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19 Historical Places in New Orleans You Need to See

New Orleans is located along the Mississippi River in Louisiana. It’s one of the most historic and beautiful cities in the US, with a past that’s proudly on display through many beautiful old buildings, public squares, and even restaurants. Each tells a story of a bygone era and offers a glimpse into a time long gone. There are many beautiful historical places in New Orleans.

Nicknamed the “Big Easy”, this southern city is known for many things. It’s the birthplace of jazz and has live music and a party scene that add to its overall fun appeal. Even though these aspects of New Orleans might seem modern, most are rooted in past traditions.  

Let’s travel back in time as we explore the top historical places in New Orleans.

historical places in new orelans

19 Historical Place in New Orleans

New Orleans (also known as NOLA) is a treasure trove of beautiful historical gems. Some are traditional old buildings and churches, but there are plenty of other fascinating old sites too, like restaurants, cemeteries, and houses.

1. French Quarter

The French Quarter is New Orleans’ historic heart. It was founded in 1718, making it the oldest section of the city. It’s famous for its large colourful buildings and lively atmosphere.  

New Orleans French Quarter

There are many fascinating old places that are synonymous with ‘The Big Easy’, like voodoo shops, live music joints, and boutique stores. It’s a one-of-a-kind place where the old mixes with the new, and there’s always something exciting to do.  

2. Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street is one of the most well-known streets in the US. Located in the French Quarter, it’s the life of the party in New Orleans. It extends for 13 blocks and contains a string of brightly lit bars and restaurants.  

bourbon street

Although it’s known for its modern party vibe, the street dates back to the city’s founding. It was named after the ruling French royal family of the time, Rue Bourbon, not the popular amber-coloured American whiskey, like many people think.

3. Jackson Square

Jackson Square holds great historical significance in the US. It’s the site of the Louisiana Purchases, where the state became a United States territory in 1803.  

The public square spans for 2.5-acre and is named for a large statue of Andrew Jackson that sits in the middle. It’s surrounded by several popular NOLA points of interest, including Saint Louis Cathedral.  

jackson square
jackson square

Jackson Square has a modern vibe and is always abuzz with entertainment. From street performers to open-air artists that paint and display their works to tarot card readers and fortune-tellers, there’s always something interesting to see.  

jackson square
jackson square

4. Congo Square

Congo Square is located in Louis Armstrong Park, in the Tremé neighbourhood. This open space is well-known for its influence on African American music, most notably jazz.  

congo square musicians
congo square musicians

It was one of the few places in the city where enslaved people were allowed to gather and sing, play music, and dance in public. These gatherings would usually take place on a Sunday, which was their one day off from work.  

louis armstrong park
louis armstrong park

Today, Congo Square still hosts celebrations and gatherings that honour the historical and cultural heritage of New Orleans. Most Sundays, drum circles, dancing, and other musical performances take place.  

5. Garden District

The Garden District is a charming little neighbourhood in NOLA. Although it’s just a short drive from the energetic French Quarter, it has a totally different vibe. Picture streets lined with historic mansions, tall oak trees, and lush gardens abloom with draping hibiscuses and crepe myrtles.  

garden district
garden district

The district is considered to be one of the best-preserved collections of historic mansions in the south. It was developed from 1832 to 1900, and strolling the streets will take you back to that time period.  

garden district
garden district

6. Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen Street is an entertainment street that has a little bit of everything. It’s full of live-music venues, intimate bars, and local restaurants. Compared to the tourist-centred Bourbon Street, it has a more authentic NOLA feel to it.  

frenchmen street
frenchmen street

The Faubourg Marigny Neighbourhood is the oldest and most well-known section of Frenchmen Street. Many of the colourful shotgun-style houses in the neighbourhood are over 100 years old. Since this area sits on high ground in the city, it was mostly untouched during Hurricane Katrina.  

frenchmen street
frenchmen street

7. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 was established in 1789, making it the city’s oldest cemetery. This isn’t your typical graveyard. The deceased are laid to rest above ground rather than below.  

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

The reason for this is that New Orleans is prone to flooding, which makes in-ground coffin burials risky business. They have the potential to rise back to the surface when the ground becomes saturated. The bodies are contained in elaborate tombs instead, which are stacked right next to each other.  

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

The cemetery’s most famous vault belongs to prominent voodoo queen Marie Laveau. Other notable New Orleans residents from the 18th to 19th-century are also laid to rest here.  

8. Lalaurie Mansion

The Lalaurie Mansion is a must-see for anyone interested in the macabre. This 1800s building is believed to be haunted and has a dark and gory past. Its former owner, Marie Delphine Macarty, was a socialite and serial killer in 19th century New Orleans.  

lalaurie mansion
lalaurie mansion

It has stayed relevant in pop culture. The show “American Horror Story: Coven” has Kathy Bates playing the part of the 19th-century socialite. The residence was also owned by Nicholas Cage from 2007 to 2009.

The inside of the mansion is not open to the public, although many NOLA walking tours include a stop outside of the house as part of their itinerary.  

Lalaurie Mansion
Lalaurie Mansion

9. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is one of NOLA’s oldest surviving structures. The exact date it was built isn’t known, but it’s believed it was constructed as a house sometime between 1722 and 1732.  

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

Today, it operates as a bar that many say is haunted. The building is lit by candlelight, which adds to the historic appeal.  

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

10. Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde is an iconic NOLA cafe that was established in 1862. There are several locations around the city, but the original one is on Decatur Street. This location is packed with people practically all hours of the day.  

cafe du monde
cafe du monde

The cafe is particularly known for two things. The first is its beignets, which are square doughnuts generously coated in powdered sugar. It’s also known for its delicious chicory coffee, which is a mix of coffee and the root of the endive lettuce plant.  

cafe du monde beignets
cafe du monde beignets

11. Antoine’s Restaurant

Antoine’s Restaurant is a French-Creole eatery that’s been around since 1840. It’s been run by the same family since it first opened. Many well-known celebrities have dined here over the years, and you can see their pictures proudly displayed on the restaurant walls. From Franklin Roosevelt to Brad Pitt and Pope John Paul II, the list is quite impressive.  

Antoine's Restaurant
Antoine’s Restaurant

If you visit, make sure to try their signature dish, oysters Rockefeller. It consists of oysters (baked or broiled) topped with butter, green herbs, and bread crumbs, then garnished with lemon wedges.  

Antoine's Restaurant
Antoine’s Restaurant

12. The Carousel Bar & Lounge

The Carousel Bar & Lounge is definitely one of the most interesting places to grab a drink in the city. It opened in 1949 and is located in Hotel Monteleone, which overlooks the lively Royal Street in the French Quarter.  

Carousel Bar & Lounge
Carousel Bar & Lounge

The bar features a 25 seat circus-themed merry-go-round. Don’t worry, it doesn’t travel fast; it takes about 15 minutes to complete one rotation. But if you’d rather sit still, there’s also an adjoining room with tables and live entertainment from Wednesday to Saturday.  

Carousel Bar & Lounge
Carousel Bar & Lounge

They have an impressive cocktail list and small plates to accompany your drinks.  

13. St. Louis Cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral holds the title of the oldest cathedral in continuous use in the US. It was founded in 1720 and dedicated to the sainted King of France, Louis IX. However, most of the original cathedral burned down during the great fire of 1788. It was rebuilt in the 1850s.  

St. Louis Cathedral
St. Louis Cathedral

The grand building we see today mostly features Spanish Colonial architecture and French Neo-Gothic architecture. It has all the trimmings of a beautiful old church, like stained glass windows, a lavishly painted ceiling, and ornate statues.  

14. Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church

The Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church is one of the most stunning religious institutions in the city. The present church was finished in 1930. It’s a near duplicate of the 1850s building that needed to be replaced due to foundation damage.  

Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church
Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church

The interior is beautifully decorated. It features many detailed elements, including stained glass windows depicting Jesuit saints, religious murals and statues of the archangels. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate this historical place in New Orleans.  

immaculate conception jesuit church
immaculate conception jesuit church

15. Old Ursuline Convent Museum

The Old Ursuline Convent Museum is the city’s oldest building. It was built from 1752 to 1753 to serve several purposes. It was a convent for Ursuline nuns, an archbishop’s residence, a school, and more.  

Old Ursuline Convent Museum
Old Ursuline Convent Museum

It’s a beautiful example of French colonial architecture and is accessible via tours. It’s run as a museum that focuses on the religious history of the region. It showcases yet another fascinating feature of the city’s diverse history.  

Old Ursuline Convent Museum
Old Ursuline Convent Museum

16. New Orleans Jazz Museum

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is set inside the old US Mint building, which operated in the city from 1838 to 1861 and 1879 to 1909. During this time, it produced gold and silver US coins of every denomination.  

New Orleans Jazz Museum
New Orleans Jazz Museum

Today, it mostly focuses on the history of jazz, but there are also some exhibits relating to the building’s coin making past. From displays about Louis Armstrong to old pieces of money-making machinery, you can learn about two sides of the city’s past.  

New Orleans Jazz Museum
New Orleans Jazz Museum

17. Hermann–Grima House

The Hermann-Grima House is an old Federal-style mansion that was built in 1831. It sits in the lively French Quarter and operates as a house museum.  

Hermann–Grima House
Hermann–Grima House

The home has been wonderfully restored and reflects 19th century NOLA living. It’s accessibly via guided tour, which includes access to the original open-hearth kitchen, the old slave quarters, the quiet courtyard, and more.  

⇒ Read more reviews on TripAdvisor

18. Beauregard-Keyes House

The Beauregard-Keyes House is a well-preserved 19th century NOLA home. It was built in 1826 and designed with features of a traditional Creole cottage mixed with the Greek Revival. Many elements have been carefully restored to their original splendour.  

Beauregard-Keyes House
Beauregard-Keyes House

Today, it operates as a museum that focuses on some of the past inhabitants of the house. These include American author Frances Parkinson Keyes and Confederate General PGT Beauregard.  

Beauregard-Keyes House
Beauregard-Keyes House

⇒ Read more reviews on TripAdvisor

19. Gallier House

The Gailer House is another of the city’s beautiful historic houses. It was constructed in 1861 and considered very innovative for the time. The large Victorian townhouse was a private family residence built for architect James Gallier and his family.  

Gallier House
Gallier House

The front of the house features an ornate Paris green gate, and the inside includes many period furnishings and objects. You can tour the interior and see the household technology and stylish interiors of the time. From authentic children’s toys to old elaborate wall treatments, there is much to admire.  

Gallier House
Gallier House

⇒ Read more reviews on TripAdvisor

Historical Places in New Orleans | Final Thoughts

These historical places in New Orleans brilliantly showcase the fascinating past of this US city. They’ll take you back in time to different periods in NOLA’s history. From historic house museums to crumbling cemeteries and old eateries, there are so many different things to see.  

If you’re wanting to discover more historical places in the United States, check out these famous landmarks in the US next.

gallier house
gallier house

Related Posts:

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Historical Places in New York

Historical Places in Florida

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I covered all of the costs associated with writing this article. However, this historical places in New Orleans post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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