New Orleans for the Busy Traveler

The city's top attractions in 80 minutes or less.

Not enough time to see and do it all? Not to worry. We've mapped out the city's top attractions and highlighted their high points for you. Now get going ... time's a wasting.


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Jackson Square

Flanked by the nation’s oldest Catholic cathedral and first apartment complex, Jackson Square is as central to Crescent City life today as when it was first laid out in 1721. The bronze statue at its center depicts Gen. Andrew Jackson tipping his hat toward the residence of Baroness Micaëla Pontalba (his alleged lover), who erected the twin brick buildings surrounding the square (look for her initials in the balconies' intricate ironwork). To the left of St. Louis Cathedral is the Presbytère, a former rectory that's now a museum; to its right is the Cabildo, where the signing of the Louisiana Purchase took place. Between the two is Pirate's Alley, where William Faulkner wrote his first novel, just steps from where Tennessee Williams penned “A Streetcar Named Desire” and Le Petit Theatre, the oldest active community playhouse in the U.S.

Jackson Square New Orleans


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The Presbytère

This branch of the Louisiana State Museum is home to two permanent exhibits that reflect equally important aspects of local life: "Living With Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond" and "Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana." Here are a few highlights from each.

Hurricanes: It’s hard to miss Fats Domino’s flood-ravaged Steinway, but the artifact that really brings the 2005 disaster flooding back is survivor Tommie Elton Mabry’s daily diary written on sheetrock. Stick around for the moving video montage at the exhibit’s end.

Mardi Gras: Catch the 1949 Zulu coconut handed out by Louis Armstrong, the eagle-topped staff or Rex 1886 and Helen Clark Warren’s jaw-dropping costume designs.

Tommie Elton Mabry (©Lousiana State Museum/Shawn Fink)


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National WWII Museum

Counted among the top three museums in the country by TripAdvisor, the National WWII Museum has grown so popular—and so big—an on-site hotel is now in the works. With its new "Road to Tokyo" exhibit and hundreds of thousands of artifacts, you could spend your entire stay exploring the sprawling campus. But a brief visit can be just as impactful. Start with a screening of the 4D film "Beyond All Boundaries," which provides an informative, heart-wrenching overview of the global conflict. The hands-on USS Tang Experience re-creates the legendary submarine’s final voyage, while the high-flying U.S. Freedom Pavilion’s elevated catwalks afford up-close aerial views of vintage warcraft.

National WWII Museum in New Orleans


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The Garden District/Uptown

Many visitors leave New Orleans having never stepped foot outside of the French Quarter. The Garden District is less than a mile away, but in spirit it’s a world apart. The St. Charles Avenue streetcar runs the full length of the oak-canopied boulevard, providing the perfect perch for taking in the area’s stunning mansions and gorgeous grounds. Points of interest include Gallier Hall (545 St. Charles), the former city hall; the Effiel Society lounge (2040 St. Charles), constructed from pieces of the Paris landmark; the Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles), which starred with Brooke Shields in “Pretty Baby”; and the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library (5120 St. Charles), former home of silent screen actress Marguerite Clark.

St. Charles Streetcar in New Orleans


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Audubon Zoo

With 2,000 animals spread over 58 acres, an onsite water park, a four-story ropes course and other family-friendly attractions, one could easily devote a full day taking in all the Audubon Zoo has to offer (there are even overnight excursions). To make the most of your time, grab a map at the entrance and plot out your adventure before setting off. Sure, the orangutans, gorillas and rhinos are huge draws, but there are smaller charms to seek out as well. Keep an eye peeled for poetic passages (by Langston Hughes, D.H. Lawrence and others) that pepper the park, the circa-1930 Odenheimer Fountain surrounded by giant oak trees and Monkey Hill, where small fries (and their big-kid counterparts) have romped and rolled for decades.

Aububon Zoo in New Orleans


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New Orleans City Park

“I wouldn’t mind spending an entire day here,” wrote one City Park reviewer, and, indeed, you could—if not two or three. From gondola glides beneath the world’s largest collection of mature live oak trees to golf, tennis and horseback riding, the nation’s seventh-most visited urban park has much to enjoy. Snap a selfie under the “Dueling Oak,” where affaires d’honneur were played out during the 1800s, before taking a spin on the 110-year-old wooden carousel. The open-air, circa-1907 Peristyle (the site of numerous weddings) is just across from the Enrique Alferez Sculpture Garden, which spotlights the WPA-era artist who created many of the works scattered throughout City Park’s 1,300 acres.

New Orleans City Park. (©David Lancaster)


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Mississippi Riverfront

Given its below-sea-level positioning, many visitors leave New Orleans without ever setting sight on the mighty Mississippi. Start at the Port of New Orleans, where a little-known set of swings beneath the Crescent City Connection bridges provides sweeping views. The 11th floor lobby of the nearby Westin Canal Place helps put the “Crescent City” moniker into perspective with a wide panorama of the curvy river. Stroll the French Quarter’s Woldenberg Park, which dovetails into the new riverfront Crescent Park, where repurposed wharf warehouses serve as industrial-chic gathering spaces and offer dramatic vistas. Continue along to the Industrial Canal, where construction of an additional cruise terminal will soon get underway.

Crescent Park in New Orleans


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The New Orleans Museum of Art

There’s an art to combating the summer's (and spring and fall's) heat and humidity, and there’s no better place to practice it than the New Orleans Museum of Art. With 40,000 permanent objects displayed among 46 galleries on three floors, you could spend hours on end soaking up 5,000 years of culture (and some much-welcome air conditioning). Don’t have a full day to devote? Don’t sweat it. Docents lead free, hour-long tours of the facility every Sunday at 2 pm. Afterward duck into the in-house Café NOMA or take it outside to the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which offers free cell-phone tours of five acres of cool art in the open.

New Orleans Museum of Art 


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Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

With its Great Maya Reef scuba and snorkel adventures, Amazon rainforest and free-flying parakeets, it’s hard to know just where to dive in at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Break away from the pack by starting at the 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit, the aquarium’s largest. After scoping out the sharks, stingrays and jellyfish, head upstairs where you’ll find Chompitoulas (a blue-eyed white alligator), sea otters, a stingray touch pool (inquire about feeding tickets) and the wildly popular penguins playground. Splurge on a Backstage Penguin Pass, which provides guests with one-on-one access and a one-of-a-kind penguin painting. You’ll not only take home a web-footed original but lasting memories as well.

Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans


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The Bywater

Once considered a visitor no-go zone, in recent years the burgeoning Bywater has positioned itself as one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the nation. Long a draw for artists, that tradition continues with the perennially popular Dr. Bob’s Studio and the burgeoning St. Claude Avenue arts district. Check out the vinyl selection at Euclid Records, before heading next door to the aptly named Pizza Delicious. Or grab a Vietnamese-coffee shaved ice at Piety Street Snoballs and take it to nearby Crescent Park, which offers sweeping views of the river and area architecture. Make Bacchanal your end goal; select a bottle of wine and a table in the courtyard, where live music is performed throughout the day.

Studio BE in New Orleans


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St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

With more than 30 “cities of the dead” within the city of New Orleans, one could spend a lifetime exploring them all. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, just outside of the French Quarter, is the city’s oldest and home to the many of its most notable residents. Look for the aboveground tombs of Benjamin Latrobe, “the father of American architecture,” civil rights pioneer Homer Plessy, the city’s first black mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial and (still-living) actor Nicolas Cage. Most sought-out is the XXX-marked grave of voodoo legend Marie Laveau. Painted pink by vandals in 2013, the tomb has since been restored, and visitor access limited to tour groups only. Sign up with Save Our Cemeteries, which promotes preservation.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans. (©Shawn FInk)


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Magazine Street

Six miles of prime retailing makes Magazine Street a must-do for visitors and serious shoppers. With dozens of clothing boutiques, art galleries, antiques stores and home décor shops between Felicity and State, “the street of dreams” can run even the most ardent shopper ragged. Thankfully Magazine is also home to great restaurants and cafés. Fuel up for the hunt at Shaya, the James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” of 2016 or “Best Chef: South” Justin Devillier’s La Petite Grocery. Sweet tooths will fall for Sucré, while jewelry lovers will swoon over the designs at Mignon Faget and guys will want to indulge in a hot-towel shave at Aidan Gill for Men. Save valuable shopping time by scoping out merchants beforehand at magazinestreet.com.

Magazine Street New Orleans


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The Riverbend

Named for its placement along a curve in the Mississippi, the Riverbend neighborhood, easily accessible via the St. Charles streetcar line, is a popular stamping ground for students of nearby Tulane and Loyola universities. Maple Street is packed with cool cafés and chic boutiques, as is Oak, where the tiny Maple Leaf Bar overflows during the Rebirth Brass Band’s legendary Tuesday-night blowouts. Art lovers will fall for the monthly plein-air market at Palmer Park, while foodies are wooed by the area’s many great eateries, such as Brightsen’s, Boucherie and Carrollton Market. Camellia Grill, where bow-tied waiters have been slinging burgers since the 1940s, is a must-do. 

Camellia Grill New Orleans


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The Historic New Orleans Collection

With its numerous French Quarter properties, hundreds of holdings and various exhibits exploring the city’s 300-year backstory, the Historic New Orleans Collection is a must-visit for lovers of local lore. Its free Louisiana History Galleries serve as the perfect primer. Divided among different time periods, each room offers insight into New Orleans’ evolution through a wide range of artifacts and ephemera, from hand-hewn cypress logs and early Mardi Gras memorabilia to the first Jazzfest poster and a shovel used at the Superdome’s groundbreaking. Friendly, knowledgeable docents are on hand to provide details and answer questions, while a free smartphone tour helps you explore on your own.

Historic New Orleans Collection


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The Irish Channel

Though its name may suggest otherwise, the Irish Channel neighborhood has been home to a melting pot of cultures since the early 19th century. Bordered by Magazine, Tchoupitoulas, Jackson and Delachaise streets, the area is largely devoted to shipping facilities and simple shotgun houses that reflect its working-class origins, though you’ll see a variety of architectural influences (such as the Egyptian Revival former courthouse at 2219 Rousseau St.). Highlights include retail-packed Magazine Street, NOLA Brewing Company and Parasol’s, the epicenter of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Two massive churches, St. Alphonsus and St. Mary’s Assumption, erected out of one-upmanship between the Irish and Germans, anchor the neighborhood and are popular pilgrimage destinations.

Father Seelos shrine in New Orleans


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Bayou St. John

Established in 1708, the Bayou St. John neighborhood, adjacent to Mid-City, was named for its main waterway, which has been central to local life since Native American days. The “Old Portage” marker on Moss Street notes the bayou’s importance as an early passage between Lake Pontchartrain and the river. The circa-1784 Old Spanish Custom House is the area’s oldest residence, while the 1799 Pitot House was home to the city’s first mayor and welcomes visitors. Other highlights include St. John Court, a tucked-away cul-de-sac dating to 1917; the po’boy haven Parkway Bakery; Kayak-iti-Yat’s floating tours; and the annual Bayou Boogaloo music fest.

Pitot House New Orleans (©Shawn Fink)


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Audubon Park

Designed by landscape architect John Charles Olmstead (whose famed father is credited with creating Central and Golden Gate parks), picturesque Audubon Park has anchored Uptown since the 1880s. Bordered by the Mississippi River and St. Charles Avenue, and easily accessible by streetcar, the 350-acre urban retreat is popular among students at neighboring Tulane and Loyola universities as well as fitness enthusiasts, with its 1.8 miles of walking/jogging/biking paths and tennis/golf/horse-riding facilities. Named for naturalist John James Audubon, who spent time in the city while working on his illustrated opus “Birds of America,” the park also attracts bird watchers with one of the region’s most active rookeries. 

Audubon Park New Orleans (©Audubon Nature Institute)


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Lake Pontchartrain

Clocking in at 630 square miles, massive Lake Pontchartrain isn’t really a lake at all but a brackish estuary connected to the Gulf of Mexico. For generations the lake has served as a popular retreat for families as well as fishing and boating fans. Along with numerous green space and recreational areas, the lakeshore is also home to the nation’s second-oldest yacht club, the art deco-influenced Lakefront Airport (where Amelia Earhart stopped en route to her final flight) and seafood-centric restaurants overlooking the Orleans Marina. The New Canal Lighthouse offers tours, as does the National WWII Museum aboard its recently renovated PT-305 boat. Lakeshore Landing, a new $12-million entertainment complex, is currently in the works.

Lake Pontchartrain New Orleans (©Alex Demyan/NewOrleansOnline.com)


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Rampart Street

Named for the wall (or rempart) that originally bordered the French Quarter, Rampart Street runs from Esplanade Avenue through the Central Business District. South Rampart is home to the burgeoning South Market District and the Eagle Saloon, where early jazz greats performed. North Rampart counts such landmarks as the Saenger Theatre, the circa-1872 New Orleans Athletic Club (which has its own bar, naturally), Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel and Armstrong Park, where jazz is said to have first taken root. The new Rampart streetcar line makes navigating the busy stretch a breeze and has brought a fresh focus to the street, with the Troubadour Hotel, Homewood Suites and Effervescence among recent newcomers.

Rampart streetcar New Orleans


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Faubourg Tremé

With its vibrant second-line parades, colorful Mardi Gras Indians and roof-raising brass bands, Tremé, bordered by Esplanade and N. Rampart and St. Louis and N. Broad, is a hot bed of local culture. The nation’s oldest African-American neighborhood is home to Armstrong Park, where jazz is said to have originated, the Mahalia Jackson and Carver theaters and the circa-1841 St. Augustine Catholic Church, where a lively jazz Mass is held each Sunday. In addition to the popular Backstreet Cultural Museum, the area also counts Le Musée de f.p.c and the Degas House, along with Dooky Chase Restaurant, which houses it’s own impressive art collection and has fed everyone from Duke Ellington to President Barack Obama.

St. Augustine Church New Orleans (©Shawn Fink)


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Bourbon Street

Despite what most visitors might think, Bourbon Street wasn’t named for the spirit poured in its many barrooms, but for the French royal, the Duke of Bourbon. Until the early 1900s, the street was one of the city’s most desirable addresses; today it’s the center of local nightlife. But you’ll find something happening along the 13-block stretch 24/7. Bustling with bars (Laffite’s Blacksmith Shop is one of the nation’s oldest), lower Bourbon also boasts a number of notable eateries, such as Galatoire’s, while upper Bourbon is more residential. Near the halfway point at St. Ann Street is a grouping of gay clubs—aka “the Pink Triangle”—the epicenter of the annual Southern Decadence festivities over Labor Day weekend.

Bourbon Street New Orleans


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The Warehouse District

Once devoted to crumbling 19th-century warehouses, the aptly named Warehouse District is now known as “the SoHo of the South,” thanks to its many museums and art galleries. The Contemporary Arts Center, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Confederate Memorial Hall Museum and National WWII Museum are all within a three-block radius of each other, while Julia Street offers dozens of great galleries, monthly art strolls and annual events, such as White Linen Night and Art for Arts’ Sake. The area also counts a number of notable restaurants, including Emeril’s and Pêche, the Morial Convention Center, the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk and the Port of New Orleans, through which more than a million cruise passengers pass each year.

Piazza d'Italia New Orleans


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Esplanade Avenue

Bordering the French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods and running from the river to Bayou St. John, Esplanade Avenue served as a major portage route during the early 1800s. It later became known as Millionaire’s Row, due to the magnificent mansions that line the five-mile stretch, such as the Edgar Degas House, where the French Impressionist once resided. The home is now open for tours, as is the Old U.S. Mint near the riverfront. Just past the Degas House you’ll find charming Alcee Fortier Park and a cluster of casual eateries. Further down is St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, the final resting place of such New Orleans notables as early architect James Gallier Jr. and legendary Storyville photographer E.J. Bellocq.

Melrose Mansion New Orleans


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Canal Street

From the late-19th to the mid-20th century, Canal Street was a Southern shopping and entertainment mecca, lined with showy theaters and grand department stores, a number of which have since been converted into even grander hotels, such as the Ritz-Carlton. Today it’s the tony Shops at Canal Place that draws crowds with Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co. and other high-end retailers. Site of Vitascope Hall, the nation’s first movie theater, Canal also counts the Saenger, Joy and Loews State theaters, in addition to Harrah’s Casino and the Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium. Streetcars marked “Cemeteries” travel the full length of the street, from the river to City Park Avenue, passing the city’s new biomedical district along the way. 

Canal Street New Orleans