The downtown sector of New Orleans is a sough after place, from the scenic banks of the Mississippi River to the many history museums, and of course, the colorful, vibrant, and always bustling French Quarter.
If it’s your first time to the Vieux Carré, you may need a fieldguide to the many attractions and hidden gems of this historic neighborhood. We’ll cover some of the major attractions, and point a few less-than-obvious must-sees along the way.
A National Historic Landmark and the quintessential photo-op is Jackson Square – home to the Saint Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo Museum, and the Presbytere Museum. Be sure to stop by the statue of Andrew Jackson, and the many artisans, palm readers, and musicians surrounding the entire square.
Other historic attractions in Crescent City’s French Quarter District include the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, while tons of fantastic information on the neighborhood is given during the Haunted History Tours and NOLA Vampire Tours.
The obvious one here is Mardi Gras, the annual, multi-million-member parade along St. Charles Avenue, Canal Street, and of course Bourbon Street. Costumes, parades, hoopla, you name it. Carnival Season starts with on Twelfth Night in January, followed by Lundi Gras and Fat Tuesday, and of course, the parties.
And if you happen to miss the Greatest Free Show on Earth, be sure to check out the Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World. Other parties include the Satchmo Summer Fest at the Old U.S. Mint, and the French Quarter-wide New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Your obvious choice here is the French Market. Around since 1831, the French Market is an open-air yet covered flea market with dozens of vendors selling souvenirs, shirts, painted tiles, posters, toys, jewelry – you name it. The site is also found along the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.
You might also be here to partake in some local libations, so where’s a good place to get a hurricane around here? Iconic, whistle-whetting establishments in the French Quarter include the Krazy Korner (great for live music), the Cat’s Meow (great for karaoke), and Pat O'Briens (the classic piano bar).
Even back at the French Market, tons of stalls offer fresh seafood, spicy po’ boys, soft shell crab, and much more.
Deeper in the Quarter, indulge in traditional Cajun and Creole food at establishments like K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen and Muriel's Jackson Square, or go for the classic Italian dinner at Irene's Cuisine. Just be sure to check out the oysters at Felix's Restaurant & Oyster Bar or Galatoire's Restaurant, and as tradition, chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde.