New Orleans Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Places to Visit in February

Courtesy of Sean Pavone/Getty Images/iStockphoto

New Orleans Area Map


Straddling the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana, New Orleans is a relatively small city home to numerous diverse neighborhoods. Though the city's lively districts took a significant hit during Hurricane Katrina, many have since been restored.

New Orleans is most famous for its French Quarter (Vieux Carré), home to Bourbon Street, the city's nighttime hot spot. Perched on the banks of the Mississippi River in the heart of the city, the French Quarter is the oldest area of the city and a popular tourist destination. The French Quarter is the most visited of the city's neighborhoods due to the abundance of traditional restaurants, museums and antique shops. Visitors are drawn to Jackson Square, home to the impressive St. Louis Cathedral, as well as several other notable structures, including the Cabildo and the Pontalba Buildings.

Sitting just north of the French Quarter is Faubourg Marigny (or simply "Marigny"), a neighborhood that some say captures the essence of what the French Quarter was like several decades ago. With Washington Square Park at its center, Marigny is known for its Creole-style cottages, budget-friendly bed-and-breakfasts, funky coffee houses and Frenchmen Street, where numerous live music venues ooze the smooth sounds of jazz and blues until the small hours of the morning. Mardi Gras-goers should know that Marigny is one of the festival's hidden hot spots, offering a more authentic carnival atmosphere away from Bourbon Street's drunken revelry.  

Sitting southwest of the French Quarter, Lower Canal Street was once the city's major shopping district until a slumped economy caused it to lose much of its splendor during the 1980s. Today, this district is characterized by a 10-block grouping of hotels and souvenir shops. Lower Canal Street is once again a popular tourist stop since it is home to the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, as well as the Audubon Nature Park.

South of Lower Canal Street is the Central Business District. Like its name implies, this neighborhood is the central hub of New Orleans' business community. The only real tourist attraction in this area is the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, one of the largest stadiums in the country and home to the New Orleans Saints football team. The Superdome also plays host to the annual Sugar Bowl Classic football game. Although the district is busy during the day, it's very quiet come nightfall.

If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter and the Central Business District, the Garden District provides a more serene setting. Sitting south of the Central Business District along the Mississippi River, the Garden District is primarily an upscale residential area, characterized by lush gardens, Greek Revival architecture and the famous oak-lined St. Charles Avenue. The area also has many historical sites to choose from, including Colonel Short's Villa, House of Broel's Victorian Mansion and Dollhouse Museum, and the Toby-Westfeldt House.

Often overlooked by tourists throughout the majority of the year, New Orleans' Mid-City comes to life every April during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course (about 3 miles north of the French Quarter) and has featured performances by renowned artists, such as Al Green and Bruce Springsteen. Throughout the year, this neighborhood attracts a good number of residents and a few visitors with its affordable restaurants; visitors can also spend the day wandering around the New Orleans Museum of Art or strolling through City Park.  

Sitting between the Garden District and the Central Business District, the Warehouse District features numerous galleries and several top-notch museums, including the National WWII Museum and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The New Orleans Glassworks and Printmaking Studio gives demonstrations of glassmaking, printmaking, and silver alchemy. If you're interested in doing some shopping, Julia Row is littered with contemporary art dealers and is also the site of several festivals, such as White Linen Night in August and Art for Art's Sake in October.

Home to both Tulane and Loyola universities, Uptown is a trendy neighborhood featuring Victorian-style architecture and plenty of quaint coffee shops. This is also a great neighborhood to explore if you are interested in antiques. Even if you aren't looking to spend any money, Uptown provides refuge from the tourist-ridden French Quarter with quiet residential streets and the beautiful Audubon Park.

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