Visiting Jackson Square
Walking down Decatur Street from Jax Brewery, following along the MIssissippi River’s banks, you can hear the sound of the calliope playing a familiar tune from the Steamboat Natchez and its churning paddles. The sound of chatter from tourists talking about what they want to do, see, or taste next is a reminder why this city is so special.
A view from the steep steps of Washington Artillery Park, overlooking Jackson Square across the street, features a two piece jazz ensemble playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” With the iconic green and white striped awnings of Cafe Du Monde to the right, you can smell fresh Cafe au Lait and hot, powdered sugar-coated beignets coming from the wrought iron tables of happy tourists. The Royal Carriage Company has mule and carriages lined up in front of Jackson Square awaiting guests who want a one-of-a-kind tour of the city. The click-clack of the mule hooves match the beat of the live jazz music and create a rhythm found only here in the heart of the French Quarter. You can watch the local artists who display their original works on the fence of Jackson Square wrapping their paintings up for visitors to take home as colorful momentos of their time spent in this magical city.
St. Ann Street along the right side of Jackson Square, and St. Peter Street along the left, host the Pontalba apartments - the oldest continuously-rented apartments in the United States. Downstairs, the buildings house unique shops and restaurants. Visitors to the city pass by these buildings completely unaware of their past. From here you can see the facade of Muriel’s Restaurant, where you can dine with their ghost host Jourdan, and visit the seance lounge bar upstairs.
Making your way across Decatur street, passing through the heavy, black, iron gates and into the square itself, you can find a bench with a charming view of St. Louis Cathedral near the fountain and Andrew Jackson’s statue, while the bells of the Cathedral chime, reminding you to slow down and breathe. Tourists and locals alike are scattered all around the square, taking pictures in front of the statue, relaxing on the iron benches, sitting on the soft grass, and passing through on the sidewalks to get to destinations elsewhere in the French Quarter.
The stark white facade of the Cathedral, the Cabildo and Presbytére to either side of it, and the jetting palm trees and greenery in front, paint a lovely picture only seen in this favorite location in the French Quarter. Street musicians play a lively tune; couples, friends, and travelers dance on the cobblestone in front of the cathedral, laughing and swaying to the music of the city. Street performers have the full attention of vacationers on the other side of Jackson Square, sharing sensational magic tricks and impressive dance routines, and engaging their audiences with interactive presentations. Listening closely, you can hear the soft voice of the nearest fortune teller expressing concern for her patron’s future, and the sound of birds bathing and splashing in the water of the fountain. The aroma of azaleas surrounding the square with their bright pink blooms is almost overwhelming, but adds to the gumbo of sensations you can only experience by sitting in the middle of Jackson Square, the French Quarters’ most famous and notable site.
What is Jackson Square?
New Orleans’ most recognized historic landmark, Jackson Square, is a picturesque park in the heart of the French Quarter about the size of a city block. Playing a pivotal role in New Orleans history, it is the site of the Louisiana Purchase and designed after the 17th Century Place des Vosges in Paris, France. At its center and erected in 1856, lies the statue of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States and hero of the Battle of New Orleans. First known as Place d’Armes, Jackson Square was renamed for the city’s victorious General following the infamous 1815 battle. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Place d’Armes set the scene for graphic public executions where criminals and slaves were hanged and left for dead.
The 1803 ceremonial transfer of power from Spain to France and then from France to the United States, is symbolized by the flagpole in the center of Jackson Square. Micaela Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba, designed the Parisian-style landscaping you see today and built the Pontalba apartment buildings on either side of the square.
Jackson Square overlooks the mighty Mississippi River via Decatur Street and Washington Artillery Park. Perhaps the most famous building in all of New Orleans is located on Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral. The Cabildo (showcasing rare artifacts of New Orleans and Louisiana State history) and The Presbytère (displaying two permanent displays; the Mardi Gras exhibit and Hurricane Katrina exhibit) flank the Catholic Cathedral and are home to the Louisiana State Museum.
Jackson Square Things To Do
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to the city’s most famous landmarks and museums: St. Louis Cathedral, The Cabildo and Presbytére, Le Petit Theatre, Washington Artillery Park, 1850 House, Royal Carriages, Jax Brewery, unique shops, local artists and performers, and fine dining can all be found on and around Jackson Square, the number one destination for New Orleans visitors.
1850 House: 523 St. Ann St. Open Tuesdays-Sundays 10am-430pm
Take a step back in time 150 years with a glimpse into upper-middle-class life in New Orleans. The 1850 House is part of the Louisiana State Museum.
The Cabildo: 701 Chartres St. Open Tuesdays-Sundays 10am-430pm
This formal Spanish Colonial building is located to the left of St. Louis Cathedral and houses a rare artifacts collection and compilation of New Orleans history only found at the Louisiana State Museum.
Jax Brewery: 600 Decatur St. Open Sunday-Thursday 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat 10am-8pm
Once the brewing and bottling house of Jax Beer from 1891 to the 1970s, Jax Brewery is now home to an array of unique New Orleans shops and restaurants, as well as easy access to the Mississippi River walk and the Steamboat Natchez.
Le Petit Theatre: 616 St. Peter St.
Le Petit Théâtre Du Vieux Carré is New Orleans’ most historic playhouse. The current address has been home to Le Petit Theatre since 1922 where it has entertained thousands of patrons and continues the tradition today.
The Presbytére: 751 Chartres St. Open Tuesdays-Sundays 10am-430pm
Two permanent exhibits are displayed in the Presbytére as part of the Louisiana State Museum; an extensive Mardi Gras collection and historical timeline, as well as the Hurricane Katrina memorial exhibit.
Royal Carriages: 700 Decatur St.
Since 1941, Royal Carriages has been providing draft mules and carriages for their unique guided tours of the French Quarter.
St. Louis Cathedral: 615 Pere Antoine Alley Open daily from 830am-4pm
The most recognized landmark in all of New Orleans, the St. Louis Cathedral, is open daily for mass and tours. New Orleanians have been worshipping on these venerable grounds since 1727.
Washington Artillery Park: 768 Decatur St. Open 24 hours
The steep steps leading up to Washington Artillery Park from Decatur St. are worth the climb for the views of Jackson Square and the Mississippi Riverfront. It has a mounted Civil War cannon and is home of New Orleans’ French Quarter Christmas tree during the holidays.
Jackson Square Restaurants and Eats
If there’s one thing New Orleans is best known for, it’s exquisite Creole Cuisine: Muriel’s Jackson Square, Cafe du Monde, Tableau, The Corner Oyster House, Monty’s on the Square, Stanley Restaurant, Sylvain, Gumbo Shop, Spitfire Coffee, Tujague’s, and Doris Metropolitan New Orleans are just a handful of the eats and drinks at, around, and near Jackson Square.
- Cafe du Monde: 800 Decatur St. Open 24 hours
- The Corner Oyster House: 500 St. Peter Open daily 9am-midnight
- Doris Metropolitan New Orleans: 620 Chartres St. Open daily for dinner 530pm-1030pm
- Gumbo Shop: 630 St. Peter Open daily 11am-10pm
- Monty’s on the Square: 801 Decatur St. Open daily 8am-7pm
- Muriel’s Jackson Square: 801 Chartres St. Open daily 1130am-10pm
- Spitfire Coffee: 627 St. Peter Open daily 8am-8pm
- Stanley Restaurant: 547 St. Ann St. Open daily 7am-7pm
- Sylvain: 625 Chartres St. Open M-Th 530pm-11pm, F-Sa 530pm-12am, Sun 530pm-10pm
- Tableau: 616 St. Peter Open daily 11am-10pm
- Tujague’s: 823 Decatur St. Open daily for lunch 11am-230pm and dinner 5pm-9pm
Jackson Square Arts, Music, and Festivals
Whether you’re looking for unique, one-of-a-kind local art, colorful galleries, fortune telling, street performers, live jazz musicians, the French Quarter Fest, Caroling in Jackson Square, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, or a beautiful place to get hitched in New Orleans, Jackson Square is the place to be.
The open-air artist colony displayed on the iron fence of the square has been thriving for over 50 years, some of the artists working and selling have been showcasing their wares through generations. The Rodrigue Studio is located behind Jackson Square and is a must-see for any true New Orleans lover.
A free music and cultural festival, French Quarter Fest takes place annually in April. While it appears across the whole French Quarter, Jackson Square is the heartbeat of the fest as well as the city.
Jackson Square Location and Hours of Operation
Following Decatur Street between Jax Brewery and the iconic French Market, you can’t miss the three steeples of St. Louis Cathedral and the black, iron gates of Jackson Square. Across the street from the original Cafe du Monde Coffee Stand and Washington Artillery Park, the square overlooks the Mississippi Riverfront. This historic landmark of New Orleans can’t and shouldn’t be missed! So grab a bench in the middle of Jackson Square, rest your weary feet from wandering the French Quarter, take a look around at all of the history at your fingertips, break out your camera, and capture images of beloved New Orleans that you will treasure for years to come!
Jackson Square is located at 700 Decatur St, New Orleans. Open 7 days a week, 8am-6pm in the winter months, 8am-7pm during Daylight Savings Time.