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Jean Lafitte National Historical Park consists of six sites in and around New Orleans. The park honors Cajun culture in general and Jean Lafitte in particular. Lafitte was a notorious pirate and smuggler, who came to the aid of General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. The visitor center has historic walking tours of the French Quarter and is a great starting place for information regarding the other sites around New Orleans.
Natchez Steamboat features full-service catering from the on-board galley and is docked at the back of JAX Brewery. This three-decked stern-wheeler offers two cruises daily with narration by a professional guide. For your dining and listening pleasure, there is a cocktail bar, live jazz and an optional Creole buffet. Dinner prices are not included in the cost of admission. Children under three ride free. Reservations are required, so call to confirm schedule and prices.
Originally known as Rue Bourbon, New Orleans' infamous Bourbon Street runs the length of the city's French Quarter, although it is the eight-block stretch of "Upper Bourbon Street," lined with bars and clubs of every genre, that is known for its lively nightlife scene. Initially a sought after residential neighborhood, shifting borders and demographics saw Bourbon Street succumb to the same vices the city had come to be known for, becoming famous for its restaurants, nightclubs and other risque establishments. Today, this street is best known for its involvement in the Big Easy's greatest festival, Mardi Gras, and its love affair with live jazz and blues. Each night, revelers throng the street with drinks in hand, their smiling faces lit by the multi-colored glow of neon lights. By day, the avenue's quaint architectural heritage comes to the fore, with time-honored eateries doling out traditional po'boys, beignets and other quintessentially, local eats.
Aquarium of the Americas is a world-class aquarium with state-of-the-art exhibits, allowing visitors young and old to experience underwater nature first hand. Visitors immerse themselves in the major marine and submarine habitats of North and South America, including the Caribbean Sea and the Amazon Rainforest. The aquarium also features thousands of fish, reptiles and birds native to these habitats.
This structure was built between 1795-1799 to house the city council when New Orleans was a possession of Spain. Today, the Cabildo is the flagship of the Louisiana State Museum. Interactive exhibits illustrate the history of Louisiana from European explorations to the post Civil War Reconstruction era. This stunning museum is located on Jackson Square near the St. Louis Cathedral. Group tours are available. The museum is closed on legal holidays.
The Presbytere, built in 1790, was originally called the "Ecclesiastical House." It served as a courthouse and a commercial business before becoming one of five buildings in the French Quarter that make up the Louisiana State Museum. Exhibits focus on paintings, furniture, pottery, clothing and every kind of craft or relic imaginable, as long as it illustrates Louisiana's culture and colorful past.
The center of all cultural activities, the French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. The city of New Orleans was built around the main square of what was then known as the Vieux Carré after the city's founding in 1718. However, most of the area's buildings come from the early 19th Century, when the city was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Although originally settled by French Creoles, by the early 20th Century they were mostly gone from the French Quarter and bohemian culture began to boom in the area. Architectural delights like Jackson Square and its Saint Louis Cathedral are highlights of the neighborhood. The French Quarter's single most famous landmark, Bourbon Street, is a nightlife mainstay, being the main drag of Mardi Gras. Replete with rich architectural history and cultural implications, the French Quarter truly encapsulates New Orleans vibrant spirit.
The Cathedral of St. Louis IX, King of France was first built in 1718, but became an established parish in 1720. The current cathedral is not the original, but a rebuilt expansion of the third version of the cathedral, built in 1789. In 1964, Pope John Paul II designated the cathedral as a Minor Basilica. The graceful beauty of the St. Louis Cathedral and its surrounding courtyards in the French Quarter makes it a sight to behold. Located on a bank of the Mississippi River, the cathedral is considered one of the greatest symbols of Catholicism on the North American continent.
Louisiana Children's Museum offers a toddler area and children's drama, dance, and puppet shows. There are also art and science exhibits, as well as hands-on math and physics exhibits, and a reproduction of a television studio. Many of the exhibits are geared toward learning through doing. This style of learning makes it fun for both parents and kids alike. This is a great rainy day field trip and a good place for anyone trying to get away from the "adult" aspects of the city.
This modern art exhibit center, located in a renovated warehouse, is the heart of the New Orleans' art community. The Contemporary Arts Center offers a series of seasonally rotating exhibitions, classes, lectures, performances, screenings, and concerts every year. The exhibits waver between traditional and alternative art forms with works from both local and national artists. The center also serves gourmet coffees and specialty wines as well as a variety of pastries and sandwiches.
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is a repository of many of the things that make this area of the United States great. Fine art, architecture, folk art and artifacts of the bygone Southern era can be found here. You also find unique exhibitions, such as Looking Back, Looking Forward, Becoming Ida Kohlmeyer, Walter Anderson and Friends, Clementine Hunter and Melrose, the Treme Storytelling Quilt Project, and The Jazz.
The Sisters of Ursula established Catholic schools for African-American and Native American girls and set up the first orphanage in Louisiana. The convent is now home to Catholic archives dating back to 1718. It is the oldest building on record in New Orleans and the entire Mississippi Valley. It sits across from another historic site, the Beauregard-Keyes House, and is part of the Archbishop Antoine Blanc Memorial. It is open for self guided tours.