The Best things to do in the French Quarter
The French Quarter is probably the most famous place in New Orleans but isn’t it just a tourist trap. We think it’s famous for a good reason. In 2022, the French Quarter remains one of the most intact historic and dynamic neighborhoods in the country and is still worth visiting. So, what to do in the French Quarter in 2022? Read on and find out why
While the French Quarter is probably most famous for Bourbon Street, there’s so much more to see. There are countless museums and historic sights to visit. There are also many local restaurants and establishments that bring the spirit of New Orleans to life. Here are some of the top things to safely visit and do while in the French Quarter.
The French Quarter first gained its name from American immigrants right after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It was where the original French settlers lived, known as Creoles, and Americans weren’t necessarily welcomed in the “French Quarter.” The name stuck, and in the 1890s, it began to grow as a tourist destination.
The French Quarter, also known as Vieux Carré, is the oldest section of New Orleans. Founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, this neighborhood was designed to serve as a central hub of the French colony. The entire neighborhood has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. One of the oldest buildings in the state, the Ursuline Convent, was built around 1750 and now serves as the Archive for the Catholic Archdioceses in New Orleans. It is located at 1112 Chartres Street and is currently open for self-guided tours. Jackson Square is another noted feature of New Orleans. The historic square played a huge role during the French and Spanish colonial governments, including the site of public executions.
In addition to the historic buildings, the French Quarter has a variety of historic homes that illustrate what living life in New Orleans during the 19th century would have been like. There are a few houses that stand out. The Herman Grimma House is located at 820 St. Louis Street and offers tours Wednesday-Monday 10 am – 4 pm. The home was built in 1831, has examples of early American architecture, and visitors can glimpse at life in a 19th century home.
Another house worth visiting is the Gallier House. Located at 1132 Royal Street, this home is an iconic example of Victorian architecture. The Gallier House was originally completed in 1861, and like the Herman-Grimma home, it serves as a time capsule with an intricate interior, intact slave quarters, and a classic courtyard. It was the home of James Gallier Jr. and his family. Gallier was a well-known architect in New Orleans who died at the age of 40 during a yellow fever epidemic. This home is open Friday – Monday from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm.
The 1850 house is another historic home worth visiting. The home can be found at 523 St. Ann Street and is open Tuesdays-Sundays 10 am – 4 pm. Unlike the Herman-Grimma House and the Gallier House, the 1850 house portrays a generic upper-middle class home during antebellum New Orleans. There are also many homes and former plantations outside the French Quarter that are open for visitors to experience the history and learn about the lessons that have shaped today.
The French Quarter also holds many renowned historical museums and sites. The first stop to visit would be in Jackson Square. There, you can find two twin buildings, the Cabildo and the Presbytere. The buildings were originally relics of Spanish colonial rule but are now museums. The Cabildo houses many historical artifacts of New Orleans’s 300-plus year history. The Presbytere is a museum grounded in New Orleans’s present and resilience, and it has exhibits about Mardi Gras and memorializes Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
There are other interesting museums found throughout the rest of the French Quarter. The Voodoo Museum is another museum worth visiting. Founded in 1972, the New Orleans Voodoo Museum has exhibits detailing the history of Voodoo, New Orleans’s relationship to it. The museum is located at 724 Dumaine Street and is open from 10 am – 6 pm daily. One of our all time favorite museums is The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. The museum preserves a glimpse of an 1823 apothecary and pharmacy. If you do the self-guided tour, detailing horrific 19th century medical practices, you might wonder how anyone survived the 19th century. The answer is, they didn’t go to the doctor. This museum is located at 524 Chartres Street and is open Wednesday – Saturday from 12 pm – 5 pm. There is also the Historical Collection in the French Quarter located at 533 Royal Street. It’s collection is nearly unparalleled and it’s free, so there’s no reason not to go.
The famous St. Louis #1 cemetery is nearby the French Quarter and is the oldest cemetery in the city. Unfortunately, the St. Louis #1 cemetery is closed to the general public. Tours are offered and are $25 a person. If you’re interested in visiting New Orleans cemeteries, check out this article to see which cemeteries are worth visiting in 2022.
The French Quarter has restaurants for every price range to satisfy that taste of New Orleans cuisine. Here are some of the restaurants worth visiting:
Antonie’s is the oldest restaurant in New Orleans. Founded in 1840, it has been run by five generations of the same family. This New Orleans mainstay offers French-Creole cuisine. It is located at 713 St. Louis Street. They are open 11 am – 2 pm and 5 pm – 9 pm Thursday through Monday, except Sundays, where they’re open from 10:30 am – 2 pm. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
This restaurant was established in 1914 and resides in a historic 200-plus-year-old building. The home once belonged to New Orleans mayor Nicholas Girod who offered it to the exiled Napoleon in 1814. Even though the French ruler never came, the name stuck. This restaurant is still the go-to place for casual fare and its legendary toasted muffuletta. It’s located at 500 Chartres Street and is open from Wednesday to Sunday 11 am – 9 pm (and they close at 10 pm on Friday and Saturday nights).
Johnny Po-Boys, opened in the 1950s, continues to serve up a variety of casual dishes including breakfast, lunch, and dinner but they are mostly famous for there po-boys which are still some of the best in town. Counter service only, making it a great place to grab food and go. Johnny’s Po-Boys is located at 511 St. Louis Street and it’s open daily from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm. If you want a traditional po-boy in a place that hasn’t changed much since it opened in the 1950s this is a great option
Verti Marte is a local corner store and deli located in the heart of the French Quarter. Established in 1968 and open 24/7, this local spot offers pick-up and delivery on a variety of sandwiches and sides and groceries. It’s well-loved by locals and service industry vets for their specialty po-boys like the All That Jazz. This dish features grilled ham, turkey, and shrimp with American and Swiss Cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, grilled mushrooms, and the secret “wow” sauce. If you want to try an authentic New Orleans po-boy, then you can’t miss this stop. They are located at 1201 Royal Street.
Known for having one of the best po-boys in the city, Killer Po-boys offers a variety of po-boys made with high quality ingredients. They are open every day except Tuesday from 11 am – 8 pm. It’s located at 219 Dauphine Street. If you want to try a new spin on the traditional Po-Boy then check out Killer Po-Boys.
Founded in 1983, Coops offers a rare authentic taste of Cajun cuisine in New Orleans at very affordable prices. Cajun food originates west of New Orleans in the Parishes settled by the Acadians (French Canadian Exiles) in the 1700s. Coops is probably the best Cajun food in the French Quarter. We recommend trying the sampler platter. Just don’t look in the kitchen, it’s outside in the courtyard. Comedian Hannibal Burress has a pretty funny bit about finding a rat in the bathroom. Unfortunately, no one under 21 is allowed in. The restaurant is open Thursday through Monday 11 am – 11 pm, and it is located at 1109 Decatur Street.
Cafe Du Monde is famous for its beignets. Opened in 1862, it’s only closed a hand full of times since then. On busy days, the line to get a beignet can stretch around the block, so plan your visit. We think the best time to try a famous beignet is in the evening, after dinner with a cafe au lait, before a night out on Bourbon or Frenchman street. Savor the sweet treat and do some people watching on Decatur. The French Quarter location of Cafe Du Monde’s is at 800 Decatur Street and the restaurant is open 24/7.
Hot tip! You can avoid the morning crowds at Cafe Du Monde and head to Cafe Beignet. This restaurant has locations throughout the French Quarter. Some people prefer their beignets to those offered at the more famous Cafe Du Monde. Besides their name sake, the cafe offers a variety of coffee, breakfast foods, lunch choices, and alcoholic beverages. Their locations’ times vary so check before hand, but this small cafe is well worth the visit!
Probably the most famous street in the French Quarter is Bourbon Street. This street is known for its ruckus, all-night partying, and legal public consumption of alcohol. Did you know you can legally drink outside anywhere in the city of New Orleans? So grab your drink, and if you don’t like the bar then go to the next one. The best time to enjoy Bourbon Street is a few hours before and after sunset. You’ll get to drink in – literally – the beautiful outdoor patios during the day and the infamous neon lights at night. A seasoned traveler could breeze through Bourbon then catch some live jazz on Frenchman street. Here are some favorites worth you time:
Located at 240 Bourbon Street, Old Absinthe House offers a variety of cocktails inspired by its days as a speakeasy. It also has historical significance as well where it is rumored that on the second floor of the building, famed pirate, and outlaw Jean Lafitte met with Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. They are open every day at 9 am. Monday through Wednesday, they close at 2 am. They close at 3 am on Thursday and Sunday. On Friday and Saturdays, they close at 4 am.
Beach on Bourbon, located at 277 Bourbon Street, offers a bit of everything. Whether you’re looking for a sports bar or a party venue, Beach on Bourbon doesn’t disappoint. They are closed Monday and Tuesday. They are open 4 pm – 2 am on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday through Sunday, they are open from 2 pm – 3 am.
Maison Bourbon is located at 641 Bourbon Street and is one of America’s oldest jazz bars. Visitors can enjoy the full experience of one of the few existing jazz bars on Bourbon Street. They are open 11 am – 1 am Sunday through Thursday and 11 am – 2 am on Friday and Saturday.
With multiple locations, there is something to pick from for everyone! Pat O’ Brien’s Main Bar is located at 718 St. Peter’s Street and stands out with its famous courtyard. Pat O’Brien’s Courtyard Restaurant is located at 624 Bourbon Street. Pat O’Brien’s also has a piano bar open Friday and Saturday nights for some old school entertainment. This place is worth visiting, for the courtyard alone. If you decide to grab one of Pat’s iconic drinks, the Hurricane, beware, these drinks can be very potent. You won’t taste the booze at all! Check their website for hours based on location.
Do you think you can sing? Are the next mega pop singer, just looking for the next big break? Do you know that you can’t sing but you like to force others around you to listen to your attempts? If you answered yes to any of these questions then check out Cat’s Meow, Located at 701 Bourbon Street, Cat’s Meow is a world-class karaoke bar where you can sing on Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter. They are open daily from 4 pm – 2 am.
Jazz is as iconic as the French Quarter, It was invented in New Orleans after all but, there are only a few jazz bars left on Bourbon Street and Fritz’s is one of those places that can’t be missed. Located at 733 Bourbon Street, Fritz’s has been operating in the city since 1969. They are open 4 pm – 12 am on Monday, 11 am – 2 am Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 am – 12 am on Sunday.
If you have a taste for traditional New Orleans cuisine, Cornet’s is the place to be. They offer a unique menu and a dining space where you eat from the balcony and take in Bourbon Street from above. Cornet’s is located at 700 Bourbon Street and is open daily from 11 am – 11 pm.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar is located at 941 Bourbon Street. The last bar on Bourbon street, myth and legend surround this bar. Named after the 19th-century privateer Jean Lafitte, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar is one of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter. Constructed sometime between 1722 and 1750, this building is reputed to have been owned by Lafitte at one point or another and was possibly a front for his illegal piracy/smuggling operations. The bar is also said to be haunted (but what building in the French Quarter isn’t?) It has more a neighborhood dive bar feel then any of the other stops. Sit down and get yourself one of the purple daqs they have here, you’ve earned it! They are open every day from 10 am – 3 am.
Ok, so hopefully we got you convinced that the French Quarter is worth your time. So how much time should you spend in the French Quarter? There is just too much to do in the French Quarter in just a day. You should take at least a solid 2 – 3 days to visit and take in all the sights. Not sure where to begin? NOLA Tour Guy offers FREE daily tours of the French Quarter. You can book here now. The tour meets at 10 am at 768 Decatur. Reservations are required. And remember our tours are FREE! We are so sure you will love our walking tour of the French Quarter that you will gladly pay what you feel the tour is worth. It’s the best money-back guarantee in the business!