New Orleans Tourist Attractions
New Orleans, the largest city in the state of Louisiana and one of the largest inland ports (also handling seagoing vessels) in the United States, lies on the Mississippi, 105 mi.
from where it enters the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans is a true melting pot of cultures. In addition to the French speaking Cajuns (Acadians: descendants of the French settlers who were expelled from Nova Scotia in the 18th c.), its population includes Creoles, Italian, Irish and German immigrants and descendants of black slaves. The city's cultural diversity is reflected particularly in its music, its food and of course in its calendar of festivals. Its individuality also finds expression in its popular names "Queen of the South", or even better, "The Big Easy". At the end of the 19th, and beginning of the 20th C, this was the birthplace of jazz, which is still actively practised at various places. This metropolis of the Old South draws hosts of visitors, especially at the time of the Carnival (Mardi Gras). It should be mentioned that New Orleans has one of the highest crime rates in the United States, so it is best to keep to the Vieux Carre, the Central Business District and Garden District that are relatively safe.The city lies in an area of marshland, formerly malaria infested but now drained, between the Mississippi, here up to half a mile wide, and Lake Pontchartrain, which is drained by a series of bayous (ditches, sluggish waterways). Much of the crescent-plan city centre lies below the high-tide mark and is protected by a levee 6 mi. long and over 13 ft high.Originally dependent mainly on shipping and shipbuilding, the town's economy later centred on the produce of its rich hinterland (particularly cotton, sugar, rice and timber) and on fishing. More recently there has been a major restructuring of the economy as a result of the working of natural gas and, even more importantly, offshore oil. The New Orleans region is now one of the leading world centres of the petrochemical industry. Tourism is an increasingly important source of revenue: with over 7 million visitors annually, New Orleans is now one of the most important tourist centres in the United States.New Orleans is the home of jazz. The chief protagonists of this new musical style were "King" Oliver, J.R. Morton and above all Louis Armstrong. The jazz of New Orleans continues to attract fans from all over the world to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in spring and to the many clubs. Black music, i.e. blues and Dixieland, ragtime and swing, Cajun and Zydeco, Creole jazz and the more recent funky jazz, can be heard in Preservation Hall (726 St Peter St.), the legendary Lulu White's Mahogany Hall (309 Bourbon St.), the Palm Court Jazz Cafe (1204 Decatur St.) and countless other night spots.The high spot in the city's programme of festivals is the Carnival (Mardi Gras), which was introduced by French settlers and flourished particularly at the end of the 19th c. During the Carnival, particularly on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, and Shrove Tuesday, the town is taken over by the revelers with a series of lively parades and masked balls.History New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French governor Jean-Baptiste Lemoine de Bienville and named after the Duc d'Orleans, then Regent of France. In 1721 it became capital of Louisiana. Soon afterwards a large party of German immigrants arrived, and by 1732 the population had risen to 5000. In 1762 France was compelled to cede the town to Spain, though for several years the population successfully resisted the takeover. New Orleans was again in French hands from 1800 to 1803, when under the Louisiana Purchase it passed to the United States. In 1815 General Andrew Jackson inflicted a decisive defeat on British forces near the town. During the Civil War New Orleans surrendered to Union forces in 1862.By the early 20th century, New Orleans was a progressive city that was vulnerable to flooding. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina approached the city, which had already been evacuated by most residents, and flooded 80% of New Orleans. Hurrican Rita followed soon after causing somere-flooding. The infrastructure is still being rebuilt and residents are working to return to a normal life. Tourism is on the rise as events that were displaced return to New Orleans and others such as Mardi Gras continue as planned.
The French Quarter, with its old homes and wrought iron balconies, is the most well known area of New Orleans and what most tourists come to see. Jazz music is played at many of the establishments.
The Garden District is home to lovely 19th C houses with large well kept gardens.
Ideally, a riverfront tour should start at the French Market: go along Moon Walk past the Cafe du Monde to Natchez Landing, where the paddle steamer Natchez, which plies on the Mississippi, is moored.The Steamboat Natchez in New Orleans offers Mississippi River cruises and a unique way to see and learn about the city. Guests can choose from Jazz Dinner Cruises and Jazz Harbor Cruises. The harbor cruises take two hours and provide narration on the sights. There is also an optional lunch serving creole cuisine. The dinner cruise features a live jazz band, a buffet style dinner, and of course, wonderful views of New Orleans.Special events cruises are also available seasonally, with special cruises offered for such occasions as Easter, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and around Christmas and other holidays.
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
To the north of the City Park is Lake Pontchartrain (40 mi. long, 25 mi. across and only 20 ft deep), round the shores of which are many specialty restaurants (particularly fish and game). There are also marinas and bathing beaches, and an amusement park that appeals particularly to families with children. The 25 mi. long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway runs across the lake.The two parallel bridges of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway are the world's longest overwater highway bridge by length.
The Pitot House in New Orleans was built in the late 1700's and restored to its original 18th century condition in the 1960s. It is the only Creole colonial country style house museum in New Orleans. The home is furnished with period Louisiana and American antiques.A variety of owners have included prominent lawyers to austere nuns. One of the most prominent was James Pitot, the first American mayor of New Orleans who lived here from 1810-1819.
Address: 1440 Moss Street, New Orleans, LA 70119-2904, United States
Opening hours: 10am-3pm; Closed: Sun, Mon, Tue
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Mardi Gras - Shrove Tuesday - Christian
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $7.00, Child 18 & under $5.00, Senior over 65 $5.00, Child 5 & under FREE
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Facilities: Gift shop
Fort Pike State Historic Site
The fort was started in 1819 and finished in 1826. It was built to withstand attack from land or sea. Moats surrounded the fort, and within the gates were a stronghold, service building and soldiers' quarters.Hurricane Katrina exacerbated problems and destroyed adjacent state park buildings. The site is closed to visitors indefinitely.
Address: Route 6, Box 194, New Orleans, LA 70129-0194, United States
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $4.00, Child 12 & under FREE, Senior over 62 FREE
Useful tips: Open by appointment only.
Jackson Barracks Military Museum
The Jackson Barracks Military Museum in New Orleans features exhibits dating back to the War of 1812 and as recent as the Gulf War. Life-size figures in realistic wartime settings are presented through personal memorabilia. The grounds of the complex feature tanks, fighter planes and other American firepower.
Audubon Louisiana Nature Center
The Audubon Louisiana Nature Center in New Orleans features hands-on exhibits, nature trails, and is home to the Judith W Freeman Astronomy Center. The nature preserve includes a science museum, planetarium, greenhouse and butterfly gardens.
Address: 5601 Read Boulevard, New Orleans, LA 70127-3105, United States
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Mardi Gras - Shrove Tuesday - Christian
Useful tips: Admission varies depending on which attractions you choose to visit.
New Orleans Fire Department Museum
The New Orleans Fire Department Museum is located in a restored firehouse. It features an antique firefighting vehicle, uniforms, insignia and photographs. Log books document fire department personnel and New Orleans fires from 1891 to present.
Louisiana Nature Center
The Louisiana Nature Center in New Orleans offers a hands-on museum, a planetarium, greenhouse, butterfly garden and miles of hiking trails.
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
New Orleans School of Glass Works
Rivertown is a sixteen-block historic district in Kenner that features eight museums, a fine arts gallery, a Repertory Theater and LaSalle's Landing.
Louisiana Toy Train Museum
The Toy Train Museum in Rivertown features toy trains, working models and visitor-activated trains. Children can play on a half scale locomotive, caboose, circus car, as well as the "Dixie Diner" where make believe meals can be served.
Louisiana Wildlife Museum and Aquarium (closed)
Closed until further notice.The Louisiana Wildlife Museum and Aquarium at Riverton features a 15,000-gallon aquarium with a collection of more than 700 species native to Louisiana.
Saints Hall of Fame
The Saints Hall of Fame at Rivertown features team memorabilia, photographs, and videos from the New Orleans Saints football team. Visitors can view the locker room, a tailgate party, and experience highlights of a NFL game.
Address: 415 Williams Boulevard, Kenner, LA 70062-7631, United States
Useful tips: Temporarily relocated to Gate B on the Plaza Level of the Louisiana Superdome. Open on game days and remains open until 30 minutes after the completion of each home game. Open on game days free of charge to New Orleans Saints season ticket holders.
The Science Complex at Rivertown is dedicated to science, space, and the new Virtual Explorer-Motion Simulator. Visitors can use the observatory telescopes to view the night sky or visit a planetarium show.
Mardi Gras Museum
Mardi Gras Museum presents videos and memorabilia highlighting King Cake traditions, balls, parades, French Quarter fun, and the Cajun "Courir du Mardi Gras".
More New Orleans Pictures
Map of New Orleans Attractions