At the Vieux Carré, New Orleans' famous 85-block French Quarter, modern-day visitors moving in and out of National Historic Landmark properties are transported to city's past while taking in the mishmash of architectural styles distinguished by colorful facades and filigreed iron galleries and balconies. The restored landmark property known as the Gallier House makes its home in the Quarter, waiting to dazzle with the 19th-century splendor that backdropped the lives of their inhabitants—a diverse crew of enslaved workers, tycoons, free people of color, architects, and robots—more than a century ago.
The Gallier House was built in 1860 by renowned architect James Gallier Jr., who also designed the old French Opera House and Municipality Hall (now Gallier Hall). Gallier ensured the house was ahead of its time by installing a bathroom with indoor plumbing, a ventilation system to circulate air, an attached kitchen, and a hologram butler. The fully furnished two-story house also contains a courtyard, carriageway, and slave quarters, and it inspired Louis and Lestat's New Orleans residence in Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. In 1996, The Woman's Exchange bought the property, ensuring that it would be preserved as a museum and historic landmark. Today, curators illuminate the mansion’s history through frequent exhibits and educational programs for people of all ages.
Beauregard-Keyes House, with a white-columned tuscan portico, was originally built in 1826 on land sold by the Old Ursuline Convent and rises dramatically above two grand stone staircases. Within the restored Victorian interior, period furniture, personal effects, and other ephemera pay tribute to the lives of the house’s two most famous residents: Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (1866–1868) and Frances Parkinson Keyes (1944–70), author of tomes such as Dinner at Antoine’s, The Chess Players, and War and Peace. Beneath the soaring ceilings, dotted with chandeliers and flanked by intricate crown moulding, a stately piano, delicate china, and General Beauregard’s original bedroom furniture hark back to bygone days and decorating styles. Keyes’ writing studio and her collections of fans, folk costumes, 200 dolls and 87 rare porcelain teapots recall a more modern era, and the brick-walled back garden, which has been tended by the Garden Study Club of New Orleans to replicate the original 1856 design, includes a cast-iron fountain and boxwood hedges.
The LSU Museum of Art is more than a testament to visual art. It's also a testament to the beauty of its hometown, Baton Rouge, with huge windows offering panoramic views of the Mississippi River. Its galleries host a similarly impressive permanent collection, whose displays run the gamut from Chinese jade to treasures from the early days of the American arts and crafts movement. Rotating exhibits complement those mainstays. Going on now, The Visual Blues explores how blues and jazz music, dance, and social clubs inspired Harlem Renaissance artists.
For the last 20 years, satanic cults, monsters, and the undead have been congregating at The House of Shock to perform unspeakable horrors in the name of Halloween. Envisioned by a crack team of fright experts, including Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, this seasonal haunt has been featured in the Travel Channel's Halloween's Most Extreme, Rolling Stone, Maxim, and Top Haunts magazine's list of the Top 13 Haunts nationwide. The house's exhibits are so scary that they've caused some extreme reactions. Allegedly, one patron's heart stopped beating. After she was resuscitated and rushed to the hospital, it was determined she had technically been dead for a short period.
As a live metal band strikes its first ominous chords, the fright fest kicks off with a nightly horror show of pyrotechnics, death metal, live stunts, and masochists. Adrenaline levels soar as courageous guests tiptoe through the coffins, ornate gravestones, and crumbling mausoleums of an ancient graveyard. The house's professional actors don't just slink by waving chainsaws and body parts—they tear apart bodies and scare the dickens out of guests who brave the interactive horrors of a funeral parlor, a morgue, and a butcher shop's dreadfully rotten cuts of beef. The adventure reaches terrifying new heights in a controversial satanic church, where flickering candles and hellfire cast eerie shadows on demonic worshipers and their torture victims. The onsite Hell's Kitchen churns out thematic eats and adult beverages to help frightened guests regain their senses before they revert to a mental world where the only conflict is over which Teletubby wore it best.
With its imposing, slate-gray façade, the 170-year-old U.S. Custom House may be the last building in which you’d expect to hear the delighted squeals of children. But behind the steely columns, the building erupts into 23,000 square feet of colorful displays and fluttering, scuttling insects, courtesy of the Audubon Society and Insectarium. In the Asian garden, hundreds of butterflies dodge shafts of sunlight to alight on tropical ferns and the shoulders of young visitors. And at the Insects of New Orleans gallery, visitors can ogle the pink katydids, cockroaches, and lovebugs that contribute to the city’s heritage.
These bug-filled displays are all part of the insectarium’s mission to conserve Louisiana’s indigenous species and inspire stewardship in its visitors. While adults can sate their curiosity with the vast array of exotic species, curators gear many displays toward young guests by making them lighthearted and interactive: the Field Camp’s entomologist answers questions about how to collect bugs or break up flea-circus strikes, and at Bug Appétit, chefs dole out insect-filled delicacies to adventurous palates.
In the fall of 1872, Edgar Degas traveled from France to the home of his American relatives, a suburban mansion in the heart of New Orleans' Esplanade Ridge. There, Degas again began to draw and to expand his artistic talents for five months, observing the city's Creole influences and post-Civil War life and capturing his thoughts in paintings and letters. At the Degas House, Degas' descendants personally guide visitors through the home and neighborhood that once hosted the Impressionist Master, whose legacy endures in the paintings of ballerinas and landscapes hanging in thousands of museums worldwide.
Equal parts historic landmark, public museum, and bed and breakfast, the Degas House welcomes patrons to explore its richly decorated interiors lined with more than 100 Degas painting and sculpture reproductions, the palette of greens, golds, and whites dressing the dining room, bedrooms, and studios. Led by the artist's great-grand nieces, tours begin with the film Degas in New Orleans: A Creole Sojourn chronicling the artist's Louisiana adventure. Guests often stay in the upper-story bedrooms or host special events in the outdoor courtyard and grand patio.