New Orleans - AttractionGuide

New Orleans

Welcome to MetroGuide Networks' overview of New Orleans-area attractions. The Greater New Orleans area is full of attractions for all ages. On a Mississippi River bend near the Gulf, the so-named Crescent City offers a mélange of American, African, Caribbean and European architecture, culture and cuisine, long-enchanting arrivals from near and far. New Orleans' French Quarter, with ornate balconies and cobbled streets, is the most European of neighborhoods, its Jackson Square serving as a cultural hub. A streetcar ride away, up St. Charles Avenue, awaits the Garden District, known for antebellum mansions built to outshine French Quarter townhouses. Between the Garden District and the Central Business District is an area once used for distributing goods coming down the river, now known as the Warehouse/Arts District and teeming with studios and galleries. When asked for directions to city attractions, New Orleans citizenry often responds with guidance tied to “lakeside” or “riverside,” since the two big local landmarks are Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi, one relatively north and the other south. New Orleans' most lavish event is Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins) when floats glide down St. Charles Avenue as privileged revelers aboard toss out beads and metal doubloons. Both Loyola and Tulane, with its medical school that dates to 1834, are here. As for New Orleans cuisine, just the names of local dishes – jambalaya, etoufee, gumbo, shrimp creole, muffulettas, to po' boys -- fire imagination over what to seek out next at possibly the largest concentration of excellent restaurants in America. Even dishes from far-flung regions get their own twist in New Orleans where notions of “lagniappe” (Cajun French for “a little bit more”) prevail. Ditto for music born here, from Jazz to Cajun and Zydeco. With so much to beguile, the Crescent City graciously welcomes all, whether just passing through or planning a more leisurely stay.

Below is a list of some suggested things to do in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area, with links to more details when available.

Abita Brewing & Brew Pub
Founded in 1986 across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, Abita is the southeast's oldest regional craft brewery. Tours are available and beer (brewed from area spring water once believed to have healing powers) and root beer are poured at its restaurant overlooking Piney Woods hiking trail. Brews on tap only at the brew pub include Abita Blue (wheat beer with a hint of blueberry); Chocolate Stout (heavy on chocolate malt, which is barley roasted much like a cocoa bean) and Cask Condition Brown Ale (non-filtered, self-carbonated, hand-pumped English style).
100 Leveson Street, Abita Springs. (504) 893-3134
Audubon Zoological Gardens
Uptown on 400 acres with more than 4,000 live oaks, this retreat with lagoons, horseback riding, and bike paths is accessible by riverboat and streetcar. Apart from trees and moss, the swamp tour provides eerie glimpses of a white alligator and other creatures, and the zoo boasts rare white tigers, along with 2,000 other exotic and indigenous animals.
6500 Magazine Street. (504) 581-4629
Beauregard-Keyes House
A New Orleans auctioneer built this house with twin staircases and Doric columns in 1826, and novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes lived here from 1944 until 1970.
1113 Chartres Street. (504) 523-7257
Cafe du Monde
Visitors on tight budgets can indulge in high-calorie splurges of historic proportions at Cafe du Monde, with its original coffee stand established in 1862. The riverside Cafe is open 24 hours, closing only on Christmas and when hurricanes threaten. Starring on the menu are beignets (puffy, square French-style doughnuts liberally sprinkled with powdered sugar) and piping hot dark roasted coffee with chicory (this root of the endive plant offsets bitterness and hints of a slight chocolate flavor), served black or au lait, which means mixed half and half with hot milk.
813 Decatur Street. (504) 587-0833
Confederate Museum
Louisiana's oldest museum houses the nation's second largest Confederate collection. Apart from medical instruments to make visitors cringe, Civil War memorabilia on exhibit includes flags, uniforms, and weapons, along with personal effects of President Jefferson Davis, and Generals Beauregard, Lee, Bragg and other southern leaders.
929 Camp Street. (504) 523-4522
Contemporary Arts Center
Located in a 1905 warehouse, the Contemporary Arts Center combines historical architecture with contemporary works in elegant galleries, along with a cyber café, and gift shop.
900 Camp Street. (504) 528-3805
Cooking Schools
Exquisite fare served even at the most humble of eateries has established New Orleans as a world-class treasure trove of dining opportunity, so it seems only fitting that the Crescent City also yields excellent cooking class opportunities. A sampling includes the New Orleans Cooking Experience, (504) 522-4955; Mardi Gras School of Cooking & Catering, (504) 362-5225; Gumbo Creole/Cajun School of Cooking, (504) 525-3354; Riverwalk Marketplace, (504) 522-1555; Culinary Institute of New Orleans Chef's Table, (504) 525-2433; New Orleans School of Cooking, (504) 525-2665; Creole Delicacies Gourmet Shop & Cookin' Cajun Cooking School, (504) 586-8832.
Cruise Adventures
An expanding line-up of cruise vacations sailing under brands such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, departs from the Crescent City on adventures from three to 11 days to the Bahamas, Caribbean, and Mexico. Consult's CruiseGuide for possibilities.
Faubourg Treme
America's oldest black neighborhood, Faubourg Treme (often shortened to Treme), comes from a French term that means “suburb,” and is named for Claude Treme, a hatmaker and real estate developer migrating to New Orleans in 1783 from Burgundy, France. For people of color to own real property during an era when slavery prevailed in America occurred only in New Orleans with any consistency.
Between North Rampart and North Broad, and from Canal Street to St. Bernard Avenue.
French Quarter
Window-shop on Royal or Magazine streets, rich in antiques, or for entertainment, take in Bourbon Street for intensive exposure to jam-packed bars, restaurants and music outposts. Street vendors hawking sweet pralines add a festive air to Jackson Square where sidewalk artists show off their skills.
Hermann-Grima/Gallier Historic Houses
Built in 1831 in the heart of the French Quarter and depicting the Creole family lifestyle from 1830 to 1860, this mansion's tours include stable, courtyard and kitchens.
820 St. Louis Street. (504) 525-5661
Houmas House Plantation & Garden
The Bette Davis/Joan Crawford film Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte was filmed at this Greek Revival mansion (1840) fronting the original Colonial House (1790), both furnished with period antiques.
40136 Highway 942, Darrow. (225) 473-7841.
House of Broel's Historic Mansion & Dollhouse
In the Garden District, the mansion features museum quality antiques, enchanting doll houses and elaborate Mardi Gras costumes.
2220 St. Charles Avenue. (504) 525-1000
Louisiana State Museum
Among New Orleans top attractions, the State Museum includes the Cabildo, Presbytere, 1850 House, Old Mint, Arsenal and Madame John's Legacy, all housing exhibits exploring Louisiana's history and culture.
751 Chartres Street. (504) 568-6968
Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras floats, some accommodating up to 200 riders, take shape here in a year-around endeavor to build fantasies for dozens of parades leading up to Fat Tuesday. A film about Mardi Gras, exposure to Mardi Gras props, and opportunity to try on Mardi Gras costumes are part of the Mardi Gras World experience.
13233 Newton Street. (504) 361-7821
National D-Day Museum
Celebrating the spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage, and sacrifice of those who won World War II, the museum explores expression of these values by future generations.
945 Magazine Street. (504) 527-6012
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
In the French Quarter, this museum serves as a secluded archive for display of paintings, wood carvings, talismans and other “gris-gris” alongside mysterious mixes like “Get-Together Drops,” “Boss Fix Powder” and a root extract called “Johnny the Conquerer.” Hanging at the center is a portrait of priestess Marie Laveau, a mulatto woman reigning over New Orleans' voodoo community until her death in 1881. The Museum conducts Voodoo and Cemetery Walking Tours, which include a visit to the grave of Marie Laveau, Congo Square, a contemporary Voodoo priestess, and an exploration of the connections between Voodoo, jazz and Mardi Gras.
724 Dumaine Street. (504) 680-0128
New Orleans Museum of Art
NOMA, minutes from the French Quarter and one of the Gulf South's finest art museums, has an expansive Faberge gallery and other outstanding permanent collections.
1 Collins Diboll Circle, City Park. (504) 488-2631
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
Housed in the 1823 apothecary shop of Louis Dufillio, Jr., (the first U.S. licensed pharmacist), the museum's guided tours illuminate 19th century medicine and pharmacy.
514 Chartres Street. (504) 565-8027
Pitot House Museum
This rare surviving colonial Louisiana plantation house overlooks Bayou St. John, within city limits. It was the home of James Pitot, first mayor of the incorporated city.
1440 Moss Street. (504) 482-0313
River Cruises
Experience the mighty Mississippi aboard an assortment of riverboats with options including harbor cruises, aquarium/zoo cruises and dinner/jazz cruises. A sampling includes New Orleans Paddlewheels, (504) 529-4567; Creole Queen Paddlewheeler (504) 529-4567; and the Natchez Steamboat Dinner Cruise, (504) 586-8777.
San Francisco Plantation
In color and design, San Francisco Plantation is considered the most distinctive great house on River Road.
2646 Highway, 44 River Road, Garyville. (985) 535-2341
Tabasco Tours
For a hot, hot, hot experience, tour Avery Island where the Mcllhenny family manufactures the world famous Tabasco Pepper Sauce, while offering garden tours.
Avery Island. (318) 365-8173
Voodoo & More
Voodoo may conjure up images of casting spells with pin-pricked dolls, yet as a religion it remains as much a part of New Orleans heritage as crawfish and gumbo, and in the mid-19th century its practice, regionally, was commonplace. Back then, throngs gathered at Congo Square (now Louis Armstrong Park) for exotic ceremonies led by voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, buried off Basin Street in St. Louis Cemetery Number 1, a popular New Orleans attraction. Admirers still lavish her tomb with flowers, devotional candles and sometimes money, and her portrait hangs at the New Orleans Historical Voodoo Museum. Billing itself as a one-stop voodoo shop, VooDoo Authentica, 612 Dumaine Street, (504) 522-2111, has ritual shows, spiritual speakers and more. In 1990, priestess Miriam established the VooDoo Spiritual Temple, 828 North Rampart Street, (504) 522-9627, as the only voodoo spiritual temple in the South, with teachings designed to touch souls of all.
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New Orleans: A view of a plate of Red Beans and Rice, New Orleans Style