Things to Do in New Orleans - page 2
A hotbed of musical talent, this historic New Orleans neighborhood is one of the best spots in the city to catch a live show. Dating back to the early 1800s, Faubourg Marigny is a nightlife destination popular with locals looking for authentic jazz and blues without the French Quarter crowds.
Hit hard by the floods of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood is still dotted with abandoned houses and empty lots. Despite these reminders of the disaster in this working-class and predominantly African-American neighborhood, the vibe in the area today is one of hope, inspiration, and resilience.
The Whitney Plantation was one of the most infamous plantation estates in Louisiana, having housed some 60 slaves between 1819 and 1860. Today, the site serves as one of the only slavery memorial museums in the United States, having opened in 2014. Through original period buildings, art exhibits, and first-person narratives, visitors can gain an understanding of the lives of slaves in 19th-century America.
The only mint in existence to hold the designation of printing both U.S. and Confederate coinage, the Old U.S. Mint has a story all its own. Built in 1835 and a product of Andrew Jackson’s “Bank War,” the Mint was built in the Greek Revival style and houses the history of 1838 until 1909 when minting ceased. Visitors can walk the mint exhibits and then the much applauded New Orleans Mint Performing Arts Center where new Jazz is made and the history of the art form is preserved. Located at the brink of the French Quarter and bordering the now famous Treme district, the Old U.S. Mint is a welcome reprieve from sometimes long days on your feet exploring the nuances of the Quarter, and even houses some great Jazz shows itself.
Located in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, Beauregard-Keyes House is an historic residence and museum dedicated to the home’s famous residents—Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard and American author Frances Parkinson Keyes—who lived at the house almost a hundred years apart.
Located 25 miles (40 kilometers) upriver from New Orleans, Destrehan Plantation is the oldest documented plantation house in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Learn about life in the antebellum South while wandering the grounds among ancient oak trees.
In the heart of the French Quarter lies Napoleon House, a historic landmark named for the French emperor, part of a daring plan to rescue him from exile. Napoleon never visited the city, but the building—which now houses a restaurant serving classic NOLA cuisine—remains a testament to the ingenuity of the city’s inhabitants.
Even if you can’t visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras, you can still learn all about the famous New Orleans tradition at The Presbytère. Part of the Louisiana State Museum, The Presbytère boasts an interactive exhibition that includes an impressive collection of Mardi Gras artifacts and memorabilia.
"Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana," documents the celebration’s extensive history, from its origins to present day traditions. Visitors also learn about Mardi Gras events in Louisiana’s rural areas.
The Presbytère building has a unique history of its own. It gets its name from its location. It is built on the site of the residence, or presbytere, of the Capuchin monks. It was designed in 1791 to match the Cabildo on the other side of St. Louis Cathedral. The Presbytère was used as commercial space and even served as a courthouse from 1834 to 1911 before becoming part of the Louisiana State Museum.
Step inside the colorful life of New Orleans at Mardi Gras World. The annual Mardi Gras festival is as much a part of the fabric of the city as jazz music and the Mississippi River. This fun and informative museum brings together a dazzling collection of floats and costumes from the event.
One of New Orleans’ favorite live music venues, Preservation Hall sits in the heart of the French Quarter and is known for its Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Dating back to 1961, the hall boasts a festive and intimate atmosphere,and crowds pack in the door every night to hear some of the city’s best music.
More Things to Do in New Orleans
Once a great plantation and the largest undeveloped parcel of land in the area that is now Uptown New Orleans, Audubon Park is now one of the greatest expanses of open land in New Orleans. Home to sports fields, picnic and playground facilities, a golf course, a jogging and biking track, and lush lagoons that house native wildlife, Audubon Park is where locals and tourists head when they need a breath of fresh air, time to stretch their legs, or to simply marvel at the mighty Mississippi as it rolls by. Stretching from St. Charles Ave to the Mississippi River, also housed within the park is the famous Audubon Zoo and New Orleans most prominent rookery – Bird Island.
Located in a renovated molasses warehouse dating back to the 1800’s, the New Orleans School of Cooking is the place to go to learn the basics of Louisiana-style cooking. Cajun / Creole teachers instruct participants on how to make some of New Orleans’ signature dishes like Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Pralines.
The New Orleans School of Cooking has been in operation since 1980 and offers several different courses—both for individuals and large groups. The most popular is the open demonstration class where you sit back and learn how the signature dishes are made, the history of Louisiana’s culinary influences, and how these dishes came to be so representative of the state. The best part of your demonstration? You’ll get to taste everything made in the session and take the recipes home with you.
If you’re looking to purchase the products used in you cooking class, stop by the school’s Louisiana General Store, where you’ll find a wide variety of spices, cookware, cookbooks, and their famous Joe’s Stuff seasoning.
This iconic street in the heart of New Orleans is home to some of the Big Easy’s best shopping, eating and drinking establishments, making it a top spot for tourists and locals any time of day. Street-side cafes with open-air tables offer some of the best people watching on an afternoon about the town, while nightfall sees the street's restaurants and nightclubs brimming with visitors eager to taste traditional Creole fare and boogie into the early hours.
Travelers who want to make the most of their time in New Orleans will find plenty of tour options for exploring this dynamic street as well as other parts of the city. Whether it’s a hop-on hop-off bus ride, a Segway, food or walking tour of the French Quarter, or a bike ride along the Big Easy’s most famous thoroughfare, Magazine Street offers visitors endless ways to join in on the Nola spirit.
One of the last few remaining sugar plantations in the South, St. Joseph Plantation is a must-visit for anyone looking for an authentic Southern experience. Built in 1830, the largely preserved house offers a fascinating look into plantation life in pre-Civil War America, when the sugar industry was booming.
Known as the “Crown Jewel” of Louisiana’s River Road, Houmas House is a former sugar plantation-turned-museum. A trip here allows visitors to step into the shoes of a wealthy sugar baron in the 1800s. The impressive house has been restored to its former glory, and there are expansive grounds to enjoy.
French impressionist painter Edgar Degas is synonymous with late 19th-century Paris, but another city also influenced his work: New Orleans. The place he once lived on Esplanade Avenue, the Degas House is now a museum dedicated to the painter that allows visitors to get a glimpse of the studio where he worked and get a feel for life in the Big Easy in the 1870s.
Recreating the surroundings of upper middle class life in an antebellum row house, the 1850 House museum offers a fascinating look into times past. The museum is made up of rooms decorated in the most fashionable styles of the mid-19th century, when life in New Orleans was at its most prosperous.
Part of the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is home to more than 60 sculptures from renowned artists. The sculptures are set among magnolia trees and live oaks draped with Spanish moss, and visitors come to enjoy the art and the beauty of the surroundings.
Storyville was established in 1897 when the New Orleans City Council, under orders from councilman, Alderman Sidney Story, set out to regulate prostitution with the aim to restrict the red light district to a controlled area. The district was soon nicknamed Storyville after the councillor, and for the next 20 years the streets of North Basin, North Robertson, Iberville, and St. Louis on the edge of the French Quarter were filled with brothels, saloons, and other businesses. It is said that jazz and swing music originated within the saloons and dance halls of Storyville during this time, with musicians such as Tony Jackson and Jelly Roll Morton performing in the area.
Storyville was easily accessible via a nearby train station and immensely popular, from its 50-cent brothels right through to the higher end of the market. In 1917, when the US entered World War I, the federal government closed down Storyville and legal protests by local businesses failed to ever revoke the decision. Today, not much of the old era remains and the neighborhood is currently the site for a number of housing projects.
The second oldest park in New Orleans and still one of the city’s best venues for a day outside in the sun, Lafayette Square has etched a name for itself into the collective psyche of all who experience an outdoor festival in this beautiful community square while visiting downtown New Orleans.
Home to numerous outdoor concerts and festivals throughout the year, this compact urban park has played host to numerous inaugurations, civic events, and even the steeple which housed the bell used to ring curfew during the occupation of New Orleans during the Civil War. A true historical park, the park features a bronze statue of Henry Clay in the center of the park, and statues of John McDonogh and Benjamin Franklin on St. Charles Avenue and Camp Street, highlighting some of New Orleans most revered forefathers.
Designed in 1788 by Charles Laveau Trudeau, there are few parks in the US with more history, and few as easily accessible as Lafayette Square.
Showcasing the wealth of marine life found throughout North and South America, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a must-visit destination for nature lovers. From the colorful recreated Caribbean reef to a penguin colony, there’s plenty to entertain all age groups.
The designation of being the most opulent plantation house in North America doesn’t come cheaply. Nor will you find the San Francisco Plantation mansion in any disrepair. A galleried house of the Creole open-suite style, this fabulous southern home’s riches aren’t just found on its sprawling property or wrapped up in its gorgeous architecture – the San Francisco Plantation has one of the finest and most extensive antique collections in the country. Reminiscent of Versailles and steeped in a history of rich antebellum living, slavery holdings, and sordid stories of love, wealth, death and honor, the San Francisco Plantation is not just a visit to any ordinary plantation home – it’s a surreal pastiche down history lane.
Set in the heart of the city known for its voodoo spirits and rituals, the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum is packed with altars, eerie statues, and voodoo dolls. Among the hodgepodge of mystical items, you’ll also find historic exhibits and details on the evolution of New Orleans’ voodoo reputation.
If you (or your kids) love everything creepy-crawly, make sure to visit the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans. With different exhibits looking at the life of bugs, plus a walk-through butterfly garden, where bright butterflies swoop around you, the insectarium offers the chance to get to see nature’s smallest critters.
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