African American Heritage Trail in New Orleans, New Orleans (Self Guided)

The Louisiana African American Trail includes 26 sights located along the Mississippi River. Our tour will take you to the places on this trail that are located within the boundary of New Orleans, the starting point of this cultural heritage trail. Though this is a car tour, most of the attractions are located within walking distance. So don't hesitate to take the tour below and learn the history of African-Americans in Louisiana and explore their traditions and culture.
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African American Heritage Trail in New Orleans Map

Guide Name: African American Heritage Trail in New Orleans
Guide Location: USA » New Orleans (See other walking tours in New Orleans)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Author: ann
1
St. Louis Cemetery #1 and #2

1) St. Louis Cemetery #1 and #2 (must see)

It would seem odd that cemeteries are a tourist attraction, but not for the city of New Orleans. The above ground resting places represent an important part of their history and display beautiful Spanish and French design. Two of the most famous cemeteries are Saint Louis Cemetery #1 and #2.

Saint Louis Cemetery #1 was established in 1789. It replaced the Saint Petersburg Cemetery. It is located eight blocks away from the Mississippi River on Basin Street. Many impressive people are entombed in the many crypts and tombs. Some notable residents include the Civil Rights activist Homer Plessy, Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, and sugar industry pioneer Etienne de Boré.

Saint Louis Cemetery #2 was established in 1823. It is located three blocks away from Saint Louis Cemetery #1 on Claiborne Avenue and has over 100,000 burials. A protestant section is also located on the grounds. Many notable people are entombed in Saint Louis Cemetery #2, including Civil War hero Andre Cailloux, Jazz musician Danny Barker, rhythm and blues singer Ernie K. Doe, and sainthood candidate Blessed Mother Henriette DeLille. In addition, the graveyard is the final resting place of several politicians.

Tip:
It seems like the church has closed the #1 cemetery to self-guided tours due to unwanted late night ceremonies and vandalism; however, you can book a guided tour, day-side (be sure it is led by a guide with a license to enter the cemetery and not just talk about it outside its walls). If you're not a fan of guides or tours, try the #2 cemetery, which is free.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-3pm; Sun: 9am-12pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Congo Square

2) Congo Square

Visitors to New Orleans can experience a bit of African Culture when they visit Congo Square. Located in the Tremé neighborhood in Louis Armstrong Park, the square was the gathering place for African slaves on their free day. Once slavery ended, free people of color began to meet there to perform music. Congo Square is the birthplace of Jazz.

The open area was designated by the mayor as a meeting place for slaves in 1817. Originally named the Place de Negres, the Place Publique, and then Circus Square, the plaza allowed slaves to honor their culture through song and dance on their free day, Sunday. In addition, they could sell their wares at the local market. The colonial French slavery style allowed slaves much more freedom than the rest of the United States. Slaves could move freely while at the square.

As the United States slavery style became more prevalent, the gatherings occurred less and less and finally ceased about 10 years before the end of slavery. In the late 19th century, Congo Square once again came to life when Creoles of Color began to perform concerts there. It was during that time that Jazz was born.

The best time to visit is the second weekend of November when the three-day long celebration, Congo Square New World Rhythm Festival occurs. The fiesta starts at 11 am and features African dance and music.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
New Orleans African American Museum

3) New Orleans African American Museum

Located in the Tremé community in Tremé Villa, the New Orleans African American Museum presents the life, culture, music, and history of the New Orleans African American community. Tremé is one of the oldest surviving black communities in the United States and it is only fitting that the exhibition hall be located there. The building design reflects West Indies and French-colonial architecture.

The museum was built between 1828 and 1829 by Simon Meilleur and is located on the site of a former plantation. The artwork of established and up-and-coming artists is beautifully displayed throughout the building. The site features three courtyards and a gazebo in the center of the yard that everyone will enjoy when they visit.

Variety is the theme at the museum with the exhibits changing frequently. One of the best exhibits is the Louisiana-Congo: The Betrand Collection that displays an assortment of jewelry, clothing, masks, artifacts, and musical instruments from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The exhibit allows visitors to see some of the parallels between African and African American culture. They are open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm and by special appointment on days they are closed. It is strongly recommended to take the bus tour offered by the museum.
4
St Augustine Catholic Church

4) St Augustine Catholic Church

St. Augustine Catholic Church is the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the nation. It is located on Saint Claude Avenue near the French Quarter on the site of the old Claude Tremé plantation. The church is the location of the annual Jazz Mass that is held in conjunction with the Satchmo Festival, which pays homage to Louis Armstrong.

The place of worship was founded in 1841 and dedicated in 1842. Architect J.N.B. de Pauilly designed the church. The property was donated by Ursuline Sisters on the condition that the church be named after Saint Augustine of Hippo.

What makes the church special is that it was built by Free Persons of Color. Famous parishioners include Homer Plessy, Sidney Bechet, A.P. Tureaud, and Allison ‘Tootie’ Montana. One interesting note is that a war of the pews began when white people heard about the free people of color buying pews for slaves. The free people of color eventually won by buying three pews to every one pew a white person bought.

St. Augustine’s almost faced closure after Hurricane Katrina due to extensive property losses in the city. This was a shock to the parishioners since the church escaped major damage. In addition, the parish was also providing support to those affected by the hurricane. The locals rallied and barricaded themselves in the building. This response caused the archdiocese to reverse its decision.

In 2008, the church received a $75,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express to do much needed renovations. Mass is at 10 am on Sunday.
5
Old French Market

5) Old French Market (must see)

The Old French Market was a major food market for 180 years in New Orleans. People came from far and wide to enjoy the delicious and fresh foods, aroma, and atmosphere. It is one of the oldest public market buildings in America. The original market was located at the Café du Monde site near Jackson Square and was constructed by the Spanish during colonial times to provide a safe and clean place to purchase food. In 1811, a new building was constructed only to be destroyed by a hurricane the next year. The current building was rebuilt in 1813 and survives to this day, albeit with several modifications.

Often called Halle des Boucheries, or the Meat Market, by the locals, the shopping center was the only place where meat could be legally be purchased. The French Market became so popular that it eventually contained a vegetable market, fruit market, a dry goods emporium, and a coffee stand. The market almost came to an end in the 1970s when the City removed most of the produce from the site. The French Market Corporation rebounded by illustrating its glorious past while opening clothing stores, gift shops, and restaurants. One of the best features of the market is the flea market that is open daily from 7 am to 7 pm where clothing, jewelry, arts, crafts, and other items are sold.

Tip:
Though it is filled with many of the usual market fare from around the world, there are local artists in this market as well, so make sure you look for them. Their wares are reasonably priced and are great souvenirs! Just make sure you bring cash as not all of the booths accept cards.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm
6
Historic New Orleans Collection

6) Historic New Orleans Collection

Located in the French Quarter on Royal Street, the Historic New Orleans Collection focuses on the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. The collection was established in 1966 by General and Mrs. L. Kemper Williams.

The museum includes the Merieult House, William Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, a museum shop, and the Williams Residence. Other buildings on the site include the Counting House, Maisonette, Townhouse, Louis Adams House, and Creole Cottage.

In addition, the Williams Research Center on Charles Street allows researchers to view the documents, library items, manuscripts, photographs, prints, drawings, paintings, and other artifacts. The museum shop sells books, prints, jewelry, stationery, gift cards, and other items.

Displayed collections include the William Russell Jazz Collection, the William C. Cook War of 1812 in the South Collection, the Tennessee Williams Collection, and the Clarence John Laughlin Collection.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and on Sunday from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Walking Tours in New Orleans, Louisiana

Create Your Own Walk in New Orleans

Create Your Own Walk in New Orleans

Creating your own self-guided walk in New Orleans is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
The Voodoo Tour

The Voodoo Tour

Being a multicultural city, New Orleans provided an ideal setting for the practice of Voodoo. Some people get scared to death by the mystical rituals, others get easily tempted by the idea of achieving anything they want by the means of spells and incantations, but most are just curious to know what Voodoo is. If you'd like to find out by yourself, don't miss the chance to go on the tour...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Churches in New Orleans

Churches in New Orleans

New Orleans has some of the oldest and the most beautiful churches in Louisiana. Some of them, like St Louis Cathedral, have become iconic symbols of the city, others are considered to be "fresh air" to the busy business quarters. The churches here combine different architectural styles. The tour below includes some exquisite examples of places of worship in New Orleans.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.4 km
Uptown Walking Tour in New Orleans

Uptown Walking Tour in New Orleans

Dating back to the 19th century, Uptown represents a big area of New Orleans situated on the East bank of the Mississippi River. Major attractions are located in the Uptown New Orleans Historic District. Take the tour below and discover by yourself the best that Uptown has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Garden District Tour

Garden District Tour

Dating back to the 19th century, Garden District in New Orleans is famous for its heritage mansions and cottages. Along with the heritage sites you will discover several great specialty shops. Take the tour below and discover the beauty and unique atmosphere of the Garden District.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km
French Quarter Nightlife

French Quarter Nightlife

A city well-reputed for its never-ending party and carefree attitude, visitors to the French Quarter in New Orleans may not be surprised by the amount of great nightlife establishments found through the district but will certainly be impressed by the lively night of hot live music and ever-flowing drinks they experience once they are here. Take New Orleans’ Nightlife Tour in the French Quarter...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.3 km
French Quarter: The museums

French Quarter: The museums

French Quarter is well known as a historic area. Little wonder then that you can find a lot of good museums here that reflect the history and culture of the district. Also brought to your attention are several house museums, often overlooked by most of the tourists. So do not hesitate, take this tour and discover by yourself the museums of the French Quarter.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in New Orleans for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best New Orleans has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting New Orleans's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the New Orleans Pass, New Orleans Sightseeing Pass, or the New Orleans Pass (by Musement).

A city pass combines all or multiple New Orleans's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving your precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of New Orleans hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Terrell House Bed and Breakfast, The Quisby.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as New Orleans, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of New Orleans typically costs somewhere between US$16 and US$65 per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of New Orleans in comfort listening to a live on-board commentary (English only) from a local expert, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route as often as you like. The tickets are valid for one (24 hours) or three days (72 hours).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour of New Orleans – this usually lasts about 2 hours (upgrade to 3 hours is possible upon request) and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise could have done by walking.

- Taste your way through New Orleans' neighborhoods - the French Quarter and River area - on a gourmet tour of the city and find out if the fuss about its food scene is well justified. Check out some of the famous restaurants and hotspots under the guidance of a passionate and knowledgeable local.

- Summon your bravery and curiosity to explore the ghastly side of New Orleans on a ghost walk in the French Quarter set to reveal the stories of voodoo, vampires and witchcraft, bring light to the darkest corners of the city, and prepare you to hear the tales of its supernatural past and present.

- If you have a penchant for posh architecture and celebrity dwellings, make sure to take this morning walk in New Orleans' Garden District replete with impressive examples of Greek Revival and Italianate styles including the homes of Hollywood stars and other art celebrities. There are also quite a few historic locations waiting to be discovered on this tour as well.

- Whisk yourself away to the yesteryear New Orleans aboard the authentic paddle-wheel steamboat cruising along the Mississippi River. Feel the beauty and romance of the days long gone amid the sound of a live jazz band, lavish buffet dinner, and gorgeous sights along the way.

Day Trips


If you have a day to spare whilst in New Orleans, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Cajun Country or Louisiana Plantations. For as little as circa US$170-180 per person you will get a chance to discover the Cajun and Creole cultures, visit some of the oldest and finest plantations on the Mississippi River, learn about the pre-Civil War history of American South, feel the taste of antebellum Louisiana, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in New Orleans and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle (or even boat, whenever applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.