The French Quarter is full of hidden gems. The historic heart of New Orleans has 300 years of history waiting to be discovered on every corner. And with so much food, music, and culture proudly on display, you can miss some beloved local spots if you don’t know where to look.
To help you experience the real magic of New Orleans, we’ve gathered together some unmissable attractions that are worth adding to your to-do list. Keep reading for the top 10 hidden gems in the French Quarter!
Old Ursuline Convent
The oldest building in the Mississippi River Valley, the Old Ursuline Convent was built on Chartres Street in 1752. That also makes it the oldest example of the French colonial architecture still standing in the United States.
Take a self-guided tour and get transported back in time with beautiful relics like a hand-crafted cypress staircase, oil paintings featuring past archbishops, bronze busts, and religious statues.
Over the centuries, the building has had many purposes: it’s been a convent, an orphanage, and even a makeshift hospital. The tour reflects all of these functions and captures the building’s rich history – it’s a great way to dive into the city’s storied past.
Located inside one of the historic Pontalba Buildings in Jackson Square, the 1850 House is part of the Louisiana State Museum collection and offers a glimpse into antebellum life in New Orleans.
This picturesque museum replicates the look and feel of Parisian architecture, the style favored by Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba (The woman who bought the property and commissioned the buildings; her father helped finance other famous NOLA architecture like The Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral).
Inside the 1850 House, you’ll find period-specific art and decor. There’s also a gift shop on the first floor that’s an excellent place to find souvenirs for friends and family!
Yep, that Napoleon. Though Napoleon House never actually housed Napoleon Bonaparte, that was the idea. The owner at the time offered up the building to Napoleon as refuge during his exile.
Now an historic landmark and beloved local restaurant, this 1797 building has been family-owned since 1914. Whether you sit inside and enjoy the historic details or choose the beautiful outdoor courtyard, you can sip on a Pimm’s Cup or Sazerac and enjoy the view.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
This unique museum was once the apothecary of America’s first licensed pharmacist. Located just steps away from Napoleon House, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum features a quirky array of pharmaceutical and medical memorabilia including antique surgical instruments and apothecary jars containing their original ingredients.
Visitors can spend hours among all the medical curiosities and wonders of decades past. This quaint space also hosts weddings and special events on occasion, so call ahead (504-565-8027) to confirm the hours of operation.
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
Want to learn about NOLA’s spirited past? This tiny museum on Dumaine Street will give you an eye-opening glimpse into the history of Voodoo in New Orleans.
Founded in 1972 by a local artist, the two-room New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum is packed with historic voodoo relics, paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts.
Take a self-guided tour and learn all about the rich culture that helped shape the story of New Orleans. Plus, the gift shop offers iconic voodoo related memorabilia for you to take a bit of the city’s spirit home with you.
The New Orleans Jazz Museum
Located inside the Old U.S. Mint building, The New Orleans Jazz Museum is equal parts historic museum and concert space. Completed in 1838, the building on Esplanade Avenue reflects the Greek Revival style that was popular for the period.
Inside, the museum traces the story of jazz in the city that started it all. It’s extensive collection of jazz recordings and musical instruments includes the cornet that Louis Armstrong learned to play as a child.
This historic spot also hosts hundreds of concerts annually, including the beloved Satchmo Summerfest, a weekend-long concert that celebrates Louis Armstrong’s birthday.
Located just steps away from the hustle and bustle of Bourbon Street, Preservation Hall is the best place in the French Quarter to catch traditional New Orleans jazz. It’s home to one of the city’s favorite groups, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and hosts some of the best local musicians onstage every week.
This music venue was founded in 1961 to protect, preserve, and perpetuate traditional New Orleans jazz music. While the venue isn’t huge, it offers an intimate performance atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else – it’s definitely worth reserving tickets!
Faulkner House Books
Literature fans flock to this cozy bookshop located in the former home of William Faulkner. The illustrious author lived in the upstairs apartment in 1925, and a charming shop filled with literary treasures now occupies the bottom floor.
Tucked away in Pirate’s Alley just off of Jackson Square, Faulkner House Books offers a small but well-curated selection of books, including many rare finds. It’s a great spot to explore and a must-see for any book lover visiting New Orleans.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
One of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter houses Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. The name comes from the building’s supposed former tenant, the pirate Jean Lafitte, who operated a business here in the early 19th century.
Despite its murky origins, the historic spot has been a bar since the mid-1940s, when writers like Noël Coward and Tennessee Williams came by to unwind. These days the Bourbon Street bar is popular with tourists and locals alike, and definitely worth stopping in for a cocktail!
The Carousel Bar & Lounge
We’re a little biased here, but our hotel bar truly is one-of-a-kind. The Carousel Bar is New Orleans’ only rotating bar and one of the most whimsical ways to spend an evening.
The 25-seat, circus themed, merry-go-round bar overlooks Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter, giving you a great view with your expertly-crafted cocktail. And our lounge has a regular entertainment schedule of live New Orleans musicians onstage every night.
With so much to enjoy in such a picturesque setting, it’s easy to see why the Carousel Bar is one of the most popular bars in the French Quarter.
Discover All the French Quarter’s Gems at Hotel Monteleone
When you book your stay at Hotel Monteleone, you’re just steps away from the city’s historic sights. Plan your getaway today and experience the magic of New Orleans!