With a heritage as rich as New Orleans’, there are few places visitors can go that don’t have storied histories behind them … or picturesque perspectives attached to them. In the Crescent City there’s frequently more than meets the eye; get above—or below—it all. From deep underwater to high in the sky, explore the outdoor museum that is New Orleans.
Eat Up the Scenery
Make your way up the grand staircase at Tableau to the wraparound balcony for a bird’s-eye view of Jackson Square. Snack on poutine pommes frites while sipping French 75 cocktails and taking in St. Louis Cathedral and the brass bands playing in the square. Afterward peek into the window of Antoine’s 165-foot-long, aboveground wine cellar (521 Royal Street), stocked with nearly 25,000 vintages. Or step inside and inquire about the “Mystery Room,” a hidden nook with roots tracing to the Prohibition era.
Make the Connection
With twin spans arching over the Mississippi, the Crescent City Connection provides a wide panorama of the river and skyline. But almost directly under the bridge is an equally impressive, though often-overlooked vista. The swing sets in front of the Port Authority terminal (1350 Port of New Orleans Place) are the perfect place to cuddle at sunset or to relax after a tour of nearby Mardi Gras World, which offers it’s own wow-worthy views of giant Carnival creations.
Highs and Lows
Get above sea level—way, way above—with a visit to the 11th floor lobby of the Westin Canal Place. Sumptuous seating, a brass telescope and sweeping views of the curvy river help put the “Crescent City” moniker into perspective. Then dive deep into the adjacent Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, where you can get all touchy-feely with stingrays and penguins and the new Maya Reef exhibit featuring a 30-ft.-long underwater tunnel.
New on the Horizon
Scope out the city from downriver at Crescent Park (Chartres and Piety streets). Built on the foundation of old industrial wharfs, the recently opened overlook provides fresh views of the old Vieux Carré from both the riverfront and a dramatic, arching iron footbridge. The new New Orleans can also be seen from atop nearby Claiborne Bridge (Poland and Claiborne avenues), where actor Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation is helping rebuild the Lower 9th Ward with colorful sustainable homes.
Put It in Park
Take a spin around City Park’s Big Lake in the "Bella Mae," an authentic Venetian gondola, or in a pedal boat from Wheel Fun Rentals. Lined with live oaks and manicured lawns, the lake makes a great place to enjoy a picnic or watch the sun set. Once back on dry land, stroll across the Alferez Bridge to the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden, home to more than 60 pieces of outdoor art.
Connecting the French Quarter to the Riverbend neighborhood, the St. Charles streetcar rolls under the beautiful old oaks of the Garden District, passing the Columns Hotel along the way. Get off, grab a mint julep and watch the streetcar click and clack down the neutral ground from the antebellum mansion’s iconic front porch.
Upward and Onward
Amazing views—and informative overviews—are found aboard City Sightseeing's double-decker buses. Guides provide insight into local history, while guests get to hop on or off at their own pace at more than 10 locations. Disembark at the National World War II Museum, where the soaring U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center offers elevated catwalks that allow for up-close aerial views of vintage war planes suspended from the 95-foot, four-story structure.