St. Louis Cathedral#8 in Best Things To Do in New Orleans
As the centerpiece of the French Quarter, St. Louis Cathedral is one of New Orleans' most recognizable landmarks. The oldest cathedral in North America, St. Louis Cathedral was originally built in the early 1700s. The structure standing today is actually the third cathedral built on this spot, since the first two were destroyed. Religious services are still held here, as well as numerous cultural events, including free concerts. Even if you're not interested in attending a service, past visitors urge you to take a peek inside, describing it as "beautiful inside and out."
After touring the cathedral and the Old Ursuline Convent (the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley), consider strolling through St. Anthony's Garden to see the impressive statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The garden also has a memorial to 30 French ship crew members who lost their lives to yellow fever in 1857.
Reachable via the Riverfront Streetcar to the Dumaine Station, The St. Louis Cathedral is free and open to the public every day from at 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can purchase a brochure for a self-guided tour for $1 at the entrance, or you can join a guided tour. Tours are led by volunteer docents and are available upon request. For more information about upcoming events and the cathedral's far-reaching history, visit the St. Louis Cathedral website.
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#1 Frenchmen Street
If you want an authentic New Orleans experience more removed from the touristy areas of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, head to the lively Frenchmen Street. A popular spot for locals, Frenchmen Street is a four-block stretch of live music, bars, restaurants, night clubs and art galleries. Here, not only will you find fewer crowds (albeit not by much), but you'll also encounter cheaper eats and drinks, and better music – it's kind of like Bourbon Street's hipper, trendier cousin. If you don't consider yourself a night owl, the Palace Market (open daily 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.) is a shopping haven where locals sell homemade art and jewelry.
Recent visitors agreed that a trip to New Orleans isn't complete without stopping by Frenchmen Street. Some even suggest skipping the more crowded and touristy Bourbon Street and instead meandering along Frenchmen Street where you'll find live music, specifically jazz, and great bars. Travelers and locals alike love The Spotted Cat, Three Muses and d.b.a thanks to their extensive beverage selections, fun atmospheres and, of course, talented musicians. "Frenchmen Street is what Bourbon Street used to be ... it's about four blocks of more laid-back, old-style jazz clubs. Nothing fancy to them, very local with great music. A much more laid-back area to stroll from bar to bar and listen to music," said Isabelle Van Bockel, a concierge at the JW Marriott New Orleans for 10 years.
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