5 Neighborhoods to Visit in New Orleans
5 Neighborhoods to Visit in New Orleans
New Orleans—affectionately called NOLA and Crescent City among many other beloved names—is known for its mesh of cultures, Mardi Gras festivities, and 300-year-old history. While Hurricane Katrina dramatically and tragically affected this beautiful city and its thousands of residents, New Orleans remains one of the most culturally diverse cities in the U.S. with African American, Cajun, Creole, French, Native American and Spanish influences, just to name a few. No matter how much or little you want to party (yes, New Orleans is ranked No. 3 on U.S. News Travel’s list of best nightlife scenes in the country), New Orleans will give you just the right dose of whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s food, history, views or relaxation. Here are five neighborhoods to explore during your stay.
Nestled right on the Mississippi River, the French Quarter is the heart of the city and holds much of its centuries-old history. For an overview, check out the hop-on, hop-off tour offered by City Sightseeing New Orleans—if you stop by an attraction you want to see more of, you can hop off and keep exploring on your own. Plenty of tour agencies also offer ghost tours that show spots like the LaLaurie Mansion, the home of socialite and serial killer Delphine LaLaurie—the house has experienced paranormal activity for the past 200 years.
Other highlights include St. Louis Cathedral, the most iconic landmark in New Orleans, which also happens to be the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the country. Music lovers can take their pick of jazz clubs along Bourbon Street, including Preservation Hall, Fritzel’s European Jazz Club and the Jazz Playhouse located in the Royal Sonesta Hotel. And, whether you’re a foodie or not, you’ll enjoy specialties like Café du Monde’s beignets; Central Grocery’s original Italian sandwich, the Muffuletta; and Coop’s jambalaya.
Directly northwest of the French Quarter, Tremé was founded in 1783 and is known for its African American history, authentic Creole food, and its walkability. Visit St. Augustine Church, the oldest African American Catholic parish in the country, and Armstrong Park, home of Congo Square and named in honor of Louis Armstrong. Since Tremé is primarily a residential neighborhood, visitors will enjoy taking in all the colorful Creole cottages, characterized as 1.5-story houses built up to the property line with gabled roofs, four squarish rooms and hallways.
Check out James Beard Award-winning Wille Mae’s Scotch House for famously delicious fried chicken or Gabrielle Restaurant, headed by chef Greg Sonnier (a 2004 James Beard finalist) and visited time and time again for its Louisiana Cajun and Creole-inspired cuisine. For incredible gumbo, stop in at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant—Leah Chase, owner, chef and locally referred to as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, recently passed away at the age of 95.
Marigny & Bywater
First settled in 1806 and home of the Marigny Opera House, Marigny & Bywater’s vibe is funky, artistic and trendy—with a good background of history, of course. Take a walk along the 1.4-mile Crescent Park Trail which provides unparalleled views of New Orleans and the Mississippi River, or relax in the shade of the historic oak trees in Washington Square Park.
When the sun sets, Frenchmen Street has plenty of options for a night out on the town with favorites like the Spotted Cat Music Club, the Maison or the Blue Nile—all known for live music and libations. Mimi’s in Marigny is acclaimed for its cocktails, tapas and bi-level bar, and don’t miss the Country Club, a hidden gem with a locally inspired menu that highlights Italian-French and Creole-Southern culinary techniques and heritages.
Uptown & Garden District
Known for its grand mansions and shopping, Uptown & Garden District is beautiful in every sense of the word. Neighborhoods include the Irish Channel, Riverside, Black Pearl, and Carrollton, and feature everything from famous universities (like Tulane University) to incredible shopping opportunities. For an easy day itinerary, start at the Audubon Zoo and discover its award-winning Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle natural habitat exhibits, and then take the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar from the zoo to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, ahistorical landmark that takes up the space of a single city block and contains approximately 1,100 family tombs and 7,000 people. Otherwise, you can hop over a couple of miles east to Magazine Street, home to hundreds of boutiques, antique shops, art galleries and more. Make sure to devote a night to Commander’s Palace, a beloved James Beard Award-winning restaurant that has been serving refined Creole fare in its stunning dining rooms since 1880. Reservations are encouraged and a dress code is enforced, so be sure to pack your best attire.
Warehouse Art District
If you’re looking for artsy, sophisticated and chic, you’ll find it here. Characterized by renovated industrial warehouses, art galleries and an impeccable bar scene, the Warehouse Arts District is also a testament to history and a celebration of culture. Take an afternoon to visit the National WWII Museum, one of the most popular attractions in New Orleans. The many exhibits cover topics including the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the U.S. merchant mariners who risked their lives transporting weapons, men and material to troops overseas. For a better appreciation of the culture of the southern U.S., walk through the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, home to the most comprehensive collection of Southern art across all kinds of media. To refuel or simply cap the day, restaurants like Peche Seafood Grill or Herbsaint Bar & Restauranthighlight the best ingredients New Orleans has to offer, and the latter’s French-Southern cuisine has garnered multiple James Beard Awards throughout the years.
For more information about New Orleans, visit neworleans.com.