Top Things to Do in New Orleans’ French Quarter

With three centuries of history to cull from, New Orleans has more than its fair share of must-dos for first-timers and must-revisits for seasoned travelers. Here the past is very much present, informing every aspect of modern-day life. In order to fully comprehend the contemporary Crescent City, it helps to brush up on its backstory. And as any local will tell you, New Orleans’ history is anything but boring.

The French Quarter or Vieux Carré (“Old Quarter”), where the city originated, is the obvious and easiest place to start. Below we’ve mapped out 10 top spots within the historic neighborhood, from Jackson Square to Preservation Hall, sidestepping into the adjacent Central Business District for a cocktail (or two). When in New Orleans…

Jackson Square

Set in the heart of the French Quarter overlooking the Mississippi River, Jackson Square is one of New Orleans' most iconic landmarks.

French Market

America’s oldest public market dates to pre-colonial days, when the site served as a native American trading post. Along with homegrown specialties, the market also features a number of food stalls, retail shops and flea market merchants.

Café Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde is a traditional coffee shop. Its menu consists of dark roasted Coffee and Chicory, Beignets, White and Chocolate Milk, and fresh-squeezed Orange Juice. The coffee is served Black or Au Lait. Au Lait means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk.


New Orleans’ aboveground “cities of the dead” act as windows on the past, offering insight into local history and customs. St. Louis No. 1, just outside the French Quarter, is the city’s oldest; Lafayette No. 1 in the Garden District draws fans of vampire novelist Anne Rice, who set a number of her works there.

Steamboat Natchez

The last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi River. Daily harbor jazz cruises at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Dinner jazz cruise, nightly at 7 pm. Sunday jazz brunch cruises, 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Cruises depart from Toulouse Street and the river in the French Quarter; call to verify availability.

Napoleon House

Napoleon never slept here, but this historic café and bar, with its peeling walls and worn charm, has its share of French ambiance. The café serves soups, seafood gumbo, salads, sandwiches and warm muffulettas; the bar serves its famous Pimm’s Cups. L, D (daily).

Sazerac Bar

Thirties elegance and classic cocktails in the beautifully restored Roosevelt Hotel. The perfect place to sample a Sazerac—the official cocktail of New Orleans—or a Ramos Gin Fizz, both of which were perfected here.


Established in 1840, Antoine’s is New Orleans’ oldest restaurant and a living treasure. The great-great-grandchildren of founder Antoine Alciatore run the place as he wanted, which means rich French-Creole food, courtly waiters and an atmosphere of hospitality and tradition. L, D (M-Sa); jazz brunch (Su).

Preservation Hall

Home to traditional jazz since 1961, this no-frills nightspot still packs ’em in despite not serving liquor. Drunks and yakkers: go elsewhere.