Between its 250 musical acts and 60-plus food vendors, there’s no shortage of things to do at the French Quarter Festival, which takes over the Vieux Carre April 11-14. And because its 23 stages are sprinkled throughout New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood, there are plenty of cool spots to scope out between sets. If you don’t get to the French Quarter often—or if you’re looking to take a breather from the crowds—consider checking out these free, festival-adjacent attractions.Read More
French Quarter Fest 2019: Where to go and what to see in the Vieux Carre
7 can’t-miss places to check out during the fest
1. Hotel Monteleone
It’s a great idea to support food and drink vendors—that’s how the free festival generates its income—but if you want to step inside for a spell, the Hotel Monteleone is the place to do it. The circa-1886 Beaux Arts building is architecturally and historically significant, having hosted Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner. It’s also gorgeous, and the gently revolving Carousel Bar serves the best brandy milk punch in town.
2. Louis Armstrong Park
French Quarter Fest celebrates Louisiana music in genres ranging from gospel to trad jazz—and almost all of it sprang from a little patch of ground in Armstrong Park. Congo Square was where enslaved people and free people of color socialized, played music, and danced on Sundays during the 18th and 19th centuries, and it’s often cited as the birthplace of jazz. Plus, Armstrong Park’s shady lagoons and walking trails offer a nice respite from the crowds and heat.
3. The Historic New Orleans Collection
This free museum offers insight into the French Quarter’s past as well as a high-tech look at its present, thanks to the interactive installations in its newest exhibition space at 520 Royal Street. Seventy-five artists have work on display at the Art of the City: Postmodern to Post-Katrina exhibit. Check them out, then download the Architectural Tour app to learn more about the historic buildings that surround you.
4. M.S. Rau Antiques
M.S. Rau is the antiques shop where billionaires buy knick-knacks, but you don’t have to be part of the 1 percent to walk around in slack-jawed awe of its bronzes, art, and mind-blowing Hupfeld Phonoliszt-Violina Model B. A player piano’s upper cabinet houses a self-playing violin trio that was one of the 1910 World’s Fair’s wonders of the world. (Its price tag is $885,000.)
5. St. Louis Cathedral
You’ll find food vendors, first aid, merch, and the Hilton Stage at Jackson Square, so you might as well pop into North America’s oldest cathedral while you’re there. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, the cathedral features free tours (grab a docent if one is available) and self-guided tours with a $1 donation for the pamphlet. There’s also plenty of pew seating if you just want to sit and admire the Rococo-style gilded altar.
6. Brieux Carré Brewing Co.
This tribute to New Orleans bounce rapper Nicky Da B is as colorful, exuberant, and over-the-top as he was. It’s a good selfie spot in the Marigny triangle, and it’s attached to a microbrewery.
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7. Crescent Park Trail
New Orleans, LA 70117
The entrance to this 1.4-mile linear riverfront park sits at the edge of the French Quarter, near the base of Elysian Fields Avenue. Climbs the stairs (or take the elevator) to get over the flood wall and railroad tracks, and you’ll find a wharf-shaded pavilion with restrooms, swings, and skyline views. Continue down the path to enjoy its gardens, running trails, green space, dog park, and many Pokemon gyms.