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.
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.
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.
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.