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Must Visit Attractions in New Orleans

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Idyllically laid within the ambit of New Orleans' famous French Quarter district, Jackson Square is steeped in a rich history associated with the epoch-making Louisiana Purchase. An arsenal of historic landmarks, including the three-steepled St. Louis Cathedral, The Cabildo and the Presbytere stand amid vast landscaped gardens, with the bronze statue of the heroic Andrew Jackson forming a compelling centerpiece. Although now buried under layers of history, the square harks back to a fascinating past, when it was originally known as the Place d'Armes. An erstwhile site for public executions, this square saw a dramatic shift at the turn of the twentieth century. At the height of the Roaring Twenties, this National Historic Landmark became widely known for its association with the arts, allowing artists to gather and participate in the exchange of ideas. Through the years, Jackson Square has been touched by fleeting, yet enduring associations with tarot-readers, jugglers, street artists, and paraders, echoing the very unbeatable ethos that New Orleans is known for today.

Having started out as the nation's first sugar plantation, then an urban park, and finally renamed in 1886 as Audubon Park in tribute to John James Audubon who painted many of his famed "Birds of America" in Louisiana, the 350-acre (141.64 hectares) Audubon Park and Audubon Zoo is a place one can truly and peacefully enjoy New Orleans's old-world charm: fountains, statues, gazebos, lagoons, giant oak trees, and the occasional horse-back riders and carriages. There are also a golf course, tennis courts, and a extremely popular 1.8-mile-long (2.8 kilometers) paved jogging track. Do walk along the outskirts of the park and be wowed by the historic buildings of Loyola and Tulane universities, as well as many elegant mansions.

A glorious jewel gleaming in the heart of the city, the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis is one of the most prominent landmarks in the French Quarter. Illustrious in the extreme, the Cathedral has often single-handedly solidified New Orleans' identity. Lording over the historic landscape of Jackson Square, this magnificent cathedral is a soulful amalgamation of culture, history and an inextricable French legacy. The Cathedral of St. Louis 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. Cradled on the banks of the Mississippi River, the cathedral is considered one of the greatest symbols of Catholicism on the North American continent. Upheld by beautiful blue steeples and interiors which are just as ornate, this cathedral is an edifice hewn with an indelible French heritage.

Tradition, tranquility, and abundant beauty perfectly describe this wonderful neighborhood in New Orleans. Garden District, with its well-maintained 19th-century mansions and surrounding landscapes, makes for a beautiful destination for visitors to the city. Take a stroll amid the manicured gardens, admire the architectural splendor of the mansions, shop for unique souvenirs and dine at the colorful local restaurants on Magazine Street as you soak in the lively atmosphere. Commander's Palace, Anshe Sfard and George Washington Cable House are some of the notable landmarks here.

It's just impossible to get bored of New Orleans' plush City Park. Sprawled over 1,500 acres, this welcoming oasis attracts hordes of people every day. You'll find lovebirds sharing some time together, children playing around, joggers doing their daily rounds and people absorbing the park's beauty. Camps, field trips and an amusement park are the facilities for children. Sports lovers can choose from golf, football, tennis and lots more. The park also provides the perfect setting for weddings, picnics, birthdays or other special functions. If you're a nature lover, you can volunteer to help protect this beautiful park.

From the critter-filled swamps of Louisiana to the grasslands of Africa, you can explore some of the world's most intriguing habitats and the creatures that dwell within them at this world-class zoo. Rated one of the top zoos in the United States, Audubon Zoo New Orleans is home to a variety of nature's wondrous creations such as Louisiana Black Bear, Cougar, Bobcat, Macaw, Babirusa, and more. The marvelous aquarium houses beautiful moon jellies, clownfish, green sea turtle, and the much-dreaded piranha.

Paddling along the Mississippi River is a great way to spend time in the city. Enjoying a buffet lunch while you glide along the river and take in the sights is the stuff of vacation dreams. The refreshing trip is bound to give you a considerable appreciation for the beauty of the area. Book your Paddlewheeler Creole Queen tickets and discover for yourself these scenic surroundings.

Mardi Gras World is where Mardi Gras comes to life with the creation of Mardi Gras floats. Here, you can catch the artists and builders of the world-famous floats hard at work. There is a gift shop where you can buy Carnival memorabilia, so you can say you have seen Mardi Gras and have something to show for it. Mardi Gras World is a fun trip for children, as a chest full of costumes affords them the chance to dress in true Carnival style. When in town, Mardi Gras World makes for an unmissable family attraction.

Royal Street is one of the oldest streets in the city, well known for its businesses that deal in antiques and artwork from all over the world. This impressive street is surrounded by French and Spanish colonial architecture on all sides and emanates a distinct old-worldly look. The shops dotting this street are filled with consumers having an eye for quality, authenticity and detail. The quality of the merchandise is unmatched and sometimes, just talking to the shop owners can be an educative experience. Make this street your next shopping destination for all that is antique and unique.

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 celebrations. Replete with rich architectural history and cultural implications, the French Quarter truly encapsulates New Orleans' vibrant spirit.

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park provides an ideal platform for all to experience and share the cultural history of jazz in New Orleans. The park aims to educate visitors through its database of information, on the origin and development of jazz in America. A hallmark feature of this site is the Perseverance Hall. The park hosts special jazz events several times a year, and the seasonal concerts for Christmas are extremely popular.

Whenever you are in New Orleans, for business or pleasure, a must stop is Magazine Street. This is the street that has it all no matter what your shopping needs are. Whatever you're looking for, be it fashion, vintage clothing, children's clothing, shoes, or accessories, Magazine Street is the place to be. When you start to work up an appetite, try seafood, French cuisine, farmer's markets, chocolates, or stop into one of the many bars for a pick-me-up.

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