Photo by Rosie Kerr

5 Must-Have Experiences in New Orleans’ French Quarter!

New Orleans, LA

If you’re heading down to New Orleans on the Great River Road it might be difficult to choose what to do when you’re there, with its plethora of restaurants, shops, attractions, and natural wonders. But if you’ve never been before, New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood is a must-visit destination to get a true taste of the city’s history and culture. The French Quarter of New Orleans is a neighborhood right on the Mississippi River rich in history and unique places to explore for tourists and locals alike.

Existing at one point as the original city of New Orleans and referred to as the Crown Jewel, the French Quarter lives on as a hub of cafes, shops, architecture, and history.   A timeless portrait of the town that used to be. Here are some of the best ways to spend time in the bustling French Quarter of NOLA.

Monk’s Mound

Photo by Madison Friel

Nestled at the very center of the French Quarter, Jackson Square is hard to miss. Known as one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, you can join over two million annual visitors and locals when you stop to watch the street artists, fortune tellers, and bands. Though some of the biggest draws are the beautiful architecture from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the famous buildings that characterize the area.

Step into the St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the United States, and be awed by the beautiful exterior architecture and interior beauty. Another great stop is The Cabildo, a Spanish colonial building from the eighteenth century that holds great significance in Louisiana’s history and now serves as a state museum showcasing the rich and colorful history of the city and state.

5 Reasons To Visit The Astonishing Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
The culture of New Orleans is a rich, diverse treasure in and of itself that everyone should make sure to experience at least once in their lifetime. From the origins of Jazz music to Mardi Gras to Voodoo culture, New Orleans has been a hub of creation and diversity since its origin and drips with history and culture as a result. Luckily there are over twenty-two museums in the French Quarter where you can learn all about New Orleans’ storied past.

One museum you should be sure to check out while you’re in the heart of the city’s vibrant music scene is the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Then there is the world-famous Museum of Death where you can learn about coffins, skulls, morticians, voodoo, and much more in the United States’ most haunted city. Of course, your trip would not be complete without visiting the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture that celebrates the wonderful and historical traditions of Mardi Gras.

5 Reasons To Visit The Astonishing Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Photo by Madison Friel

Rooted in the traditions of the original neighborhood from over 200 years ago, the French Market lives on today in the Lower French Quarter. Stretching six blocks, the Market has everything you could imagine or want out of an outdoor shopping experience. Here you can go to events and festivals, restaurants and pubs, and shops all in one place and sometimes on one day. 

On the upriver side, you can peruse the street stopping at the multitude of artist stalls and food stands featuring local art and cuisine. Then you can head towards the other end of the Market, which hosts the Farmers and Flea Markets selling fresh produce and goods and all kinds of souvenirs. In between lies the rest of the excitement from cafes and boutique shops to music venues to parks and public monuments, giving you an all-inclusive glimpse into the bustling life in New Orleans. 

5 Reasons To Visit The Astonishing Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Photo by Rosie Kerr

Just a block away from the famous Bourbon Street, Royal Street is another fascinating New Orleans destination that highlights the city’s architecture, art galleries and antique stores, and some of the finest restaurants. Though Royal Street may seem like a world away from the action on Bourbon Street, it is a hidden gem of French Quarter flair and Southern charm that many people don’t know about and never venture down. 

If you do stroll Royal Street, you won’t regret the unique experiences you’ll have and sights you’ll see there. The grand family-owned antique shops are great for finding unusual souvenirs and shop owners with New Orleans flair, and the hidden courtyard restaurants offer fine dining and atmospheres. The street musicians’ music will guide your travels as you pass by beautiful private homes, stores, and historic landmarks on this unique street.

Magnolia Hall

Photo by Michael Mayer

A trip to New Orleans would not be complete without trying some authentic NOLA cuisine. Known for sweet beignets and pralines, and hearty gumbos, jambalayas, po-boys, and crawfish, cajun and creole style food is a cultural and traditional staple in New Orleans’ homes and restaurants, and the French Quarter is no exception.

If you’re searching for a place to eat, the list of restaurants, cafes, bistros, and food trucks in the French Quarter can be daunting, but there are a few ways to go wrong in a town that has so many award-winning restaurants, famous chefs and food festivals. One local favorite for casual dining is the 200-year-old Napoleon House serving classic New Orleans cuisine creole style, and bragging the best muffulettas and Pimm’s cups. If you’re looking for a nice New Orleans cafe, look no further than Cafe Du Monde, the Original French Market coffee stand since 1862, that serves cafe au lait and beignets 24 hours daily.

Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things.

Maeve Miller

Writer, River Travel Magazine