is sure to leave you mesmerized. Noted as one of the nation’s oldest urban parks, City Park offers visitors the opportunity to indulge in a number of family-friendly activities such as the Botanical Garden, Besthoff Sculpture Garden, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, and biking, walking and jogging paths. Nature lovers can also enjoy gawking at the world’s largest stand of mature live oaks — including a grand oak that dates back to nearly 800 years. Prefer to be out on the water? City Park also offers boat rentals so that you can see the park from a new perspective.
Originally established in 1862, Cafe du Monde has become a staple location in New Orleans. Known for its iconic beignets, delicious dark roasted coffee and irreplaceable open-air design, Cafe du Monde is the number one spot to visit while spending time in Nawlins. Already planned to pack your days while visiting? The Decatur Street location is open 24 hours a day, so you won’t have to worry about missing out on the tastiness that the French Market has to offer. Keep in mind though, lines can be extremely long when stopping by so be sure to plan accordingly.
You don’t have to wait until you get back to your own city to get some delicious brunch; you can stop by Sofia NOLA to get the best brunch in town instead. A fun and funky high-energy restaurant in the heart of the Warehouse District, Sofia NOLA offers an elevated form of traditional Italian food. And yes, that includes their brunch menu, too. Though brunch is only served on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm, if you happen to be in town over the weekend, you won’t regret stopping by for the bottomless spritzes and mimosas or a stack of the unforgettable ricotta pancakes.
Now located in the heart of the historic French Quarter, Irene’s — formerly known as one of the underground secrets of the area — has now become one of the most desired restaurants to dine at in the city. Arriving in New Orleans in 1993, Irene’s has created an unforgettably palatable experience for all of its patrons. From the delectable aromas wafting out of the doors to the irresistible taste of the duck and lamb chops, Irene’s legendary status is one that everyone should experience at least once while in town. And, the best part is that it’s only a two minute walk from our Escape Game location on Peters Street.
If you’re in search of the best po’ boys in town, you might want to stop by Parkway Tavern. Perhaps the most well known po’ boy spot in Nawlins, Parkway Tavern has been around since 1911 and doesn’t plan on going anywhere any time soon. Offering up an expansive menu that includes golden fried gulf oysters, smoked hot sausage beef patties, golden fried catfish, smoked alligator sausage and — of course — a variety of po’ boys, this iconic eatery is one place everyone needs to give a try.
A quaint coffee shop located on Decatur Street, Cafe Envie hosts a wide variety of local roasts and treats for customers to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for a menu filled with delicious hangover breakfast items to cure the previous night’s partying or just looking for a great way to kick off your day before sightseeing, the popular destination will become one of your favorite spots to stop by every time you visit New Orleans. Even if you’re not a “coffee person,” you’ll want to grab a cup when dining here.
Got a few hours to spare and want to learn more about the history of New Orleans? The Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez would be a great stop to make during your trip. Discover information such as why the crescent of the lower Mississippi River was where New Orleans was founded and much more while aboard the only authentic steamboat in the city. And, while aboard, you’ll even get to enjoy the sounds of calliope music and visit the preserved steam engine room.
Nothing beats learning about a city from those who know it best and with the Garden District Storytelling Tour, you’ll learn all that you need to know about the area from those that truly do know it best: the locals. On this guided tour, you’ll be led through the enchanted Garden District and stop by locations such as Lafayette Cemetery #1 and the antebellum mansions, hear stories about those who helped shape the community, and the history behind its growth into a wealthy suburb after the Louisiana Purchase.
If checking out the wildlife of New Orleans has always intrigued you, then booking the New Orleans Swamp and Bayou Boat Tour should be on your bucket list. This guided tour will ensure that you safely travel through one of the state’s last preserved wetlands to see animals such as alligators, wild boards, birds and snakes. Want to see more than just wildlife? The tour will also take you to a Cajun village that’s only accessible by boat and teach you about the cultural history of Honey Island Swamp — all while boarded on an open-air boat.
Boasting a vibrant art scene, an unforgettable foodie scene and funky live music venues, the Bywater District — which is located right next to the Marigny Neighborhood — is the artistic traveler’s dream. From Music Box Village and multiple theatres and museums to the cooking school known as The Bakehouse and the voodoo-based Island of Salvation Botanica, there’s more than enough to do for everyone in your party.
New Orleans has long been known as the birthplace of jazz, so it’s only fitting that you stop by the New Orleans Jazz Museum during your trip to the cultural city. Offering up dynamic interactive exhibits, multigenerational educational programming, engaging musical performances and much more, patrons get the opportunity to explore the sound that New Orleans made famous — in all forms.
Looking for live music? No problem. Tipitina’s is one of the best places to go. Regularly hosting some of the biggest brass bands in town, the venue — which was established in 1977 — was named after the well-known song performed by Professor Longhair. Located on the corner of Napoleon Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street, Tipitina’s is a world-renowned venue that won’t fail at giving you a good time.
Whether you’re on the hunt for a delicious eatery or looking for a shop to pick up something nice, Magazine Street has more than enough to choose from. Spanning the length of six miles, the famed street is parallel to the Mississippi River from Canal Street to Audubon Park. Providing a delightful antidote to the typical and sometimes daunting mall experience, the mix between eclectic shops and charming homes will make it become one of your favorite stops in New Orleans.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 years old or 35 years old, making a stop by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas will be enjoyable for everyone. Noted as one of the top museums of its kind in America, those visiting the aquarium will be able to 15,000 sea life creatures — including some of the most fascinating, rare and endangered creatures of the ocean. From trying to spot the white alligator to being able to touch a baby shark, there’s enough around the aquarium to keep you there all day long.
What do you get when you put together good eats, a dance floor and bowling lanes? Why a good time, of course! Rock n’ Bowl has become a well-known staple in the city of New Orleans. Perfect for those nights when you want to enjoy multiple things without going to multiple locations, Rock n’ Bowl gives patrons the opportunity to party until you can’t anymore. And, you’ll get to hear some of the local legends provide live music, too.
If you’re looking for a unique experience while visiting the diverse city, The Music Box Village can provide just that. Developed from a combination of play, imagination, experimentation, collaboration, community and hard work, the village is filled with artist made interactive “musical houses.” Pushing the boundaries of each artist, the village is accompanied by ship horns, trains, and the honks and whistles of drawbridges going up and down. Hosting intensive artist residencies, performances, panels and more, this one-of-a kind site is a great place to explore and play. Before stopping by though, be sure to check the calendar as they are only open on the dates they have listed.
Perhaps touted as one of the most famous bars in America, the Napoleon House has been around for 200 years and counting. First owned by New Orleans mayor Nicholas Girod, the landmark has been a long standing favorite for artists and writers. Featuring a decadent list of Creole staples, the charming restaurant delivers a unique and elegant setting rarely found in any other setting. From the specialty Italian muffuletta to New Orleans staples such as jambalaya and seafood gumbo, the Napoleon House is the historic, price-friendly restaurant you need on your list of stops during your next stop in town.
Located along Jackson Square, The Cabildo is one of the most historically significant buildings in the United States. Though initially built as a replacement building to serve as the seat of government during the Spanish colonial period, the building is now home to the rich and colorful history of the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. Hosting both permanent and short-term exhibits that include famous historical figures and ordinary inhabitants, the Cabildo has more than 500 artifacts and original works of art in the building. Remarkable and no doubt a must-see once in your lifetime, your visit to the historic French Quarter wouldn’t be complete without a stop through this museum.
A non-profit organization, the Audubon Nature Institute is a collective set of museums and parks that are dedicated to nature in New Orleans. Comprised of the Audubon Zoo, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center and other golfs and parks, the institute serves as an educational resource and venue for family entertainment. Overall, the institute operates a total of 10 museums and parks for you to learn through.
Nestled in the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States — the Treme section — the Backstreet Cultural Museum is unique to the culture that is New Orleans. Boasting an assortment of indigenous Mardi Gras memorabilia, the museum has artifacts only found in the city of New Orleans. In addition, it hosts the city’s largest collection of Mardi Gras Indian costumes — which are each handmade by local artisans and cost upwards of $10,000 a piece. So, if knowing the rich cultural history of the beloved city is something that you are keen on discovering, you’ll want to make it your point to stop by.
Can’t make it to Mardi Gras this year? Mardi Gras World is your next best bet. Open seven days a week, this is where you’re able to get an authentic Mardi Gras experience any time of the year. Opened to the public in 1984, the attraction has since drawn in hundreds of thousands of visitors per year. Though there are plenty of tours offered in New Orleans to give you insight on the city, there’s only one that will give you a behind-the-scenes look at Mardi Gras.
Established in 1823, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum was created to give those interested insight into the history of pharmacology and the development of it. Perfect for medical students or those aspiring to work in the medical field, the exhibits include surgical instruments, potions used by Voodoo practitioners, rare patent medicines, questionable medical practices and much more.
A mind blowing art gallery, Studio Be is one of the most popular galleries in New Orleans. A 35,000 square foot warehouse, Studio Be is the visual art headquarters for the first solo project of local artist, Brandon “Bmike” Odums and tells the stories of revolutionaries, heroes and everyday New Orleanians. Offering up both guided and independent tours, fans of the art being showcased can purchase original works and pieces from the collection or keepsakes such as prints, pins, apparel and skateboards.
If you’re more interested in the music scene of New Orleans, then Preservation Hall should be added to your list of places to see. Presenting intimate, acoustic New Orleans jazz concerts, audience members will be able to bear witness to the evolution of this living tradition. Nestled in the French Quarter, the historic building is open nightly and delivers concerts multiple times throughout the night. Founded over 50 years ago to protect traditional New Orleans Jazz, the venue gives you both the elegance and character of the past, while allowing you to bask in the sound that the city made global.