This post is written by Candice & Coltin from Exploring the Gulf.
As a family, we’ve been traveling and exploring together since 2010 and we’ve been exploring the Gulf Coast since 2015.
We can tell you this is an area that we love exploring when we are looking for an escape from our cold Western winters.
New Orleans’s unique charm and culture have really captured our hearts, and we would love to share our top Instagram spots in New Orleans with you.
1. Jackson Square
Location: New Orleans, LA 70116
Jackson Square is not only a National Historic Landmark, but it’s also considered the “Heart of the French Quarter.”
It is nestled amid some beautiful French architecture, including the St. Louis Cathedral.
It is a short walk from the Mississippi River, where you can see the beautiful passing steamboats that are iconic to this area.
The square was originally known as the Place d’Armes and was established by the French in the early 18th century.
It was later renamed Jackson Square in honor of General Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans and the seventh president of the United States.
This is a place that you will want to spend time in, but there is some walking involved if you truly want to explore and enjoy the grounds and surrounding area and also get the best angles for your photos!
Plus, you’ll want to avoid that harsh midday sun and get your picture with that soft glow of the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral.
The cathedral was completed in 1794 and is one of the oldest continuously active Catholic churches in the United States.
In the square, you’ll also find a statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback, which commemorates his leadership during the Battle of New Orleans.
We really enjoyed visiting this place and getting to teach our children about its historical and cultural significance.
This place is filled with rich history and beautiful buildings to explore. Plus, as an added bonus, we got to taste some delicious local beignets!
Best time to visit: If you’re looking to visit Jackson Square, we recommend setting up your alarms and waking up early to get there before it opens to the public at 8:00 a.m. and becomes crowded and too hot.
Tip: Since you’re already getting up so early to try and beat the crowds and heat at the square, you can always opt to also eat breakfast at one of the most iconic cafés of the area, Café du Monde.
Here you can get the best quintessential beignets and a savory coffee before you head over to the square.
The cafe opens at 7:15 am every morning.
Extra spot: As an added bonus, both The Cabildo and the Presbytere Museums are right next to the cathedral, and both open at 9:00 a.m., so after exploring the square, you can choose to learn more about local history at one of these museums.
2. St. Louis Cemetery No. 3
Location: 3421 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119
This was a unique visit for us as we don’t often think about or visit cemeteries when we travel.
However, it is worth going to these New Orleans cemeteries as they cast a very imposing appearance with their grand mausoleums, statues, and tombs and intriguing stories.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 is one of the historic cemeteries located in New Orleans.
This beautiful cemetery is located near Jackson Square, making it an easy one-day adventure to take on.
It is part of a group of three cemeteries in the city, with the other two being St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.
One of the most famous and frequently visited graves in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 is believed to belong to Marie Laveau, often hailed as the “Voodoo Queen,” she was a prominent Voodoo practitioner in New Orleans during the 19th century.
Her tomb is usually surrounded by gifts and offerings, voodoo symbols, and X marks made by visitors who would ask for a wish to be granted.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 is known for its above-ground tombs and mausoleums, which are characteristic of many cemeteries in New Orleans due to the city’s high water table.
If you want to learn more about the heritage of this place, we recommend considering using a tour guide that will be able to provide a more personalized experience and some very cool facts about its history and, in some cases, voodoo history as well.
Once you wander through the cemetery’s pathways, you will find yourself wanting to capture every single tomb that you come across, for the best shot, you can try a beautiful symmetrical shot of a row of tombs, or if you find one that you particularly appreciate, try a low-angle with some distance to capture the entire build.
For those higher-up statues, try using a selfie stick to gain some altitude and see if you capture some up-close beauty.
Either way, we are sure you will enjoy the tapestry of tombs and mausoleums that make these cemeteries so unique and beautiful.
If you are wanting to visit the cemeteries, you will need to book a New Orleans cemetery tour to go inside.
There are very few cemeteries that allow for self-guided tours.
Tip: We have always taught our children to be respectful of places that require a certain reverence for them.
We recommend showing your appreciation and respect for the cemeteries in New Orleans by sticking to marked paths and avoiding touching or stepping on graves or tombstones.
These places are meant to be a place of remembrance, and there might be families visiting graves, so provide them with the courtesy of being quiet and respectful for their mourning if you see them nearby.
Best time to visit: If you want a more dramatic and moody vibe for your pictures at an iconic New Orleans cemetery, we recommend going there around late afternoon, right before they close to the public.
Some cemeteries close early afternoon, so make sure you take that into consideration.
Extra spot: If you are traveling with children, make sure you head over to Storyland, a beautiful outdoor place that is embellished by its colorful sculptures and playscapes shaped like classical storybook characters.
This spot also makes for some pretty cute pictures of the littles and is only a short 5-minute drive from the cemetery.
3. The Creole Queen
Location: 1 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Another very unique experience and photograph that you can take is that of The Creole Queen, a beautiful 1,000-passenger paddlewheel riverboat that operates out of the Port of New Orleans.
This vessel offers day and night cruises on the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi River is the most famous river in the United States and for very good reason. I
t played a major role in the industrialization of the country, and it is still also one of the world’s most important commercial waterways.
The best shot of this boat features its beautiful red paddlewheel and, of course, its iconic name.
Before boarding, try to get the perfect cornered angle that features both the paddlewheel and the featured name on its side.
Aboard, you can get the perfect shot from the decks, preferably getting someone to take the shot for you from the outside, but a picture from the inside is just as stunning.
Best time to visit: As beautiful as this boat is during the day, its charm truly awakens at night with its beautiful decks lit up top to bottom, it will make you feel like you have stepped back in time and you are now living a decadent adventure from the olden times.
4. Bourbon Street
Location: Bourbon St. New Orleans, LA
There is something enchanting and iconic about the beautiful ornate iron-covered balconies of New Orleans, and there is no better place to go to photograph these than Bourbon Street.
Bourbon Street is a lively and historic avenue in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter, renowned for its vibrant nightlife, music, bars, and iconic street performances.
This street has a vibrancy that just screams at you with its music, festivals, and in general, its upbeat aura.
It’s a great place for adults to visit and have a great date night or take a foodie tour with some friends.
This street is usually decked out during the Mardi Gras festival, and it becomes a party street.
The date of Mardi Gras changes every year because it’s connected to Easter, which can fall on any Sunday, but the festival will always take place 47 days before Easter.
Best time to visit: Ideally, this is a place you’d visit in the evening to truly capture the essence of this bustling street.
However, it is just as fun to visit during the day, and this could possibly help you avoid bigger crowds.
Extra Spot: For the perfect shot that captures the iconic iron balconies, head over to the corner of Royal and Dumaine St., where you will find a beautiful three-story building with wrap-around iron balconies.
Make sure you center your shot from the corner view of this building facing both streets.
This building is often adorned by hanging potted plants, and you will get the most enchanting shot of your visit to New Orleans.
5. St. Charles Street Car
Location: Stop No. 0 at the corner of Carondelet and Canal streets
Another very fun historical mode of transportation option is the St. Charles Street Car. This historic streetcar line has been running since 1835, and it is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world! Consequently, it makes for one of the most charming photos you’ll ever take. For ease of convenience, you can take this line from the French Quarter to the Garden District.
Make sure you snap a photo of these one-of-a-kind trolleys right next to the majestic live oaks that adorn the streets of this city for a beautiful shot, worthy of the perfect postcard of your visit.
Tip: Make sure you download the “GoMobile app.” This will help you buy tickets, view schedules and routes, and see the locations of trolleys in real-time.
A single ride will cost you only $1.25, but if you prefer to hop on and hop off the trolleys for a day, the Jazzy Pass gives you unlimited rides for $3!
A full line trip takes about 45 minutes one way and will take you along some beautiful stops along the Central Business District, Audubon Park, Tulane, and Loyola Universities.
Best Time: The St. Charles Streetcar runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The frequency of the streetcar depends on the line and time of day.
During peak hours, streetcars come along about every five minutes, and at night about every hour or so.
The best time, in this case, is up to you and how comfortable you are with crowds.
Keep in mind that both tourists and locals take this mode of transportation, so avoiding peak times such as morning, lunch, and evening rushes is probably a good idea.
More Instagrammable Spots In New Orleans
6. Frenchmen Street
Frenchmen Street is known for its live jazz performances and colorful energy.
The impromptu band performances here will have you joining in too.
The best time to visit is in the evening when the street comes alive with music and a lively atmosphere.
7. Audubon Park & Tree of Life
Audubon Park is a beautiful park, and it is home to the iconic Tree of Life.
The tree’s amazing intricate system of branches makes for a stunning photo backdrop.
You can visit during the early morning or late afternoon for the best lighting.
8. Dat Dog’s Courtyard at Magazine Street
Magazine Street offers the most vibrant local charm with its quaint shops, cafes, and colorful buildings.
Dat Dog’s brightly colored courtyard makes for a fun bite stop and impromptu selfie session.
You can stroll along this street during the day to best capture the lively atmosphere and unique storefronts.
9. The Garden District
If you are looking for deep Southern charm, you need to wander through the historic Garden District.
With its stunning mansions and lush gardens, it’s no wonder it’s often a place featured in movies.
The best time for photos here is in the morning when the sunlight hits the neighborhood in a soft charming glow.
10. French Market
If you’re looking to explore a fun locale with local crafts, trinkets, and possible souvenirs, you need to head over to the French Market.
We love the bustling ambiance of this place, and it’s just so fun to explore.
There is a mix of food, art, and crafts, so you can grab a bite while you look around.
We recommend visiting in the morning to avoid crowds and get good shots of the market’s vibrant colors.
11. City Park’s Oak Alley
If you are into the grandeur of the live Oaks of this city, we recommend that you head over to City Park.
You will most definitely want a shot of the enchanting Oak Alley, a tunnel-like pathway formed by massive oak trees.
The golden hour around sunset is probably the best time to capture the magical atmosphere of this park.
12. Cafe Beignet on Decatur Street
This Cafe not only has delicious beignets and tasty drinks to accompany but their live music and ambiance are amazing.
You should not miss the chance to snap a photo while enjoying these iconic treats.
The cafe’s charming indoor seating with a tall chandelier is perfect for morning shots in soft natural light.
13. The Bywater Murals
New Orleans exudes and is covered in art. A great place to see and explore the vibrant street art scene is in the Bywater neighborhood.
You will see colorful murals and graffiti and hopefully find one that speaks to you.
If you visit in the afternoon, you will have great lighting that will capture the art’s vivid colors.
14. City Skyline from Crescent Park
Not only does Crescent Park have a stunning view of the New Orleans city skyline across the Mississippi River, but its iconic rust crescent bridge also makes for a unique shot.
The park has some elevated walkways that provide a good vantage point for capturing this shot, or you could try from the top of the bridge.
Sunset would be a perfect time to capture the skyline.
15. Bourbon Street at Night
Bourbon Street comes alive at night.
This place, known for its neon signs and bustling nightlife, will be a great place to capture the allure of New Orleans at night.
Try heading out during the evening hours to capture the vibrant and energetic atmosphere for your photos.
Map Of The Best Photo Spots In New Orleans
When Is The Best Time To Visit New Orleans
We really like to visit and recommend visiting New Orleans in the fall.
This is the best time of year to truly take in and capture the beauty of this city while avoiding the humidity and hot weather.
Another great time to visit is during the spring when tourism is low, and the summer heat has not set in.
Spring and fall are great times to enjoy walking around the streets, going on an airboat tour, and eating delicious foods.
Why You Should Visit New Orleans:
New Orleans is truly a place like no other.
Its obvious French cultural heritage resonates through the very center of its essence, but its American and Creole history is what truly highlights the cultural importance of this area.
There is just so much to see and learn here, from the heartbreaking slavery stories of the plantations to the grand Creole Queen tours on the Mississippi River, this place is just a Southern gem.