What to Do in New Orleans If You Don't Have Much Time

A raised level street view captures the old-fashion intricacy of the New Orlean's French Quarter. Behind the old black lamp post and hanging restaurant sign, lies the towering steeple of an old white church. NewOrleansOnline.com
If you only have one day in New Orleans, you'll want to spend it in the vibrant, 300-year-old French Quarter, with its endless eyefuls of florid architecture, copious cultural oddities, and stories that seem to emanate from the very streets. In the world-famous heart of the city—also known as the Vieux Carré—you can walk under wrought-iron balconies, peer down brick-lined walkways to steal glances of impressive private courtyards, and tap your toes to a trio of crazy-good street musicians (don't forget to leave them a few bucks). Then cool off in an ancient-looking bar and, “go-cup” in hand, search the shops for the perfect souvenir trinket. That's the overview. Now follow along on our expertly curated tour to get the most out of your limited time in the Big Easy. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

And for more on this fascinating city, check out Frommer's New Orleans day by day.
View Next Slide
A smooth brown promenade winds down along the rolling Mississippi, forming the Moon Walk of Woldenberg Park. The view includes the buildings along the New Orleans river and a distant bridge.  Mary Witzig/Flickr
Take in the rolling Mississippi River, public artworks, and maybe a busking sax player as you stroll sleepy, waterside Woldenberg Park. The Moon Walk, a landing overlooking Jackson Square, is named for former mayor Maurice Edwin “Moon” Landrieu.
View Next Slide
A bronze canon guards the famed Jackson Square of New Orleans French Quarter. In the background rises St. Louis Cathedral—a beautiful building standing like a Disney castle. Christian Senger/Flickr
In the days when Jackson Square was known as the Plaza de Armas, military parades and public executions were held here. On November 30, 1803, citizens gathered in this spot to learn that Louisiana was once again a French possession. Weeks later, the Louisiana Purchase returned it to America, in the cheapest and largest land grab of all time. These days this is the town square, where artists display paintings, fortunetellers read palms, and the view is as unforgettable as ever. 
View Next Slide
The breath-taking interior of the St. Louis Cathedral features a beautiful vaulted ceiling adorned with small paintings. Balconies run along both sides of the inside with various flags hanging off them.   Karsun Designs/Flickr
St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the U.S., and it's the center of the city’s large Catholic population. The current church building is the third to stand on this spot. A 1722 hurricane demolished the first, and the Good Friday fire of 1788 burned the second.
View Next Slide
This slideshow is brought to you by our advertisers:
Click NEXT to continue reading.
This collage shows on image of the Cabildo's facade on the left and then the Presbetère on the right. (Left—Cabildo) Miguel Discart/Flickr (Right—Presbytère) Teemu008/Flickr
On the cathedral's left (and also on the left in the photo above) stands the Cabildo, an excellent history museum; among its most noteworthy holdings: Napoleon’s death mask. When it was constructed in 1795, the building was intended as the Spanish seat of government. Just eight years later, the French turned over Louisiana to the U.S. right here. To the cathedral’s right, the matching Presbetère was erected as the never-used home for church clergy. Today it houses exhibits on hurricanes and Mardi Gras.
 
View Next Slide
This photo features a series of shelves filled with old-fashioned, glass medical bottles. Below are well-preserved balance scales in their cases. Allison Meier/Flickr
They’ve got leeches, snake oil potions, opium bottles, and torturous-looking antique surgical instruments. The slightly gruesome guided tour of this 1823 apothecary shop, site of the first licensed pharmacist in the U.S., is fascinating.
 
View Next Slide
A lookup from a street corner at the red, beautiful Pontalba apartments, with their hanging ferns and complicatedly wrought iron balconies. Wikimedia Commons
The elegant, Creole European–style buildings alongside Jackson Square were built by Baroness Pontalba as an early show of (girl) power when the American Sector, across Canal Street, was expanding. Pontalba, whose rich and powerful father Don Almonester rebuilt St. Louis Cathedral, left her mark in the cast-iron railing: Look for the entwined “A.P.” initials. The second-story apartments remain coveted real estate today.
View Next Slide
A red sign for Central Grocery hangs over the old store's front. Under the store name, the sign advertises the legendary muffuletta. Greg Williams/Flickr
It’s a full Italian deli but what you want is a muffuletta, the famously filling round sandwich packed with cold cuts, cheese, and olive salad. One feeds many—and yes, the deli will ship to out-of-town addresses.
View Next Slide
This slideshow is brought to you by our advertisers:
Click NEXT to continue reading.
A clean glass window store front is illuminated by the dazzling chandeliers, showing the etched black lettering—French Antique Shop. Chris Granger/New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau
Antiques, boutiques, galleries, and live art abound on one of the best streets anywhere for window shoppers as well as serious collectors. On the sidewalk, a band of young musicians plays 1920s jazz.
View Next Slide
The large two-story convent has a yellow facade, green shutters, and a brown roof, Over that shines a clear blue sky. Jennifer Boyer/Flickr
Built in 1752 as a convent and school for girls by French nuns of the Sisters of Ursula order, this historic spot houses local Catholic archives dating to 1718. It may be best known for populating New Orleans with a long line of nun-approved good girls—a rare commodity in the lawless, burgeoning city back then.


View Next Slide
A man and a woman examine fruit for sale in an ope- air market. David Richmond/ NewOrleansOnline.com
This open-air, European-style market has been here for well over 200 years. Today it has a farmers’ market, food booths, artsy-craftsy goods, and flea market stalls with souvenirs. Stop for a nosh, a trinket, or a cooking demo, recalling that once upon a time, pirates hawked their booty right here.
View Next Slide
A row of musicians blast various horns at the Spotted Cat Music Club. Chris Granger/New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau
About a dozen clubs reside within 3 blocks, each with its own vibe and live music line-up—from a grubby bar with lowdown blues to an upscale, sit-down room with leading jazzmen. A street full of music lovers, scenesters, and characters soak it all up. This is where you want to be at night.
View Next Slide
This slideshow is brought to you by our advertisers:
Click NEXT to continue reading.
Cover of Frommer's New Orleans day by day
For more on what to do in the city, check out Frommer's New Orleans day by day. Succint and easy-to-carry, the book features scores of full-color photographs, maps (including a foldout one in the back), recommendations for the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions, and suggested itineraries tailored to every type of traveler. Everything you need to make the most of your time during your trip is right here.
View Next Slide
advertisement
advertisement