12 of the Best New Orleans Museums

French Quarter
Pack those walking shoes for The French Quarter. credit: Catherine Parker

With such great food to sample and so many cocktails to sip, first-time visitors to New Orleans and especially the French Quarter might miss its museums. New Orleans offers a unique history, with both the French and the Spanish leaving their mark in the area’s architecture. Visitors can learn about it at any of the best New Orleans Museums, like the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old Mint and the National WWII Museum.

Best New Orleans Museums

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
WWII Museum
1850 House
The Cabildo
The Presbytère
St. Louis Cathedral
The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old Mint
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
Hermann-Grima House
Gallier House
The Historic New Orleans Collection
The Sazerac House 
Pharmacy Museum Best New Orleans Museums
The exhibition from the Pharmacy Museum. credit: Catherine Parker

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum 

Inside the home and pharmacy of the first licensed pharmacist in the U.S., visitors get a sneak peek of the history of medicine from the 1820s. If it wasn’t history, it might be considered a haunted attraction.

This widely popular museum is equal parts fascinating and scary. I personally was thankful I wasn’t a patient. It is a quick museum to explore and great for those not that don’t typically do museum tours. 

Located at 514 Chartres St., New Orleans. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Adult admission is $10, and guided tours are available and reservable online. Or use a New Orleans Go City All-Inclusive Pass. 

The National WWII Museum 

As the official WWII museum for the U.S., it covers six acres and features five pavilions with immersive and interactive exhibits explaining the war on both fronts. Visitors learn about the people, campaigns and equipment that defined this war. 

The National WWII Museum’s Solomon Victory Theater plays the 4D film Beyond All Boundaries, narrated by Tom Hanks. The U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center features a collection of WWII tanks, trucks and aircraft.  

Located at 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, Open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Adult admission is $35, and students in Kindergarten and up are $25. Second-day tickets are $11 per person. The movie is an additional $11. Or use a New Orleans Go City All-Inclusive Pass. 

Go City All-Inclusive Pass 

With the app-based Go City All Inclusive Pass, visitors purchase the pass, then scan and go to your chosen attractions. I downloaded the app and added my order number from an email confirmation.

This made planning a lot easier. All I did was pull up the app at the ticket window, and they scanned and let me in. It was very easy. Most museums don’t require advance reservations; however, most tours require reservations, like the swamp tour or the Creole Queen Paddle Wheeler.  

Go City All Inclusive Pass includes options like a New Orleans School of Cooking Demonstration, Cajun Pride Swamp Boat Tour and Cities of the Dead Cemetery History Tour. 

Top Things to Do in The French Quarter 
1850 House New Orleans
The antiques inside the 1850 House. credit: Catherine Parker

1850 House

With its location overlooking Jackson Square, Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba built the 1850 House to be used as rentals. Her father, Don Andrés Almonester y Roxas, helped to build the St. Louis Cathedral, The Presbytère and The Cabildo, all located nearby. 

Those on a guided tour will learn more about the fascinating, sometimes tragic life of Baroness Micaela Almonester de Pontalba. 

The 1850 House is decorated with antiques of the era and is another home tour is explore while visiting the French Quarter. 

Located at 523 St Ann St. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Adult admission is $5 and free for kids 6 and younger. Or use a New Orleans Go City All-Inclusive Pass. 

The Cabildo

New Orleans has a French flair, though the Spanish ruled the area too. The Spanish built The Cabildo in 1795 and 1799. As the seat of the Spanish Colonial City Hall, it is located next to St. Louis Cathedral, overlooking Jackson Square. 

The three stories of The Cabildo offer exhibits on the history of New Orleans. It was the site of the Louisiana Purchase Transfer ceremonies and formerly the headquarters of the Louisiana Supreme Court. 

Located at 701 Chartres St. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Adult admission is $10 and free for kids 6 and younger. Or use a New Orleans Go City All-Inclusive Pass. 

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The Presbytere Best New Orleans museums
With exhibits on Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina, The Presbytere is popular. credit: Catherine Parker

The Presbytère

Designed in 1791, this building adjoins St. Louis Cathedral and matches its architecture. However, it is the permanent exhibits that draw visitors. 

Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana takes visitors through the history of New Orleans’s biggest (and most famous) party. Visitors will see floats, costumes and more. 

The Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond walks visitors through Hurricane Katrina and its brutal aftermath. This interactive exhibit explains how the levees and the flooding affected the area. 

Located at 751 Chartres St. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Adult admission is $7 and free for kids 6 and younger. Or use a New Orleans Go City All-Inclusive Pass. 

 St. Louis Cathedral
The St. Louis Cathedral overlooks Jackson Square. credit: Catherine Parker

St. Louis Cathedral

Also known as Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, this is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is one of the oldest cathedrals in continuous use in the U.S. 

Self-guided tours are available daily from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Sunday mass is celebrated at 9 and 11 a.m. along with Saturday at 5 p.m. 

Located at 615 Pere Antoine Alley. Donation of $1 to tour the cathedral. 

The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old Mint 

Visitors can learn more about the vibrant jazz music founded in New Orleans through a series of interactive exhibits. Many of the legends of New Orleans Jazz are discussed, like Fats Domino. The National Park Service hosts jazz music performances at this location. 

With its location inside of the Old Mint, there are displays on money as well. 

Located at 400 Esplanade Ave. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Adult admission is $10 and free for kids 6 and younger. Or use a New Orleans Go City All-Inclusive Pass. 

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park

This National Park Service site shares the rich heritage of Jazz. From the beginning of the musical genre to the Jazz greats, including the trailblazing women of Jazz, visitors get an overview at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. 

For performances, visitors can go to The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old Mint. The National Park Service French Quarter Visitor Center features a drum circle on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the Dutch Alley at 916 N. Peters St. 

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve 

The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is a collection of six separate locations

across Southern Louisiana. For the most convenient location, travelers will find a visitor center with interpretive programming in the French Quarter. 

Visitors learn about the history of the oldest part of New Orleans, along with the lower Mississippi River region. It offers ranger programs and Junior Ranger programming for kids. 

Both are located at 419 Decatur St. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.  It is free to enter the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park.

Hermann Grima House
The Hermann Grima House offers tours of the slave quarters and the main house. credit: Catherine Parker

Old Home Tours in the French Quarter

One of the best ways to learn about the unique history of the French Quarter is to walk through it. Here are a few of the best tours. 

Hermann-Grima House

Built in 1831, the exterior of the house is Federalist, and the main house offers richly decorated rooms. Visitors enter through the carriage house and courtyard to meet their docent. 

For my visit, I took the Urban  Enslavement Tour, which walks through the building that is next to the courtyard. On the ground floor of the building, I walked through the open hearth kitchen, a larder and a storage room. This is where all the cooking was done for the house, along with the people living and working in the house.

Upstairs, we walked through the rooms that the slaves lived in (mostly women, due to the domestic nature of the work). It was interesting to learn how work was completed before modern conveniences. 

Inside the main house, visitors tour the antique-decorated rooms. The docent explains the families that called the house a home, including their misfortunes. The tour guide explained the social classes of the people living and working in New Orleans at the time. 

Located at 818 St Louis St. Open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed Tuesday). Adult admission is $17, $14 for students and free for those 8 and younger for the guided tour.

Gallier House in New Orleans
The Gallier House included indoor plumbing. credit: Catherine Parker

Gallier House

Completed in 1860, this house was the family home of a New Orleans’ architect and features indoor plumbing, a novel idea at the time. In addition to the tour of the stately home, visitors tour the slave quarters located behind the home. 

During my visit, I learned about the household tasks performed for the upkeep of the home and its family. During my visit, the house was dressed for summer, with linens, coverings and carpet removed. 

The Gallier House tour offers seasonal programming, like a tour about death and mourning in October and Christmas decorations during the holiday season. 

Located at 1132 Royal St. Open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed Tuesday). Adult admission is $17, $14 for students and free for those 8 and younger for the guided tour. 

The Historic New Orleans Collection

With several sites across the French Quarter, the main interpretive area is the French Quarter Galleries. It offers a history of New Orleans, especially the French Quarter. 

In the French Quarter Galleries, visitors discover why the area was chosen and how the area developed. Walking through the exhibits, I learned about how the French and the Spanish left their mark on the city’s arts, food and culture. 

Located at 520 Royal St. Free to Enter. Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 – 4:30 p.m.

The Sazerac House  

Touring the Sazerac House isn’t an old home tour, though it does walk visitors through the history of Sazerac, a type of rye. Originally from New Orleans, it is a liquor and a signature cocktail. 

This multi-story exhibit offers a comprehensive history of the spirit. The Sazerac House offers complimentary tours along with tours that focus on cocktails with Sazerac. 

Located at 101 Magazine St. Open daily from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free to enter, reservations accepted. It offers a gift shop with a selection of its spirits for sale. Must be 21+ to sample the spirits. 

Disclosure: Consideration for brands listed.

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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