THE TOP TEN MUST-SEE PLACES IN NEW ORLEANS, FROM INFAMOUS RESTAURANTS AND BARS TO HISTORIC CEMETERIES AND CITY PARKS
Nestled along the Mississippi River in Southern Louisiana lies a city full of soul, history, and hospitality. New Orleans was founded in 1699 by the French, but to truly understand its history, one must learn to embrace each culture that has built the foundations of such a flavorful and diverse city.
From the oldest Roman Catholic church to the best Oysters Rockefeller, New Orleans’s history has a little something for everyone. With 32 historic districts in the city alone, determining where to start can seem overwhelming. Enjoy a little bit of everything by visiting these top 10 historic sites.
Some of the city’s oldest and most recognizable sites reside in the French Quarter. Among the worn roads and colorful buildings of Decatur Street is Jackson Square. The square is historically named after Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States and a leading general in the Battle of New Orleans. A hub for artists, street performers, and fortune tellers alike, this area makes for the most entertaining start to any tour. Jackson Square is easy to locate, thanks to the intricately designed St. Louis Cathedral.
St. Louis Cathedral
Wrought-iron fences and historical statues surround the most iconic Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. St. Louis Cathedral is full of insight for history enthusiasts. Built in 1727, the church has enough ornate architecture and decorative art to entertain for hours. Although the church is active, self-guided tours are still encouraged as long as no events are occurring. Spend some time admiring the crystalline stained glass windows and the elaborate golden altar, and don’t forget to check out the St. Anthony Garden behind the church before heading out.
Just a short walk from Jackson Square is the revived heart and soul of New Orleans jazz music, Preservation Hall. What started as a small art gallery in the 1950s has become the stomping grounds of jazz legends. The hall supported interracial bands during the height of the Jim Crow era and continues to accredit the roots of traditional jazz to African, Caribbean, and European immigrants. Hosting concerts 350 days out of the year, Preservation Hall is a must-visit to experience New Orleans history through music.
New Orleans’ oldest family-owned and operated restaurant also is in the French Quarter. Established in 1840, Antoine’s has been serving the city French-Creole cuisine for almost 200 years. The restaurant is known for creating Oysters Rockefeller, Eggs Sardou, and Pommes de Terre Soufflées. As one can imagine, the place is trendy, so make sure to plan and make reservations before stopping by.
African culture plays a significant role in the diversity of New Orleans’ history. Everyone who visits should plan to spend some time in the historically African-American neighborhood called the Treme’. Within the neighborhood’s historical Armstrong Park lies Congo Square. Throughout the 19th century, the square served as a spiritual, musical, and cultural hub for 18 different African, Haitian, and Cuban groups. Congo Square honors those who paved the way for the music and culture of New Orleans today.
Backstreet Cultural Museum
While in the Treme’, stop by the Backstreet Cultural Museum. A “powerhouse of knowledge,” the museum opened in 1999 and takes visitors through decades of glimmering and decorative Mardi Gras Indian costumes, ambivalent jazz funerals and second lines, and flamboyant carnival celebrations. The museum is a must-see for anyone interested in learning how African American Culture contributes to the uniquely New Orleans holidays and traditions celebrated today. Browse the museum’s website for hours and admission details.
Longue Vue House and Gardens
Looking to appreciate authentic domestic architecture and landscaping? Longue Vue House and Gardens is the perfect elegantly preserved home to tour in Mid-City. Declared an official National Historic Landmark in 2005, the home is the only of its kind in the region. The house gives an ode to authentic country-era living in the 20th century and showcases the furnishing and art of the period. Additionally, guests can access guided tours, a cozy cafe, and an informative visitor center. The eight acres of professionally designed gardens contain a hands-on discovery experience for kids, and the live oak-lined driveway serves as the perfect backdrop for a family photo.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
It would be a shame to visit New Orleans without seeing one of the country’s oldest haunted cemeteries. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. is filled with traditional above-ground tombs and rich historical architecture. The cemetery has been featured in countless paranormal movies, TV shows, and books for a good reason. Per the Arch Diocese’s request, visitors are only allowed entry with a licensed tour guide. Make sure to book an approved tour in advance.
Located among the brightly painted houses of the Tremè, Dooky Chase’s serves the neighborhood top-notch local cuisine and timeless tradition in a nurturing atmosphere. Known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, Chase started cooking in 1946, only a few years after her parents opened the restaurant. She spearheaded decades of history highlighting women’s success in the culinary world. To ensure a memorable and smooth experience, make reservations in advance.
The Sazerac Bar
Enjoy the world’s first mixed drink, accompanied by art deco furnishings, illustrious history, and modern art at the Sazerac Bar. Located within the Roosevelt Hotel in the Central Business District, the bar serves endless grandeur in a cozy atmosphere. It’s no surprise that USA Today named the Sazerac Bar the best hotel bar in the country in 2020.
Stay at Hotel Mazarin
One of the best ways to experience the most historic sites in New Orleans is by staying at a hotel in the middle of it all. Hotel Mazarin is ideally situated in the heart of the French Quarter. Make a reservation at the Hotel Mazarin today.