French Quarter: The museums, New Orleans (Self Guided)

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.
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French Quarter: The museums Map

Guide Name: French Quarter: The museums
Guide Location: USA » New Orleans (See other walking tours in New Orleans)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Author: ann
Hermann-Grima House

1) Hermann-Grima House

Located in the historic French Quarter, the Hermann-Grima House, is one of the best examples of upper-class Creole living that you will ever see. The house features a courtyard, the only stable in the French Quarter, and a fully-functional outdoor 1830s kitchen. The best time to visit is from October to May, when cooking demonstrations take place in the kitchen using the tools that were in use during 19th century. The house is huge. It begins on St. Louis Street and ends on Conti Street.

Built in 1831 by architect William Brand for Samuel Herman and his family, the Gregorian-Style structure features the furnishings and mementos of the family. A unique feature of the dwelling is that the house observes historically accurate traditional dress. In October the house is dressed in mourning while in December festive decorations and food fill the house. The house eventually became a boarding house before it was turned into a museum.

The museum hosts exhibitions of Louisiana female artists. The exhibits range from artwork to pottery to jewelry. The house also offers a Creole Christmas camp for kids, Creole cooking classes, historic mixology classes, and school tours. Tours are available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, and 2 pm and on Saturday at 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm.
Historic New Orleans Collection

2) 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.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

3) New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (must see)

One might find it odd that a pharmacy is a national landmark. But, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is no ordinary museum. It holds the distinction of being the site of the first pharmacy in the United States. Opened in 1823 by J. Dufilho, the first licensed pharmacist in the United States, the museum allows one to take a step back into the days of the past.

There are many items you will see when you visit, such as live leeches, apothecary jars, medical instruments, eyeglasses, wooden blenders, bloodletting devices, and prescription files. There is even a pharmacist’s work area that displays the microscope, mortal, and pestle that the doctor used to make his medicines. The nearby garden shows the herbs that were a part of the many prescriptions that the doctor wrote. There are literally hundreds of items to look at and discover. In addition, the display of New Orleans epidemics is fascinating.

In 1950, the pharmacy became a museum. In 1987, budget cuts almost caused the museum to close its doors. Luckily, a non-profit group known as the “Friends of Historical Pharmacy” took over the financial responsibility of the museum and saved the day.

Why You Should Visit:
To learn about the history of NOLA via medical history, health habits and beliefs of NOLA people; soda origin, old medical quackery, and much more.

Get there just before 1 PM to take the one-hour 'tour' in the style of an entertaining lecture/presentation (Tuesday through Friday, for the same price as the self-guided tour but so much better).

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sat: 10am-4pm
Cigar Factory and Museum

4) Cigar Factory and Museum

The art of cigar making has long been prized and many cigar aficionados value cigars made in Cuba. Located in the French Quarter, the Cigar Factory and Museum in New Orleans will make specialty cigars for you, while you wait, that will remind you of the good ole days. The business has been in operation since 1999 and is owned by two families who have in total 25 years of experience in the industry. Their staff has extensive training and are equally experienced.

The factory offers hand-rolled Plantation Reserve, Vieux Carre, Tres Hermanos, Big Easy, and Flavored Panatelas, Puritos cigars made by their staff of eight workers. The cigars feature Cuban Seed and Long Leaf Tobacco from Honduras and Nicaragua. Also, they sell t-shirts, accessories, and other cigar-themed merchandise.

They produce monthly over 30,000 cigars. In addition to custom-made stogies, the main factory museum displays the remnants of cigar making process from the days long gone by. The company has two stores at two locations, Decatur Street and Bourbon Street. Visitors are welcome and can drink the available coffee or bring in a drink from the nearby tavern. They are open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm, Friday-Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm, and on Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm.
1850 House

5) 1850 House (must see)

The 1850 House is a townhouse in the middle of the French Quarter that was owned by Baroness Micaela Pontalba. The house is located on Jackson Square in one of the oldest communities in the United States.

Designer James Gallier Sr. built the house in 1849 for the Baroness. The house accurately represents the life of the bourgeoisie class and their servants. Beautiful antique furniture, artifacts, and authentic art are displayed throughout the house. Visitors will see lavish interiors when viewing the living quarters of the family, while the lodgings of the servants are more severe. Rumor has it that the Baroness installed a statue of Andrew Jackson tipping his hat to her in her courtyard because he failed to do so in public. Whether fact or fiction, Mr. Jackson continues to pay his respects to all who visit the manor to this day.

The Friends of the Cabildo offer two-hour walking tours from 10 am to 4:30 pm Tuesday through Sunday. In addition, the house is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 1:30 pm. The gift shop and bookstore on the first floor sells books, crafts, pottery, jewelry, and so much more. The gift shop and bookstore are operated by the Friends of the Cabildo, an organization that provides financial assistance to the Louisiana State Museum.

Why You Should Visit:
Great for some local history & color. Worth a look if you're interested in how the area was established and the historical aspect of the city.
If you've never seen a 1850s southern home before, this is a must-see for you!

After doing the self-guided tour of the house, go back out to Jackson Square to have a closer look at the row houses that were built by the homeowner of the 1850 house. It's really cool to see how the 1850 house connected to all of the apartments that surround Jackson Square.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-4:30pm
Beauregard-Keyes House

6) Beauregard-Keyes House

The Beauregard-Keyes House, located on Chartres Street in the French Quarter, was designed by architect Francois Correjolles. It was completed in 1826. The place of dwelling features a stunning brick-walled garden that is maintained by the Garden Study Club of New Orleans. Some of the flowers and plants you will see in the garden are evergreen shrubs, myrtle leaves, yellow day-lilies, roses, southern magnolia, Louisiana iris, cape jasmines, and red pomegranates.

The house was originally owned by the nuns of the Old Ursuline Convent until 1825. In 1825, auctioneer Joseph LeCarpentier purchased the dwelling and built the home that would be known as the Beauregard-Keyes House. The residence gets it name from two of its most famous residents, Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard and Frances Parkinson Keyes.

General Beauregard was a general in the Confederate Army and the president of the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad. Author Frances Parkinson Keys used the second floor as her winter residence for 25 years. The books Dinner at Antoine’s, The Chess Player, Madame Castel’s Lodger, and Blue Camellia were written during her time there.

With its stunning curved twin staircases, brick-walled garden, Tuscan portico, large parlor and ballroom, and generous dining room, the house is frequently the site of weddings, conferences, and other events. Buffet luncheons can be scheduled for up to 200 people and 85 people can be accommodated for formal seated dinners.

An onsite gift shop sells books by Mrs. Keys, as well as books about New Orleans, and other mementos. Visitors should make sure the view the collection of antique dolls (200), French sofas (87), and numerous fans and folk costumes. Tours are available Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm. Although the garden is handicapped accessible, the house is not. The house is closed on Sundays and all major holidays.
Gallier House

7) Gallier House (must see)

The Gallier House is one of New Orleans finest examples of great architecture. The Gallier family built many important structures in New Orleans, including the French Opera House, the Gallier Hall, the Pontalba Apartments, the Leeds Building, and the St. Charles Hotel.

Built in 1857 by architect James Gallier, the house features an indoor kitchen and hot and cold running water in the bathroom, a rare luxury at the time of construction. The house is located in the French Quarter on Royal Street and was made a National Historic Landmark in 1974.

Beautiful design is what you will see when you visit the Gallier House. The exterior of the house features a carriage-way and a balcony decorated with ornate millwork, while the interior of the house is decorated with elaborate cornices and detailed millwork. There are also several portraits of the family throughout the structure.

The house also observes a custom known as Summer Dress. During the summer months, furniture, rugs, and linens are covered or replaced with lighter weight fabrics to help cool the house during hot summer months.

In addition to tours of the house, the museum offers camps for children and a special exhibit regarding the African American experience in New Orleans. The Taste of History Camp allows children to participate in the Creole cooking process and includes a trip to the local farmer’s market. The Dig-It Archaeology Camp allows students to study the lives of New Orleans residents.

The Urban Black Experience: 19th Century New Orleans is a tour that illustrates the struggles, accomplishments, and contributions the African American Community have made to the city of New Orleans.

Why You Should Visit:
A richly appointed house that feels very authentic: you can easily picture the family and slaves going about their daily routines.
The guides are passionate and knowledgeable and keep you engaged with an inductive teaching approach, so you will really learn a lot.

This house is run by the Women's Exchange which also runs the Hermann-Grima House. If you do one you'll get a discount at the other – just save your receipt.
You cannot enter yourself so check the times for the tours.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Tue: 9:45am-4pm
Group tours occur from Thursday to Tuesday at 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm (and by appointment)

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.
French Quarter Orientation Walk

French Quarter Orientation Walk

The French Quarter, one of the oldest and most popular neighborhoods of New Orleans, otherwise known as Vieux Carre, was founded in 1718. It perfectly combines the tempting, noisy and nutty nightlife of Bourbon street with important historic landmarks, art galleries, sophisticated cafes and some of the city's oldest churches. Make sure not to miss a chance to explore this area and take this...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km
African American Heritage Trail in New Orleans

African American Heritage Trail in New Orleans

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...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Cultural Tour in Business District, New Orleans

Cultural Tour in Business District, New Orleans

For most of the people living in New Orleans, the Central Business District is just a crowded area home to skyscrapers, malls and casinos. However the district is also home to a large number of heritage sites, including some well-known museums. The tour below takes in the cultural side of the Business District.

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
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
New Orleans' Nightlife

New Orleans' 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: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 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.