The French Quarter, also known as Vieux Carré, is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. After New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the city developed around the central square of the French Quarter.
The French Quarter has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is home to some of the oldest, most historic buildings in the city. Today, the French Quarter attracts tourists and locals alike with plenty of places to visit and activities to take part in.
Top 10 Things to Do in the French Quarter
1. Visit the Shops of the Colonnade
1008 N. Peters St., (504) 636-6400, frenchmarket.org
The Shops of the Colonnade, located within the French Market District, consists of several boutiques and gift shops that are perfect for a day of shopping at the French Quarter. A few of the shops located at the Colonnade include Gallery Cayenne, Belle Louisiana, and Pop City.
At the Shops of the Colonnade, you can find gifts, souvenirs, unique clothing, and more. Most of the items sold within the stores are from local merchants, crafters, and vendors.
2. Visit Jackson Square
700 Decatur St., nola.gov/parks-and-parkways/parks-squares/jackson-square
Jackson Square is a historic landmark set in the heart of the French Quarter, overlooking the Mississippi River. The square is famous for its beautiful landscaping, the famous St. Louis Cathedral, and the statue of Andrew Jackson. Surrounding the square are restaurants and museums, and within the square are artists and merchants.
During the French and Spanish rule of New Orleans, Jackson Square was originally known as the Place d'Armes. The Place d'Armes operated as a public square and military parade ground, and because of the area's central location, the square beaome a hub for New Orleans. After the Battle of New Orleans, with General Andrew Jackson leading the American soldiers, the square was renamed in Andrew Jackson's honor.
3. Listen to Jazz Music at the Preservation Hall
726 St. Peter St., (504) 522-2841, preservationhall.com
Preservation Hall is located in the heart of the French Quarter and presents nightly New Orleans jazz concerts. Featuring performances from over 50 local master practitioners, on any given night, audiences can witness the evolution of the living tradition of jazz music.
Preservation Hall's beginning dates back to the '50s when Larry Borenstein began to invite jazz musicians to perform "rehearsal sessions". During this time, many legendary New Orleans jazz musicians visited Preservation Hall.
4. Go to the Audubon Aquarium
1 Canal St., (504) 565-3033, audubonnatureinstitute.org/aquarium
The Audubon Aquarium offers 14 different experiences ranging from Amazon Encounters to a Penguin Party. The Audubon Aquarium also offers two experiences dedicated to the sea-life of our own Gulf region.
Different ticket packages are available on the aquarium's website, and you can also purchase an Audubon Aquarium membership. With more than 3,600 animals from more than 250 species, including endangered species, the aquarium offers an unforgettable experience.
5. Walk around the French Market
1008 N. Peters St., (504) 636-6400, frenchmarket.org
The French Market District is a one stop place for food, cafes, and flea market shopping. The French Market is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The French Market is a great way to immerse yourself in New Orleans community and culture while also supporting local vendors.
The French Market has remained a staple of the New Orleans French Quarter since 1791. For over 200 years, the French Market has remained a center of commerce for New Orleans. Despite being destroyed and rebuilt throughout history, the French Market still remains.
6. See the Hermann-Grima House
820 St. Louis St., (504) 274-0750, hgghh.org
The Hermann-Grima House is a National Historic Landmark and is one of the best-preserved examples of Federal-style architecture in the French Quarter. The home has one of the few functional open-hearth kitchens in the state and even offers cooking demonstrations in the kitchen. The house also contains the only remaining original and intact stable in the French Quarter.
The house, and adjacent outbuildings, transports visitors back in time to learn about the 19th-century home, its owners, and the enslaved people who lived and worked on the property. The parlors, dining room, bedrooms, and slave quarters are completely furnished with period pieces.
7. Grab Drinks at Pat O'Briens
718 St. Peter St., (504) 525-4823, patobriens.com
Pat O'Brien's is a famous drink spot in the French Quarter. Whether you sit outside on the patio or grab a drink inside at the bar, Pat O'Brien's is a great spot to stop at. Pat O'Brien's is also famous for their singniture drink, The Hurricane, which is made with the bar's own Hurricane mix.
Pat O'Brien, the founder of the bar, ran a speakeasy bar during the Prohibition era until 1933 when he officially opened the space as a bar. The historic building of Pat O'Brien's was constructed in 1791 and was a private residence until O'Brien purchased the building to be turned into a bar.
8. Visit the New Orleans Musical Legends Park
311 Bourbon St., (504) 888-7608, neworleansmusicallegends.com
The Musical Legends Park is dedicated to the musical history of New Orleans and features life-size bronze statues of the city's famous musicians. These musicians include Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Fats Domino, Chris Owens, Ronnie Cole, Louis Prima, Allen Toussaint, and Irma Thomas. There are table and chairs throughout the park and daily live jazz performances begin at 10 a.m.
Admission to the park is free and no purchase is necessary to enjoy the live music. The park is open from Sunday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the park is open from 8 a.m. to midnight.
9. Take a Cooking Class at New Orleans School of Cooking
524 St Louis St., (800) 237-4841, neworleansschoolofcooking.com/classes
The New Orleans School of Cooking offers cooking class, ranging in price and available for booking everyday of the week. The types of classes offered are either open demonstration classes or open hands-on classes.
During the open demonstration classes, attendees can sit back and watch as a skilled chef prepares a classic Cajun/Creole meal while also learning about the history of New Orleans cuisine. During the open hands-on classes, attendees cook and eat an authentic Louisiana meal. Guests will cut, season, and prepare a complete dinner with expert chefs and then are able to sit down and enjoy the meal they prepared.
10. Visit the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture
1010 Conti St., (504) 218-4872, themardigrasmuseum.com
The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture displays collections of Carnival costumes from New Orleans. A majority of these costumes come from the private collection of New Orleans entertainment producer Carl Mack. The collection highlights the role costumes play in the history and celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
The traditional Mardi Gras attire featured in the museum display the costumes of Mardi Gras revelers, Walking Clubs, Mardi Gras Indians, Cajun Mardi Gras, Buskers and Street Performers, Kings and Queens, and pageant masquerade balls. Each display showcases the history of the beloved holiday.
New Orleans' Famous French Quarter
There are many more attractions to be found throughout the French Quarter, and plenty of history to be learned about the area.