Even if you’ve never had the opportunity to visit New Orleans, Louisiana, chances are you’ve heard something about the French Quarter. The neighborhood has beautiful architecture and a rich history that started when the French established the previously walled-up city in 1718.
While the first thing that may pop into your mind about the French Quarter is Bourbon Street or Mardi Gras, there’s more to see and learn about the Creole culture at all times of the year. Before you start roaming NOLA’s streets, make sure you are prepared for the weather. It is hot and humid for most of the year so bring sunscreen, heat protection spray for your hair, and a bottle of cool water.
Now that you’ve thrown the essentials in a bag, here are some must-see places that you have to add to your New Orleans itinerary.
The first little-known area of the French Quarter to visit is a small street named Pirate Alley, named as such in the 1960s to reflect the stories passed down for generations. Rumor has it that Andrew Jackson and Jean Lafitte, the pirate, met on that very street. Other stories tell of pirates who frequented the road, with a church on one side and an old Spanish dungeon on the other.
There’s no telling if any of that is true, but at the very least Pirate Alley has the home of William Faulkner. Be sure to pack your camera because you never know what there is to see on this historic street.
It’s hard to imagine visiting New Orleans without listening to jazz music wafting out of every open door while seeking out the best local cuisine the French Quarter has to offer. Stop by the Cafe du Monde on Decatur Street to enjoy some piping hot coffee and sugary beignets to start the day.
Then swing by Antoine’s on St. Louis Street or Galatoire’s on St. Peter’s for a bowl of delicious Creole gumbo in the afternoon before heading to Kingfish for some signature cocktails for happy hour and rubbing elbows with the locals.
Get a Feel for New Orleans
While you’re on St. Peter’s Street, you might notice the French Market, where you can shop for local crafts, food, and souvenirs from your visit. You might even find some local favorites like pralines and grilled alligator for a quick bite.
Next to the market, enjoy Louisiana history and a nice photo op by strolling over to see the statue of the Lady or Maid of Orleans, which was a gift from France in 1964.
Don’t forget the witchcraft and voodoo shops that line the streets of the quarter. Hex Old World Witchery has a wide variety of craft items and a knowledgeable staff that can help you make a selection. And Reverend Zombie’s House of Voodoo not only has items for practice but there is usually a psychic on-site if you want to have a peek at your fortune.
A Street You Know
If you want a little bit of everything all in one place, head to the most recognized street in the entire United States: Bourbon Street. There you can hear live music, eat soul food, explore Voodoo, talk to the locals about their culture, bar hop, pick up a souvenir, and observe the people around you. You’ll find not only residents who live in the area but people from all over the world exploring the intricacies of the French Quarter.
Catching these sites will help you explore the wonders throughout the gem of New Orleans that is the pride of Louisiana. It’s a unique place you can’t find anywhere else. And, as you can see, you don’t have to wait until the Mardi Gras celebration for a fun and cultural experience.