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Vibrant culture, intricate history, unbelievable Creole and Cajun food, and all the Southern views and charm your group can handle!
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 - Welcome to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, one of the most popular and most respected burial grounds in the city, the burial ground of the most illustrious citizens of New Orleans past and present. Located in the heart of the Treme Neighborhood near the French Quarter and placed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 1789 cemetery is the oldest existing cemetery in New Orleans and is still the site of several burials per year. While here you will see the Oven Wall Vaults, the graves of Daniel Clarke, Paul Morphy, and Etienne De Bine, and even the supposed final resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, not to mention all the magnificent tombs of French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish societies from the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy all the above ground vaults, decadent architecture, and hugely rich histories within.
French Quarter - What would a trip to the Big Easy be without a rather long stop at Vieux Carre or the French Quarter? This essential NOLA landmark exudes vibrant culture and history, being the oldest neighborhood in all of New Orleans, established in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Mayre de Bienville. This is a place your group can see a tapestry painted vividly with the rich history, diverse architecture, renowned culture-filled jazz clubs, fine art galleries, a lively nightlife, entertaining street performers, and some of the absolute best Cajun and Creole foods! A stroll down the street will show your group colorful balconies with detailed ironwork, green courtyards with lush landscape, and iconic European fountains fit for the most essential southern city photos. Explore the district neighborhoods with eclectic architecture and learn why this is still a highly valuable trade area today, just like it was in the past, due to its positioning on the Mississippi River. Cafe de Monde is a famed local bakery you may want to stop at while here, serving the best beignets and coffee 24/7.
St. Louis Cathedral - Welcome to the famous St. Louis Cathedral, or more formally the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France (1794). This Roman Catholic structure is one of the oldest U.S. cathedrals still in use and provides members of its faith, local daily spectators, and wandering travelers from afar with some of the most absolutely stunning architecture in the city. This establishment houses the current Archdiocese of New Orleans as well as some seriously stunning Renaissance architecture, Spanish Colonial architecture, and design features exclusive only to grand spired 1700s style churches like this one. This minor basilica, or cathedral, will amaze your group with the beauty of its stained glass, painted ceilings, and more. The St. Louis Cathedral’s famous triple steeples will beckon you into the onsite Convent Museum, where you can learn about the history of this church, the holy sacraments, and the development of local NOLA Roman Catholic faith!
Degas House - Next stop, the absolutely gorgeous Degas House, the upscale Bed and Breakfast in the former historic home of the famous painter, sculptor, and French Impressionist master, Edgar Degas. This amazing historic home, house museum, photogenic courtyard, and the elegant inn is located along the beautiful tree-lined Esplanade Avenue and serves as a highly loved local landmark and absolute tourist dream with its bursting-at-the-seams southern charm. Here you and your group will be lucky enough to get the interesting story and informational history of local French Creoles while being very close to the French Quarter, allowing you the absolute best opportunity to take in this masterpiece of history and hospitality. Each guestroom is named after a member of the Degas family, with such availabilities as the Estelle Suite, Mathilde Suite, Carrie Suite, Pierre Suite, sultry Desiree Suite, and so on. While here take part in the Breakfast + Tour or simple Creole Impressionist Tour, each earning a world-renowned guided tour experience rave!
Steamboat Natchez Cruise - Get ready to end your night the perfect New Orleans way, with a Dinner Jazz Cruise aboard New Orleans Steamboat Company’s own Steamboat Natchez. This locally owned and operated steamboat company is considered to be the last authentic steamboat on the mighty Mississippi and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. The expansive history of this steam engine runs along the same course as the history of the city and Mississippi River, literally! Learn about how this line of boats have been through a comparably placid antebellum era, turbulent Civil War time, and even the laid-back "Gay Nineties" in NOLA (that's 1890s). New Orleans Steamboat Company offers a Dinner Jazz and Daytime Jazz cruise daily year round and does so in the style of an authentic steamboat from the past. Visit the museum quality steam engine room, enjoy live jazz as well as a cruise wide Calliope concert, and even opt in for some of the most delicious and savory creole dishes on the Mississippi.
New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden - Lose yourself in a world of New Orleans art as you and your group visit the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden or NOMA for short. NOMA is an impressive collection of around 40,000 various objects ranging from French and American art and modern photography to antique glass work and African and Japanese sculptures. NOMA was first established in 1911, which makes this the oldest fine arts museum in the entire city. Enjoy the landscape of City Park near Esplanade Avenue, a vibrantly green area surrounded by meandering footpaths, lagoons, live oaks laden with Spanish moss, mature pines, magnolias, camellias, and gorgeous pedestrian bridges. You will also truly enjoy the adjoining five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, full of over 60 various marble sculptures. Head over to the Museum shop to pick up any fun or educational souvenirs before stopping at Cafe Noma, Travel + Leisure’s vote for "One of America’s Best Museum Restaurants" in 2015!
Mardi Gras World - Next stop Mardi Gras World, the only place in New Orleans where you and your entire student group can go any time of the year and still experience, and fully enjoy, the true Mardi Gras experience (minus anything above a PG rating of course). This highly popular tourist attraction allows guests to tour a working warehouse where mega floats are made, a family-friendly, entertaining, and educational way to see first hand the work and planning put into this grand event. You will tour the massive building studio, get the history of this tradition, and hopefully walk away with a much better understanding of the real Mardi Gras. Witness NOLA culture at its finest as you see up close and personal how the artists make the mega floats that can hold up to 200 people, fiber optics, and laser lights, for over 40 parades a year.
Mask Making - Extend your stay at Mardi Gras World for a little bit longer as you and your group take part in a truly unique to New Orleans experience, a Mask Making Mardi Gras Workshop! This fun and rewarding evening workshop will give your group a brief history of masking in New Orleans and then allow them to make their very own festive and unique creation, all the mask and decor supplies you will need to be provided by the company. This adult arts and crafts session, or culture crafts session, is perfect for parties and large groups over 30 and provides discounts for groups of this size. While here see sample masks to recreate or tap into you unlimited southern style imagination to create something completely new and charming. Your group may choose to upgrade your workshop to include local creole food, spirits, and a live local jazz or cajun band as well to really up the experience!
Ogden Museum of Southern Art - Welcome to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the historical and visual heritage museum that documents Southern art history from 1733 to present day. Inside the walls of this museum, you and your group will see over 3,000 works of art from various different southern artists, from paintings and watercolors to drawings, prints, ceramics, and sculpture. Ogden Museum is located within the Central Business District of New Orleans near Lee Circle and is actually associated with the University of New Orleans, though it isn’t on campus. Exploring all the different exhibits inside will give you a multi-perspective view of southern life, through a truly impressive collection of southern art throughout. While here be sure to opt-in for a student tour, which will feature complete curriculum customization and will take your group to any daily special events, all permanent exhibits, and even to a post-tour art activity!
Oak Alley Plantation - Your last New Orleans stop is a truly essential one, the iconic and over-the-top photogenic site of Oak Alley Plantation. Technically located in the town of Vacherie, this stunningly Southern historic plantation home sits on 25 historic acres, each acre filled with stories of history and romance, tragedy and triumph. There is so much history and culture to be explored on these grounds, not to mention the outstanding home architecture and gorgeous 300-year-old live oak trees lining the pathway to and from the home. Enjoy the views from the quaint, casual, onsite cafe that serves specials in traditional Southern style, with entrees like Cajun po boys and virgin specialty cocktails, such as the site special mint julep. What a great way to fuel up and cool off! Your group will have the chance to either choose a self-guided stroll around the property with their own interactive maps, living the legacies themselves or opting for a guided tour!