Must-Try Dishes Near The Brakeman Hotel

Amazing food is everywhere in New Orleans, and the area around The Brakeman Hotel is no exception. From the Creole grand dames to the contemporary wonders helmed by the award-winning chefs, you can easily check a few famous renditions of the New Orleans and southern staples off your must-try food list — without venturing far. Here are some suggestions that cover mostly Tremé, the French Quarter — but also beyond — to get you started. 

Gumbo and Jambalaya

Gumbo is one of Louisiana’s most famous dishes, but there’s no single recipe to prepare it. In New Orleans, excellent gumbo is easy to find. The chefs tend not to deviate too much from the classic Cajun and Creole recipes, and even the beaten paths would often lead you to the best gumbo you’ll likely ever taste.

The difference is whether you like your gumbo laden with meat or seafood; and with dark roux or a lighter roux. Most restaurants include at least two versions on the menu — the meat and the seafood.

Appropriately enough, the French Quarter restaurant that includes the dish in its name is a great place to try several of its varieties. Gumbo Shop (630 St. Peter St.) serves seafood and okra gumbo that is thick with shrimp and crabmeat, a smoky chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, and even gumbo z’herbes, a rarely-seen vegetarian gumbo made with greens. Cup-sized portions are available for easy sampling.

A legendary soul food restaurant, Dooky Chase’s, in Tremé (2302 Orleans Ave.), serves gumbo z’herbes as one of the staples of the late, great Chef Leah Chase. We highly recommend it, plus pretty much everything else on the stellar menu.

Staying true to the classic Creole cuisine since its inception in 1918, the fabled Arnaud’s Restaurant (813 Bienville St.) offers seafood gumbo on both its dinner and jazz brunch menus (and chicken and andouille gumbo on the jazz brunch menu).

Another beloved local institution, Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon St.), also serves two classic Creole gumbos. The seafood okra gumbo is made with shellfish stock and light roux, and is packed with Louisiana jumbo lump crabmeat and shrimp. The shredded duck and Andouille sausage gumbo is made with a dark roux and duck stock.

Gumbo Ya-Ya, a house specialty at Mr. B’s Bistro (201 Royal St.), is a Cajun country-style gumbo made with a dark roux, lots of Creole spices, chicken, and Andouille sausage. The seafood gumbo is a satisfying classic with shrimp, crabmeat and oysters.

Don’t be discouraged by the line at Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville St.): its classic menu of oysters, po-boys and gumbo is that good. Plus, you can get a cup of gumbo with half of po-boy, or as part of the New Orleans Medley, a hearty combo of gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and grilled smoked sausage. (Go ahead and chase yours with an oyster shooter of vodka or an oyster-topped Bloody Mary.)

Jambalaya is right up there with gumbo for international fame, but this flavorful rice-based dish is cooked more often at home than at restaurants. The one-pot local staple has absorbed French, Spanish, African, and Native American influences, and traditionally incorporates stock, meat, seafood, long-grain rice, and vegetables (like the “holy trinity” also used in gumbo — bell pepper, onion and celery).

The main distinction is that the Creole version has tomatoes and the Cajun recipe doesn’t. You can find one of the best versions of jambalaya at Coop’s Place (1109 Decatur St.), a local watering hole that serves excellent food until quite late at night.

Coop’s rabbit and sausage jambalaya can be upgraded to “supreme” by adding shrimp and tasso, a spicy Cajun ham smoked on premises. Please note that because Coop’s offers video poker, children under 18 are not allowed inside.

To sample jambalaya in a more upscale setting, try the version cooked up at the Pelican Club (312 Exchange Pl.), which uses the traditional ingredients of sausage, chicken and shrimp. If you just want a taste, the spicy Creole jambalaya at Napoleon House (500 Chartres St.) comes with chicken and sausage and could be ordered as an appetizer or as a side. Consider pairing it with the restaurant’s famous muffuletta and washing it down with its signature drink, Pimm’s Cup.

Po-boy and Muffuletta

A po-boy — the French-bread sandwich that is to New Orleans what the cheesesteak is to Philadelphia — comes in as many versions as there are ingredients to stuff inside a loaf. But one of the classic favorites is the fried oyster po-boy, which takes advantage of Louisiana’s abundance of bivalves and indigenous local skill in frying anything.

Johnny’s Po-Boys  (511 St. Louis St.) has been dishing them out since 1950 and, in addition to a first-class sandwich, the popular lunch spot offers a glimpse of a truly down-home po-boy joint packed with character and characters. Ask for your po-boy “dressed,” and it will come with chopped lettuce, tomato, pickles, and plenty of mayonnaise.

If you want to depart from the traditional po-boy, pop into Killer PoBoys (219 Dauphine St.). They play around with the ingredients here — the black beer beef debris, served with pickled peppers and green beans, is to die for, while the roasted sweet potato sandwich with pecan spread is great for herbivores — and the results would make a purist’s mouth water. Killer Poboys has another branch in the back of the excellent Erin Rose bar (811 Conti St.). The menu at both locations changes, so this is just a sample of what awaits.

Or venture to the very edge of the Quarter, into the orange bomb shelter that is The Orange Store (1700 N Rampart St.), also referred to as the Rampart Food Store. This neighborhood convenience store has all the atmosphere of the moon, but the fried shrimp po-boy is the stuff of culinary legend.

New Orleans’ other famous sandwich is the muffuletta (sometimes also spelled as “muffaletta”), the Italian answer to the po-boy: a round, seeded Italian loaf crammed full of cold cuts and cheeses and a big oily pile of the indispensable olive salad.

The definitive version has been made since 1906 at Central Grocery & Deli (923 Decatur St.), where the only menu choices are a whole or a half muffuletta (half is plenty for most appetites). When the weather is nice, many people take their muffuletta and a Barq’s root beer to the nearby Riverfront or Jackson Square.

Like with most signature New Orleans creations, opinions run strong when it comes to any deviation from the tradition. Some maintain that muffuletta is a cold-cut sandwich, period. Yet Verti Marte (1201 Royal St.; 504-525-4767), for example, serves its Mighty Muffuletta cold AND hot (on the hot grilled Italian bread).

Napoleon House also serves its traditional muffuletta warm. It’s one of the specialties, and is big enough for two people (you can also get it in half and quarter sizes).

And, just down the block from Central Grocery, Frank’s Restaurant (933 Decatur St.) has been winning fans for close to 60 years with its “World Famous Original Muffuletta” — which is baked and served with toasted bread and melted cheese.

Red Beans and Rice

Back in the old days, Monday was laundry day in New Orleans, and while the clothing was soaking so were the kidney beans for traditional red beans and rice. Laundry schedules may have changed, but a plate of red beans and rice with sausage is still the Monday special at diners and finer restaurants around town.

A delicious version is served every day at Buffa’s (1001 Esplanade Ave.), a New Orleans mainstay and a popular live music spot. Like all good renditions of this classic dish, the red beans are cooked down to utter softness and seasoned for a big flavor. And, like in many other local restaurants, you can get either a cup or a plate, and add meat (Buffa’s choice is smoked sausage).

Famous New Orleans Desserts

You can usually tell when someone has visited Cafe Du Monde (800 Decatur St.) by the traces of powdered sugar that inevitably sprinkle their clothing. This means they’ve indulged in the bite-sized New Orleans tradition called beignets (pronounced “ben-yea’s”), square donuts covered liberally in powdered sugar and served piping hot.

At 24/7 Cafe Du Monde, a true New Orleans fixture in the French Market that closes only for Christmas and hurricanes, the automatic accompaniment to a plate of beignets is a strong cup of café au lait.

Most visitors to New Orleans have heard of Cafe Du Monde and its beignets, but don’t miss out on another dessert New Orleans is famous for — Bananas Foster. This decadent dessert remains a staple, impressively served flambéed tableside, or in many delicious variations (as a pie, ice cream, or French toast) in some of the best restaurants in the city.

If you want to try the classic version, Brennan’s Restaurant (417 Royal St.) is the place, since it was the restaurant’s Chef, Paul Blangé, who came up with it in 1951. Chef Blangé’s version remains the original go-to recipe and is made by sautéing the bananas in butter, sugar and cinnamon, then adding rum and igniting the concoction tableside, and served over ice cream. Arnaud’s is another notable version, with more cinnamon, and big enough to share.

With all the po-boys in this town, there’s bound to be some leftover French bread. Happily, this is the main ingredient in the Creole dessert called bread pudding. At the elegant and picturesque Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St.), the bread pudding is served traditionally, spiked up with a hot whiskey sauce over the top, while the Palace Cafe (605 Canal St.) serves an excellent modern take on the dish with white chocolate baked inside. Either way, the dish makes a pleasing end to a rich dinner and an absolutely decadent finale to a courtyard brunch.

Last Word

Though New Orleans doesn’t own barbecue, seafood or fried chicken it does them all exceptionally well. Both in Tremé, the Candlelight Lounge (925 N. Robertson St.) is an excellent option for seafood (they have recurring Seafood Mondays) and brass bands, and Kermit’s Treme Mother in Law Lounge (1500 N. Claiborne Ave.) does a great BBQ, and often. The place belonged to the late R&B legend Ernie K-Doe and his wife Antoinette. When both passed, New Orleans’ now, the great Kermit Ruffins bought it and continued the tradition with live music and BBQ.

Not far away on Orleans Avenue, Greg and Mary Sonnier have reopened their famous restaurant, Gabrielle (2441 Orleans Ave.) which used to be in Mid-City on Esplanade Avenue but had been shuttered since Katrina. We recommend that you head there to sample elevated takes on Cajun food by Chef Greg. 

And, speaking of Esplanade, Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe (1500 Esplanade Ave.) is a popular choice for a casual soul-food breakfast, but you’ll find staples like gumbo, po-boys, bread pudding, and other New Orleans must-try dishes on the menu as well. 

Those were all suggestions for Tremé. Our New Orleans-wide recommendations are too numerous to mention, so we’ll just refer you to our guides to where to find the best friend chicken, crawfish, and barbecue in New Orleans.

Are You Visiting New Orleans Soon?

We’d love for you to stay with us! And if you do, consider booking a guided tour of the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans. And, for easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Take advantage of The Brakeman Hotel specials, group rates, and best-rate guarantee for greater savings to spend on New Orleans’ famous cuisine and enjoy everything this magnificent city has to offer. Reserve your room today! 


Best Bars Near The Brakeman Hotel

New Orleans is permanently wedged on the list of top cities that have the most bars per capita in the nation. With watering holes of every type, how is one to choose the best drinking option?

We’ve narrowed down the selection to standout bars near The Brakeman Hotel in Tremé and the adjacent Marigny and the French Quarter. Some are the best fit within categories (romantic, iconic, etc.) while others double as excellent music clubs. Read on, and hit them later!

The French Quarter

Let’s start with The Bombay Club (830 Conti Street) because let’s face it: You came to New Orleans to hear great music, eat great food, and drink — and in this old-school jazz and blues club, you can accomplish all three. Settle yourself into a curtained booth or deep leather chair, order a classic martini and charred hanger steak, and savor the smooth sounds of traditional jazz.

Next up, a great dive bar. Don’t be fooled by its name, Aunt Tiki’s (1207 Decatur Street) is not a tiki bar. The 24-hour, cash-only joint is a local fave, with cheap drinks and no frills.

If you are looking for an LGBTQIA+-friendly venue, Oz (800 Bourbon Street) should fit the bill. It’s a two-story with a balcony and usually a packed dance floor. Dance, drink, take in a drag show, or unwind upstairs on the balcony.

In a nutshell, Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 (329 N. Peters Street) is a Tiki-style gastropub serving up exotic drinks and island-inspired cuisine such as pineapple bread. The menu for both drinks and food isn’t extensive, but everything is done well. The drinks range from the classics like Mai Tai to the inventively named in-house creations.

The Quarter has quite a few Irish pubs, and we highly recommend  Molly’s at the Market (1107 Decatur Street). Located on lower Decatur Street, steps from Frenchmen Street’s nightlife, Molly’s on the Market serves as an ideal jumping-off point for the evening.

With old signs, T-shirts, newspaper clippings, and other paraphernalia on the walls, it has the lived-in feel of a longtime neighborhood hang. Try the frozen Irish coffee, but don’t expect a fancy craft cocktail here. Molly’s is a beer-and-a-shot type joint.

If you do want a craft cocktail, head to Bar Tonique (820 N. Rampart Street). Located on N. Rampart Street, right on the streetcar line, Tonique is a candlelit, intimate place to hit up with a date for some beautifully constructed craft cocktails.

There’s also a thoughtful mocktail menu in the weathered, brick-walled bar. On a pretty day, there’s nothing nicer than getting the second round to go and drink it in leafy Armstrong Park, which is right across the street.

Speaking of romantic, the gorgeous, candlelit Sylvain (625 Chartres Street) sells itself as a gastropub, and while the food is excellent, we don’t want to ignore the excellent drinks that are prepared behind the bar. It helps, of course, that Sylvain has an absolutely lovely courtyard, and did we mention the food? Because nothing compliments your drink like their New American rustic fare.

We can’t leave out French 75 (813 Bienville Street) from our roundup of great cocktail bars, considering this is a bar that is, hey, named for a cocktail (although interestingly, the French 75 was not invented here — that honor goes to Paris, France).

French 75 is located inside Arnaud’s Restaurant and has a fantastic cocktail list that includes both New Orleans classics and some fruit-inspired goodness — the perfect compliment to a hot New Orleans day. There’s also an elegant small-place bar menu with French fare like escargot and the restaurant’s signature shrimp Arnaud.

The interior of the bar is as lovely as the drinks that come out of it — this is a true grand dame New Orleans institution, accented in dark woods and elegant furniture such that you feel as if you’re drinking in a particularly well-appointed parlor.

Let’s round up the French Quarter picks with Black Penny (700 N. Rampart Street). If you’ve got a big group of friends and need a chill bar to sink beer and cocktails, it’s hard to do better than the Penny, which sits at the edge of the Quarter.

It’s also notable for both friendly bartenders, good prices, strong drinks, and a fantastic selection of craft beer (most of which is served by the can). Unlike a lot of Quarter bars, the Penny is pretty spacious, so you’ve got room to mingle, but there are booths and seating for those who want to make a more intimate night of it. Worth noting: This spot also happens to have excellent top-shelf scotch, and is publicly and loudly LGBTQIA+-friendly.

Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street. Photo by Stephen McCarthy via Flickr

The Marigny

Since you are steps away from the Marigny neighborhood, we recommend that you hit up Frenchmen Street. Bars there double as music clubs — from divey to elegant — and you won’t regret it.

But first, be on the lookout for Check Point Charlie (501 Esplanade Ave). This may look like a rough punk music bar (and it still is, in a lot of ways) from the outside, but management attracts a pretty wide range of clientele.

Check Point Charlie feels pretty divey, but once inside, the music is almost always wonderful. An added bonus: Check Point sells amazing cheeseburgers throughout the evening.

Just around the corner (and technically not on Frenchmen, but worth noting) is the Dragon’s Den (435 Esplanade Avenue), one of the city’s standout music clubs. You won’t get any PreHall-style Dixieland jazz here — the Den, which has been featured in TV shows like True Detective, is all about an eclectic range of music, from DJ nights to reggae to Latin dance parties.

The Maison (508 Frenchmen Street) is a relatively new bar compared to some of its neighbors on this street, yet it is one of the major centers of gravity for local live music. Jazz acts take over the large front area, where you can order excellent imbued spirits from behind the bar.

Further down the street, we come across Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen), one of the city’s great jazz clubs. There’s never really an off night here, although you can get acts ranging from raucous brass band dance parties to soulful crooners but make sure to check the online schedule before you pop in.

Cafe Negril (606 Frenchmen) is one of our favorite spots for reggae and dancehall music in the city, and, across the street, the Apple Barrel Bar (609 Frenchmen) is easily the smallest, most intimate venue on the strip.

We continue this trip with three excellent jazz clubs: d.b.a. (618 Frenchmen), with its enormous beer and whiskey menu and consistent lineup of great acts; Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen), the classiest jazz joint in the neighborhood, where you can enjoy a dinner with your show; and The Spotted Cat Music Club (623 Frenchmen), a club where you can groove to some of the most talented live acts in the city.

Image courtesy of the Historic Faubourg Tremé Association via Facebook


Treme is said to be the birthplace of jazz, and it’s still a great place to hear live music. The Candlelight Lounge (925 N. Robertson Street) is an excellent option for Creole food and brass bands. Kermit’s Treme Mother in Law Lounge (1500 N. Claiborne Avenue) belonged to the late R&B and jazz legend Ernie K-Doe and his wife Antoinette. When both passed, Kermit Ruffins bought it and continued the tradition with live music and BBQ.

Are You Visiting New Orleans Soon?

We’d love for you to stay with us! And if you do, consider booking a guided tour of the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans. And, for easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Take advantage of The Brakeman Hotel specials, group rates, and best-rate guarantee for greater savings to spend on New Orleans’ famous cuisine and enjoy everything this magnificent city has to offer. Reserve your room today!

Exploring St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Photo courtesy of Cemetery Tour New Orleans at Basin St. Station on Facebook

Former New Orleanian William Faulker famously wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. It’s not even past.” Nowhere is this truth more evident than in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. In this storied “city of the dead,” elaborate, crumbling above-ground graves hint at the stories of the larger-than-life personalities entombed within. As is true for many places in New Orleans, the veil between past and present feels very thin here.

It’s no wonder St. Louis Cemetery attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year. Some come to see the final resting place for Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, while others come to tend the graves of loved ones interred within (St. Louis Cemetery remains an active gravesite).

Still, others come to experience the city’s living history via a stroll through its oldest cemetery (St. Louis Cemetery was built in 1789). Regardless of your motivation, a trip to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without visiting St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

One caveat: Unlike most other New Orleans cemeteries, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is accessible only via the official, guided, licensed tour. That’s because the cemetery has been subject to much vandalism over the years. The tour tickets are $25 for adults and $18 for children.

Tickets are available here:


Photo courtesy of Cemetery Tour New Orleans at Basin St. Station on Facebook

Here are a few things to know and prominent gravesites to watch out for.

The History of the Cities of the Dead

Above-ground burials are just one of New Orleans’  idiosyncrasies, but they don’t exist solely for the sake of uniqueness. The city’s high water table makes in-ground burials impossible — a coffin buried underground simply floats back up to the top.

Once located at the marshy city limits, St. Louis Cemetery is now near the center of the city, thanks to the draining of the swamps, which permitted people to settle beyond the French Quarter.

One of the first things you’ll see when you enter St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is a bank of “oven vaults” or “wall vaults” to your left. These tombs stack gravesites, filing cabinet style, one above the other. Glance at the ground, and you’ll see some graves are only partially visible — the rest are below the earth, evidence that New Orleans is gradually sinking.

Many oven vaults house the remains of countless family members. After a body is interred, it is left undisturbed in the grave for a period of one year and one day. At that point, the remains may be pushed to the back of the tomb, leaving room for another body to be interred. Other families prefer to collect the remains, placing them in a muslin bag.

“The future tomb of Nicolas Cage” – St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 by Nelo Hotsuma

The Cemetery’s Prominent Gravesites

If you wish to be buried in this famous graveyard, you can make it happen, but it will cost you. It’s not unreasonable though when you consider the people who will become your neighbors for eternity. They include…

Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau

Born in 1801 in the French Quarter to a Haitian mother and white father, Marie Laveau gained prominence as a Voodoo practitioner. The beautiful young woman was also a hairdresser to the wealthy, learning many beauty tricks and herbal remedies from her mother.

She was known for her caring and benevolent heart, as she nursed many people who suffered during the yellow fever epidemics of the 19th century. She saved countless lives, and to this day, people think of her with gratitude.

Many believe she continues to work her magic from beyond the grave. That’s why you’ll see faint triple XXXs etched into her grave — a practice that is actively discouraged — or trinkets such as bobby pins left in threes. (Bobby pins and hair clips are an homage to Laveau’s past work as a hairdresser.)

Homer Plessy

In June 1892, Homer Plessy challenged segregation laws when he refused to disembark from a “whites only” train car at nearby Press Street. (A train still runs on those tracks today.) Plessy was convicted of breaking the law, and the case moved to the Supreme Court.

In 1896, the “separate but equal” mandate was ruled constitutional, setting the stage for years of segregation and oppression. But the seeds of the civil rights movement also had been planted, thanks to Homer Plessy.

Nicolas Cage

No, he’s not dead yet. Nicolas Cage is 60 years old (in 2024) and seems to be in good health. However, he’s thinking about the future, which is one explanation for why he purchased a gleaming white, nine-foot pyramid inscribed with the Latin phrase “Omnia Ab Uno” (“All from One”).

The gravesite has baffled news outlets worldwide, whose reporters have come up with many different conspiracy theories. Among them: Cage is a closet Voodoo practitioner; Cage has Illuminati ties; Cage is an immortal who will entomb himself for a century before re-emerging; Cage has stored his wealth in the tomb.

Nobody really knows why he chose a tomb that’s so incongruous with its surroundings, but we do know it’s a very eye-catching construction, and that Cage evidently loves New Orleans.

Photo by Kathryn Valentino

What Else You Need to Know About Touring the Cemetery

Proper dress is crucial, especially if you are visiting in the summer. New Orleans’ hot, humid subtropical climate can get to anyone, so avoid overheating by dressing lightly, bringing water, and using sunscreen. Consider wearing a sun hat or bringing an umbrella. There’s little shade in the cemetery, and vaults block any possibility of a breeze.

Also, there’s no smoking or drinking alcohol during the tour. And, it should go without saying, don’t touch or desecrate the tombs.

However, photography is allowed, so snap away!

Are You Visiting New Orleans Soon?

We’d love for you to stay with us! And if you do, besides touring the cemetery, for easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Take advantage of The Brakeman Hotel specials, group rates, and best-rate guarantee for greater savings to spend on New Orleans’ famous cuisine and enjoy everything this magnificent city has to offer. Reserve your room today!

Must-See Museums Near The Brakeman Hotel

Photo courtesy of New Orleans Pharmacy Museum on Facebook

When you think of New Orleans, food, music and joie de vivre probably come to mind first. But think about it: A city with a history spanning over 300 years must have at least a few quality museums. More than that, New Orleans excels at visitor-friendly educational institutions that will surpass your expectations.

And if you are a history buff, a handful of our local museums should be on your must-visit list. Plus, visiting a museum might provide a much-needed break from the heat or will let you wait out one of our intense downpours.

Read on to find out what we consider must-see museums near the hotel. Most are located in the nearby French Quarter but don’t miss one gem in Tremé. We also have a couple of suggestions if you decide to venture farther from the hotel.

Must-See Museums in the French Quarter

In the French Quarter, most museums have a New Orleans, or at least Louisiana-based, focus. Note that we’re not including the Museum of Death and the Historic Voodoo Museum in this article. While both locales are undoubtedly fun to visit, they’re more tourist attractions than dedicated educational institutions.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana State Museum on Facebook

The Cabildo

Jackson Square

Once the seat of the Spanish colonial government in New Orleans, The Cabildo is now a part of the Louisiana State Museum system. The three floors of this grand structure contain exhibits on state history, ranging from Native American artifacts to profiles of different New Orleans immigrant groups to sober displays on the local slave trade. By dint of its possessions, infrastructure and display content, this is one of the top museums in the city.

The main hall of the building, the Sala Capitular (“Meeting Room”), is a gorgeous space in its own right, offering views out unto the Quarter and the Mississippi River. The room also once served as a courtroom and was the scene of many seminal court cases, including Plessy vs. Ferguson.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana State Museum on Facebook

The Presbytere

Jackson Square

Located almost adjacent to The Cabildo, The Presbytere — so named because it houses clergy members — is also a part of the Louisiana State Museum family. Here, the focus is less on Louisiana history and more on the culture and folkways of the Carnival season, from “krewes” (Mardi Gras parading societies) to the costumes associated with Courir de Mardi Gras in Cajun country. There is also a large permanent exhibition on the impact of Hurricane Katrina, and the city’s post-storm recovery, making a visit here a powerful hybrid experience of celebration, grief and resilience.

1850 House

Jackson Square

Located in the Lower Pontalba Building on Jackson Square, the 1850 house is a glimpse into the well-manicured living conditions of a middle-class 19th-century, free New Orleans family. The city was at the height of its economic power and influence at the time, and the free population enjoyed a standard of living unmatched in much of the United States.

Photo courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection on Facebook

The Historic New Orleans Collection

533 Royal Street

The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC), a non-profit dedicated to the study of the city, includes a network of historic structures that contain both permanent and temporary exhibitions on regional history. Visitors can explore the Royal Street campus for free or take tours of THNOC’s large collection of preserved properties; the experience speaks to both the historical events of the city and its architectural legacy. Note that THNOC also offers a smartphone app tour, and hosts a long and packed calendar of events and lectures.

Photo courtesy of New Orleans Pharmacy Museum on Facebook

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

514 Chartres Street

Long a favorite of locals, the Pharmacy Museum, located in an 1823-era drug store, is a peek into both the city’s history and the general medical oddities of the 19th century. Inside, visitors learn about questionable medical practices from back in the day — who wants some pills coated in lead paint? Or the insertion of a metal catheter? And don’t get us started on the forceps. The prescription book that old pharmacists once used to keep track of their patients’ medicine is a triumph of ingenuity and engineering in its own right.

New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint

400 Esplanade Avenue

A handsome example of Greek Revival architecture in its own right, the Old U.S. Mint produced gold and silver coinage for both the United and Confederate States during its long history as a currency production center. Today it houses the New Orleans Jazz Museum with its exhibitions on jazz music in New Orleans and special events, all under the auspices of the Louisiana State Museum.

Photo courtesy of Hermann-Grima House on Facebook

Hermann-Grima House and Gallier House

820 St Louis Street

These two historic homes and their attached slave quarters are some of the best-preserved historic structures in the French Quarter. Visitors can learn about the relative opulence enjoyed by the residents of these homes, as well as the conditions of the enslaved workforce that made their lives of comfort possible. A good chunk of the artifacts in both Hermann-Grima House and Gallier House can be traced to the 19th century. Of the many historical homes in the French Quarter, these two buildings are some of our favorites.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

916 N. Peters Street

While it’s not technically a museum (although it does contain some small exhibitions on-site), this branch of the National Park system includes knowledgeable ranger staff who lead tours and lectures that explore the long history of local music and culture. Check the Park’s website for information on live performances.

Image courtesy of Illustrated in Blue licensed under CC BY 2.0

Backstreet Cultural Museum in Tremé

1531 St. Philip Street

Located in Tremé, the Backstreet Cultural Museum must be the most unique museum in the city. Inside, local residents lead visitors through an exploration of the New Orleans “backstreet” — the unique cultural folkways of the city’s African-American population.

Because of its location at the edge of the Caribbean, and a French-Creole history that allowed for the observation of certain traditions, New Orleans’ African-American culture includes a plethora of practices — from second line parades to Mardi Gras Indians — that simply cannot be found anywhere else in the world. With that said, traces of West African heritage can be detected at many levels, from costuming beadwork to the syncopated beat of local parade chants.

Can’t get enough of museums? Check out our guide to the city’s Mardi Gras museums, from a lovingly curated collection at Arnaud’s to the sprawling Mardi Gras World.

Going Farther

We have two more recommendations, the National World War II Museum (located within the Warehouse District, and an easy walk from Canal Street) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (located in City Park, about 15 minutes from the French Quarter by car). Both of these museums are more universal in scope in terms of their respective fields of knowledge (World War II and fine art).

Are You Visiting New Orleans Soon?

We’d love for you to stay with us! And if you do, consider booking a guided tour of the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans. And, for easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Take advantage of The Brakeman Hotel specials, group rates, and best-rate guarantee for greater savings to spend on New Orleans’ famous cuisine and enjoy everything this magnificent city has to offer. Reserve your room today!

Things to Do in New Orleans: Year at a Glance

The New Orleans dance card is full all year round, from major music and culture events like Jazz Fest to honoring just about every type of food we enjoy in Louisiana with its own festival, to the unique traditions like Super Sunday and Reveillon. Check out these annual events grouped by the season.

Winter (December 1 – February 28)

The weather is mild, the streetcars are decked with wreaths, and the city is alight with the holiday sparkle. The family-friendly Celebration in the Oaks and NOLA Christmasfest keep the dazzle going. The Christmasfest is the only indoor Christmas festival in the area, taking over the Convention Center starting in the third week of December and wrapping on New Year’s Eve. The fest features giant slides, inflatables, rides, a gingerbread house display, and New Orleans’ only ice-skating rink.

Celebration in the Oaks is a beloved New Orleans tradition that has been around for decades. It’s a dazzling display of holiday lights scattered throughout the 25 acres of the City Park, including the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.

The park is swathed in hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, with hundreds of visitors strolling through the grounds, riding the historic carousel and the miniature train, photo-opping with the iconic Mr. Bingle, and enjoying the caroling and the holiday shopping. Celebration in the Oaks typically opens on Thanksgiving weekend and runs up to the first week of January.

During the second weekend of December, the LUNA Fête light show illuminates the Convention Center. The annual large-scale light and sound installations are fascinating, and the fest is free and family-friendly.

The bonfires on the bayou, concerts at St. Louis Cathedral, and Reveillon dinners are also the New Orleans holiday traditions that make the season so special.

The New Year’s Eve celebrations in New Orleans include the Dick Clark Rockin’ New Year’s Eve at the historic JAX Brewery in the French Quarter, with a fleur-de-lis drop at midnight to the countdown on Jackson Square, followed by the fireworks over the Mississippi River and the night of revelry.

Just when the rest of the country settles down we’re just getting started, with the Twelfth Night marking the beginning of the Carnival season (always on January 6) with three parades. Phunny Phorty Phellows board the St. Charles streetcar line Uptown and ride it to Canal Street and back, with toasts and revelry along the way.

In the French Quarter, the Krewe of Joan of Arc walking parade rolls from JAX Brewery and celebrates St. Joan’s birthday with medieval pageantry. Société Des Champs Elysée rounds up the night of festivities. Time for the first beads of Mardi Gras and King cake!

Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) always falls on a Tuesday, but the actual dates, occurring sometime between February 3 and March 9, change every year depending on Easter, tied to the Catholic calendar and counting 47 days before Easter Sunday. In 2025, Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, March 4, and there’s much to see and do.

Once that’s over, it’s time to celebrate Valentine’s Day in one of the most romantic cities in the country! Need ideas of what to do as a couple near the hotel, in the Uptown area of New Orleans? We have suggestions!

February also marks the popular Tet Fest, which celebrates the Lunar New Year with the help of the largest Vietnamese communities in the country.

Spring (March 1 – May 31)

The lovely weather brings the festival season this time of year, with the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival (don’t miss the “Stella!” shouting contest on Jackson Square), Wednesday at the Square, and the Congo Square Rhythms Festival in March.

Also on the menu is the massive annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, including several parades and block parties, and the Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday, a treasured tradition dating back to the 19th century and held on Sunday closest to St. Joseph’s Day (March 19).

The spring’s heaviest hitter is, of course, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, with its multiple stages and excellent lineup. The Bayou Boogaloo is held over three days in late May on the picturesque banks of Bayou St. John in Mid-City, and the Freret Street Festival in March is getting bigger every year.

Then there is the immensely popular French Quarter Festival, held in April. It’s one of the largest free music festivals in the U.S., with multiple stages set throughout the French Quarter.

Crescent City Classic, the annual 10K run, is one of the largest athletic events in New Orleans. It’s usually held on the Saturday before Easter Sunday each year. Runners take off from Jackson Square, run through the French Quarter and the Tremé, then up the majestic Esplanade Avenue all the way to City Park. And don’t miss NOLA on Tap (the largest beer fest in the Gulf South that benefits the LA SPCA).

Ready for more parades? New Orleans is one of the most Catholic cities in the country, and it celebrates Easter (Sunday, March 31, 2024) with three big parades, brunches, and parties all over the city.

Summer (June 1 – August 31)

Hotel rates are at their lowest and there’s plenty to do indoors to escape the heat. Presented by the Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the Louisiana Cajun Zydeco Festival is a free weekend event held at Louis Armstrong Park in June. The best restaurants and bars in town celebrate Restaurant Week New Orleans in June, the ever-growing Tales of the Cocktail in July, and COOLinary New Orleans with prix fixe menus in August. You can also browse the galleries on the White Linen Night (or a week later and also on a Saturday, the Dirty Linen Night).

The city comes to life for the Satchmo SummerFest and a slew of events over the Fourth of July and the Labor Day weekends, like Go 4th on the River and the ESSENCE Festival at the Superdome.

The French Market Creole Tomato Festival is one the smaller fests to enjoy, and Running of the Bulls brings Encierro to New Orleans, except the bulls are the Big Easy Rollergirls! And, speaking of running, the Red Dress Run, held on the second Saturday of August, is a fun fundraiser to don the red outfit and brave the heat.

Fall (September 1 – November 30)

The temps are down and it’s time to hit the city’s parks and squares, starting over the Labor Day weekend with the massive and fabulous Southern Decadence, a popular festival that celebrates LGBTQIA+ with block parties, shows, and a parade.

The endless stream of fests continues with Tremé Fall Festival, Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, and the National Fried Chicken Festival. There’s also the New Orleans Film Festival, which is one of the largest film festivals in the South and is the longest-running festival of its kind in the state.

November brings more food festivals — the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival and the Beignet Festival at the New Orleans City Park Festival Grounds. Phew!

Also, New Orleans throws its version of Oktoberfest over the three weekends at Deutsches Haus in Mid-City, to celebrate the city’s rich German history, followed by one of the best-attended art events in the city, Art for Art’s Sake.

Held on the first Saturday in October, Art for Art’s Sake has grown and into a citywide phenomenon since the ‘80s, packed with openings at Julia Street galleries and special events along Magazine Street.

The fall in New Orleans also means the Saints football. New Orleans does Halloween like no other city, including the kid-friendly Krewe of Boo.

Rounding up the fall festivities is a four-day feast of events, when the Tigers of Grambling State meet the Jaguars of Southern University for the annual Bayou Classic, starting with a Thanksgiving parade and featuring a slew of amazing marching bands.

Thanksgiving Day is also a traditional opening of the season at the racetrack, when the locals and visitors alike don their most elaborate and outrageous hats and stream to the Fair Grounds, kicking off the holiday season in a uniquely New Orleans style.

As you can see, there’s something always going on in New Orleans throughout the year, and we’d love to see you no matter what season. Take advantage of The Brakeman Hotel’s specials, group rates, and best-rate guarantee for greater savings to spend on New Orleans famous cuisine and enjoying everything this magnificent city has to offer. Reserve your room today!

Also, consider booking a guided tour of the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans. And, for easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans

Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

There’s plenty of Irish in this town, so the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day is an important one for the city of New Orleans. Several parades kick off, including the infamous Irish Channel Parade, where float riders pass cabbages to the screaming crowds. Also, the Downtown Irish Club Parade rolls from the Bywater to the French Quarter, making several pit stops on its way to Bourbon Street.

Here’s what to expect during the nearly two weeks’ worth of festivities, including block parties, balcony parties, and, of course, parades.

St. Patrick’s Day Events in New Orleans

Downtown Irish Club Annual Grand Marshall Party Bus

Saturday, March 9, 2024, 1:30-4 p.m.

The club will be meeting at the Ugly Dog Saloon (401 Andrew Higgins Blvd.) and will head out on a party bus for a “mobile bar crawl.” There are about five scheduled pub stops before the bus returns the revelers to the Ugly Dog Saloon. You don’t have to be a club member to ride, though you are asked to wear “traditional Irish colors, your parade tuxedo, or kilt for this ride.” The cost is $25 per person and includes free Guinness at each stop and on the bus. You can reserve your seat on the club’s website.

Germans Go Irish

Sunday, March 10, 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Deutsches Haus (1700 Moss St.) in the Bayou St. John area of Mid-City is throwing a party to celebrate Ireland’s Patron Saint as they do in the small villages in the Old Country: with a Céilí (a gathering). Expect traditional Irish food like cabbage, soda bread, and Guinness beef stew served over colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes), plus Celtic musicians, Irish dancers, bagpipers, and other family-friendly activities. The event is free except for the Beth Patterson concert at 5:30 p.m. (You can get tickets online on the venue’s website or at the door).

Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Saturday, March 16, 2024, 1-6 p.m.

The parade begins on the corner of Felicity and Magazine streets around 1 p.m. The parade rolls up Jackson Avenue, turning onto St. Charles Avenue, turning onto Louisiana Avenue, and back onto Magazine Street. Throws include green beads and doubloons, plus the makings of Irish stew (minus the beef). So watch out for flying cabbages (yes, seriously). There is also a block party located at Annunciation Square, near Chippewa and Race streets.

Parasol’s Block Party

Saturday, March 16, 2024, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Parasol’s (2533 Constance St.) annual party Uptown features live music, food, easy parade access, and yes, green beer. It’s a popular party, so wear green and arrive early.

St. Patrick’s Day Italian American Viewing Balcony Party

Saturday, March 16, 2024, 7-10 p.m.

Cornet Restaurant (700 Bourbon St.) hosts a balcony view of that night’s Italian American Parade with three hours of unlimited drinks and Cajun and Creole food in the French Quarter. Tickets are $150-$200. Please note that Cornet is also hosting a St. Patrick’s Day balcony party the day after, on Sunday, March 17 (the setup, hours, and offerings are the same).

Downtown Irish Club St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Sunday, March 17, 2024, 6:30 p.m.

This annual parade starts as usual at Washington Park in the Marigny (700 Elysian Fields Ave.) after a pre-gaming at Marigny Brasserie (corner of Frenchmen St. and Royal St.) beginning at 4 p.m. The route remains the same every year, as are the bar stops. The after-party at the Ugly Dog Saloon will feature live music.

As you can see, there’s plenty to see and do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s not limited to Uptown or the French Quarter. Speaking of, check out our guide on how to spend St. Patrick’s Day without leaving the French Quarter, plus our list of highly recommended Irish pubs in the French Quarter.

St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery

Are you visiting New Orleans this spring? Take advantage of The Brakeman Hotel’s specials, group rates, and best-rate guarantee for greater savings to spend on New Orleans famous cuisine and enjoy everything this magnificent city has to offer. Reserve your room today!

Also, consider booking a guided tour of the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to experience the hauntingly beautiful past of New Orleans. And, for easy, informative sightseeing, we recommend the City Sightseeing New Orleans city tour on the open-top, double-decker bus. It runs every 30 minutes through the Garden District, French Quarter, and CBD. You can hop on and off anytime!

Happy spring!

Top Attractions Near The Brakeman Hotel

If you’re staying at The Brakeman Hotel in Tremé, across the street from the French Quarter, you’re already immersed in history. Our hotel is historic too, since it’s located in Basin St. Station, which was the original Norfolk Southern Railway station (circa 1904), the last remaining train station in the city (you can find more details in our “Guest Guide to The Brakeman Hotel Tremé New Orleans.”

Tremé has a lot to offer in terms of history (more on that below), and we don’t need to tell you that the more than 300-year-old French Quarter is a treasure trove of important landmarks and attractions. You’re just steps away from Jackson Square, The Cabildo, and the iconic St. Louis Cathedral, and even strolling around informally, you’ll discover storied landmarks just about anywhere you go.

So, you are here. Welcome! Perhaps you are a history buff or just want to explore what awaits outside the lobby door of The Brakeman. Where do you go? Do you turn left or right? In a city as aware of its living past as New Orleans it might seem overwhelming — even if you’ve come prepared, with a bucket list in hand.

We are here to help. You can always ask for local insider tips and recommendations at the front desk. Also, read on. Here are our top choices for attractions near The Brakeman Hotel. Although it might feel like we’re just scratching the surface, we will never steer you wrong. Here’s a primer, so to speak, starting with Tremé and followed by the French Quarter. If you want more information on the Central Business District (CBD) and the Marigny, read our guide to the “Neighborhoods Near the French Quarter.”

Top Attractions in Tremé

The Brakeman Hotel is located in a historic neighborhood of Tremé. The 442-acre Tremé is defined by Esplanade Avenue to the east, North Rampart Street to the south, St. Louis Street to the west, and North Broad Street to the north.

It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, settled in the late 18th century and heavily populated by Creoles and free people of color. The area was named after Claude Tremé, a French hatmaker and real estate developer who migrated from Burgundy in 1783.

What is it like today? Tremé is known for its music clubs and soul food spots (some double as both), Creole architecture, and cultural centers celebrating the neighborhood’s African-American and Creole heritage. It’s a vibrant, diverse neighborhood, home of many a second-line parade and the star of popular HBO’s namesake series.

Here are a few “must-visit” attractions within walking distance, or a short car or bike ride away.  The beautiful St. Augustine Church is the most famous African American Catholic church in the city (though not the oldest). It was founded by free people of color in 1842. Don’t miss the Tomb of the Unknown Slave, a tribute to the victims of the African diaspora, located on the church grounds at 1210 Governor Nicholls Street. Two blocks away, on the same street, is the New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History.

Tremé is also home to the excellent Recreation Community Center which has a big indoor pool and a fitness center. You’ll find an incredible collection of Mardi Gras Indian costumes and other cultural memorabilia at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, founded (and manned for many years) by Sylvester Francis.

The Backstreet Cultural Museum is as unique as the city itself. It explores the rites and practices of the city’s African American population that are also interwoven with the French-Creole history of New Orleans. You’ll be led on an unforgettable tour of memorabilia indigenous to Mardi Gras, jazz funerals, second lines, Super Sunday, and other traditions that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery

One of the city’s most famous “cities of the dead,” St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, is located at Basin and St. Louis Streets. (You may remember it from Easy Rider.) Civil rights activist Homer Plessy and voodoo queen Marie Laveau are buried in this cemetery, which was founded in 1789. We recommend booking a guided tour to learn more about this incredible historic place.

Across N. Rampart Street from the French Quarter stretches the 32-acre Louis Armstrong Park, home to the iconic Congo Square, Armstrong’s statue, and several annual food and music festivals. Those include the Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival and the Congo Square Rhythms Festival. At 1419 Basin Street, you’ll find the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, where you can catch shows featuring everyone from local performers to top touring national acts.

Tremé is said to have invented jazz, and it’s still a great place to hear live music. The Candlelight Lounge is an excellent option for Creole food and brass bands. Kermit’s Tremé Mother in Law Lounge on N. Claiborne belonged to the late R&B and jazz legend Ernie K-Doe and his wife Antoinette. When both passed, Kermit Ruffins bought it and continued the tradition with live music and BBQ.

Want to sample some local soul food? Head to the legendary Dooky Chase’s. The late chef Leah Chase’s Creole staples include gumbo z’herbes, which is not easy to find on the restaurant menus in the city. It’s a meatless version of gumbo made with several types of greens. Beyond gumbo, the menu features New Orleans and Southern staples like BBQ shrimp, Gulf seafood, and amazing Southern fried chicken.

Not far away on Orleans Avenue, owners Greg and Mary Sonnier gave another life to their famous restaurant, Gabrielle, which used to be in Mid-City on Esplanade Avenue but has been shuttered after Katrina. And, speaking of Esplanade, Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe is a popular choice for a casual soul-food breakfast.

This concludes our little tour of the top Tremé attractions, though there’s much more to explore there!

Top Attractions in the French Quarter

Much has been written about the mindblowing variety of options for what to see, eat, drink, and do in the French Quarter, so we’ll refer you to our comprehensive guides, to help you decide what and how to explore the French Quarter. The sightseeing, museum and nightlife choices include famous streets like Bourbon and Chartres streets. Dining opportunities also abound, including eating on a budget and finding late-night options.

Are you on a romantic trip? Need to find things to do on a rainy day? Check out our guides, including which annual New Orleans events not to miss, organized by the season.

Here are a few must-see attractions and landmarks in the French Quarter that are on top of our list.

St. Louis Cathedral

Jackson Square

751 Decatur Street

This timeless landmark is located in the heart of the French Quarter. Known since the 18th century as Place d’Armes, it was renamed in honor of Andrew Jackson following the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. Jackson’s bronze statue is the focal point of the square, surrounded by lavish flora and facing the Mississippi River.

Jackson Square is also a host to the open-air artist market and performance space, with local art displayed along the fence. You can have your sketch done, dance to a brass band, or have your fortune told. Carriage rides are offered in front of the square. When you cross the street to the riverside, you’ll find the French Market, Cafe Du Monde, The Shops at JAX Brewery, and more.

Pontalba Buildings

St. Louis Cathedral

615 Pere Antoine Alley

St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. It stands between its two historic neighbors, The Cabildo and The Presbytere, overlooking Jackson Square and the block-long row of the Pontalba Buildings. St. Louis Cathedral is one of the most instantly recognizable buildings in the world, its famous steeples showing up on many a postcard and in quite a few films.

The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France was built in 1724 and had been rebuilt twice after a hurricane and a fire. It was dedicated in 1794 and has enjoyed an illustrious and eventful history. One of its most famous caretakers was Pere Antoine, a popular Capuchin priest who had been pastor of the Cathedral from 1785 to 1790 and again from 1795 to the time of his death in 1829.

You can check out the Cathedral’s stunning interior during its hours of operation, and attend a mass or a music concert. If you’re just passing by, depending on the time of day, you may get to hear its bell or witness an occasional wedding party spilling out of the Cathedral, followed by a second line.

The Cabildo

The Cabildo and The Presbytere

701 & 751 Chartres Street, Jackson Square

Did you know that the 1803 Louisiana Purchase was signed at the Cabildo? This historic building served as the seat of government during the Spanish colonial rule, and was built to replace the building claimed by the fire in 1794.

Standing tall right next to St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo is now part of the Louisiana State Museum. It houses such precious artifacts as a painting of Marie Laveau by Frank Schneider; a self-portrait by Julien Hudson, an antebellum artist and free man of color; and Napoleon’s death mask, one of only four in the world.

On the other side of St. Louis cathedral is The Presbytere, built in 1791 in the style to match the Cabildo. It’s called “The Presbytere” because it was built on the site of one, which served as a residence for Capuchin monks. The building served as a courthouse in the late 19th century and is now also part of the Louisiana State Museum, just like The Cabildo.

The Presbytere houses several permanent exhibits, including the magnificent “Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana,” which tells the story of the Carnival traditions in Louisiana, including Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras, Zulu coconut throws, 19th century Rex ball costumes, and much more. “The Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond” exhibit documents the natural disaster, its aftermath, and the ongoing recovery with interactive displays and artifacts.

French Market

French Market

2 French Market Place

French Market was founded in 1791 as a Native American trading post and has been operating continually since, making it the oldest public market in the country. Similar in structure to a traditional European market, this open-air mall covers roughly five blocks, from Cafe du Monde on Decatur St. across from Jackson Square to the daily flea market at the end of Esplanade Avenue.

Many retail shops and restaurants surround it in every direction. The flea market area hosts dozens of local artisans, plus vendors from all over the world. You’ll find souvenirs, handmade masks and jewelry, t-shirts, music, and more.

French Market also includes a small pedestrian plaza on Dumaine and St. Phillip streets called the Dutch Alley. The food stands at the Farmers Market Pavilion offer a slew of spices, produce and local food that is uniquely New Orleans — from pralines to oysters to the beignet mix or the hot sauce you’d want to take home. The Farmers Market also hosts the annual Creole Tomato Festival to celebrate its harvest.

The Riverfront

1 Toulouse Street

You can access the mile-long riverfront very easily from the Jackson Square area. There you will find the grassy Woldenberg Park and a walkway called the Moonwalk, named after the former New Orleans mayor Maurice “Moon” Landrieu.

Woldenberg Park is a popular spot to watch the 4th of July fireworks. It also hosts one of the largest stages during the annual French Quarter Festival, which takes place in April.

Stroll along the Moonwalk to view public art, like the Holocaust Memorial, and watch the boats go by. The Riverwalk is also home to two popular family-friendly attractions, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Insectarium.

Bourbon Street, French Quarter

That much is true: Bourbon Street is home to one of the wildest nightly street parties in the country. It’s well known for its karaoke and burlesque clubs, bars that never seem to close, and crowds milling about round the clock. This endless party vibe makes Bourbon Street a great destination for your bachelor party, a girls’ night out, spring break, a couple’s getaway — and any other cause for celebration.

It is also one of the oldest streets in the country, a vivid example of Spanish colonial architecture dating back to 1798 and steeped in history, magic and legends. Bourbon Street is home to the city’s most iconic destinations like Galatoire’s and the Old Absinthe House. One of the best jazz clubs in the country, if not the world, also has a Bourbon Street address. Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub is located in a historic 1831 building and hosts live, traditional jazz performances nightly, attracting jazz aficionados from all over the globe.

Second line in front of the Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

941 Bourbon Street

This ancient, at least by North American standards, bar is housed in a Creole cottage on the corner of Bourbon and St. Philip streets. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop was built between 1722 and 1732, and it’s said to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the U.S. It’s also said to have been used by the infamous Lafitte Brothers, Jean and Pierre, as a base for their smuggling operation in Barataria, operating as a facade for the privateers. We won’t likely know the truth beyond the legend, but the bar is dripping in magic and history, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

Old Absinthe House

Old Absinthe House

240 Bourbon Street

For nearly 200 years, the Old Absinthe House bar has been a staple for New Orleanians. Here you will find antique chandeliers, along with jerseys and helmets of football legends.

Authentic marble fountains with brass faucets that were once used to drop water over sugar cubes into glasses of absinthe align the bar that seats patrons along the rail. You will have the chance to sample a wide variety of fine malt scotches, house specialties, and, of course, absinthe at this eccentric and historically significant bar.

Old Ursuline Convent

1100 Chartres Street

The Old Ursuline Convent was built in 1752, which makes it the oldest surviving example of the French colonial period in the country, circa Louis XV. The building first served as a convent for the Ursuline nuns, and then, as centuries ticked on, it had been, at some point: a school, an archbishop’s and priests’ residence, archdiocesan offices/archives, and is now part of the Catholic Cultural Heritage Center of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Its museum is open for self-guided tours.

Royal Street, French Quarter

Only one block away, running parallel to Bourbon Street, Royal Street presents a very different scene — a mix of performance art, live music on the corners, eclectic art galleries, funky boutiques, and upscale antique shops. The French Quarter part of Royal Street stretches for 13 blocks, from Esplanade Avenue to Canal Street, and the stretch between St. Louis and St. Ann streets is a pedestrian mall closed to traffic from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and till 7 p.m. on weekends.

The scenic street is also known for its wrought-iron balconies and other charming architectural details and lush courtyards, including those featured by the street’s many restaurants. (How about Bananas Foster in Brennan’s stunning outdoor seating area?)

Among the notable art galleries are Harouni, 933 Royal St., featuring the artist’s own work; and Rodrique Studio, 730 Royal St., with his ubiquitous Blue Dog paintings on display.

As for shopping for antiques, from exquisite chandeliers to rare 17th-century furniture to fine art and jewelry, Royal Street also has you covered. M.S. Rau, 630 Royal St., for instance, is considered one of the best destinations in the world for antique shopping.

For block-by-block guidance, check out our Royal Street Guide.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

533 Royal St. & 520 Royal St.

Dedicated to preserving local history, art and culture, the Historic New Orleans Collection offers a vast trove of materials for both amateur history buffs and academic researchers.

The main 533 Royal St. campus presents free rotating exhibits on subjects ranging from Storyville to the African heritage of New Orleans, while the expansion across the street houses a continuing exhibition of French Quarter history and hands-on installations that make the past come alive. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the Williams Residence, an 1889 Italianate townhouse restored by HNOC founders General L. Kemper and Leila Williams.

Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses

820 St. Louis St.; 1132 Royal St.

Take a step back in time at these two 19th-century architectural gems, which were restored to their original glory and are filled with period paintings, decorative fixtures, objets d’art and furniture, many of which are original to the homes. Built in 1831, the Hermann-Grima House (820 St. Louis St.) served as a boarding house for unchaperoned working women from 1925 until the mid-’60s, when restoration began.

Home to renowned New Orleans architect James Gallier, Jr. and his family, Gallier House (1132 Royal St.) dates back to 1857 and was restored using Gallier Jr.’s own floor plans and original house inventory. Both homes are open daily as museums and offer guided tours, which visitors can book online.

We hope you enjoy your stay at The Brakeman Hotel and will take advantage of its many amenities and the proximity to the dining, shopping, sightseeing, and entertainment spots of the French Quarter and the Tremé.

Remember, you can walk to all these places from your hotel! Take advantage of our specials, group rates, and best-rate guarantee for greater savings to spend on New Orleans’ famous cuisine and enjoy everything this magnificent city has to offer. Reserve your room today!

Things to Do in New Orleans in January

So, it’s January. While the rest of the country is taking a breather from the holiday season, packing away the decorations and preparing to hibernate, New Orleans keeps going. The temps are cooler yet pleasant, Mardi Gras decor is popping up on lawns and porches, King Cakes are being snatched off the bakery shelves, and our collective stamina doesn’t get (or want) a break.

If you are lucky to be visiting in January, read on to get the highlights on what to do in New Orleans during that magical month, from ringing in the New Year to kicking off Mardi Gras with style.

Ring in the New Year with the Fleur de Lis Drop and a party on Jackson Square

Every year, Dick Clark Rockin’ New Year’s Eve production hosts its official Central Time Zone party in New Orleans near the historic JAX Brewery starting at 9 p.m. The show is coordinated with parties in New York and Los Angeles, and features a musical lineup and special guests. The fleur-de-lis drop-off at JAX Brewery is live-cast.

Jackson Square, a historic and iconic meeting space of the city of New Orleans, is teeming with revelers at this time. If you don’t mind crowds, it’s free and it’s fun, with live music and a festive atmosphere. The end-of-the-year countdown, which culminates in the fleur-de-lis drop, is followed by fireworks over the Mississippi. (Check out this guide for more things to do on New Year’s Eve in New Orleans.)

Watch the Allstate Sugar Bowl New Year’s Eve Parade

Since 1935, the Sugar Bowl has been played in New Orleans, and while that event has since become the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the daytime New Year’s Eve Parade associated with the game continues in more or less the same vein. The extravaganza is done Mardi Gras-style, so expect big floats, marching bands, plenty of throws (trinkets tossed to spectators), and a general overload of glitz and pageantry.

The parade typically begins at 2:30 p.m. at the “bottom” of the Quarter, where it meets Faubourg Marigny, at the intersection of Elysian Fields Avenue and Decatur Street. Then it proceeds into the French Quarter and rolls past some of that neighborhood’s most iconic landmarks, including the French Market and Jackson Square.

Eventually, the parade passes the WDSU stage at the Allstate Fan Fest on Decatur Street inside the JAX Brewery parking lot, where all performers do a two-minute show. The parade ends at Canal Street.

Attend the Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1

Always happening on the first day of the new year, the Allstate Sugar Bowl is a popular college football tradition. The Fan Jam tailgate party is held at the Champions Square and the game is played at Caesars Superdome.

Watch the Twelfth Night parades on January 6

Twelfth Night, or the Epiphany, always falls on January 6 regardless of the year. It’s the official first day of the carnival season that kicks off with three annual parades. It’s also the first day you can eat King Cake lest you be judged by the traditionalists out there (though many stores start carrying the carnival treat before then).

Phunny Phorty Phellows rides the streetcar from Uptown to Canal Street and back starting at 7 p.m. They are followed by the Funky Uptown Krewe that takes the same route.

The beloved walking Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parade rolls at 7 p.m. from JAX Brewery in the French Quarter, and the Société Des Champs Elysée parade takes place starting at 7:30 p.m. on N. Rampart Street and Esplanade, going to the CBD. Every year, it follows the N. Rampart/St. Claude streetcar route.

Watch more Mardi Gras Parades

The purple, gold and green fun doesn’t stop with the Twelfth Night. At least five parades are held throughout the month, from sci-fi-themes Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus to the miniature-float ‘tit Rex to the raunchy Krewe du Vieux. For more info on what each parade is like and the 2024 dates and times, check out our guide to kicking off the Mardi Gras season.

Attend the Commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans on January 8

The annual Commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans is celebrated on January 8 every year by the Monument at Chalmette Battlefield (8606 West St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette). This annual wreath-laying ceremony honors the troops of the Battle of New Orleans, plus there are kid-friendly crafts and cooking demos. Park staff and volunteers are dressed in period clothing to represent American and British soldiers and civilians, and there are military drills and period weapons firing. Admission is free. 

Join the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration

On this day, the city of New Orleans throws a block party and a parade at the historic Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, and hosts a celebration program at Al Davis Park. In 2024, the MLK Jr. Day falls on Monday, January 15.

Cheer on the Saints and Pelicans

It’s both the Saints and the Pelicans seasons in full swing. So if you are a fan, you will have a ton of fun on game days, whether you are watching them live or at one of the city’s many sports bars. Either way, the place will be brimming with camaraderie, cheer, stylin’ outfits in team colors, and probably, shenanigans.

Sample King Cake

Widely considered the official dessert of Mardi Gras, this is an absolute must-try if you’re in town after January 6. While some bakeries, like the Bywater Bakery and the Manny Randazzo King Cakes in Metairie, make some of the best, many local supermarkets and grocery stores carry different brands of King Cakes, with a staggering variety of fillings (or lack thereof for the purists among us), so finding this delicious seasonal treat won’t be difficult.

Eat and Drink, of Course!

Stay warm and cozy while you eat and drink your way through the city, near The Brakeman in particular. In the French Quarter alone you can find some excellent spots for gumbo and classic café brûlot, and, of course, Café Du Monde and several Café Beignet locations are within walking distance, where you can warm up with the beignets and a cup of café au lait.

Also close, in the downtown area of the Central Business District (CBD), awaits the wonderful Roosevelt Hotel. Many hotel lobbies decorate for the holidays, but The Roosevelt is a surefire annual winner with its opulent stunner of a lobby. While there, stay cozy with a beverage of your choice at the glamorous Fountain Lounge or the famous Sazerac Bar, both easily located in the hotel’s lobby.

Phew, that should keep your dance card filled on your January visit. And be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels to book your stay close to all the action, or make a reservation at The Breakman on our website.

Kicking Off the 2024 Mardi Gras Season

This year, the festivities go into overdrive a little earlier as Fat Tuesday falls on February 13, 2024. It seems like we finally got to exhale after the winter holiday season and take a break from the festivities, but it’s time to buckle up and switch gears to all things purple, green and gold.

The temps are pleasant, the city is buzzing, and the always spectacular and unforgettable experience awaits. Here’s what you need to know about kicking off this Mardi Gras season.

Twelfth Night (January 6, 2024)

The first day of the carnival season, known as Twelfth Night, or the Epiphany, kicks off with three annual parades (always on January 6). Phunny Phorty Phellows rides the streetcar from Uptown to Canal Street and back starting at 7 p.m. They are followed by the Funky Uptown Krewe that will be taking the same route.

The beloved walking Krewe of Joan of Arc parade rolls at 7 p.m. from JAX Brewery in the French Quarter, and the Société Des Champs Elysée parade takes place starting at 7:30 p.m. on N. Rampart Street and Esplanade, going to the CBD. Like in previous years, it follows the N. Rampart/St. Claude streetcar route.

Must-See January Parades

Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus

Saturday, January 20, 2024, 7 PM (Bywater, Marigny)

The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus will walk-n-roll with yet another sci-fi theme and the usual menagerie of mythical creatures, space monsters, movie characters, and lots and lots of Princess Leias. The krewe hasn’t capped the membership, at least not yet (with 900 members and 150 sub-krewes), so expect a long procession of walking sub-krewes with out-of-this-world floats and other creatively decorated contraptions that include bikes, trailers, and even shopping carts.

The krewe eschews using petroleum products, preferring greener methods to power their floats. Most throws are also handmade, including the custom bead medallions, stuffed animals, and the Sacred Drunken Wookiee stickers. Chewbacchus starts in the Bywater, on Franklin Street and St. Claude Ave, spending the bulk of the parade walking down St. Claude and Elysian Fields avenues. It ends at Conti Street and Decatur Street in the French Quarter.

Krewe Bohème

Friday, January 26, 2024, 7 PM (Marigny, French Quarter)

This new-ish marching parade, started in 2019, rolls through the Marigny and the French Quarter, led by a Green Absinthe Fairy (in place of the usual king and queen) and followed by several inner krewe marching clubs, including Krewe of Goddesses, the Merry Antoinettes, the Bayou Babes, and Glambeaux.

Krewe du Vieux

Saturday, January 27, 2024, 6:30 PM (Marigny, French Quarter)

Note: May not be suitable for children. 

Krewe du Vieux (KDV) is infamous for its biting political satire, adult themes and irreverent takes on the city’s daily struggles. Its 17 sub-krewes are mostly the walking kind, interspersed with small-scale floats and some of the best brass bands in the city. KDV rolls in the Marigny and the French Quarter and has some of the carnival’s most creative handmade throws.

‘tit Rex

Sunday, January 28, 2024, 4:00 PM (Bywater/Marigny)

This micro-krewe parade is unique in a way that it takes an opposite approach to the super krewes competing to set records for the extravagance as well as the number of floats, riders and throws. Instead, this walking parade capped its float number years ago and focuses on all things small-scale.

All miniature floats (around 35) have shoeboxes as their base, similar in concept to what the local kids make for school projects, but to a much more advanced degree of artistry. There were elaborate double-deckers in the past years, as well as puppets and even a helium balloon-powered float.

The floats are hand-pulled by about 120 unmasked, formally dressed members. All throws are handmade and tend to be miniature (the bead throws, for example, are usually the size of a bracelet or smaller).

Over the years, the parade had acquired a loyal following, with the spectators setting up miniature scenes of dolls partying on ladders along the route. The parade is generally kid-friendly, although there’s an occasional raunchy take on the theme, and always a lot of political satire.

The parade rolls in the Bywater and the Marigny, starting by the St. Roch Tavern and ending at the AllWays Lounge for the annual ball. (The parade’s name comes from the Cajun abbreviation of petite, used as a prefix.)


Sunday, January 28, 2024, 7 PM (Marigny, French Quarter/CBD)

The krewedelusion parade followed KDV along the same route for years, but branched out recently and now rolls on a different day and on a different route. This satirical parade krewe is comprised of “inner krewes” including Krewe du Jieux, The Baby Dolls, Krewe of Bananas, and more. Krewe’s slogan is “Organization is Delusion.” The theme is kept secret till the day of the parade.

The inner krewe, The Trashformers, will collect unwanted beads, cans, plastic cups and other parade debris in an attempt to reduce the parade’s already pretty small carbon footprint. The parade begins at Franklin Avenue and Royal Street in the Marigny, proceeds to the French Quarter, and ends up at The Howlin’ Wolf for its annual ball.

Book a Hotel Close to the Action

When it comes to experiencing New Orleans Mardi Gras fully, it’s all about location. Since the majority of the action is just steps from the parade routes, the ideal New Orleans hotels are located in the French Quarter and downtown (or, in our case, in Tremé, just steps away from the French Quarter).

If you’re looking for historic French Quarter hotels that capture the timeless beauty of New Orleans and are located in the heart of Mardi Gras activities, The BrakemanPlace d’Armes HotelPrince Conti HotelHotel St. Marie, and French Market Inn are perfect places to stay. But you’ve got to plan ahead because the best Mardi Gras hotels book up quickly. So, make your New Orleans room reservations today to secure your spot!

Eat King Cake

Widely considered the official dessert of Mardi Gras, this is an absolute must-try if you’re in town for the Carnival.

Choose from several different types of King Cake at the Bywater Bakery (3624 Dauphine Street). The flavors may change, but in the past years, there were pecan praline, cream cheese, strawberry, custard, and cinnamon apple stuffed cakes featured.

If you ask New Orleans natives and long-time transplants, a large percentage of them will count Manny Randazzo King Cakes (3515 N. Hullen Street) on the top of their list, and you would have to trek to Metairie to get your hands on these cakes. However, many local supermarkets and grocery stores carry different brands of King Cakes, with a staggering variety of fillings (or lack thereof for the purists among us), so finding this delicious seasonal treat won’t be difficult.

More Mardi Gras Fun

Can’t get enough Mardi Gras? We got you. Here are some additional guides and tips to steer you in the right direction.

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!