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Flights to New Orleans

About Destination

New Orleans is one of America's most unique cities, with a vibe you simply can't find anywhere else. Known the world over for jazz music, Cajun cuisine, and outrageous Mardi Gras celebrations, the city is a melting pot of cultures with a diversity that is reflected in everything from the music and food to the language and architecture.

Most of the action for tourists is centered around the French Quarter, with the infamous Bourbon Street at the heart of the district. Along the Mississippi River, which borders the French Quarter to the south, are horse-drawn carriages waiting to take visitors on a tour, the Steamboat Natchez docked along the shore, and tourists lined up to buy beignets.

ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT IN New Orleans

1. French Quarter

The French Quarter of New Orleans is what most tourists come to see when they visit the city. Set along a bend on the Mississippi River, the main attraction here is the architecture, but it is also a great area for dining and entertainment.

The old buildings, some of which date back 300 years, show French influences, with arcades, wrought iron balconies, red-tiled roofs, and picturesque courtyards. Many of these buildings now contain hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, galleries, and a profusion of jazz spots with entertainment of varying quality.

The most famous street in the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, but it is not necessarily the highlight of the area. This street is relatively benign by day but at night transforms into a loud and boisterous pedestrian area that may not always feel safe.

Royal Street offers a great mix of history, fine cuisine, and unique shopping opportunities, with some higher end stores, galleries, and hotels. One of the notable buildings on Royal Street is the Court of Two Sisters (1832), now a restaurant known for its jazz brunch.

2. Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is New Orleans' signature event, with celebrations that span a two-week period, ending with the finale on shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

Celebrations include almost daily parades and all kinds of entertainment and festivities that increase in intensity as the event draws closer to the end. Onlookers crowd the balconies and sidewalks to watch the parades and catch strings of beaded necklaces tossed from the outrageously decorated floats.

Bourbon Street is one of the main areas where people congregate, but the whole French Quarter is generally packed. The tradition was introduced to the city by French settlers and became particularly popular by the end of the 19th century.

3. National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum is an outstanding museum with engaging exhibits and documentary snippets that tell the history of WWII as it was fought in Europe and in the Pacific.

The museum is divided into three sections, with one section devoted to the war in the Pacific, another devoted to the war in Europe, and a third building that houses WWII aircraft.

A film entitled Beyond All Boundaries, produced and narrated by Tom Hanks, is shown in the 4D Theater, with chairs that rumble as tanks go by on the screen, and stage props that turn the film into a full on sensory experience.

4. Jackson Square

Jackson Square is the main square in the heart of the French Quarter, originally known as Place d'Armes. In the center of the square, surrounded by trees and greenery, is an equestrian statue (1856) of General Andrew Jackson.

Standing prominently at one end of the square is the landmark St. Louis Cathedral, with its white fa├žade and cone shaped spires. Also in the vicinity of the cathedral are the Presbytere and Cabildo, both Louisiana State Museums.

The area in front of the cathedral, along the iron fence that surrounds the square, has long been an artist's hang out, and nearby are shops and restaurants, making it a popular spot for tourists.

5. Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall is an unassuming old building that has long been an institution in New Orleans known for jazz music. The historic hall still features traditional jazz by local artists.

The building is small, creating an intimate setting, and seating is limited. Opening times and events are listed on the door each day, so if you are walking past in the afternoon you can see what's happening in the evening.

6. St. Louis Cathedral

On the north side of Jackson Square is the St. Louis Cathedral, a landmark structure in New Orleans. It was built in 1794 on the site of two earlier churches and is known for being the United States' oldest cathedral in continuous use. Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral in 1987.

The church was built through contributions from Don Andres Almonester de Roxas, a Frenchman who spent money from his fortune to rebuild New Orleans after the second great fire.

7. City Park

New Orleans City Park covers more than 1,300 acres and contains numerous attractions and things to do, including the New Orleans Botanical Garden and the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden.

Kids and families will love the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, Storyland, and the soon to be added City Splash water park, which is still a work in progress.

Also on site are tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course, as well as beautiful areas for walking. The park claims to have one of the world's largest stands of mature live oak trees, with one that is almost 800 years old.

8. Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo

The Cabildo, to the left of St. Louis Cathedral, was built in 1795 as the residence of the Spanish governor. It is noteworthy both as a historic building and for the museum and its outstanding collection.

The first town council met here in 1799, and the Louisiana Purchase was agreed to here in 1803. It was at one time the Louisiana Supreme Court, but today the Cabildo houses the Louisiana State Museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

9. Garden District

The Garden District is a prosperous residential area with lovely mansions, mature trees, and lush gardens, and is probably, in some respects, the stereotypical image many foreigners have of the Deep South

The area can be easily explored on foot, and some companies offer guided tours, which can be a good way to learn the history and see the sights. First Street, Camp Street, and Prytania Street are some good places to see large, elegant 19th-century houses with extensive grounds.

10. Audubon Park & Audubon Zoo

Southwest of the Garden District in Uptown New Orleans is Audubon Park, established on the grounds of what had been the site of the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884. This is a fair distance from the French Quarter but provides a good excuse to see this part of the city.

One of the highlights in the park is the Audubon Zoo. This is a fun escape from the busy city, with lush grounds and a good selection of domestic and exotic animals. Some of the most popular residents of the zoo are the giraffes, jaguars, leopards, orangutans, elephants, rhinos, lemurs, and alligators (including the rare white alligator) just to name a few.