Wandering in the French quarter streets is defiantly the highlight attraction when visiting New Orleans. Every visit will feel different and will bring a different sight of the city since although the quarter’s buildings do not change, they are dressed differently every season, festival or holiday. Pay attention to the hanging gardens on the balconies, and notice other historical elements on the buildings and the sidewalks. Sometimes while walking, you will discover an inner courtyard, an interesting iron gate, a cool voodoo shop or a welcoming bar with nice music.
This is a self-guided tour that is about wandering in the French Quarter, observing the buildings, stores and stopping every once in a while in a museum, restaurant or a street show.
Arriving at the starting point: Will start at the beginning of Royal street, but you may choose any starting point based on your location and desire. Getting to Royal street is possible by Canal at Royal Streetcar.
Duration: This itinerary has a full day planned, but you may stop at any point and continue on a different day or add optional stops on the way (some are mentioned at the end of this itinerary).
Recommended time: If you are visiting the city during one of its festivals (check WWP calendar for women-related events) make sure to check the area of the quarter it is located.
Guided Tours options: We highly recommend to add a guided tour to your day. There is no replacement for walking in the city while listening to a local who lives there and know the city and its history. It will give you a much better insight regarding the city.
Check out these excellent options:
- Ghost and Vampire Walking Tour Of The French Quarter
- New Orleans Cemetery, Voodoo, & French Quarter Tour Or Cemetery Insiders Tour
- New Orleans City Tour: Katrina, Garden District, French Quarter & Cemetery
- French Quarter Historical Sights and Stories Walking Tour
- French Quarter & Marigny Neighborhood Carriage Ride
1. Royal Street
1 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA.
Will start the day by walking in one of the nicest streets in the quarter, Royal street, a beautiful historic street full of local art galleries and amazing buildings. Among the women artist or gallery owners are – Lucky Rose Gallery, Gallery Orange, Gallery Burguieres of the artist Ally Burguieres, Angela King Gallery, Caliche & Pao gallery, Claire Elizabeth Gallery.
To enter Jackson Square, turn right on Pirate Alley, a magical alley that was an inspiration to many painters.
2. The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC)
Merieult House, 533 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA.
The free museum showcases permanent and rotating exhibits about New Orleans and the regional history. THNOC was founded by Leila Williams and General L. Kemper, philanthropists from New Orleans. THNOC offers guided tours – Architecture and Courtyard Tours in Royal street, THNOC founders, Williams, Residence Tours as well as Portage Bike Roll. Check their schedule for other events as well.
3. Jackson Square and three museums
701 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116.
A historic location and one of the city’s landmarks. Facing the square are several historic buildings – St. Louis Cathedral, is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the USA since 1727, it was rebuilt after the great fire. Notice Joan of Arc statue is standing on one of the aisles. Next to the cathedral, two of the restored buildings that are part of the Louisiana State Museum (All closed on Mondays) – the Presbytère, the Cabildo, and 1850 House.
In the Presbytère museum, there are two permanent exhibitions, one of the Mardi Gras festival and the second about “The Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond”. The Cabildo Museum offers several changing exhibitions related to New Orleans history presenting rare artifacts of America’s history.
1850 House is part of the lower Pontalba building, offer an inside glimpse of upper-middle-class life in New Orleans in the 19th century.
Jackson Square is also an open gallery space for local artist showcasing their paintings for sale. On both other corners of the square, are the buildings that were built in the late 1840s by Micaela Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba, a Creole aristocrat, businesswoman, and real estate designer and developer who contributed to the urban development style of the city.
4. The Moonwalk Riverfront Park
New Orleans, LA 70116.
Take a short detour to have a glimpse on the marvelous Mississippi River.
In the park, there are viewpoints, a long Riverwalk, and several monuments.
5. Joan of Arc, “Maid of Orleans”
Place de France, Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116.
6. French Market
700-1010 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116.
Operating in the city since 1791 when the Native Americans conducted trading posts along the Mississippi River. When the colonist arrived, they opened it to the world trading different items from all over. The cultural hub developed from the immigrants got an expression on the different things that were offered in the French Market from Italian pizza to African coffee and more.
Nowadays it is still a fun and exciting place to visit. The market offers lots of local food options, souvenirs, flea market, and farmer market. Nearby are more local galleries and restaurants.
7. Old Ursuline Convent Museum
2505, 1100 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116.
Visiting in the Old Ursuline Convent Museum is like traveling in time back to the mid-18th century when the Ursuline nuns lived here operating a convent, orphanage, and school for girls.
Nowadays there are permanent and rotating exhibitions mainly about the history of New Orleans, St. Louis Cathedral and the Ursuline sisters’ stories.
Please note that the museum is closed on Sundays.
8. New Orleans Jazz Museum
400 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116.
The museum is located in the beautiful historic US mint building, showcasing exhibitions about jazz history, development and key people who were part of its journey and still are. Among the items exhibited are instruments, photographs, records, music sheet, and the famous Louis Armstrong’s cornet. The museum holds occasional events and music shows.
Finish the day with a live music show on the New Orleans Jazz Museum, on the Preservation Hall, or any of the bars on Frenchmen street. Another option is to take the Canal Streetcar back to Canal at Bourbon station and enjoy Bourbon St. vibe and nightlife.
9. If you have more time you may add to your itinerary any of the following worth-a-visit destinations:
The Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum (free entrance) is located inside Arnaud’s restaurant, and is showcasing Mardi Gras queen customs, as well as other vintage items related to the festival.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is showcasing the rich history of pharmacy in Louisiana and early medicine methods.
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, a small museum that preserves the legacy of Voodoo in New Orleans.
Museum of Death has on display items related to death, such as crime scene, funeral items, etc.
Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture displays a collection of Mardi Gras costumes and floaters.