12 of The Funnest Things in the French Quarter
You asked and we answered! Here’s our list of the 12 best things to do while visiting the French Quarter of New Orleans.
1. Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street....Need I say more? This is New Orleans' most notorious half mile party, complete with bars, restaurants, and clubs lining the whole length. For more info, check out our Bourbon Street Bar Crawl article.
2. Café Du Monde
This French Style beignet and coffee cafe is one of the most well know establishments in the French Quarter. With open air seating, speedy service, a simple menu, and the smell of sugary deliciousness lingering, what's there not to love? Check out their history here.
3. Crescent City Art
If the weather is good, walk around Jackson Square and check out the local artist's work (great if you're looking to invest in some French Quarter and NOLA cultural art as well as caricatures and other art styles). A few artists displaying their art here frequently paint only on re-purposed wood from the homes and structures destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and a portion of their proceeds go to helping local families affected by the storm.
4. French Quarter street Performers
Who doesn't love a good street performance? But seriously, if for some reason you hate street performers, the French Quarter is probably not your cup of gumbo (eeeeeh sorry...) because there are usually a lot of them ranging from dancers, musicians, magicians, poets, and living artists. The whole display has a cool Euro vibe and to be completely honest, some of the best shows you'll see in New Orleans will be on the streets for free...or whatever you tip them.
5. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Right on the Mississippi River, New Orleans' Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is quite impressive, hosting a variety of marine life mainly found in the Caribbean and Southern United States waters which, of course, includes a plethora of swamp and bayou aquatic species (yes...alligators!). Check ticket availability.
6. The Presbytère Museum
If the weather isn't great or if you have some extra time or if you enjoy museums, check out the Presbytère, located next door to Saint Louis Cathedral. This museum hosts two permanent exhibits: (1) Mardi Gras - The history and celebration surrounding New Orleans' most popular festival and (2) Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond - This extensive exhibit illustrates the events leading up to and during Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of this colossal storm.
7. Admire the Architecture
One of the more obvious differences between the French Quarter and the rest of the country is the strong influence of French and Spanish architectural styles. Balconies hover above the shops and restaurants, proudly showing of their beautiful hanging gardens.
8. Take a Ghost Tour
A quick Google search will show that New Orleans consistently ranks among the most haunted cities in the United States. Between the disturbingly gory human experiments conducted by Madam Lalaurie in the early 1800s (part of the basis for Season 3 of American Horror Story), the practice of Hoodoo (yes Hoodoo, not Voodoo), the Great New Orleans Fire that burnt down most of the city in 1788, and the eerie above ground tombs residing in cemeteries scattered city-wide, New Orleans has plenty of reason to be at the top of this list.
9. Poke Around the Shops on Royal and Chartres Street
Lining these two streets are a plethora of shops and art galleries, ranging from voodoo and hex shops to praline and candy stores. This would be an excellent chance to pick up some New Orleans swag to take home for family and friends or memorabilia for yourself. As with Jackson Square, you're quite likely to catch some street performers and artists on these streets.
10. The French Market
This open air market provides 6 blocks of shopping, bringing together merchants, local and foreign, to showcase their crafts, passions, and trades.
11. Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
It may sound eerie at first, but if you can stomach a few bugs, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is an exciting and oddly tasteful experience. Also, if you want to feel true zen, make sure you walk through the butterfly garden at the end of the museum. Butterfly Garden and Insectarium Tickets are $23 for adults, $18 for children, and $20 for seniors.
12. Meet with a Fortune Teller Outside Jackson Square
New Orleans has a very spiritual scene. It is a fact...and is apparent by the voodoo culture, hex shops, and many ghost tours. So it seems only fitting that plenty of Fortune Tellers, Palm and Tarot Card Readers would set up shop in this town. If you're ready to have your destiny unveiled, you need not look further than right in front of Saint Louis Cathedral, where most weekend days, a dozen or so of these spiritual tellers have been waiting for you.
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