Come to Canal Street on the first day of your visit to New Orleans to get a great sense of what the city has to offer. Rich with history and full of interesting stores, theatres, museums and other attractions, this street offers enough to keep you busy for hours. And when you are ready to see another part of the city, Canal Street’s central location means you will be able to walk to many of the other highlights of the French Quarter and beyond.
Canal Street is named after a planned canal that was never built. Visit it today and try to imagine what it was like in the 19th century, when it was one of the most fashionable destinations in New Orleans. Wealthy residents flocked to the street to dine and shop. At that time, the street was slightly unusual in being popular with French and Creole residents as well as Americans with other heritages. Streetcars brought people here from all over the city.
Browse the shops along Canal Street nowadays and see how this remains a very stylish part of the city. Those with a taste for upscale brands will be spoilt for choice here. Head to The Shops at Canal Place to visit high-end favourites such as Saks Fifth Avenue. Look for luxury hotels, such as the Ritz Carlton and the Astor Crowne Plaza, that are sprinkled along the street, further enhancing the area’s upmarket credentials.
The Audubon Insectarium, which bills itself as the world’s largest museum of insects, is a must-see sight whether or not you have kids with you. Be sure to take photos of the grand white marble building that houses the museum, which is a marvel in itself. Walk for about 10 minutes up the street, away from the river, and see what is on at the Saenger Theatre and the Joy Theatre, two beautiful historic theatres that today host big-name shows and performers.
Come to Canal Street during Mardi Gras, held in February, to see the place come alive with music, colour and celebration. This lively street is the hub of New Orleans’ most famous festival.