Garden District New Orleans

Garden District Walking Tour

This post provides details for our daily, guided walking tours of the Garden District as well as our self-guided GPS-enabled audio tour and other options.

It also covers things to do, how to get here, what to see, restaurants, bars, and shopping.   Read more »

Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

Travel insurance is often the last thing you have on your mind when planning your next trip for just yourself, with your family, or with friends.

But is travel insurance worth it?

travel insurance teddy

Travel insurance – what to look for:

Most travel insurance plans cover 2 main things: travel benefits and medical benefits. Those usually entail:

  • a refund when you need to cancel your trip due to emergency
  • covered expenses when a flight is delayed or canceled or when you miss your flight
  • compensation of expenses if your carrier loses or delays your luggage
  • Coverage of expenses for any medical or dental emergency during your trip
  • Coverage of cost for medical emergency evacuation or accidental death or dismemberment
  • Optional benefits include car rental insurance

Depending on the provider benefits may differ in cost and range, so make sure you read the small print.



Things to know about travel insurance:

  • It only covers the days you paid for – not less, not more

So make sure you get coverage including the days you travel. Purchase your travel insurance well in advance and include the actual days of travel.Travel insurance

If you need to change your dates of travel, don’t forget to change your insurance time frame as well.

If your return flight is overnight, make sure you include that extra day as well.

  • Be prepared to pay first yourself before you get reimbursed

In most cases, the insurance will cover your expenses, but that still means that you have to pay out of pocket first before you get reimbursed later.

You will need to save all the receipts and papers for proof of payment later.

  • You probably won’t need it, but it’s better to have it

In most cases, you’ll pay more than you’ll get out of it because hopefully, you won’t need the insurance. But that might be a risk well worth taking.

Things that are not covered by travel insurance:

Make sure you know what’s covered. Among other things, these are usually not insured:

  • High-risk sports or activities, such as scuba diving, bungee jumping, etc.
  • Losses due to a person being legally drunk
  • Medical expenses due to pre-existing conditions

COVID-19 ALERT: Due to the pandemic, travel insurance companies have made some changes to the services and coverage they provide. This might sound like bad news, but it’s actually (mostly) good!

Here are a few changes you can expect from most of the travel insurance plans listed below:

  • Many insurance plans will include coverage for emergency medical care/treatment of Covid-19.
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption is now included with most plans. This means if your plans are interrupted due to inability to access the location where you plan to travel, you’ll likely be covered.
  • With some plans, you or someone you are traveling with will need to come down with the illness before being eligible for coverage.

We recommend checking the Covid-19 FAQ provided by each company before purchasing insurance in order to make sure they provide the coverage you’ll need during these trying times.


Travel insurance plans

Allianz Global Assistance Travel insurance

From Basic, Prime and Premier plans, travel insurance starts at $20-$40, depending on the age of the traveler, and the length + cost of the trip.

Travelex

Plans are Travel Select, Travel Basic and Travel America Insurance. The basic plans start around $24 depending on the age of the traveler, and the length + cost of the trip.

AIG Travel Insurance

Plans are Travel Guard, Deluxe, Preferred, Essential, Pack N’ Go and Annual. The Travel Guard plan starts around $28 depending on the age of the traveler, and the length + cost of the trip.

What to consider before you buy travel insurance?

Check with your health insurance at home first if you are already covered

This should be your first step. You might be already covered with your health insurance, but you definitely have to check with your provider at home prior to your trip and get something in writing.

Trips to the United States are usually not covered because the health system there is usually more costly than in other countries.

However, you might be able to add short-term coverage from your existing plan for your travels abroad.

Avoid double coverage for auto, homeowners insurance

You might already be insured with your car owner insurance, your homeowner insurance, or via your credit card benefits as well.

Again, it’s strongly recommended to contact your provider or credit card company before the trip and find out what would really be covered.

Consider term life insurance rather than flight insurance

If you are flying somewhere and renting a car, remember that driving around in a foreign place can be tricky and sometimes dangerous as well.

If you are worried about any worst-case scenario, flight insurance won’t cover you in a car accident and you might feel more at ease for your loved ones if you have a term life insurance plan.

 


Related Posts:

New Orleans Weather in March

New Orleans Weather in March

This post is a summary of the New Orleans weather in March, with tips on what to pack and things to do.

If you are coming at the start or end of the month, read our weather guides to February and April

 

 


AVERAGE MARCH TEMPERATURES

Spring is in the air and March is a great time to visit the Crescent City as the weather is mild and there are lots to see and do this month (especially a walking tour). Read more »

Jackson Square New Orleans

This post is a self-guided tour of things to see and do in Jackson Square in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter.

In this post, we address food, lodgings, entertainment, and other activities available in the Square, as well as a short self-guided tour.

Jackson Square is covered on our daily, pay-what-you-like tours of the French Quarter.

 

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WHAT IS JACKSON SQUARE?

Located right across the street from St. Louis Cathedral and steps away from the Mississippi River, this square and its central monument, has become one of the most popular places for tourists to take a selfie in New Orleans.

In addition to providing an excellent photo opportunity, this location is also one of the most popular parks in the city.

 

Where is Jackson Square

 

Most people walk here, but both the streetcar and a couple of bus lines run nearby.

However you decide to get here, we recommend using this Google Maps link for directions here.

The park is named after General Andrew Jackson. His statue in the middle of the park was erected in 1856.

The choice of General Jackson related not to his presidency, but to his local claim to fame – his leadership as a Major General in the Battle of New Orleans, the final battle in the War of 1812.

 

 

The United States had acquired New Orleans and the Louisiana Territory at great expense just twelve years before and it was a prime target for a British invasion.

The city was poorly defended, having only an inexperienced militia and a handful of combat-ready ships, and William C. C. Claiborne, the much-resented first American governor of Louisiana, was hard-pressed to bridge differences and muster a strong defense.

General Jackson was credited with unifying Creole, and American locals, militiamen from other parts of the United States, the nation’s first battalion of free people of color, local Native Americans, and even the Lafitte brothers, the famous and influential pirates, into an effective patchwork fighting force.

Besides this, tactical missteps on the part of the British, who were unfamiliar with the marshy terrain and the best ways to navigate it, assured a surprising and lopsided victory, with British casualties around 2000 and American casualties under 100.

News later came that the peace treaty had already been signed, placing the Battle of New Orleans outside the boundaries of the war, but the battle nonetheless assured General Jackson’s reputation as a war hero and helped secure his later presidency.

The position of the horse – rearing up on two legs – does not indicate, as it is said to in other statues, that General Jackson died in battle.

Its sculptor, Clark Mills, was praised for keeping 20,000 pounds of bronze balanced on the two small hooves – the first time this was accomplished.

This is one of four copies; you can see the original on the White House grounds in Washington, DC.

The caption on the pedestal – “The Union must and shall be preserved” – paraphrases Jackson’s words spoken in 1830 in response to South Carolina threatening to secede from the Union.

It was added in 1861 when New Orleans was occupied during the American Civil War.

The large trees that shade the edges of the park are Southern Live Oaks.


Where to Eat & Drink

Just across Decatur Street from Jackson Square is the famous Cafe du Monde, where visitors flock daily for coffee and beignets.

While the cafe is open 24 hours a day, most visitors go during breakfast hours, so the wait can be long in the morning, but seating and service are usually quick in the afternoon and later.

TIP: Why don’t you join us on our daily, pay-what-you-like French Quarter Food Tour or check out our top 13 foods you must try in NOLA, many of which you can get in the Quarter?

 

Cafe du Monde and French Market

 

Coffee and beignets are not only the signature items – they’re the majority of the menu. Beignets are the only food they offer, and you’ll find only a few other drinks besides coffee with chicory.

If you’re a fan of espresso or if you’re the kind of coffee drinker who likes choices, Spitfire Coffee on St. Peter Street just outside the Square is the place for you. 

If you prefer a heartier breakfast than what’s on offer at Cafe du Monde, Stanley is a good option to consider.

Named after the character in A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley serves local riffs on classic breakfast items all day, along with a bistro-style lunch menu. 

For dinner, the main attractions in the Square are two upscale Creole restaurants – Tableau and Muriel’s.

Creole cuisine is the classic food of New Orleans, based on French cuisine but infused with the local blend of ingredients and cultures.

Both restaurants are rated between 4 and 4.5 stars on Google, Yelp, and Tripadvisor; both get praise for brunch and for special occasion dinners, and Tableau also gets shout-outs for its happy hour. 

Beyond this elegant pair, you can find several more excellent restaurants within a block of the Square.

Just along St. Peter Street going toward Bourbon is the Gumbo Shop, an icon of casual Cajun/Creole cuisine, with more gumbo options on their menu than any other restaurant in the French Quarter and also one of the neighborhood’s most affordable choices.

By the way, you might be interested in our choices for finding the best gumbo in New Orleans

Gumbo Shop tends to have a line out the door during prime meal hours, but you’ve got La Divina Gelateria right across the street if you want to have dessert first while you wait in line.

 

 

Just up Chartres Street from the Square are Sylvain and Doris Metropolitan, both classy casual options with eclectic menus; Doris Metropolitan, which specializes in dry-aged beef, has the most positive reviews among all the restaurants listed here, consistently scoring 4.5+ on Google, Yelp, and Tripadvisor.

Because of their prime location, reservations are a good idea at any of these restaurants besides Gumbo Shop, especially for dinner.

Bars per se aren’t much of a presence in Jackson Square, but Tableau, Sylvain, and Doris Metropolitan all have bar seating areas and the option of to-go drinks.

For something less fancy, there’s Cafe Pontalba, right at the corner of Chartres and St. Peter. 

 


Art, Music, & Magic

Artists, performers, and fortune-tellers all play a huge part in Jackson Square’s personality, and each group operates under slightly different rules. 

Artists selling in Jackson Square or behind St. Louis Cathedral hold a license from the city that requires them to sell their own work and to sell only originals.

These requirements aren’t followed with perfect consistency, but it does mean that more often than not the artist who made the work is right there to speak to you about it and that anything you take home is unique. 

 

 

Performers, by contrast, aren’t currently regulated by the city except on a few essentials like volume.

The community of musicians, magicians, dancers, and acrobats who make their living in Jackson Square all work together to share the space, and typically this means you’ll see a constant rotation of acts in the course of the day.

Mostly, you’ll find bands in front of the Cabildo and the Presbytere, while non-musical acts mostly happen in front of the Cathedral; occasionally there will be a large acrobatics show or a traveling choir or band in the amphitheater across Decatur Street from Jackson Square as well.

Because performers aren’t regulated or compensated by the city, they make their living on what their audiences decide to leave for them. 

Local regulation on fortune tellers of any kind does not allow them to charge for their services. The exception is readings that make up part of a religion like voodoo.

So voodoo-affiliated establishments like Voodoo Authentica or the Historic Voodoo Museum can offer these services at a fee, while the tarot and palm readers in Jackson Square operate on a pay-what-you-will basis. 

 


Things to See in Jackson Square

Start at the intersection of Chartres and St. Peter Streets, by the Cabildo.

 

 

1. Jackson Square

From here, you can see much of the Square – both the stone-paved area outside the fence and the park inside it. At the corner of the park, you can see a cannon.

Jackson Square, when New Orleans was founded in 1718, was the Place d’Armes – the military parade grounds and a public square for the city. We’ll see the inside of the park further along.

2. St. Peter Street

Now, look at the corner to see Tableau, a fairly new restaurant just across the street from the Cabildo.

Further along St. Peter Street, beyond Tableau, is Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, or the Little Theater of the French Quarter.

This theater opened in 1917 inside Jackson Square, then soon relocated to its present site.

Le Petit represents the French Quarter’s most Bohemian era, when the neighborhood, after decades of architectural neglect following the Civil War, became a hub for artists and eventually for travelers and preservationists.

Until recently, Le Petit had two stages; after Hurricane Katrina, in order to finance necessary repairs to the building, they sold their smaller stage to the Brennan family of restaurateurs who renovated the space and launched Tableau.

Shortly beyond Le Petit, on the top floor of 632 St. Peter Street, is one of the several former residences of Tennessee Williams, where the playwright lived when he wrote A Streetcar Named Desire

3. The Cabildo

Opposite Tableau, inside the Square, is the Cabildo. A cabildo is a Spanish city council; this building, standing on the site of city government from founding until 1853, earned the name of the governing body that sat within it.

Today, it’s the home of the Louisiana State Museum’s most extensive collection of artifacts on the history of New Orleans.

4. Pirates Alley

From in front of the Cabildo, look just to the right of the building, at the corridor that retreats between the Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral. This is Pirates Alley.

Formerly, Cabildo Alley, the narrow pedestrian walk was renamed in 1964 to reflect local legends, which make the alley the site of an early 19th-century black market run by the Lafitte pirates.

Pirates Alley


The Lafittes were two charming brothers whose booming piracy business brought both goods and people for sale to New Orleans.

While the Lafittes sold many of the necessities of life, they also prospered on the illegal sale of enslaved Africans.

Whether or not the alley was home to one of their markets, the Lafittes certainly kept company with a privileged clientele – such as those who would have worked in the Cabildo and Cathedral – and Jean Lafitte also certainly served a brief sentence in the prison once located along this alley, on the back of the Cabildo.

Today, there’s no question that pirates walk the alley, thanks to the pirate-themed bar located halfway along its length – the Pirates Alley Café, a destination for absinthe.

Just beyond the café is Faulkner House Books, located in one of the two locations where the novelist William Faulkner lived during his brief one-and-a-half-year stay in New Orleans, during which he wrote his first two novels. Today, you can find an excellent selection of the works of southern writers, new and old, in the bookstore, plus a case of historic local books; the staff are well-read and can help you pick your best introduction to Southern Gothic.

5. St. Anthony’s Garden

Continue until the end of Pirates Alley, then turn right onto Royal Street. Halfway down Pirates Alley on the right, the Cathedral comes to an end, giving way to St. Anthony’s Garden.

While the park is not open to the public today, the fence along Pirates Alley, continuing around the corner onto Royal Street, is one of the two places where artists are permitted to display original works, brightening the alley with the intense color palette common in the local art.

At night, visitors gather around the back fence of St. Anthony’s Garden to take pictures of the giant shadow cast by a low lamp that shines on the statue of Jesus – a striking figure referred by those familiar with it as “Touchdown Jesus.”

6. Pere Antoine Alley 

On Royal Street, take a right into Pere Antoine Alley, the alley flanking St. Anthony’s Garden on the opposite side from Pirates Alley.

Except during the busiest times of the year, Pere Antoine Alley is far quieter than Pirates Alley, home to offices of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

The namesake of the alley was a Spanish priest, Fray Antonio de Sedella, sent to New Orleans during the Spanish Inquisition, but viewed fondly by French-speaking parishioners and thus nicknamed Pere Antoine.

The alley sees more activity at night when ghost tours pass through telling a number of stories, including the claim that Pere Antoine can sometimes be seen helping to lead mass in the Cathedral today.

7. St. Louis Cathedral

Continue through Pere Antoine Alley back to Jackson Square and take a look at St. Louis Cathedral from the front. As you see it today, the Cathedral dates to 1850. The oldest still-functioning Catholic cathedral in the United States, St. Louis Cathedral is a minor basilica.

Above the central doors of the Cathedral, in the left stained glass window, you can see the shape of Don Andres Almonaster y Roxas – the man responsible for rebuilding the Cathedral, Cabildo, and Presbytere after the great fire of 1788.

Beginning from a candle on a home altar, the fire spread through 80% of the small, mostly wooden city, destroying about 800 buildings. Don Almonaster paid for and organized the reconstruction of these three buildings, reviving much of the social and political core of the city. Later additions were made to transform these buildings into what we see today.

To get a sense of how things looked in Don Almonaster’s time, turn around and look for a plaque on the fence surrounding the park, just to the left of the gate nearest to the Cathedral. (More information will be provided shortly about the changes that led to the current appearance of the Cathedral and its neighbors.)

The Cathedral itself is open to visitors from mid-morning to early evening, as long as there is no ceremony in progress; mass is also held at least once daily and is open for visitors to attend, provided you arrive before the ceremony begins (see the section on the Cathedral in the article above for details).

8. The Presbytere

From here, continue to the Presbytere – the Cathedral’s neighbor to the right, opposite and nearly identical to the Cabildo. The French name presbytère implies a parsonage, and this building was constructed with a priest’s residence in mind; in practice, though, it housed a variety of church and state functions, including a courthouse.

Today, the Presbytere, like the Cabildo, is part of the state museum system, housing two long-standing exhibits. The ground floor is focused on Hurricane Katrina, with artifacts, media, and interviews that help to drive home the impact, both immediate and ongoing, of this disaster.

The outdoor displays relate to this theme. Inside the ground-level gallery, on the left, you can see a sign paying tribute to the US Coast Guard, whose rescue efforts in 2005 saved 3689 lives along the Gulf Coast.

On the right is a small boat of the sort often owned by casual or professional fishermen in south Louisiana, many of which were used in immediate, less organized rescue efforts conducted by neighbors before troops were deployed, and who were also responsible for saving hundreds of lives.

The upstairs of the museum covers past and present traditions related to Carnival, the annual season of celebration that culminates in Mardi Gras.

9. Muriel’s

Beyond the Presbytere, across St. Ann Street, is Muriel’s, a Creole restaurant. If you continue a short way along Chartres St. past the door to Muriel’s, you’ll soon see a gate on the left leading into an old carriage corridor.

At the end is a single table which the staff daily sets for two as an accommodation to the ghosts believed to occupy the building; this corridor, along with the séance lounge in the upstairs of the restaurant, make Muriel’s a particularly popular stop on ghost tours. 

10. The Pontalba Buildings and Baroness Pontalba

Turn back and reenter the Square; in front of the Presbytere, look to your left at the long building that runs the full length of the Square. This is the Lower Pontalba, one of the two Pontalba Buildings – its twin on the opposite side of the Square is the Upper Pontalba.

They bear the name of their builder, Baroness Pontalba, the New Orleans-born daughter of Don Andres Almonaster y Roxas, the aforementioned builder of the Cabildo, Cathedral, and Presbytere. Born in New Orleans as Micaela Almonaster during her father’s construction project, she married a cousin, moved to France, survived a murder attempt by her father-in-law, and became a baroness before returning home and expanding her father’s buildings to the form you see today.

Her Mansard-style additions on the upper floors reflect the fashions of Paris in the 1840s and stand in contrast to her father’s Greek Revival designs in the lower floors. The condition of the Cathedral required that it be almost completely rebuilt – so only part of the front wall remains from her father’s era.

Her renovation also transformed the rest of the Square, as she redesigned the park, added the Pontalba Buildings to replace tenements, and commissioned the statue of Andrew Jackson you’ll see later, giving Jackson Square its current name.

The cast iron railings on the Pontalba Buildings were the first ever seen in New Orleans, establishing a tradition that remains strong today; a look into the center of the ironwork design will reveal intertwined cursive letters A and P, which stand for Almonaster and Pontalba, her birth surname and her title. 

11. 1850 House

Walk along the Lower Pontalba Building until you reach 1850 House, about halfway along the length of the building. 

The Pontalba Buildings were designed as townhouses, each with a ground-level business space to be operated by the occupant or rented, plus two floors of residence above it, an attic, a courtyard, and a three-story outbuilding behind. Today, they have been split into single-story apartments; however, 1850 House maintains one of the original townhouses as it would have looked around 1850. The Baroness herself lived in a middle unit on the opposite side of the park from 1850 House. 

12. Café du Monde and the French Market

Continue in the same direction toward Decatur Street. Across the street, you’ll see the green and white striped awning of Cafe du Monde.

The coffee with chicory served at Cafe du Monde and so many other local cafes is a relic of the American Civil War, when New Orleans was cut off from imports and used chicory, the root of the endive plant, to extend the limited supply of coffee.

Cafe du Monde has stood at this location since 1862 and has several other locations in Louisiana, but the majority of Cafe du Monde locations are in Japan. Japanese investors opened fourteen locations after taking a shine to the French Quarter original during the 1984 World’s Fair. 

Cafe du Monde also represents the beginning of the French Market, which extends down Decatur Street to your left and continues nearly to the end of the French Quarter.

In the 18th and 19th centuries and early in the 20th, the French Market provided for all the daily needs of French Quarter residents, but well before that, going back as much as 1000 years, the various Native American groups of the region used the site as a meeting point and trading post.

The site was ideal for transport, combining river frontage and high elevation with easy access to a natural land bridge leading out through the wetlands toward Lake Pontchartrain. Contact with the Choctaw Native Americans shaped the early French colony of New Orleans, and the French Quarter’s location is the clearest of these influences today. 

From here, turn right along Decatur Street. 

13.Washington Artillery Park

Across Decatur Street on your left is Washington Artillery Park. Besides providing a great view of both Jackson Square and the Mississippi River, the park also commemorates the Washington Artillery, a long-standing organization that has been variously a militia, a benevolent society, and a division of the Louisiana National Guard and participated substantially in the American Civil War and in World War I.

 

 

Beyond Washington Artillery Park is the Mississippi riverfront – one of the few portions open to pedestrians, as most of the riverfront in the city remains an active commercial port today. The park bordering the French Quarter is called the Moonwalk after Mayor Moon Landrieu, under whom it was constructed.

Across the street from Washington Artillery Park, bordering the fence of Jackson Square is where you’ll most reliably find mule-drawn carriages offering tours of the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods.

Weddings in Jackson Square

Both St. Louis Cathedral and the park in Jackson Square are popular sites for local and destination weddings, and there’s always a chance you might run across a wedding (or a wedding photo shoot, or maybe a proposal!) while strolling through the Square, especially in the spring or fall.

Local weddings are hard to miss – they tend to end in a second line, a police-escorted, brass-band-led foot parade where the celebrants wave handkerchiefs and decorated umbrellas as they dance their way to the reception site.

While the Cathedral hosts religious ceremonies managed by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Jackson Square is city property and sees weddings led by both ministers and city officials. City policy keeps the park open to the public during wedding ceremonies, which limits the size of events held here.

To hold a wedding in the Square, you can find rates, guidelines, and contact information here: https://www.nola.gov/parks-and-parkways/event-rules-regulations/weddings-in-jackson-square/


SEASONAL EVENTS

In addition to all of the fun activities you can enjoy at any time of the year, Jackson Square also plays host to several notable events during holidays and celebrations. Some of these activities are entirely free, but others will require a ticket for admission. We recommend arriving early for each activity in order to get a good spot. 


Horse-Drawn Carriage Parade 

This activity is part of the Spring Fiesta Festival. After the “Night in Old New Orleans” parade, the Spring Fiesta Queen and her court hold a presentation in Jackson Square. If you want to take part in the celebration, head to the square when they hold this event in March.  Check out our full post on things to do in March.

French Quarter Festival 

This popular celebration of the French Quarter takes place in April, showcasing music from New Orleans and around the world. Although there are a lot of different musical acts on display during this festival, one of the main music stages can be found at Jackson Square!

This is the largest free music event in the United States, and it’s an excellent opportunity to hear some wonderful live performances.

Read our post on things to do in NOLA in April.

Satchmo Summerfest 

What began in 2001 as a one-time celebration of Louis Armstrong has become a popular yearly music festival. In addition to various seminars and exhibits, you’ll also have the opportunity to hear a lot of wonderful Jazz music.

The Satchmo Summerfest is usually held during either the last weekend of July or the first weekend of August. Although this event is not free, tickets are only $5 per day.

Read guides for things to do in July and August.

Caroling in Jackson Square 

Who doesn’t love singing Christmas carols? If you’re feeling the holiday spirit, you can join in with a large group of festive carolers in Jackson Square approximately one week before Christmas.

This event is entirely free, and you can learn more by visiting our post about things to do in December in New Orleans.

 

 

Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve 

Although the bulk of this show takes place in New York City, they have since expanded the show to New Orleans. The main event takes place at Jackson Square, where Ryan Seacrest and other celebrities celebrate the new year by counting down to midnight. Admission is free and you’re welcome to take part in the festivities. Check out our post on things to do in December in New Orleans for more information.

The Cats of Jackson Square 

Although this isn’t specifically a seasonal activity, it’s certainly fun and free to visit Jackson Square after dark and see all of the cats that gather here. If you’re looking for something fun to do during the Halloween season, you could try and find a black cat wandering around the square and spend some time with them.

For more information, check out our post about things to do at night in New Orleans.

 

March in New Orleans

Things to Do in New Orleans in March

The following post provides dozens of things to do in New Orleans in March, including family-friendly, nighttime, as well as free events and attractions.

 

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TOP TEN EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN MARCH

In this section, we will cover the most popular activities you can enjoy during the month of March in New Orleans. 

Make sure to read our master post covering the best things to do in New OrleansRead more »

St. Louis Cemetery 1 Tour

10 Reasons to Visit St. Louis Cemetery #1

This post lists ten reasons why you should visit St. Louis Cemetery #1, the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, including tips on planning your visit.

 

 


OVERVIEW

New Orleans is known for many things, but some of the most iconic sights in the city are her cemeteries. 

There are actually 3 St. Louis Cemeteries in New Orleans, but the oldest cemetery is St. Louis Cemetery Number 1, which happens to be the closest to the French Quarter. Read more »

New Orleans in February

What to Do in New Orleans in February

This post covers things to do in February in New Orleans (updated for 2020), including free events, things to do at night, and family-friendly activities.

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN FEBRUARY 

This section covers our top 10 activities that you can enjoy in New Orleans in February. 

For tips on the most popular activities in New Orleans, check out our other posts: 

Many of these items are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

Read more »

Faubourg Marigny New Orleans

Faubourg Marigny New Orleans

Bounded by Elysian Fields and Esplanade Avenue, the Faubourg Marigny is one of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhoods. Originally it was a prosperous plantation, and much the old French colonial buildings were constructed from cypress trees cut to clear the land. The plantation later specialized in brick laying.

The owner in 1805 was Bernard de Marigny. He decided to chop up his plantation into lots that he sold at a good price. While the Americans moved into present day Central Business District and Garden District, refugees from Europe and Haiti gravitated to the Faubourg Marigny. Here they built a unique culture that is still visible today in the neighborhood’s architecture and music scene.

Learn about the things to see in Farbourg Marigny or take our guided tour of this New Orleans neighborhood.  Also, be sure to check out our other New Orleans self-guided tours.  This self-guided tour should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.

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View the full and interactive map and view this tour as a PDF.

Farbourg Marigny Tour Map Read more »

New Orleans Swamp tour

New Orleans Swamp Tour Reviews

This post is a review of the best New Orleans swamp tours available to you, including swamp and airboat tours, canoe and kayak trips as well as nighttime and free options. 

 

Disclosure: In addition to free options, we also list several other swamp excursions. While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

OVERVIEW

Aside from alligators, the swamps are teeming with wildlife, including wild boars, bald eagles, herons, egrets, mink, turtles as well as flora and fauna.   

This photo of Slidell is courtesy of TripAdvisor
 

And if you are considering taking a swamp tour, then you will quickly see that there are many companies to choose from as well as options to explore the swamps.

Most swamp tour companies operate in either the Honey Island Swamp or the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, both of which are between a 30-45 minute drive from the French Quarter.  

Click on the map to enlarge it.

Swamp Tours New Orleans

A couple of others operate in the Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area, approximately 30-minute drive west of the Quarter.  

You could choose a swamp boat, which is the most common option. Swamp boats can accommodate between 15-28 people. 

Large Swamp Boats New Orleans

Or you can go with an airboat tour, which is a smaller, faster boat with a large fan attached to it. 

Airboat Swamp New Orleans

Alternatively, you can go by kayak or canoe or you could even go on a hike. 

There is even a nighttime swamp tour that operates on Thursdays through Sundays from June through September.


TIP: If you are considering the New Orleans Pass or the Sightseeing Pass, tourist discount cards, then keep in mind that both include swamp tour experiences at no additional cost. 


You may also be interested in our review of plantation tours as well as riverboat cruises.

 


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SWAMP BOAT TOURS

There are numerous companies offering tours of the surrounding swamps via swamp boats.

These boats generally carry approximately 22 people, though some offer smaller (and more expensive) swamp boat tours.

 

Large Swamp Boats New Orleans

 

Expect to pay at least $20/adult and $13/child (though there are occasional discounts) if you drive up to the swamps on your own.

If you add hotel pick-up, then expect to pay at least $42/adult and $21/child for transportation from downtown New Orleans.

Tours last approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, and this is consistent among all companies.  

Swamp boats offer an easy and relatively affordable way to experience New Orleans’ swamps and bayous. 


CAJUN ENCOUNTERS 

This company is probably the largest and most well known and best-reviewed outfit. They operate in the Honey Island Swamp.  New Orleans cajun encounters

They are our choice for an operator because their size means that they usually can fit you in.  

They use 22 passenger swamp boats for their public tours and have 10 passenger swamp boats for private bookings.

They offer online booking, which is not something that many other companies offer (which we find annoying).  

They also offer a seasonal night swamp tour from May through September.

They will pick-up from just about any hotel in downtown New Orleans. They have an excellent review profile, averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor.

Read our post reviewing all of Cajun Encounters tours.


Tour Start Times:

If you choose to be transported, then the pick-up times are as follows:

Pickup Time Tour Time Return Time (appr.)
8:00 – 8:30 am 9:30 am 12:45 pm
10:30 – 11:00 am 12:00 pm 3:40 pm
1:15 – 1:45 pm 2:45 pm 6:00 pm
3:30 – 4:00 pm 5:00 pm (seasonal) 7:45 pm
6:00 – 6:30 pm 7:30 pm (seasonal) 10:00 pm

 


Tickets:

  • Child tickets are for 3-12 years old.
  • 2 and under are free.

Cajun Encounters also offers combo tickets that combine swamp, plantation and city tours.

 


CAJUN PRIDE

Like Cajun Encounters, this company is focused on swamp and bayou tours.

Cajun Pride is unique from other companies in that they operate in their own private swamp, which they claim means that your boat will be alone on the water.

 

Cajun Pride Tours

 

In addition to their large swamp boats (28 passengers), they also offer a smaller boat (16 passengers).

They have a good review profile on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide (see the reviews).  

Since their tours are the Maurepas Swamp to the west of the city, this company may be a good option for those who are also planning a trip to one of the plantations.

One bonus is hotel pick-up from most New Orleans hotels.  

Read our detailed post reviewing all of Cajun Pride tours.   

Available in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian.


Ticket Prices (online prices are shown)


VIP Small Boat Tour (16 passengers)

Ticket Prices (online prices are shown)

Read our detailed post reviewing all of Cajun Pride tours.   

Tour Start Times

  • Daily all year @ 9:30 am, 12 noon, + 2:15 pm
  • 4:15 pm runs March 1 – October 1

Cajun Pride does offer a number of other great tours, including a combination ticket for $98 for Adults and $60 for Children where you get a swamp tour and a visit to either Laura Plantation or Oak Alley Plantation. 

Learn more about Oak Alley Plantation at Oak Alley Plantation Tickets, Tours and Reviews.

 


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JEAN LAFITTE SWAMP TOURS

Much like their competitors, this company operates in the Jean Lafitte Swamp, providing swamp and airboat tours around the area.

They offer their tours with or without transportation to and from the departure point, allowing you to save money by using your own car if you’d like.

Their prices are comparable to most of the other options on our list and they offer a total of 4 tours per day (10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM & 4 PM).

The main advantage of choosing this service is that their children’s tickets are very affordable.

  • Without Transportation
    • $29 – Adults
    • $12 – Child (under 13)
    • Purchase.
  • With Transportation from French Quarter
    • $52 – Adults
    • $26 – Child (under 13)

TIP: This tour is available for free with transportation from the French Quarter with the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass.


If you plan on doing a lot of different things in the city, this could be a great way to save money on a swamp tour.

 


HONEY ISLAND SWAMP TOURS (DR WAGNER’S) 

This outfit also focuses on just swamp and bayou tours. As their name makes clear, they operate in the Honey Island Swamp.  

They claim that they use small swamp boats, but they appear to use the standard 20 passenger swamp boats. They provide two options, drive-up and hotel pickup.

They also have a good review profile.  

***Online purchases are only possible on Viator***  If you visit Dr. Wagner’s website to book, you will need to fill out a form to request a tour and they will call you to confirm.  

They appear to only accept cash or check and not credit cards.

  • Without Transportation
  • With Transportation from French Quarter

Tour Start Times

  • Daily all year @ 9 am, 11:30 am + 2 pm
  • Departures from New Orleans are 7:45 am and 12:30 pm.
  • 4:30 pm runs seasonally

 


GRAY LINE SWAMP TOURS

Gray Line is a national brand with a licensee in New Orleans. Gray Line offers tours with large swamp boats as well as airboat tours.

They only offer tours with transportation from the French Quarter, which depart from their ticket office on Toulouse St. and the Mississippi River (map). 
 

There are no hotel pick-ups.  

They have a very good review profile.

Swamp and Bayou Tour Prices (as of March 2019)

This product is also part of their Swamp/Plantation combo ticket

Departure Times

  • Nov 1 – Dec 31 – 11 am & 1 pm Daily
  • Jan 1 – Feb 29 – 11 am &  1 pm Daily
  • Mar 1 – Oct 31 – 8:45 am, 10:45 am, 12:45 pm & 2:45 pm Daily
  • Nov 1 – Dec 31 – 10:45 am & 12:45 pm Daily

 


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Additional Companies:

Ultimate Swamp Adventures 

If you are considering purchasing the New Orleans Power Pass, keep in mind that this company’s swamp tour is included in the price.  

It only includes the tour and not the ride to the swamp, which you could arrange with Ultimate Swamp Adventures for an additional $15.  

Cajun Critters 

Like the other companies listed above, this company offers 2-hour swamp boat tours. This outfit heads into the Jean Lafitte Swamp, due south of the French Quarter.  

 


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AIRBOAT SWAMP TOURS

There are a few companies that offer airboat tours; They are faster than swamp boats and can be more thrilling, but they are more expensive.

The biggest advantage of airboat tours is that they are usually smaller than swamp boats and therefore can get deeper into the swamps, especially when the rivers and bayous are at low tide.

 

 

 

There are restrictions on who could take these tours, including pregnant women, children under 5, those who are physically disabled or have neck or back problems.

We include a few options below, but for a full comparison, read our post on airboat tours in New Orleans.


Louisiana Tour Company

Unlike their competitors, this company offers services both with or without transportation to the departure point. If you’re looking to save money on travel expenses, this might be your best bet. 

We like that they offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before tour time.

Some of their airboat tours include hotel pick-up as well. This is easily one of the most affordable and popular airboat tours on our list, and they operate only 35-40 miles outside of downtown New Orleans.

Duration w/ Transport: 3 ½ – 4 hours.

Large (up to 16 passengers)

Small (6-9 passengers)

NOTE: This company also offers a selection of combo packages which include tickets to plantations and tours of New Orleans. 

With a rating of between 4 ½ – 5 out of 5 stars on both Get Your Guide and TripAdvisor, it’s pretty clear that most people really enjoy the service provided by this company (read reviews here).

Guests indicate that their tour guides are very friendly and informative, providing a lot of details about the swamps and bayous in the area and giving customers a great look at the wildlife.

Visitors also appreciate the thrill of traveling through the swamps at incredibly fast speeds.

 


AIRBOAT ADVENTURES TOURS 

This outfit operates in the Jean Lafitte Swamp. They offer drive-up and hotel pickup pricing.

Like many of the swamp tour companies, they seem to not take online bookings directly.  

Prices online are not consistent, and it looks like their drive-up price for a large air-boat is cheapest on Viator. They receive excellent reviews.

Tickets

Self-drive to swamp

  • $40 – per person for large (up to 25 passengers) (book here)
    • This price is only for their 9:45 am tour.
  • $75 – small airboat (book here)

Hotel pick-up

  • $75 – per person for large
  • $95 – small airboat
  • Hotel pick-up is run by Grayline.
  • Book online here.

Departure Times

  • 9:45 am
  • 12:00 pm
  • 2:00 pm
  • They offer a seasonal 4 pm and 6 pm tour
  • Hotel pickup times are approximately 1 hour before listed departure times.

Other Companies Offering Airboat Tours:

  • Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours
  • Big Easy Swamp Adventures
  • Cajun Style Swamp Tours

 


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KAYAK AND CANOE SWAMP TOURS 

Arguably the best way to explore the swamps and bayous around New Orleans is in a kayak or canoe. No other method can get you deeper into the swamps than by small craft.  

 

 

However, you will lose range, as you will not have the benefit of a high-speed engine.  

And if you are concerned about the danger of alligators, you shouldn’t be. Alligators avoid humans unless confronted and surprised.  

Kayak and canoe tours are usually a bit more expensive than the swamp boats, but cheaper than airboats.


New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours

With an experienced guide at the helm, New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tour offers picturesque 2 – 2.5 hour narrated kayak trips through locations such as Manchac Swamp, the Pearl River, Honey Island Swamp, and Cane Bayou.  

Groups of 2 – 12 are easily accommodated, with private tours available for larger groups.

Prices start at $59/person, and transportation can be arranged when booking, for an additional fee ($20/person roundtrip from two locations in the French Quarter, or $40/person round trip from your hotel or other specified location)

Tours currently launch at 9:30, 12:30, and 3:30, and your guide will notify you via email or cell of the launch site. New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours.


Canoe and Trail Adventures 

Rated 5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor! Enjoy a 2-3 hour kayak or canoe tour through one of the last undeveloped bayous that feed into Lake Pontchartrain, while getting immersed in the ecosystem of Louisiana.

Locally owned and operated, your tour fee includes kayak/canoe rental, safety gear, waterproof cases (for phones/cameras/bags), light snacks and water, and an experienced guide.   

Groups average 10 paddlers, although larger groups are welcome – please contact the company directly for private tours and discounts.

Prices are $59/Adults and $35/Child (6-12). Transportation is available to/from New Orleans for $15/person.

Tours go out Monday, Wed, Thurs, and Friday at 10 a.m. (for those needing transportation) and 11:00 a.m for those driving.

Tuesday tours are at 11 a.m. and do not include transportation.  Canoe and Trail  Tel 504-233-0686 


Additional Companies:

  • Wild Louisiana Tours

Offering a 2 – 3 hours “Manchac Magic” kayak and canoe tours, experienced tour guides will lead guests on a relaxing, educational journey down the Manchac wetlands.

Discover the bayous and waterways that many of New Orleans’ founding fathers explored, and examine the ruins of Ruddock, LA, a now-deserted logging community.  

www.wildlouisianatours.com 

  • Kayak-Iti-Yak 

Kayak – Iti – Yak offers a 2 and 3-hour daily tour of Bayous St John and Bienvenue, as well as a 4 hour “Pontchartrain Paddle,” guaranteed to burn off all those beignets! www.kayakitiyat.com Tel  985-778-5034

  • Jean Lafitte National Park Service 

While canoeing and kayaking through the Park are definitely great ways to explore this area, the Barataria Preserve in Marrero is currently impassable, due to the overgrowth of aquatic vegetation. Be sure to check the Park’s website for more information. www.nps.gov/jela Tel 504-589-2133

 


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HIKING 

Barataria Preserve Jean Lafitte National Historical ParkAn extremely cost-effective way (if you have a car) to experience the swampland near New Orleans is to take advantage of the National Park Service, which leads hikers through the Barataria Preserve, a southern unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve located about a 30-minute drive south of the French Quarter.  

The Park Services operates a visitor center with exhibits highlighting the development of the swamp area.  

You can pick up self-guided maps here and join a regularly scheduled park ranger hike from here.

You can also pick up self-guided maps to explore on your own. A description of the hikes can be found here.

Barataria Preserve Unit, 6588 Barataria Blvd, Marrero, LA 70072 (map) (504) 689-3690 (ext. 10)

In addition to this option, you can also visit Bayou Sauvage for free and see a lot of incredible native species.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service provides both a map of the bayou and a list of the types of birds you can see in the area.
Whether you’re interested in bird watching or you want to see other animals such as alligators, this is a wonderful opportunity to get a close look at local wildlife in their natural habitat.

You’ll find Bayou Sauvage just east of New Orleans, but if you want to experience the natural beauty of Louisiana without leaving city limits, consider a trip to City Park.

Visitors are welcome to check out the Couturie Forest for free. You can expect to see various types of native birds, trees, and fish in a location that has several trails for walking and hiking.

 


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Things to do in New Orleans in January

What to Do in January in New Orleans

This post covers things to do in January in New Orleans, including free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly activities and events, updated for 2020.

 

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY

This section covers our top 10 activities that you can enjoy in New Orleans in January. 

For tips on the most popular activities in New Orleans, check out our other popular posts:

Many of these items are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

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