Next time you’re visiting New Orleans, and need a break from the French Quarter crowds, consider traveling to Algiers Point, a neighborhood with a history of sugar plantations, shipyards, and railroads. Algiers Point is a unique, must-see place to visit in New Orleans today; it is a historic village, bedroom community, and a local music Mecca. Algiers is New Orleans’ best kept secret!
How to Get to Algiers Point
To get there, take a ferry across the Mississippi River from the Canal Street Terminal for just $2 per person (cash only, no change). You’re guaranteed majestic views of the French Quarter and Central Business District skyline.
Why Makes Algiers Point Special?
Only the Vieux Carre is older than Algiers Point, which still has an atmosphere of a 19th century village. The first thing that’ll strike you about the Point is how quiet it is. But don’t be deceived easily – this hidden gem has a lot to offer architecture and music buffs.
Houses here range from Greek revival homes to Creole cottages, and traditional doubles to small shotgun houses. You’re really lucky if you visit the Point during Mardi Gras – the amount and intricacy of decorations will beat even the French Quarter.
Music, Music, and More Music
The Point has always been a magnet for musicians. To prove this, New Orleans native, Louis Armstrong’s statue will greet you at the ferry landing. From that point, you will be invited to take a stroll down the “Jazz Walk Of Fame” – a self-guided tour that spans the levee from the ferry landing to DeArmas Street. It includes 60 interactive French Quarter-style lamps showcasing audio vignettes on the music and lives of inductees. It’s fascinating to follow the lives of Manuel Manetta, Charlie Love, and John Robichaux as you make your way past their childhood homes, the schools where they learned to play music, and the clubs where they made names for themselves in jazz history.
You can almost hear “Kid” Thomas Valentine, Henry “Red Allen’s” jazz, Charlie Love’s cornet playing, and Bill Matthew’s drums. As you walk down the streets lined up with live oak trees, don’t miss the Old Masonic Hall building on Olivier Street. This was the sight of many jazz sessions on the upper floor that featured “Happy” Schilling and Norman Brownlee.
Festivals. The Point is also cherished by locals as a perfect spot for summer music events. New Orleanians love free jazz concerts that are held at the Algiers Point ferry landing every Wednesday evening for eight weeks during summer months. The concerts present some of the top musicians of the city.
An Alternative To the Crowds of Bourbon Street
Nowadays if you’re looking for an alternative to Bourbon Street live music entertainment, head down to Old Point Bar near the ferry landing that has been on site since late 1840s. It’s quite famous for the movies shot there and celebrities that have visited. There’s live jazz or blues music every night.
Take it easy and mingle with locals while sipping on your cocktail. An old English pub, Crown & Anchor, with a blue police booth as its entrance is also a great place to relax and unwind, while watching a game or listening to a local blues artist.
If you’re a musician or perhaps a music student, Algiers Music Point, a local family-owned music store, will win your heart with its personal customer service, great prices, and a comfortable place to play and enjoy music.
What To Eat. Stop for a quick, organic bite at Tout de Suite café. Order at the counter and enjoy conversing with locals while listening to live music on the weekends! Make sure to order crawfish etouffee over grits with eggs – a typical New Orleans breakfast cooked to perfection here.
Where To Stay. If you prefer to escape the French Quarter noise and stay in Algiers Point for the night, there’s no better place than House of the Rising Sun Bed and Breakfast. This beautiful shotgun double cottage is just steps away from the ferry and all the attractions of the Point. The host is very knowledgeable about the area – he wrote the Algiers Point Historic Tour program and conducts it himself. He’ll be able to answer any questions you’ve ever had about New Orleans and Algiers Point.
A Few More Secrets
Algiers Courthouse. Don’t forget to check out this castle-like structure built in the late 19th century. Go behind the building to its Carriage House which has also served as a stable and a jail.
Mississippi River Levee. Spend some time on the levee and watch the steamboats churn pass. Watch for pelicans, egrets, and hawks at the batture – the area between the levee and the river.
At Algiers Point you feel the musical ghosts that haunt these old homes and streets, and the nights come alive with songs and laughter for those who “tune in” to the beat.
(Check out this Article for More Secrets: Top Places to Visit in the Crescent City)