In many ways, Jackson Square is the heart of New Orleans. This city square is the epicenter of the French Quarter, which is the famed neighborhood that is notorious for its Mardi Gras celebrations, its beads and its lively atmosphere.
Not surprisingly, Jackson Square is a must-experience attraction on nearly every visitor’s to-do list in New Orleans. Here’s everything you need to know about Jackson Square:
The History and Culture of Jackson Square
Jackson Square has long held a place of significance in the city of New Orleans. As early as the 18th century, this city square was a gathering place for people who wanted to conduct business and socialize. At that time, the square was known as Place d’Armes.
After the Battle of New Orleans, the square was renamed after Andrew Jackson. To this day, Jackson Square pays homage to its hero with a statue located in the center of the square. While there has been some controversy surrounding the statue, it remains intact. By comparison, other statues in the city have been removed, such as the statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee. In 2017, city officials had the statue removed and relocated to an undisclosed location.
Those who are interested in history will appreciate how the past has been preserved in Jackson Square. There are historic churches and museums, as well as the oldest apartment buildings in the United States.
In addition to preserving the buildings that have long been standing in Jackson Square, local residents have also maintained the square’s commitment to art. For centuries, artists have been able to create in the open square. Today, artists of all styles and backgrounds can be found working in the square and selling their works to visitors.
Jackson Square is a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is a point of pride for New Orleans residents. Those who are visiting the city should be sure to make time to see Jackson Square in all of its glory.
Community Events at Jackson Square
Given the fact that Jackson Square is located in the busy French Quarter, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of community events hosted in Jackson Square throughout the year. Some community events that are scheduled in Jackson Square include:
- Caroling in Jackson Square
- The French Quarter Festival
- French Quarter Tours
Races, festivals, concerts, and art shows can be scheduled throughout the year in and around Jackson Square. Most visitors will find that if they head to Jackson Square, they will always find something to do. It is a lively corner of the town, and despite the fact that it’s a popular tourist attraction, it is loved by those who live in and work in the city as well.
Jackson Square Attractions
Jackson Square is open daily, but the hours may vary based on the season. In the summer, the square is open to visitors later into the evening. It closes earlier during the winter months when tourism traffic may be slower and the weather may be cooler. Regardless of what time of year you visit Jackson Square, you won’t want to miss its best attractions:
- Saint Louis Cathedral — This historic cathedral defines Jackson Square. The beautiful structure towers over the square and is a point of interest for anyone who walks by. The cathedral was built in the 1720s, making it one of the oldest buildings in the region. Those who visit Jackson Square can enjoy a self-guided tour of the cathedral. Brochures are available for a $1 donation that will provide visitors with additional information about the history of the building, its construction and the role it plays in the city today.
- The Artist Colony — The Artist Colony exists along the fence that borders the cathedral. For generations, artists have occupied this space and have been creating works of art in the square. One of the most popular activities for tourists is to have their portrait done by one of these dedicated local artists.
Most tourists find that they should allocate about two hours to explore Jackson Square. Of course, the length of time that you spend in the square can be adjusted to fit your own unique needs and interests.
The Best Restaurants in Jackson Square
Given its prominent location in the French Quarter, it’s not surprising that some of the best restaurants in New Orleans are located in and around Jackson Square. If you plan to dine while visiting Jackson Square, you will want to check out one of these places:
- Muriel’s Jackson Square — This restaurant is perfect for anyone who wants an idyllic French Quarter dining experience. This restaurant is famous for its authentic New Orleans cuisine, including gumbo, shrimp and turtle soup.
- Pirates Alley Cafe — Aptly named, this restaurant is an awesome choice for those looking for exceptional thematic elements as well as an eclectic menu. Patrons love the cocktails that are crafted at this location.
- Laurel Oak — For a more sophisticated dining experience near Jackson Square, visitors should head to Laurel Oak. This restaurant featuring southern fare has received rave reviews from local residents and visitors alike.
In addition to these delectable restaurants where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner, there also are plenty of spots where you can grab an ice cream or enjoy a beignet. For many, the best part about their visit to Jackson Square is relaxing with a delicious treat as they watch the rest of the world go by.
Hosting Your Wedding at Jackson Square
As it offers some of the most iconic views in the city, Jackson Square has become one of the hottest places to get married in New Orleans. Couples from near and far plan their wedding days at this picturesque location. While it is popular, it’s important to note that there are rules and regulations to consider.
Couples cannot plan a wedding in Jackson Square without the written consent of the city’s parks and recreation department. It is a registered historic landmark, and couples must follow all guidelines for hosting their wedding in the square. Only one wedding is permitted in the park at once, so interested couples must apply for a permit months in advance. The fee for hosting a wedding in Jackson Square varies based on the number of guests and can range between $250 and $1,000. It should be noted that even though the couple will receive a permit to use the square for their wedding, the square will still remain open to the public at all times. Additional events, such as pre- or post-ceremony receptions are not allowed.
The only way to get the most out of your Jackson Square experience is to stay at a nearby hotel that allows you to access this popular attraction whenever you want throughout your visit. Magnolia New Orleans will provide you with the respite you need from the hustle and bustle of Jackson Square, all while affording you the opportunity to explore the square both day and night.
Whether you are planning a destination wedding in New Orleans or booking a trip for you and your girlfriends, you will find that our hotel is the best place to stay. For more information, contact us today.