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Your guide to French Quarter, New Orleans
All About French Quarter
Located on the banks of the Mississippi, New Orleans’ stunning French Quarter is not just one of the city’s oldest districts, it’s one of the glories of the South, a picturesque neighborhood that has evoked romance (and bawdier emotions) for centuries. Established in 1718 by French settlers, the Vieux Carré has preserved its 19th-century architecture, dominated by brightly painted houses with wrought-iron balconies and wooden shutters flung open during the day in the hopes of attracting a cooling breeze.
As you wander the cobblestone streets, you’ll want to check out the sprawling Jackson Square at the quarter’s heart, home of the fairy-tale-like St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1789. You can venture down Bourbon Street, where the revelry never seems to stop, or stop in at the very same bar where a US president negotiated with French pirates during the War of 1812 to help him expel the British from the country.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in French Quarter, New Orleans
February through May sees some of New Orleans’ biggest festivals, including Mardi Gras and its world-famous annual festival celebrating jazz music. Unsurprisingly, this is the busiest time of year, so keep that in mind when booking a vacation condo in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
During the summer, the temperature and humidity creep up and the number of visitors thins out. Do keep in mind that late summer is the beginning of hurricane season, and so you may want to monitor weather conditions as your trip approaches. Fall brings more pleasant weather, allowing you to spend more time wandering around, or attending October’s major blues festival, which brings some of the biggest names in blues and some of the South’s most renowned barbecue pitmasters to the neighborhood. The winter slows back down again, and the weather rarely dips into the chilly ranges, giving you a chance to explore the French Quarter’s streets without the crowds.
Top things to do in French Quarter, New Orleans
As the French Quarter’s main drag, Bourbon Street buzzes with legendary restaurants serving authentic Creole cuisine, famous jazz clubs where the greats have all have played, and packed bars, including America’s first gay bar. The area is a wonderful place to wander during the day, checking out the beautiful 19th-century buildings. When night falls, live music, as well as raucous crowds, spill onto the streets.
Located in the center of the French Quarter, Jackson Square is ringed with historic buildings, including the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral and the Upper Pontalba Building, a four-story brick Victorian with lacy balconies, considered the first apartment building in the United States. Stop by the Cabildo Museum, the original Spanish city hall, which now houses the Louisiana State Museum. But the square is not just of historic interest. Peruse the work of local artists at the outdoor artist colony or grab a meal at one of the many restaurants.
Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture
Mardi Gras is New Orleans’ most famous event, and this fascinating museum lets you experience it year-round. The museum takes you through the history of Mardi Gras and showcases some of the elaborate costumes that different krewes have used. You can even try on flamboyant headwear and sparkly outfits to pretend, at least for the sake of photos, you were at the real thing.