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Toss your travel brochures and check out the culture, vibrancy, and mystery of New Orleans at these local hotspots you may not have known existed.

1. Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House

Not sure whether to spend your day taking in one of New Orleans' many historical offerings or having a little fun? Check out the 200-year-old Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House where you can do both. The bar has a bit of a speakeasy feel, with ornate wood and copper bar fixtures complementing modern day football helmets and a wall covered in business cards. Over the years, the the Old Absinthe's charm has attracted some famous patrons, as legend has it, both living and dead.

Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House sign

2. Marie Laveau's House Of Voodoo

If you want to delve into the spiritual side of New Orleans history, then a visit to Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo is your key to the spirit world. Now a museum and store, this building was once the home of Marie Laveau II, a New Orleans Voodoo Queen who died in 1895. Known for her wild rituals that once attracted as many as 12,000 spectators, some believe the Voodoo Priestess still haunts her former home. Inside, you'll find everything from a Voodoo altar to talismans, charms, and tribal masks. You can also purchase items for your own ceremonies or get a spiritual or Tarot card reading in the back room.

3. Confederate Memorial Hall Museum

There's a fair bit of controversy these days around the preservation of Confederate symbols. It may not make much sense to venerate men who levied war against the United States, but the history of the Civil War itself is very much worth remembering and studying.

If you're interested in that history, then the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum is a can't-miss destination. The oldest museum in Louisiana, it was originally founded in the 1890's in an effort to honor the memory of Confederate soldiers. Today, it houses one of the largest collections of Confederate weapons, uniforms, personal artifacts, and memorabilia in the country.

confederate memorial hall museum
Confederate Museum. Wikimedia Commons

4. Backstreet Cultural Museum

Explore the rich culture of New Orleans' African American community at the Backstreet Cultural Museum. There you'll find a huge collection of exhibits documenting the history of everything from jazz funerals to pleasure clubs and more! The museum also features an extensive archive of over 500 filmed events, as well as public dance and musical performances.

5. Mardi Gras World

Get a backstage look at the time-honored tradition of Mardi Gras and all the hard work that goes into building the 1,000+ floats that populate its its yearly parade. At Mardi Gras World, you'll be able to watch floats under construction, meet various artists, and even try on costumes. They also offer workshops where you can learn to build your own mask, and corporate events that promote team building by offering your team a chance to work together to build a miniature float.

A Mardi Gras float.

6. Napoleon House

Enjoy an evening of eating and drinking surrounded by European charm with a trip to The Napoleon House, originally build in 1787. The building itself has a fascinating history, as it was once intended to be the home of Napoleon Bonaparte himself. During the 1820's, the home's owner conspired with characters such as the famous pirate Jean Lafitte and concocted a bizarre plot to rescue the Emperor from his exile on the remote island of Saint Helena. Once they had completed the rescue, the plan was to sneak Napoleon into America, where the first floor of this house was set aside to be his home. Unfortunately for Napoleon, legend has it that he died before the boat was able to arrive and whisk him away to his new world home. Today, the house retains a beautiful, old world charm, its weathered walls decked with paintings.

7. Where Y'Art

It will likely come as no surprise that a city like New Orleans is home to a wide variety of artists of various mediums and backgrounds. That's why the people behind Where Y'Art created a space where visitors can take a look at some of the best art the city has to offer, all under one roof. Their online gallery features the art of over 100 local artists, while their physical gallery allows for the chance to see the work up close and in person. From sculptures, to paintings, to jewelry, Where Y'Art has a little bit of something for everyone.

8. Muriel's Jackson Square

If you're looking for an elegant place to dine in New Orleans, look no further than Muriel's, which mixes history, decadence, and mystery into a dining experience like no other. Not only does Muriel's serve first class food and wine, it also reserves a table each night for the restaurant's resident ghost. The spirit is believed to be that of Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, who once called the building his home. In 1814, legend says he lost the house in a game of poker, but committed suicide on the second floor rather than abandon it. These days you'll find a special Séance lounge on the second floor, where you can enjoy drinks and conversation. You may even run into Pierre, as it's rumored to be his favorite place to hang out.

Whether you're a lover of art, history, or fine dining, we hope you found a hidden gem here to enjoy on your next New Orleans adventure!

Muriel's New Orleans.
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