Visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras is a fantastic way to experience the amazing city and get a true taste of its history, culture, and sense of vibrantly eclectic fun—and the French Quarter is undoubtedly in the spotlight when it comes to the height of Mardi Gras mayhem. However, the French Quarter is so much more than Mardi Gras: it’s one of NOLA’s most historic neighborhoods, and often referred to as the Crown Jewel of the city—and with good reason.
Packed with local flavor and Creole charm, this bustling district is a riotous mix of fabulous French influences that coexist side by side with the party vibes and distinctive atmosphere of present-day NOLA; a mash-up of past and present, all as bright and welcoming, celebratory and historic, as the neighborhood's famous Bourbon Street itself. Below are some of the best things to do on a visit to the French Quarter, with plenty to see, do, and taste in NOLA’s oldest and most famous neighborhood—even after the hubbub of Fat Tuesday comes to an end.
Rollin’ On The River
One of the coolest things to do in the French Quarter is to bask in those chill Mississippi River vibes—whether it's by exploring the riverfront’s many attractions on foot, or by hopping a boat to catch the best of the city from the comfort of a famed NOLA riverboat.
- Hit the river in style on the Mississippi River’s last authentic steamboat, Steamboat Natchez, a true NOLA adventure. Take a tour; enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner; and catch some jazzy entertainment—all while cruisin’ comfortably on the river. Daytime Jazz Cruises with lunch start at $52/person
- Get your green on at one of the city’s riverfront parks, a great way to scope those fantastic river views while basking in the laidback vibes of the French Quarter. Both Crescent Park and Woldenberg Riverfront Park are chill places to spend an afternoon (be sure to check out Woldenburg’s 90-foot linear water feature and keep your eyes peeled for any number of impromptu musical performances!)
- Learn about the magic of the underwater world with a trip to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, consistently voted one of the best in the U.S. Aquarium tickets start at $28/non-member adult
- Explore the historic French Market, one of the most enduring symbols of the city itself. Home to fun events and festivals; a ton of shopping (including a flea market and farmer’s market; and a plethora of cool eateries, the Market is a must-visit on the riverfront and a true NOLA institution Market is open from 10 AM-5 PM daily
Dig Those Vieux Carre Vibes
The French Quarter is home to some of NOLA’s most iconic streets—chock full of historic attractions and landmarks; shops and galleries; and delish dining set to the backdrop of that distinctive Vieux Carre (French Quarter) vibe.
- One of the oldest streets in the city, Royal Street is famous for its eclectic collection of antique shops, art galleries, cool hotels, eateries, and attractions. get a taste of NOLA’s past at the Historic New Orleans Collection, scope some epic architecture at the Gallier House, have high tea and hate cuisine at the New Orleans Vampire Café, and browse the antiques at The Brass Monkey
- Any visit to the French Quarter would be incomplete without a stroll down the world-famous Bourbon Street—chock full of jazz joints, hip bars, and classic eateries. Step out with a classic dinner at Galatoire’s, grab some drinks at the Old Absinthe House, once a haunt of the likes of FDR and Oscar Wilde, and feel the music at The Jazz Playhouse or Maison Bourbon
- Frenchmen Street is a historic spot at the edge of the French Quarter known for its nightlife and cool vibes. By day, check out the bustling and eclectic Palace Market, grab a bite and catch a show at 30/90, then sit back and chill at The Spotted Cat Music Club
Historic Haunts And Haunted Histories
The French Quarter is one of the most historic neighborhoods in the entire city—from ghost tours and voodoo vibes to historic attractions that offer up the very best in local history and lore, there’s plenty to explore in the vibrant FQ.
- Historic Jackson Square is where the best of the city’s history and culture collide, and visitors will love exploring this Decatur Street gem that’s home to some of the city’s most historic spots like the St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo, and the Presbytére Museums, and the exciting open-air artist colony that’s existed for over half a century. And don’t forget to stop at the Café du Monde for one of their famous beignets while you’re there!
- There’s plenty of haunted history in New Orleans, and the best way for visitors to get their spook on is through a tour—and the French Quarter Phantoms have some of the best—including their French Quarter History and Voodoo Tour. Want to learn more? Then be sure to check out Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo and the Voodoo Museum
- Celebrate the city’s iconic jazz history at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, then step back in time with a tour of the 1850 House
- Missed Mardi Gras? Then head to the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture to learn all about the city’s ‘culture of costumes’ then take a spin in the city’s only revolving bar, the Carousel Bar & Lounge, known for their super Sazerac—one of NOLA’s most famous cocktails
Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans is without a doubt one of the coolest ways to experience the iconic Louisiana city. However, long after the parades are done, the historic and lively French Quarter remains a top tourist destination for those looking to embrace the very best of this scintillating city on the Mississippi all-year-round; and a bastion for intrepid travelers who want to truly celebrate the hustle and bustle of NOLA’s most diverse and distinctive neighborhood.