Over the past few months, New Orleans has welcomed a number of new openings, upping the city’s entertainment ante and adding to visitors’ must-do lists. Here, we highlight a few of the biggest and gaze into our 2020 crystal ball for a look at what’s to come.
Louis Armstrong International Airport
Chances are you’ve already seen New Orleans’ newest attraction. Visitors traveling by plane now arrive at/disembark from the airport’s new, 35-gate terminal, which opened in early November. The $1.3-billion facility is almost as much of a destination as the city itself, counting more than 40 restaurants and retailers among its three concourses. Beloved area eateries (Leah’s Kitchen, MoPho) are on the menu, along with nationally recognized brands, while popular shops such as Dirty Coast and NOLA Couture add to the local flavor. At the end of Concourse B, near Emeril’s Table, you’ll spot our own WhereTraveler store, where you can bag cool Crescent City collectibles before boarding.
Raise a toast to 2020 and “the official cocktail of New Orleans” at the recently opened Sazerac House museum, located just feet from where the original stood during the 1800s. In addition to a two-story still and complimentary cocktails, the free space features a variety of interactive exhibits that trace the city’s tippling timeline. Start on the third floor with an overview of New Orleans cocktail culture and work your way down.
The Historic New Orleans Collection
Local culture is also on display at the HNOC’s new Royal Street campus. Charting 300 years of the area’s evolution, the permanent French Quarter Galleries offer insight into the city’s past through more than 300 rare holdings (such as a chess set owned by 19th-century child prodigy Paul Morphy), while additional gallery spaces house rotating exhibits. Admission is free.
City of New Orleans and Louis Armstrong Riverboats
The Mississippi has grown even mightier with the addition of two new riverboats. Sister to the Steamboat Natchez, the City of New Orleans set sail last fall, offering daily brunch and dinner jazz cruises. The Riverboat Louis Armstrong, an offshoot of the Creole Queen Paddlewheeler, debuted in early December. The floating music and entertainment venue features four fully outfitted decks, each with a 1,000-person capacity, and ranks as the largest excursion riverboat on the Mississippi.
Louisiana Children’s Museum
The city’s long-popular dedicated kids zone closed its big, blue Julia Street doors in September and packed off to City Park. Spread over 8.5 acres, the museum’s new $47.5-million location, geared to ages eight and under, features hands-on fun both inside and out. Among the highlights is local artist Terrance Osborne’s pint-sized shotgun playhouse and Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya’s fog installation.
The New Orleans Museum of Art’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden
City Park’s other resident museum recently expanded its prized Besthoff Sculpture Garden, doubling its footprint and adding 26 works by contemporary artists. Now spanning 11 acres, the free outdoor venue features 90-plus pieces, ranging from Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Venus Victrix” to Elyn Zimmerman’s glass bridge, which follows the Mississippi River’s shifting course over the centuries.
But wait…there’s more. In the months ahead, the National WWII Museum, which opened its new Hall of Democracy and Higgins Hotel in late 2019, will soon see the completion of its Canopy of Peace.The towering, 482-foot-long steel-and-fiberglass structure will serve as both a unifier for the museum’s expansive campus and a state-of-the-art, after-dark light show. In Feburary, the city will kick its popular bike-share program way up a notch, replacing pedal-powered rentals with electric-assisted versions. And in early March, Houmas House Historic Estate and Gardens debuts its long-awaited Great River Road Museum and Interpretive Center, which focuses on the culture and folklore of the lower Mississippi.