Most Exciting Attractions in New Orleans
Photo By: Houmas House
Photo By: Getty Images
Photo By: Shermian, flickr
Photo By: Getty Images
Photo By: Getty Images
Photo By: fw_gadget, flickr
Photo By: Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
Photo By: Thinkstock
Photo By: Louisiana State Museum
Photo By: The National World War II Museum
Photo By: Wally Gobetz, flickr
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Photo By: Ryan Lips
Photo By: Richard Sexton, courtesy of The New Orleans Museum of Art
Photo By: The Historic New Orleans Collection
An hour's drive west of New Orleans, enjoy a grand tour of the antebellum high life at Houmas House. This Louisiana plantation of yore, with a Greek Revival-style mansion at its center, unfolds across 38 verdant acres of gardens, ponds and one very picturesque live oak alley. Tour 16 rooms filled with period antiques and Louisiana artwork, such as a room-size mural featuring a sugar cane motif in the main hallway.
Fewer than 10 miles from the French Quarter, historic Chalmette Battlefield offers visitors a moment of quiet peace. This 17.5-acre site is so much more than a local treasure: It’s where the last land battle ever fought on American soil occurred between the US and a foreign power, back in 1815. Today, the grounds are the final resting place for more than 15,300 veterans, from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War.
What does French Impressionist master Edgar Degas have to do with New Orleans? Turns out, Degas’ mother and grandmother were both born in the Big Easy; Degas spent a year with members of his family in the city from 1872 to 1873. Tour the historic 2-story Degas home, now a bed and breakfast, on Esplanade Avenue, just 11 blocks from the French Quarter.
Superdome’s Champions Square
Give it up for the Saints at the Superdome! And once you’re hoarse from all the cheering, take time to explore the stadium’s Champion Square, a lively 121,000-square-foot outdoor festival and concert venue just steps from the stadium. The square opens 3 hours prior to each Saints home game to accommodate your needs -- think lots of food and cold drink options.
Cajun Café, anyone? Find this charming restaurant among the many cafes, bars and food stalls in New Orleans’ French Market. Spanning 6 blocks in the city’s French Quarter, this stretch of town is not only home to savory Creole and Cajun dishes, but also plenty of history. The area was founded in 1791 as a Native American trading post; it endures as one of the oldest markets of its kind anywhere in the US.
Rock N Bowl
Loving bowling and music? Take in some great sounds, in between scoring a 300, at Rock 'n' Bowl. This live music venue, located on New Orleans’ bustling Carrollton Avenue, has been a city fixture since 1941, and in its current location, since 1989. Live musical performances include Cajun, rock, blues, R&B and jazz; today the venue is widely recognized by music lovers as a respected part of New Orleans music scene.
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
Find this colorful little critter at Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. This museum is the largest American museum dedicated to all things insects. Explore more than 50 live exhibits -- including the termite gallery, where Formosan termites nibble their way through a wooden skyline of New Orleans. Hungry, yourself? Enjoy some deep-fried crickets at the museum’s café … yum?
St. Louis Cathedral
The majestic St. Louis Cathedral -- the oldest continuously operating cathedral in North America -- stands in the center of spacious Jackson Square. The cathedral opened its doors in 1794 (and again in the 1800s, after a botched renovation). Take a self-guided or group tour of the grounds; you can also enjoy a free classical concert put on by the local Catholic Heritage Center.
Mardi Gras Exhibit
Once you’ve seen St. Louis Cathedral, check out the Presbytere right next to it. Designed in 1791, this structure was originally called the Casa Curial (Ecclesiastical House). However, the residence never did end up housing clergy; instead, the building was mainly used for commercial purposes until 1834. Today, the museum houses an extensive collection of Mardi Gras artifacts and memorabilia -- check out the Crown Jewels Vault, home to dozens of tiaras, scepters, necklaces and other baubles.
America’s National WWII Museum
Just why is the National WWII Museum located in The Big Easy? It goes back to one big contribution: The amphibious landing craft that proved so decisive on D-Day was designed by New Orleans’ own Andrew Jackson Higgins. Learn the story in exhibits like The Home Front (pictured), and a recreated WWII train depot, at America’s national museum dedicated to telling the story of the Greatest Generation.
The Old Ursuline Convent
Tour the oldest building not only in New Orleans but in the entire Mississippi River Valley. The Old Ursuline Convent was designed in the French Neoclassical vein and opened in 1745; today, the stucco-covered brick building endures as the “finest surviving example of French colonial public architecture in the country,” according to the National Park Service.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
“To all whose desire is to be rich and to live a short life, but a merry one, I have no hesitation in recommending New Orleans.” The words of Henry Bradshaw Fearon, a 19th-century British scholar, came to pass for many laid to rest at Lafayette Cemetery. Established in 1833, the cemetery is one of the oldest in New Orleans, with many headstones a testament to lives cut short by a yellow fever epidemic that swept through the city in 1853.
Longue Vue House and Gardens
Longue Vue House and Gardens has been a city landmark for decades. The Classical Revival mansion was built in 1939 for the married daughter of a millionaire. Tour the 8-acre grounds, home to landscaped gardens of Louisiana irises, tulips and more, and step inside the mansion itself for a tour of rooms adorned with modern art by the likes of Kandinsky and Picasso.
New Orleans Museum of Art
Enjoy a free audio tour of one of the most important sculpture installations in the entire US. In addition to the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which is home to more than 60 sculptures from artists from around the world, the New Orleans Museum of Art hosts a permanent collection of almost 40,000 objects, spanning French, American, African and Japanese works.
Historic New Orleans Collection
Ever wondered how New Orleans cuisine got started? What the Battle of New Orleans was all about? And how the city has bounced back since Hurricane Katrina? Learn these fascinating stories at the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum in New Orleans’ French Quarter, that’s home to drawings, paintings and other artifacts that tell the story of The Big Easy’s transformation over the centuries.