Day By District: The French Quarter

Wondering how to see the best of every district while you’re in New Orleans?

Day By District: The French Quarter

We’ve put together a guide so you can see the best of the best of the district in one day.  The French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood, is possibly the most famous area of New Orleans, especially considering it’s home to Bourbon Street.  With restaurants, museums, and shops, it’s a hub for tourism, and the culture is a perfectly melded combination of French and American, with Italian and Irish influences.

8 AM – Cafe Beignet

Start the day off with a famous NOLA breakfast at Cafe Beignet.  Yes, they do serve beignets, and you should absolutely order them, but also take the opportunity to try their delicious Andouille sausage omelette.  The spicy sausage pairs well with smooth white cheddar cheese, and the side of grits and a baguette make it a filling meal that will give you the energy for a full day of exploring.  And since in New Orleans, alcohol at breakfast is accepted, consider trying the Cajun Bloody Mary.

9 AM – Jackson Square

Let your day begin leisurely by strolling through Jackson Square.  You’ll find adorable shops, buskers, and you can even have your fortune told!

10 AM – Voodoo Tour

Join a free walking tour at Mr. Gregory’s Cafe and see all of the voodoo sights, from Congo Square to the site of the Haitian Rebellions.  Learn about gris gris bags, voodoo dolls, and the impact of voodoo on New Orleans culture.  It’s a fascinating tour!


11:30 AM – Voodoo Shop

After the tour, visit the voodoo shop, run by a real-life practitioner of voodoo, and consider buying something.  Have a reading done, explore their potion oils, and learn more about the religion – both the bad points and the good.

12 PM – Cafe Conti

Time for lunch!  Visit Cafe Conti and dine on some delicious crepes.  The crab and brie crepe is amazing and really shows off how fresh NOLA seafood is, or you may enjoy the bacon and gruyere crepe.  If you want something sweet to finish off, try an apple cinnamon almond crepe.

1 PM – The Presbytere

Built in 1791, the Presbytere is now a museum with exhibits focusing on New Orleans history, from Mardi Gras to Hurricane Katrina.  The architecture of the building itself is a stunning display of early Spanish influences on the city.

2:30 PM – Pharmacy Museum

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, America’s first licensed pharmacy is now the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. In addition to endless shelves of painful-looking medical tools and hundreds of glass containers of strange colorful substances, I particularly liked the beautiful marble and wood soda fountain. Mixed in with all the layers of America's medical past are notes explaining the prescribed use of various substances, from the misguided (tobacco use to cure asthma) to the ahead-of-their-time (moldly bread was prescribed before penicillin was discovered). Found and photographed by @todseelie. #neworleans #nola #pharmacymuseum #atlasobscura #hidden #curiousity #explore #adventure #amazing #wanderlust #neverstopexploring #photooftheday #picoftheday #travel #wonder #mytinyatlas #adventure #wonder #travel #travelingram

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Learn about the history of medicine at the Pharmacy Museum, located in the first pharmacy in the United States.  From old tonics to “settle” women to early surgical instruments, the exhibits and displays can be a bit eerie.  This isn’t helped by the fact that Dr. Dupas, the second owner of the pharmacy, is still roaming around, mixing tonics and scaring people.  He’s rumored to have been involved in some unethical experiments, so pregnant women have reported more encounters with his spirit.  You may also sight two children – a boy and a girl – from the first owners, the Dufilho family.

4 PM – The Cabildo

See where the Louisiana Purchase took place, where Plessy vs. Ferguson was decided, where ambassadors have visited.  The Cabildo, twin of the Presbytere also features exhibits about New Orleans history, and it’s worth visiting both.  See historical documents, learn about the Battle of New Orleans, and view Sidney Bechet’s saxophone as you learn about the impact jazz music had on NOLA culture.

6 PM – Pirates Alley

Just behind the Cabildo is Pirates Alley, a single block with a city’s worth of history.  You can see the Faulkner House (William Faulkner sometimes haunts the area), the St. Louis Cathedral, and the old dueling grounds in the cemetary.  It’s a short walk, but between the prison ghosts, the history, and the architecture, it’s worth the time.

6:30 PM – Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Walk from Pirates Alley to Lafitte’s for a pre-dinner drink.  A base of operations for Pirate Jean Lafitte, the shop is currently a bar serving a wicked Voodoo daiquiri.  If nothing else, stop by just so you can say you did.

7:00 PM – Arnaud’s

You’ll want a reservation for this, but it’s worth it to eat the amazing Creole food served at Arnaud’s.  The Shrimp Arnaud kicks off the meal with just the right amount of spice, and the stuffed fish is mouthwatering.  Count Arnaud still haunts the place, although mostly after hours drinking at the bar – he forgets to clean up after himself.

8:30 PM – Bourbon Street

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No one leaves New Orleans without wandering Bourbon Street.  Listen to jazz, barhop at some wild venues, and meet the most interesting people – everything happens on Bourbon Street.

New Orleans is a city in its own category, and you don’t want to miss anything, so check back to learn about other districts!