Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana

While Bourbon Street might be the heart of the French Quarter during the night, Jackson Square is the heart of the French Quarter during the day. With many different local artists performing and selling local items, the area is full of activity throughout the day. The St. Louis Cathedral is also there as well as the Cabildo, which is a museum reflecting the history of region. There are also many different restaurants on the streets surrounding Jackson Square offering some of the best food in New Orleans. Needless to say, being a location that draws so many tourists, there are also a variety of stores that sell a wide variety of items that represent New Orleans.

DSC_9409
Jackson Square, Andrew Jackson’s Statue, and the St. Louis Cathedral
DSC_9382
Crowds Watching a Performer

As different artists perform, from musicians, magicians, and jugglers, to acrobats and dancers, crowds gather around making it difficult to make your way through the area. As one artist finishes their performance, another will immediately start setting up near by. Many of these performances at Jackson Square are quite entertaining and they make their living from the tips that they receive once their performance is over. Because it is their source of income, they can be quite aggressive as they ask for people to pay for the performance that they just watched.

DSC_9386
Artists Selling Artwork
DSC_9381
St. Louis Cathedral

The focal point of Jackson Square is the park with its statue of Andrew Jackson on his horse. There are many benches within the park where you can sit and relax away from the noise of the people gathered in front of the cathedral. There are also several flower beds and shade trees, although we were there during December, so they weren’t all in bloom. In addition to the artists performing, you will find artists selling paintings and crafts all along the fence that surrounds the park. Depending upon your taste, you can likely find something interesting if you are looking for something original.

IMG_0946
Performers Just Gathering a Crowd
DSC_9397
At the Edge of the Park

Jackson Square will certainly be quite crowded throughout the day as throngs of crowds flock their to visit the park, see the performers, and go into the cathedral. It is certainly one of the more family friendly areas within the French Quarter and you can certainly spend a couple of hours in the area. It is also right by the Mississippi River and you can go on a riverboat cruise following your time in Jackson Square. Additionally, there are horse-drawn carriages offering to take you on tours of the French Quarter.

DSC_9387
Shade Trees and Vendor Carts
IMG_0919
Walking into Jackson Square

 

The Food of New Orleans

New Orleans is definitely a destination for food lovers with all of the quality restaurants offering authentic regional food at various prices. Whether you are on a budget or want to go out for an elegant dinner, there are many choices that will provide an incredible eating experience. Seafood is at the heart of the meals that you will find in New Orleans, but there are plenty of other dishes that are uniquely Cajun. You will likely find Po-Boys, Gumbo, Jambalaya, and beignets on most menus as well as fresh snapper, oysters, and Crawfish Etouffee. There are other interesting items such as turtle soup, fried aligator, shrimp and grits, as well as local takes on eggs benedict.

img_1206
Crawfish Etouffee
img_1254
Meeting the Chef at The Briquette
img_1346
Duck Breast Jambalaya

The very first restaurant that we ate at was Oceana’s, which is just off of Bourbon Street and turned out to be a place that we visited several times because their food was so good. Like many restaurants, if you don’t go during non-traditional meal times, you can expect to wait in long lines that stretch down the street. Fortunately we like sitting at the bar as well as eating at different times, so we didn’t have any trouble getting served. We ate Oysters Rockefeller, Oceana’s Famous Oysters, Aligator Bites, Seafood Crepe, and a wonderful Bloody Mary during our different visits. The Crawfish Etouffee at the Royal House was one of the best meals that we ate during our entire stay. For a filling breakfast or brunch, going to the Stanley at Jackson Square can’t be beat and we had their Seafood Breakfast, which had fried oysters and shrimp, fried soft shell crab, and eggs benedict. It was delicious.

img_0900
Oceana’s Famous Oysters
img_0943
Seafood Breakfast at the Stanley
img_1148
Bloody Mary at Oceana’s

We went out for a couple of more upscale dinners including The Briquette where we were introduced to the chef by the owner and got to see our own fish on the grill. The food there is always fresh and we had the whole Red Fish filet as well as tournedos of beef and scallops. We also ate at Muriel’s on Jackson Square where we ate Turtle Soup, Cauliflower Soup, Duck Breast Jambalaya, and Pan Seared Scallops. There were also stops at Tableau and the Chartres House for Gumbo, Crawfish Bread, and Spicy Pecan Popcorn.

img_1198
Oyster Po-Boy with Red Beans and Rice
img_1037
Shrimp and Grits
img_1036
Beignets

We were in New Orleans for a week, so if the list of places that we visited seems long, it is simply because we were eating out several times every day. Obviously we had to have an Oyster Po-Boy, which we did at Desire as well as getting fresh oysters. We went to Curios for brunch where we had traditional Beignets as well as Shrimp and Grits. We made our way to the Carousel Bar for a Caesar Salad and Le Bayou for fresh oysters as well.

img_1342
Turtle Soup
img_1186
Spicy Caramel Popcorn
img_1098
Gumbo

Needless to say, when in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter, there is more than just food. For drinks we went to many different locations, but one of the most interesting was Pirate’s Alley CafĂ©, which truly is in an alley. The 21st Amendment where we were treated to live jazz and a few glasses of wine. Finnegan’s was one of our favorite Irish dive bars, but we also enjoyed The Erin Rose where they serve an excellent po-boy. We enjoyed live music at The Drinkery as well as a few other places, including street performers on Bourbon Street.

img_1343
Pan Seared Scallops
img_1072
Erin Rose Irish Bar
img_1101
Crawfish Bread

You won’t go hungry when visiting New Orleans. With so many options and friendly staff wherever you go, there really aren’t too many bad choices. We’d recommend doing what we do, which is to ask the bartenders and wait staff at the places that you visit where they would recommend that you eat, usually requesting that they tell where the locals go, not necessarily the tourists. We were given great recommendations as well as just finding places as walked throughout the French Quarter. As we mentioned before, it is busy, so be sure to either make reservations in advance where you can and expect lines in the places that don’t accept reservations.

img_1003
Fried Aligator Bites
img_0987
Fresh Oysters

 

The French Quarter in New Orleans

 

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.

dsc_9429
Walking Bourbon Street at Dusk
dsc_9382
Very Busy Jackson Square
dsc_9408
St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square

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.

dsc_9412
Historic Streets
dsc_9385
Artists in Jackson Square
dsc_9421
Voodoo Shop

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.

dsc_9460
Carriage in the French Quarter
dsc_9420
Sign for a Voodoo Shop
dsc_9430
Another View of Bourbon Street

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.

dsc_9400
Natchez Riverboat
dsc_9405
Mississippi River
dsc_9446
Walking the Streets at Christmas

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.

dsc_9455
Inventor of the Hurricane Drink
dsc_9381
St. Louis Cathedral
dsc_9362
Beautiful Architecture