This street is a tourism destination for a reason. It’s a thoroughfare with an utterly fascinating history, home to some of the oldest bars, family-run restaurants and gay entertainment districts in the country. In short, while there’s plenty to discover off of Bourbon, there’s a lot to discover on the iconic street as well that may surprise those travelers who turn their nose up at all the flashing lights.
Historic Jackson Square, originally known in the 18th century as "Place d'Armes," and later renamed in honor of the Battle of New Orleans hero Andrew Jackson, is a timeless attraction in the heart of the French Quarter of New Orleans.
This famous landmark facing the Mississippi River is surrounded by historic buildings, including the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere and Cabildo (Louisiana State Museums), not to mention the Lower and Upper Pontalba Apartments, the oldest apartment buildings in the United States. The Pontalba Apartments offer retail shops, museums, galleries and restaurants on the ground level; their second and third floors still house a selection of prestigious apartments.
For well over a half-century, there has been an open-air artist colony at Jackson Square. Local artists paint, draw, create portraits, caricatures, and display their work on the square's iron fence. Some have been there for generations!
Jackson Square is a favorite site for visitors and locals. The artists, restaurants, museums, merchants and the square itself make Jackson Square one of the French Quarter's most popular destinations.
Love at first sight is a common experience for first time visitors to the Garden District. It often goes something like this: they’re traveling up St. Charles Avenue via the streetcar when they get their first glance of the oak tree lined streets and historic homes. You can tell by the pristine look on their faces, that the Garden District has started a new found romance.
The romance blooms as the afternoon is spent exploring memories of New Orleans’ antebellum past, gazing at secluded mansions, wandering down the brick lined sidewalks. Its canopy of oak trees is world-famous, while its characteristic gardens of hibiscuses and crepe myrtles, angel trumpets and bougainvillea, make it one of New Orleans' most beautiful neighborhoods. The Garden District has worked its magic again.
To this day, tour guides tell you that Frenchmen Street is an off the beaten gem, a ‘local’s Bourbon Street’ where the real New Orleanians gather to listen to live music and grab a drink.
Excuse a bit of an eye roll on our part; That ‘locals-majority’ term may have rang true at the beginning of the twenty-teens, and to a degree, it’s an accurate description of Frenchmen throughout the 90s and much of the noughties. But the street really achieved a critical mass of popularity post-Katrina, and in the past few years, Frenchmen is tourist central come the evening, especially on weekends.
On Frenchmen Street, certain things are just guaranteed: proximity to good music, good food, interesting culture, and an unbeatable street scene.
For a full 13 blocks, Royal Street runs parallel to Bourbon Street, yet this thoroughfare – one of the finest stretches of art galleries, antique stores, wrought iron balconies, restaurants and architecture in the USA – is sometimes almost completely missed by visitors. This is a real shame; beyond the qualities we’ve just described, Royal Street makes a nice counterbalance to the neon and noise of Bourbon.
Located on the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter Audubon Aquarium of the Americas immerses you in an underwater world. The colors of a Caribbean reef come alive in our walk-through tunnel, while our penguins and Southern sea otter enchant you with their antics. Touch a stingray, feed a parakeet, and marvel at our gigantic sharks and rays in the 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico Exhibit. Watch for sea turtles throughout the Aquarium as coordinator of the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, prepared many of them for release to the wild.
Also take an underwater adventure into a submerged Maya city! The 4,200 square-foot Great Maya Reef at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a walk into a submerged Maya city of the Yucatan peninsula. The adventure begins as visitors walk through the 30-foot-long tunnel into a submerged Maya city of mysterious ruins, surrounded by exotic sea creatures. This underwater world of the ancient, flooded metropolis is alive with lion fish, yellowtail snapper, moray eels, spiny lobsters and more all at home among stunning coral, sunken artifacts and forgotten treasure.
Facing Jackson Square and flanked by the historic Cabildo on one side and the equally historic Presbytere on the other, St. Louis Cathedral is among the tallest and most imposing structures in the French Quarter. And one of the most recognizable.
Offering a compelling blend of sweeping narrative and poignant personal detail, The National WWII Museum features immersive exhibits, multimedia experiences, and an expansive collection of artifacts and first-person oral histories, taking visitors inside the story of the war that changed the world.
The most famous cemetery, St. Louis Cemetery #1, is walking distance from the French Quarter and the Downtown area. Located on historic Basin Street, it is the burial place of Marie Laveau, the legendary “voodoo queen.”