Culture Lover’s Guide to New Orleans
With French, Spanish, Native American, and African influences, New Orleans has a culture all its own. From jazzy second-line parades and Mardi Gras floats to literary history and cutting-edge art, the city oozes creativity. Whether you want to celebrate today or reflect on the past, here's where to get your culture fix in the Big Easy.
Explore the City’s Jazz Heritage
New Orleans is considered the birthplace of jazz, and today's thriving local music scene keeps the tradition alive. Hear top-notch jazz and blues at clubs across the city: at hole-in-the-wall bars, legendary venues such as Preservation Hall, and epic multi-day festivals such as Jazz Fest. Join a jazz tour to discover the music scene beyond Bourbon Street and meet local artists.
Party Like It’s Mardi Gras
Even if your visit doesn't coincide with New Orleans’ biggest party, you can catch the celebratory spirit of Mardi Gras year-round. Look for handmade masks scattered throughout French Quarter shops, or get a behind-the-scenes look at Mardi Gras craft and culture at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. At this museum and workshop, learn about the history of the famous carnival and admire the details on giant papier-mâché floats and colorful costumes.
Visit a Historic Plantation
Get a glimpse into the culture of antebellum Louisiana with a day trip to one of the historic plantations just a short drive from New Orleans. Well preserved estates such as Houmas House, Oak Alley, and Laura Plantation contrast stately Greek Revival and Creole architecture with the dark realities of slavery and plantation life. Visit the Whitney Plantation museum for a more in-depth examination of the slave experience in Louisiana.
Get Inspired at an Art Museum
Beat the outdoor elements while admiring local and international art at one of the city’s fine arts museums. The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park boasts robust African, Japanese, and French collections, while the socially conscious Newcombe Museum on the Tulane University campus presents the work of innovative local artists. You can also see where Impressionist painter Edgar Degas briefly lived and worked at the Degas House on Esplanade Avenue.