Want to see more than the French Quarter on your next trip to New Orleans? The banks of the Mississippi River, skirting the oldest part of the city is the perfect place for a walking tour whether you're traveling alone, or with your family. "Old Muddy" is the lifeblood of New Orleans and also provides sights and activities for all ages and budgets.
See a photo gallery of the sites along the New Orleans Riverfront.
The New Orleans riverfront is easy to find from the French Quarter, convention center or downtown. If you are staying in the French Quarter, find your way to Jackson Square to begin your tour.Jackson Square is in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, and is surrounded by artists and fortune tellers. If you are starting at the convention center, you can do the tour in reverse order. The walk from Jackson Square to the convention center can take an hour or a day depending on how many times you stop and what you choose to do along the way.
Pastry and People Watching:
I love to be on the river in the morning. Pass up the usual breakfast chains and walk across Decatur Street from Jackson Square to the Café Du Monde. There I like to indulge in one of the signature treats of New Orleans, beignets (ben-yeas), a light puff of French pastry covered with powdered sugar, perfectly accompanied by a cup of café au lait. The beignets are fresh and hot and the aroma is heavenly.
As you sit in this open café look around you. This is a perfect place to see some of the fun sights of New Orleans. Across the street you'll see an absolutely motionless mime, painted in silver, perched on a box ready to perform. Several carriages pulled by mules adorned with flowery straw hats are parked nearby, available for a ride through the historic French Quarter.
After you have savored this treat for the senses, stroll past the street entertainers and climb to the top of the levee. You're now in Artillery Park with a wonderful view of the crescent in the river that gave the city one of its nicknames. There are benches in this small park from which you can get an entirely different view of the oldest part of the city.
If you want a closer look at the river, cross the parking lot on the river side of the levee and go out to the area New Orleanians call the "batture." Here you will find steps going down to the river. Locals call this walkway the "Moon Walk" after a former mayor Maurice "Moon" Landrieu. I once sat here on a spring morning and was startled by a ghostly ship emerging briefly from the lingering fog, while I heard the plaintive blues of a saxophone wafting downriver in its wake. It was a very mystical experience.