Certainly the highlight of any trip to New Orleans, Louisiana is visiting the French Quarter. With a history that dates back to 1718, there are many different sites to see when spending time in the French Quarter. One of the first things that comes to mind when talking about the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, which is in the heart of the neighborhood. Regardless of the time of year, it can be raucous with many different bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Although there are parades and special events during Mardi Gras, the street is pretty much an outdoor party all year as people are allowed to take drinks with them in plastic cups as they walk the streets. Although it can be a fun street to visit, there is certainly a lot more to see in the French Quarter than just Bourbon Street.
Jackson Square with its bronze statues of Andrew Jackson and proximity between the St. Louis Cathedral and the Mississippi River is an absolute must to visit. It is a beautiful park and is usually surrounded by artists selling arts and crafts as well as performers entertaining the crowds that gather in the area. A walk along the river or taking a tour on one of the historic paddle ships such as the Natchez should also be on your agenda. Obviously the St. Louis Cathedral, which is the oldest continuously operating catholic cathedral operating in the United States, is worth spending about an hour visiting. Located next to the cathedral is The Cabildo where you can see exhibits providing information on the history of New Orleans and Louisiana.
In addition to the restaurants and typical tourist shops, you will find several voodoo shops in the French Quarter where you can buy yourself a voodoo doll or perhaps have a psychic reading done if you are interested. You will also find many different tour companies that offer ghost and cemetery tours and you will find many of them walking the streets after it the sun goes down. If you want a more lively way to spend your evening, there are lots of nightclubs offering live music, including jazz, Dixieland, as well as modern rock bands. As the night goes on, Bourbon Street becomes livelier and livelier and it is certainly not an environment for anyone under the age of 21.
Any trip to New Orleans should include sampling many of the varieties of food that are very specific to the region. You can find many different styles from inexpensive to the most formal meals. You should certainly expect long lines at many of the restaurants that don’t take reservations and for those that do accept them, you should plan to make reservations well in advance. In addition to the various foods such as po-boys, oysters, seafood, and crawfish, there are also several specialty drinks that can be found. Having a Hurricane or Sazerac are certainly worth having if you are looking for a unique adult beverage.
Overall, we would say that spending time in the French Quarter is a lot like visiting the Las Vegas Strip, meaning that it is probably worth about three or four days and is certainly not a great place for children to visit after dark. Regardless of the time of day, we really enjoyed walking the streets of the French Quarter including Royal Street with all of its art galleries, Jackson Square, and even spending time on Bourbon Street.