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New Orleans: Must-See Places

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The food, the music, the culture, the liveliness! New Orleans is a city with so much to see and do and eat. It’s a great place to wander and see where the day takes you, but to get the full experience, especially if it’s your first visit, check out our top 6 places you must not miss.

Altered version of original photo by Clark Mills licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Jackson Square

701 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

An icon of New Orleans, there’s so much activity in Jackson Square in the French Quarter. It was originally called the Place d'Armes and later renamed for Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. You can find the iconic Andrew Jackson equestrian statue in the center of the square. Walk around and admire all the artists that come to paint and/or sell their wares. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants around the square. Grab brunch at Stanley of New Orleans and order a fried oyster benedict. Or if you’d rather eat on one of the benches as you admire the square’s rose bushes, grab a po’ boy at the nearby Killer Poboys at Erin Rose in the back of Erin Rose Bar. Speaking of food to-go, the famous Cafe Du Monde is located on one corner of the square. It’s famous for its chicory coffee and beignets, but it’s also busy because while loved by locals, it’s also loved by tourists. Skip the massive line of people queuing for a table and grab some to-go to eat in the Square. Also in the square are performers and tarot card readers for those wanting to know a little about their future. And for the really mystical, pick up a spell kit a couple of blocks away at Marie Laveau's House Of Voodoo . Jackson Square is also the starting point of horse-drawn carriage tours of the French Quarter if you want to flag one down and explore the rest of the area.

Ghost Tour

A ghost tour in New Orleans is not only a fun and spooky experience, but you learn a lot of city history as well from the tour guide. We love our friends at French Quarter Phantoms, where the guides are local historians and master storytellers. Each tour is unique as the guides craft their own tours to include their favorite stories. There is no minimum number of participants for a tour and they max out at 28 people per tour guide, so they can accommodate parties both small and large. Learn if vampires were really on the loose in the city and visit some of the city’s most haunted places and the lore surrounding them. Grab a cocktail to take with you (in a plastic cup per NOLA’s open container law) if you need some support during a spooky tour. If you’re looking to grab a bite after, the French Quarter has endless options for food. For a classic French-Creole experience and some fine dining, Antoine's Restaurant and Arnaud's are exceptional and famous (we also love Arnaud’s for their jazz brunch). If you’re craving some New Orleans cuisine but looking for something a little more casual, hit Acme Oyster House .

Altered version of original photo by Nolabob licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The National WWII Museum

945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA

As the U.S.’s official World War II museum, the museum’s main objective is for visitors to understand the American experience and its contribution to the Allied victory. The museum ended up in New Orleans because it was originally a D-Day museum and the boats that made the amphibious invasion of Normandy were designed, built, and tested by Higgins Industries in New Orleans. It’s also there thanks to the founding of the museum by historian Stephen E. Ambrose, whose most notable work is the book Band of Brothers). In addition to the boats on display, you’ll find countless planes, tanks, memorabilia, rotating exhibits, photos, films and much more in this 30,000 square foot experiential museum. There’s even a whole experience about what it was like at the homefront. One of the most touching things is listening to the oral histories collected from men who served. When you’ve finished there, stroll over to St James Cheese Company - Warehouse District to grab a glass of wine and toast our fallen heroes.

Altered version of original photo by Aleksandr Zykov licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA, USA

We love Frenchmen Street for live music including jazz, soul, rock and roll and brass bands. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a second line walking down it for you to dance along to and join. It’s becoming much more well-traveled these days, but for years it was known as the "Local's Bourbon Street." It’s always a great time, anytime of day, for live music and fun bars (Protip: It’s the only place to be on Halloween in New Orleans). Some of our favorites are R Bar & Royal Street Inn , The Spotted Cat Music Club , Apple Barrel , Blue Nile , and Cafe Negril (and head to Dat Dog across the street from Cafe Negril for a killer late night sausage...even one made of alligator). But it’s hard to go wrong if you wander along the street and pop in and out of bars. If you’re feeling like you want a little history lesson to go along with all that music and dancing, the New Orleans Jazz Museum is located at the bottom of Frenchmen street by the river in the old U.S. Mint. Learn all about the history of jazz with the largest collection of artifacts of its kind and daily musical performances. Also in Frenchmen are Loretta's Authentic Pralines (pronounced Prah-leens by locals) if you want to try the famous, local nutty and sugary confection at the first praline shop owned and operated by an African American woman.

Altered version of original photo by Photoartel licensed under CC BY 2.0.

“Cities of the Dead”

New Orleans has over 45 cemeteries and 31 are considered historic, while five are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. New Orleans cemeteries or “Cities of the Dead” are particularly famous for their long-standing and intricate above ground crypts and mausoleums. One of the most notable (although currently closed due to repairs) is Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 . It’s the oldest and most filmed in the city and has been featured in Double Jeopardy, Interview with the Vampire and The Originals. At St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 , get lost among the maze of its 600 tombs and look for some of its most famous residents, including Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, Homer Plessy, and the site of Nicolas Cage’s future tomb. Located just a couple blocks away, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 2 is the final resting place of R&B legends Danny Barker and Ernie K-Doe. Pay your respects to the 86 unclaimed victims of Katrina at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial . It’s on the site of the former Charity Hospital eradicated by Katrina and is now a very peaceful memorial park. There are several other cemeteries for you to visit nearby, collectively called the “End of Canal Cemeteries”, the largest of which is Greenwood Cemetery with 20,500 plots.

Altered version of original photo by Spudgun67 licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Garden District Homes

There is nothing like strolling the Garden District and taking in all of the New Orleans antebellum architecture and gardens in some of the finest homes in the city. Taking a tour is a great way to get some history and also ensure you see the homes of some of the district’s most famous residents, including Sandra Bullock, Nicolas Cage, John Goodman, the Manning Family, and Anne Rice’s old home. If you do make your way there, be sure to take the St. Charles Streetcar to start your sightseeing above ground (make sure you have exact change for the one-way fare of $1.25). Most of the homes to see are adjacent to Lafayette Cemetery, including Colonel Short’s Villa, Briggs-Staub House, and Toby’s Corner. When you’re starting to get hungry, head on over for some seriously amazing sandwiches at Turkey and the Wolf (we can’t get enough of the collard green melt). If you’re looking for something more upscale, we love Cavan . Once you’ve had your fill stroll down Magazine Street and pop into the boutiques. While you’re there, grab some beautiful and unique stationery at Scriptura .