With about half of the city sitting just above sea level, New Orleans is a city that captures the imagination and hearts of visitors from around the world. Known for its melting pot culture, event-filled history and unique blend of influences, it's a place like no other. From the iconic French Quarter to the lively music scene to the upscale appeal of the Garden District, there's something special about the Big Easy that keeps people coming back for more.
Take a stroll through Crescent City with us along the Mississippi River, up and down Canal Street, through the heart of the French Quarter and straight through the Central Business District to finally answer the question, what is New Orleans known for and what makes it one of the most desirable cities to call home in the entire United States?
No visit to New Orleans would be complete without exploring the French Quarter, or Vieux Carré. As the city's oldest neighborhood, the French Quarter is a treasure trove of stunning architecture, fascinating history and, of course, a great atmosphere. While Bourbon Street and Royal Street may be the most famous thoroughfares in the French Quarter, there's so much more to discover.
Take a stroll along Royal Street lined with colorful buildings adorned with intricate wrought iron balconies. Architecture buffs should add a quick trip to Louis Cathedral to their itineraries. Immerse yourself in the unmatched atmosphere of Jackson Square and Bourbon Street, where you'll find Marie Laveau selling voodoo dolls and more out of her beloved Voodoo store.
All around this upbeat area, artists display their work, street performers entertain passersby and New Orleans culture shines brightly. Jackson Square is also a hot spot for paranormal enthusiasts with ghost sightings and voodoo dolls from Marie Laveau not an uncommon sight. Don't miss the chance to sample the city's signature beignets and café au lait at the world-famous Café du Monde in the French Market area.
Adjacent to the French Quarter, the Marigny neighborhood is home to Frenchmen Street, a haven for music lovers. Here, you'll find a string of live music venues showcasing a variety of genres, from New Orleans jazz and blues to reggae and rock. Spotted Cat and d.b.a. are just a couple of the many spots where you can catch talented French Louisiana musicians in action.
As you explore Frenchmen Street, you'll also discover a stellar food scene. From creole delicacies to shaved ice to cajun cooking and more, there's food to satisfy the cravings of any and all New Orleans residents, especially in the French Market district. Soak up the energetic atmosphere as you dine and enjoy the music that fills the air, and remember, you're just a short hop away from all the attractions, live music and delicious food in the French Quarter.
Immerse yourself in history at the National WWII Museum, a world-class complex that pays tribute to the heroes and stories of World War II. With award-winning exhibits, including actual planes, jeeps and Higgins Boats, the museum provides a comprehensive look at the war and its impact on the countries involved. Experience the era through interactive displays, theater presentations and personal accounts of those who lived through it.
If shopping is your passion, make sure to explore Magazine Street. This six-mile stretch is brimming with local boutiques, art galleries and antique shops. From fashion and home decor to jewelry and antiques, you'll find treasures at every turn. Take a break from shopping and indulge in a meal at one of the many restaurants that offer sidewalk dining or enjoy a quick walking tour through Audubon Park.
Escape the hustle and bustle of Crescent City and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of City Park. Spanning over 1,300 acres, this lush green space is dotted with moss-drenched centuries-old oak trees, peaceful walking paths and native wildlife.
Rent a swan boat and glide across the Big Lake, take a walking tour of the Botanical Garden or unleash your inner child at Storyland and the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. For a unique experience, hike the Couturie Forest, a nature trail that leads you to Laborde Mountain, the highest point in New Orleans at 27 feet above sea level.
Located within City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is the place to be for artsy types. With over 40,000 pieces in its collection, the museum showcases a wide range of artwork, from Italian Renaissance masterpieces to modern works.
Marvel at the works of Monet, Degas, Rodin and O'Keefe, as well as glass, ceramics and an extensive photography collection. Take a stroll through the adjacent Sydney and Walda Bestoff Sculpture Garden, where the obsessively landscaped grounds showcase an array of sculptures.
No visit to New Orleans would be complete without indulging in the city's food. And when it comes to iconic food experiences, Café du Monde takes the cake.
Since 1862, this French Quarter fixture has been serving up the best café au lait and hot, fresh beignets. Witness the magic happening in the kitchen through the window as these delicious treats are prepared. If you don't leave with powdered sugar all over your shirt, you didn't do it right.
For a leisurely walking tour or bike ride, head to the Lafitte Greenway. This 2.6-mile linear park stretches from City Park to the edge of the French Quarter and is a green oasis in the heart of the city.
The paved path takes you on a scenic tour past playgrounds, native landscaping, art installations and athletic fields. Along the way, you'll find breweries, coffee shops and restaurants, making it the perfect spot to take a break and enjoy the energy of New Orleans in the summer.
Explore a different side of Southern history at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience. This recently opened museum tells the story of Jewish Americans in thirteen Southern states from colonial times to the present.
Discover how Jewish communities integrated into the culture of their new surroundings and shared their own traditions with predominantly Christian communities. Through exhibits and interactive displays, gain a deeper understanding of this often overlooked aspect of Southern heritage.
For a unique perspective of the city, hop aboard the Algiers Ferry at the foot of Canal Street. This short ferry ride offers breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and the New Orleans skyline. Once you reach the other side, explore the charming neighborhood of Algiers Point.
With its picturesque homes, oak-lined streets and cozy cafes and bars, it's the perfect place to wander and soak in the sights and sounds of a different New Orleans than you're used to seeing in TV and movies.
No visit to New Orleans is complete without a ride on the city's historic streetcars. While the famous Desire line from Tennessee Williams' play may be a thing of the past, the current streetcar lines offer a charming way to explore the city and a convenient alternative to a walking tour.
Hop on the red streetcars that run to Mid-City or the original green cars that traverse St. Charles Avenue, passing through the beautiful Garden District and Audubon Park. Take in the stunning architecture and enjoy the slowed-down pace as you soak up the sights and sounds of the city.
Discover the magic behind Mardi Gras at Mardi Gras World. Located near the Convention Center, this unique attraction offers a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the spectacular floats that roll in the Carnival parades and other Mardi Gras events around the city.
Take a tour of the workshop and see the talented artists and craftsmen in action. Marvel at the intricate designs and loud colors that bring the parades to life. Whether it's Mardi Gras season or not, you can immerse yourself in the spirit of this iconic New Orleans celebration.
Upriver from the French Quarter lies the Garden District, a neighborhood renowned for its grand mansions and historic cemeteries. Needless to say, it's a much calmer vibe than what you'll find on Bourbon Street and is ideal for a walking tour with the family. Take a guided tour to learn about the fascinating history of the district and admire the stunning 19th-century architecture.
As you wander the streets, you'll discover charming shops, cafes and restaurants. Don't miss the chance to dine at Commander's Palace, a New Orleans institution known for its exceptional cuisine and elegant atmosphere, or check out one of the many community events hosted throughout the year, especially in spring and summer.
Whether you're a potential renter or buyer, New Orleans is a city that captivates the imagination and leaves a lasting impression on all who set foot on its storied streets. From the city's killer live music scene and mouthwatering food to the rich history and entirely unique culture, there is so much to discover and experience in NOLA.
Whether you're exploring the French Quarter and its beloved Bourbon Street, marveling at the beauty of Louis Cathedral, wondering at the wrought iron balconies, indulging in the French culture at Café du Monde, sitting pretty in the Garden District or immersing yourself in the history of World War II at the National WWII Museum, New Orleans offers a unique and unforgettable experience. So, dive into the spirit of the Big Easy and uncover what makes Crescent City truly special today.
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