Have you ever stepped into the enchanting embrace of New Orleans' oldest neighborhood, or perhaps one of the oldest in the entire United States? If you're planning a visit to our vibrant city, the French Quarter is undoubtedly on your radar. This historic gem cradles centuries-old buildings and weaves together millions of captivating stories. From mesmerizing museums and spellbinding tours to charming shops, lively bars, and exquisite restaurants, the Vieux Carré, as it's known, offers a world of adventure waiting to be explored.

While our list may not encompass every gem in this iconic neighborhood, here are 11 of the most iconic experiences you can't miss when you set out to discover the heart of the Crescent City!

Justen Williams

The pulsating beat of the French Quarter, Jackson Square stands as one of the most iconic and recognizable locations in all of New Orleans. Formerly known as the Place d’Armes, its roots trace back to the 1720s. This historic landmark has been a cornerstone for the rich cultural tapestry that breathes life into our city. It hosts a dazzling array of art, music, fortune-tellers, street performers, and mouthwatering food. Nestled within 2.5 acres, it's encircled by the Pontalba Building Apartments and Storefronts, The Cabildo, The Presbytère, and, most notably, the St. Louis Cathedral.

Justen Williams

Historic Museums

Within the bustling vibrancy of the French Quarter, you'll discover a treasure trove of museums well worth your visit. The Cabildo  a building of immense historical significance, once served as government offices during the Spanish colonial period. Today, it cradles exhibitions that pay homage to New Orleans' storied past. Just across from it stands The Presbytère, where you can delve into the history of Mardi Gras and explore the profound impact of Hurricane Katrina on this resilient city. For an in-depth exploration into the culture, origins, lives, and evolution of New Orleans, don't miss The Historic New Orleans Collection. You can also uncover the city's hidden stories at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum and the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Image Courtesy of Arnaud's

Indulging in fine dining is an exhilarating part of any journey, and the French Quarter offers a tantalizing blend of contemporary and classic culinary experiences. Some eateries stand as enduring pillars of timeless Creole cuisine. Celebrating its centennial in 2022, Broussard’s is a testament to this rich culinary heritage. Galatoire’s and Arnaud’s have crossed their centennial milestones, offering sublime dining experiences. Whether you're savoring courtyard delights at Antoine’s or relishing world-class breakfast at Brennan’s, these establishments are synonymous with milestone celebrations for locals and beckon travelers to savor the decadent flavors of New Orleans.

If you seek to take a piece of New Orleans home with you, the French Market is your destination for open-air shopping. Here, you'll discover a delightful medley of food, art, trinkets, and often, the sweet hum of live music to serenade your stroll through history. Be sure to explore the nearby New Orleans Jazz Museum and the newly adorned mural celebrating the cultural bonds between Louisiana and Canada on N. Peters and Ursulines streets.

Paul Broussard, New Orleans & Co.

Royal Street, a true vena cava of culture in the French Quarter, stretches from Canal Street to beyond Esplanade Avenue into the Marigny, offering a captivating blend of art galleries, boutiques, antique shops, cozy bars, charming hotels, and delectable restaurants. It's a must-visit for anyone exploring this vibrant section of the city. Notoriously, the French Quarter houses Bourbon Street, a place that transforms from day to night, offering a sensory whirlwind of nightlife. While the city warmly welcomes families, this particular stretch is where we encourage you to savor its delights sans the little ones, perhaps leaving them with Grandma back at the hotel.

Rebecca Todd

Along Royal Street, a treasure trove of unique home decor awaits at M.S. Rau, one of the most renowned antique shops in the country. Even if you're not shopping, a tour of the shop's "secret rooms" is an experience that promises to leave you in awe.

Courtesy of Jewel of the South

While New Orleans is celebrated for its distinctive local cuisine, it also claims the title of the birthplace of the cocktail. Delve into this spirited history at the Sazerac House, located just across Canal Street from the French Quarter. Within the Vieux Carré's boundaries, this legacy has evolved into a vibrant scene, where inventive mixologists craft award-winning concoctions. Spots like ManolitoJewel of the South, and Cane & Table promise to quench your thirst for drinks as unique as New Orleans itself. For a taste of classic cocktails, savor the Pimm's Cup at Napoleon House and the French 75 at, where else, the French 75 Bar in Arnaud's, which have perfected these traditional libations alongside their menus of timeless local cuisine.

Zack Smith

Fun knows no age limits at the Aquarium and Insectarium, nestled on the edge of the French Quarter along scenic Woldenberg Park. Meet penguins, sharks, and sea otters, or embark on an enthralling trip into the world of insects. Afterward, take a leisurely stroll along the riverfront. Be sure to reserve your tickets online for swift entry. To cap off your adventure, visit the mesmerizing Vue Orleans at the Four Seasons New Orleans for breathtaking 360-degree vistas of the city and immersive exhibits celebrating the city's unique culture and history.

Paul Broussard

Beneath the lively notes of jazz and the sweet aroma of beignets, Cafe du Monde in New Orleans beckons with a taste of indulgence. Nestled right across from Jackson Square, this iconic establishment is a haven for those seeking a sensory voyage through powdered sugar-dusted delights. Picture yourself sipping on a steaming cup of chicory coffee, the rich flavors mingling with the warm, doughy embrace of freshly fried beignets. As the sounds of street performers provide the soundtrack, every bite becomes a moment of pure bliss—a delicious dance between tradition and the vibrant spirit of the Crescent City.

Rebecca Todd

In 2018, New Orleans celebrated its tricentennial, and the French Quarter serves as a living testament to this rich history. Stepping into this district is like stepping back through the centuries, as the city’s French and Spanish heritage is splendidly reflected in its architecture. Much of it remains unchanged since its construction, save for modern amenities and a significant fire in 1788. Don't forget to explore the Old Ursuline Convent Museum , constructed in 1745, making it not only the oldest structure in New Orleans but also in the entire Mississippi River Valley

Cheryl Gerber

As the sun sets over the French Quarter, this storied district comes alive with supernatural tales and haunted tours that will send shivers down your spine. Whether you're a believer in the paranormal or simply love a good ghost story, the French Quarter has you covered. From chilling stories of vampires and the loup-garou to the eerie beauty of the above-ground cemeteries and the mysteries of a hidden torture chamber, the spirits of over 300 years of New Orleanians are rumored to linger in the shadows of the Vieux Carre. Brace yourself for a spellbinding trek into the unknown, perfect for history lovers, paranormal enthusiasts, and fans of Anne Rice and “The Vampire Diaries.”

For even more captivating experiences, be sure to explore our French Quarter Guides, including Weddings, Architecture, Tours, Restaurants, Shopping, and the French Quarter Festival. The adventure never ends in the heart of the Crescent City!