Things to do in New Orleans – A Day in the French Quarter

New Orleans is eternally famous for the nightlife on Bourbon Street, but it holds my heart for things you can do during the day, including amazingly interesting historical exploration, people watching, and other activities. Here are a few of my favorites.

Beignets

You must have at least one of these New Orleans staples. Cafe Beignet on Royal street offers a great version along with a cool coffee-shop atmosphere and proximity to a lot of great art and music.
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You can also get one at the world famous Cafe Du Monde. The coffee is great there, too! Notice the bite taken out of one beignet; my travel companion couldn’t even wait for me to take a photo.

 

 

Hotel Monteleone – The Carousel Bar

This bar is carousel-themed, and it spins slowly around as you sip your drink. There are always interesting people perched, chatting and drinking. The bartenders are friendly. Opulent, luxurious decor will please your senses. You can even order a little food. It’s a nice way to spend a Happy Hour or after-lunch moment on your NOLA vacation.

 

Walking tour

Wander the Quarter… with a personalized online tour guide. Google ‘French Quarter walking tour,’ and you’ll find quite a few. They’ll give you a map and even include navigation. They’ll show you many of the historically interesting buildings. You’ll need to schedule at least three hours to see all the interesting homes and landmarks, or split your tour between East and West and go twice. You’ll love wandering the quarter, you’ll see lots of guided group tours along the way, and you’ll encounter plenty of excellent places to stop for lunch. If you’re in the Quarter in winter, you’ll also encounter Mardi Gras beads and Krewe flags!

 

Also consider a walking tour of the nearby Garden District; there’s plenty of history there, too.

Royal Street Art

If you walk Royal street from Canal to Esplanade, you’ll encounter numerous art galleries. If you love art, I recommend walking into every one. And if you’re an artist, you’re sure to find inspiration.

Decatur Street Shops

Instead of art, Decatur is full of tourist and trinket shops. There are t-shirts, Mardi Gras masks and beads, gargoyles and voodoo dolls, and so much more. It’s a fun way to spend an afternoon. It’s also home to some of my favorite French Quarter restaurants (Coop’s), but I’m saving that for another post.

Cemeteries

They’re morbid, but they’re beautiful. There’s a lot of history behind New Orleans’ cemeteries, which has led to above-ground mausoleums made of stone and brick and decorated with colorful flowers. Nature creeps up on the monuments, filling in the cracks with weeds. The mystery of who leaves faux roses and mardi gras beads is surely inspiration for the creative types among us.

 

French Market

Accessible from Decatur, this open air market offers fresh produce, local art, trinkets and cool souvenirs. It follows the river, and it’s always crowded and lively. It’s near quite a few great lunch places, too. You’ll definitely want to stop here before you leave. Enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants on Decatur, or start with breakfast at Cafe Du Monde.

Jackson Square

Local artists apply for permits all around Jackson Square, and they display their beautiful creations every day. Think Paris’ Place du Tertre. You can wander the circle multiple times and catch pieces you didn’t the first time. There are always local musicians playing outdoors as well.
Don’t forget to walk through Jackson Square, a lovely park.

 

Pirate’s Alley

This harder-to-find area, behind the St. Louis Cathedral, is central to the French Quarter and hosts a whole other [additional] set of amazing local artists. There are actually two beautiful paintings in my home that were created by an artist sitting in Pirate’s Alley and looking across the street to the St. Ann intersection. If you love New Orleans for the art, definitely don’t skip this wonderful open air gallery.

 

If you visit any of these places, comment and let me know what you think! And if you’re curious for more, see my other posts on New Orleans.

With love,

~Page Light Studios

 

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