The French Quarter is New Orleans’s oldest neighborhood and is a must-stop location for many tourists. From grabbing beignets at Cafe du Monde to making their way through the Big Easy, you could spend your entire vacation exploring all the best things in the French Quarter.
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What should I do when I’m in the French Quarter?
The French Quarter is the oldest and most famous area of New Orleans. You must be ready to eat your heart out while walking around this neighborhood. There are so many things to do, from museums to some of the best restaurants in the city.
Is it better to stay on Bourbon Street or in the French Quarter?
If you want to be in the middle of the action, staying on Bourbon Street is perfect for your vacation. However, if you want to stay in the French Quarter, you are always close to Bourbon Street.
I personally enjoy staying in a French Quarter hotel over a Bourbon Street Hotel.
Is walking at night in the French Quarter of New Orleans safe?
Stay away from walking alone in the French Quarter at night, especially in the wee hours of the morning. The French Quarter is relatively safe because it is highly populated with tourists, but some unsafe neighborhoods are nearby.
Learn more about some of the safety in the neighborhoods around New Orleans.
Do I need cash in the French Quarter?
Many restaurants, bars, and attractions will accept credit cards in the French Quarter – but make sure you have some cash or access to an ATM for the occasional place that does not accept credit cards. Many Street artists and performers will accept cash, Ca$h App, or Venmo for tips.
Can you walk around the French Quarter with Drinks?
Louisiana’s open container law allows you to walk around the French Quarter and other areas of New Orleans with a drink in a to-go cup. Ensure your drink is not in a glass container, or you do not enter a vehicle with an open container.
Add some of these activities to your upcoming trip or staycation!
🚌 Take a 2-Hour City Sightseeing Bus Tour which is great way to learn about the history and romance of this magnificent city
🚢Experience Evening Jazz Boat Cruise with dinner while soaking in incredible views.
👻 Hear tales of vampires, voodoo, and witchcraft on this city walking tour of New Orleans’ French Quarter
🦸 Try Escape Room Adventure and test your problem-solving skills with fun and tactile challenges
⛰️ Go on a food tour and explore the history and culture of the area with an expert local guide while tasting regional specialties at some of the best restaurants around.
Things to do around the French Quarter
There are many things to do in the French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré. From popular places with tourists to hidden gems only the locals know about. Check out this list of Things to do around the French Quarter of New Orleans.
1. Walk down the Moonwalk next to the Mississippi River.
Located along the Mississippi River, the Moonwalk is a mile-long walkway along the French Quarter, allowing people to walk along the riverbank safely. It is always fun to grab a drink or some snacks and come here to watch the River and Cruise boats sail along the river.
2. Go antique shopping
New Orleans is an old city with an old soul, so that you will find some unique antiques in the French Quarter! You can walk up and down Royal Street for a mix of beautiful antique shops, ornate jewelry, and more.
3. Visit the French Market
Designed initially as a farmers market, the French Market has transformed into a delightful hub of culinary delights, featuring a diverse array of dining options, eateries, and charming food stalls. Open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, it’s the perfect place to not only savor delicious cuisine but also discover unique souvenirs that will undoubtedly delight your loved ones back home.
4. Washington Artillery Park
Washington Artillery Park is on Decatur Street, across from Jackson Square. Even though there is not much to do here, it is the perfect place to stand to get a great view of Jackson Square, The Mississippi River, and the St. Louis Cathedral. While you are up here, read the informative plaques discussing the ar.
5. Stroll Through Jackson Square
Jackson Square, nestled in the heart of the French Quarter of New Orleans, stands as an iconic historic landmark. Positioned directly in front of the majestic Saint Louis Cathedral, this welcoming public space invites visitors to soak in its charm leisurely. Here, you can relax amidst the square’s beauty, peruse the captivating artworks of local artists, or revel in the joy of people-watching and sightseeing.
6. Explore Bourbon Street During the Day
There is nothing wrong with exploring Bourbon Street at night, but take a peak at Bourbon Street during the day, and it may surprise you! It gets a bit wild at night, but start your day drinking mid-afternoon. Bourbon Street stretches for 13 blocks.
7. Sing to Dueling pianos
Anytime I am in the French Quarter, I have to pop into Pat O’Briens, get a Mint Julep (or Hurricane, depending on my mood), and escape the heat for some AC at the Dueling Piano Bars. The best time to get to the Dueling Piano Bar is right when it opens so you can grab a spot and start ordering your favorite songs.
My favorite song to request is Proud Mary by Tina Turner.
8. Take a walking tour of the French Quarter.
One of the best ways to get to know the French Quarter is by taking a walking tour. You can take a regular historical walking, foodie, or self-guided tour.
9. Go on a Ghost tour.
New Orleans ranks among the top destinations for a ghost tour, and if you’re eager to explore haunted sites and hear spine-tingling tales, it’s highly recommended. Ghost tours typically run for 1-2 hours, with standout options like Witches Brew Tours and the adults-only Hottest Hell Tours offering some of the most captivating experiences.
10. Carriage rides through the Quarter.
In a time when New Orleans streets were still unpaved, horse-drawn carriages were the original mode of transportation. Nowadays, as you wander along Decatur Street, adjacent to Jackson Square, you’ll often encounter Mule-Drawn Carriages ready to guide you through the city. Each carriage tour offers a narrative, providing intriguing perspectives on the enchanting French Quarter and neighboring areas.
11. Find the Lalaurie Mansion
The LaLaurie Mansion is one of the most renowned historic buildings, infamous for the horrific acts committed by its former owners, Madame LaLaurie, against enslaved Africans. In 1834, a fire engulfed the mansion, revealing a sinister secret chamber where the LaLuries had tortured many enslaved individuals. The revelation led to their expulsion from the community, but the mansion’s dark legacy remains.
12. Take a photo by the LaBranche House.
The photo opportunities are endless in the French Quarter, and if you have spent time on Instagram, you will see someone posing in front of the LaBranche House. With the stunning ferns, this is the perfect backdrop for anyone’s newsfeed.
13. Stroll down Pirate’s Alley
I typically tell people not to walk down Alleyways, but strolling down Pirate’s Alley is one of my favorite things to do while exploring the French Quarter. This unique hidden gem is only one block long and is a beautiful spot to take photos.
14. Stroll up and down Royal Street
Royal Street has a lot of unique stores, art galleries, and just a cute vibe (compared to Bourbon Street). One of my favorite things on Royal Street is to go to Cafe Beignet and take a photo of or in front of the coffee shop.
15. Find some street performers.
The French Quarter buzzes with street performers. Walking through its streets, you’ll often see crowds enjoying local musicians, performances, art, and fortune tellers. If you appreciate their talents, consider giving them a dollar tip or two! Tip culture is high for street performers.
16. Buy Gifts for your loved ones in cute, local shops
If you can go through the t-shirt shops and bars, you can find a few cute souvenir shops to return gifts to your loved ones. I love bringing Pralines home to people because they travel well and are cheaper in the French Quarter than at the Airport. Aunt Sally’s or Laura’s Cadies is a great place to buy Pralines.
17. Catch a Saints Game
If you like sports but cannot swing tickets to a Saint’s Game, the next best thing is watching the game while at the local watering hole. There are many places to catch the game, but our favorite place is Coops Places or Turtle Bay.
18. Visiting Faulkner House Books
If you are a history buff, pop into Faulkner House in Pirate’s Alley. It is named after William Faulkner, who wrote his first while in that house. It is also one of the cutest small bookshops that I’ve found around the city.
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Places to Visit
After getting through the whole list of things to do, check out some places to visit! What is the difference? Well, for many of these things, there is either a cost associated with it, or you have certain times of the day to complete the activity.
19. Visit the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is Louisiana’s first licensed apothecary shop from the early 1800s. It houses a collection of early medicines, medical tools, and remedies, including superstitious cures for various ailments—even Voodoo potions. You can explore at your own pace or opt for a guided tour, with the visit typically lasting about an hour.
20. Visit the Presbytere Museum
The Presbytère Museum is one of the Louisiana State museums with two permanent exhibits – one about the celebration of Mardi Gras and the other about the resilience of surviving Hurricane Katrina. The Presbytere was designed to match the Cabildo next to Saint Louis Cathedral.
21. Attend mass at St. Louis Cathedral.
While in town, visit St. Louis Cathedral for a tour or mass. The St. Louis Cathedral has daily mass at 12:05 and weekend services. It’s open daily from 9 am to 4 pm if you can’t attend mass. You can find self-guided brochures at the entrance. You might meet a volunteer guide for a tour of the oldest Cathedral in the United States.
A few of my favorite New Orleans Weddings have been in the St Louise Cathedral.
22. Take a steamboat ride on the Steamboat Natchez.
Enjoy an evening aboard the Steamboat Natchez on the mighty Mississippi River. You can sail during the day, at night, or on a Sunday Jazz cruise. Food options are available, but consider dining before or after the cruise for a satisfying meal.
23. Explore the Cabildo
The Cabildo was built under Spanish Rule and was the center of the New Orleans Government until 1853, when it became the headquarters of the Louisiana State Supreme Court. This museum showcases tons of Louisiana history.
24. Stop by the Marie Laveau House of Voodoo
Located on Bourbon Street, Marie Laveua’s House of Voodoo allows you to explore a variety of exhibits and displays that discuss Marie Laveua’s life. Many people first think that Marie and her works with voodoo are sinister, but Laveau spent more of her life as a healer. You can learn about the different rituals and symbols associated with voodoo culture.
25. Enjoy live music at Preservation Hall.
Preservation Hall, an iconic music venue, is a living gem that encapsulates the spirit of New Orleans. With nightly performances by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, you have plenty of opportunities to include this remarkable attraction on your New Orleans itinerary.
26. Stop by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
The newly reimagined and state-of-the-art Audubon Aquarium of Americas is open daily for fish and animal lovers! From Amazon Encounters to meeting with Penguins, the Aquarium is a must-do for anyone traveling with kids or teenagers.
27. Watch a show at Le Petit Theatre.
Le Petit Theatre has been essential in French Quarter history since 1916. The theater has been in its current location since 1922 and has entertained thousands of audience members with their dramas, comedies, and musicals. One of my favorite things about Le Petit is its spooky and haunting history. Don’t let the ghost stories scare you – the ghosts of Le Petit are friendly.
28. Explore the Museum of Death
The World Famous Museum of Death is located in the French Quarter. If you are brave enough to visit, you can learn all about body bags, coffins, skulls, morticians, and cannibalism. There are also unique displays of the Manson family photos, crime scenes, and more. I would not recommend bringing children or teens here.
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29. Explore the Hermann-Grima + Gallier House.
If you are into the city’s architecture, you should tour the Hermann-Grima + Gallier House. The Hermann-Grima House, a national historic landmark, is a 19th-century Creole Mansion and Slave Quarters. They offer cooking demonstrations twice a month, November through April.
The Gallier House is a 19th-century French Quarter townhouse with slave quarters and is a family home. This home shows how a comfortable lifestyle was made possible through the work of enslaved people and domestic servants.
30. St Louis Cemetery no. 1
A trip to New Orleans is only complete with a visit to at least one of the historic cemeteries. Presently, the only tour that grants access to St. Louis Cemetery, No. 1, where you can pay your respects at the grave of the voodoo queen Marie Laveau, is available. These tours depart every 20 minutes but tend to fill up quickly, so making reservations well in advance is wise.
31. New Orleans Jazz Museum
Situated in the Historic Old U.S. Mint, the New Orleans Jazz Museum features a vast collection of artifacts, instruments, memorabilia, and interactive exhibits that chronicle the birth of jazz. It’s a must-visit for music enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Moreover, the museum actively promotes the vibrancy of jazz in New Orleans by hosting live performances, workshops, and events, ensuring that this musical tradition continues to thrive.
32. Louis Armstrong Park
Louis Armstrong Park is located near the French Quarter and pays tribute to Louis Armstrong. The park highlights two main attractions: Congo Square and the Mahalia Jackson Theater.
Congo Square was a gathering place for people in the 19th century, hosting meetings, markets, and African dance rituals.
Things to eat and drink
New Orleans is known for having the best restaurants and having excellent cocktails. You could quickly go on a food tour all over the city, eating the best po’boys and muffellatas. But remember, New Orleans serves more than just Cajun and Creole food. You can find some of Louisiana’s oldest restaurants in the French Quarter.
33. Eat like a local
Eating like a local in the French Quarter means long, leisurely Friday Lunches that run into the evening—grabbing a Poboy or Muffuelat and splitting it with your family. Or even save a buck or two when going to a Happy Hour. Check out this blog post for my favorite places to eat in the French Quarter.
34. Try a muffuletta
The Muffuletta, famous among Italian immigrants in New Orleans, features Sicilian sesame bread as its star. This hearty sandwich is crafted with cured meats like ham and salami, Provolone cheese, and a generous helping of olive salad, all with delicious bread. Thankfully, a single Muffuletta is substantial enough to share with 2-3 people, making it an ideal indulgence. Take the chance to add this delicious delight to your New Orleans food bucket list.
35. Grab a Beignet and Cafe au Lait
A Beignet is a square, deep-fried donut topped with powdered sugar, akin to certain styles of Sufganiyot. While traditional Beignets are light and fluffy with no fillings, you can now find stuffed, savory (like crab beignets) and glazed variations. Beignets are typically enjoyed with a cafe au lait. My favorite places in the Quarter to get beignets are Cafe Du Monde or Cafe Beignet.
36. Get a poboy
A Po’Boy is a traditional sandwich with crispy French bread with delicious ingredients. My favorites include Roast Beef with gravy or Fried Shrimp. The Surf and Turf, featuring roast beef and fried shrimp, offers the best of both worlds. Trying a Po’ Boy is a must when in New Orleans, and it’s a meal I enjoy making at home and ordering when I’m out and about.
Find out my favorite places to get PoBoy’s here!
37. Eat at the Oldest Restuarant in Louisiana
The French Quarter is home to some of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans. Antione’s (1840), Tujague’s (1856), and Galatoire’s (1905) are all excellent places to grab a bite to eat and have a traditional New Orleans lunch or dinner. It would help if you went to proper dining at these restaurants. There are a number of French Quarter Restaurants that I recommend.
38. Dine on top of Mambo’s
Do you want to go out to eat at the only rooftop bar and restaurant in the French Quarter? Mambos has incredible views of Bourbon Street, and they also have great food. You can do your food tour with all the different Louisiana food on the menu.
39. Take a cooking class with the New Orleans School of Cooking.
If you want to get your hands dirty, take a cooking class with the New Orleans School of Cooking! You can take a hands-on class and learn how to make delicious dishes like Gumbo or Jambalaya or go to a cooking demonstration and enjoy the goodies.
40. Bar Hop
There are so many classic cocktails made here in Louisiana that you can quickly go from bar to bar and try some classic cocktails. Getting a Sazerac at the Szazara bar or a French 75 at Arnaud’s is the perfect way to spend a hot or rainy day on your vacation.
41. Get drinks at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop bar.
Have you ever heard of the purple drink? One of the few bars I like visiting on Bourbon Street is the Purple Drink at Lafitte’s blacksmith shop. Why is this location a must-visit? It was built between 1722 and 1732 and is rumored to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States!
42. Old Absinthe House
Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House has its ties to the start of Prohibition. Famed pirate Jean Lafitte met with Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812 when Jackson struck a deal with Lafitte. During the Battle of New Orleans
There is nothing the British were treated by Jackson and LAfittes men ready for a win.
43. Take a spin at the Carousel Bar.
Have you ever wanted to go on a Carousel and drink? The Carousel Bar is one of my favorite bars in the French Quarter. It is the perfect place to people-watch and to take a spin or two on the Carousel. Don’t worry – it doesn’t go that fast, but you may get through a round or two before you can grab a seat at the coveted Carousel.
Festivals to attend in the French Quarter
Fun Fact: New Orleans has more festivals than most locals know what to do with. One of the best places to celebrate the unique culture of New Orleans is by participating in some of the festivals in the French Quarter.
44. Mardi Gras
February or March
Mardi Gras is on everyone’s bucket list for New Orleans, and even though Mardi Gras Parades are not typically in the French Quarter, the French Quarter is the perfect place to spend most of Mardi Gras Day. From Costumes to people-watching to all-day debauchery- Mardi Gras in the French Quarter is fun.
But do note: Mardi Gras promptly ends at midnight, and the cops sweep Bourbon Street to prepare the city for Ash Wednesday.
45. Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival
This five-day event is held each spring, and participants worldwide descend on the city with their love of Tennessee Williams. You want to attend the annual Stella Shouting Contest at 4 p.m. in Jackson Square on the Sunday of the Festival.
46. French Quarter Fest
French Quarter Fest is one of my favorite festivals of all time. Indeed, at a local festival, you will find local bands, local food, and actual locals out and about during the French Quarter Fest. This is the perfect time to come in and wander around the city, eating, drinking, and listening to music.
47. Red Dress Run
If you are in New Orleans on the second Saturday of August and you see a lot of men and women just running around in Red Dresses, you are in the middle of the Red Dress Run. What started as a run for charity has exploded to be the biggest Festival of August in the French Quarter.
48. Southern Decadence
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, you can anticipate lots of entertainment with Southern Decadence. The line-up includes drag shows, bar events, sexy pool parties, and more. Primarily located at Bourbon and St. Ann Streets, Southern Decadence takes over Labor Day weekend with a sexy LGB Energy.
Even though you do not have to stay in the French Quarter for Halloween, being in the French Quarter for Halloween is still a ton of fun. New Orleans’s oldest neighborhood knows how to throw a party and wear a costume. Halloween is something else in the French Quarter, from costume contests to people walking up and down Bourbon Street.
The Christmas season typically starts right after Thanksgiving but is one of the most memorable times in the French Quarter. You will not be disappointed, from Reveillon dinners to hotels dressed up to the nines.
Places to Stay
Plaid Shirt Yoga Pants Favorite French Quarter Hotels
Holiday Inn French Quarter Chateau– Located at 301 Dauphine Street, the Holiday Inn Hotel French Quarter Chateau Lemoyne will allow you to stay in the heart of the Quarter without breaking the bank – Click to view photos.
Other Neighborhoods to explore
New Orleans is more than just Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. If you have completed many of the sightseeing activities off your list, make sure you go on to some of these other neighborhoods!
Marigny and Bywater
A must-go spot is Frenchmen Street, located on the edge of the French Quarter. You can explore Studio Be, Catch a brass band at one of the music venues, or discover some great music.
The Warehouse District, or Central Business District, is one of my favorite places to explore! Here, you can catch a Saints game at the Superdome, Go to Mardi Gras World, or explore the National WWII Museum.
If you are craving some outside time, City Park is perfect for those who want to relax. There are many things to do at City Park, and you can spend a whole day exploring the Sculpture Garden, browsing the New Orleans Museum of Art, or even looking for Alligators.
New Orleans French Quarter Safety
New Orleans has a lot of crime, which is true to the French Quarter, like any other large city or urban area. The French Quarter is a prominent tourist area, and during the peak tourist time, there is generally an increase in police presence.
Ensure you stay in well-lit, populated areas, avoid displaying valuable belongings, and be cautious when enjoying the nightlife. Even though New Orleans likes to stay out late, take a ride share or walk in groups when returning to your hotel room.
Find out about more about Saftey in New Orleans here.
Things to do in New Orleans French Quarter
There are many things to do in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I hope you can squeeze a couple of things into your trip! If you need assistance booking your New Orleans Trip, please get in touch with Sunset Chasers Travel Agency for more information.
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