Things To Do In The Treme
A visit to New Orleans would not be complete without spending some time in one of its most famous locations. As one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods there is much to learn and experience when you are there in the Treme. From its earliest beginnings as one of the nation’s few multicultural communities its character was developed with a combination of immigrants, refugees, and Free People of Color all converging on the area from as far back as the 1700s. The significance of such a community growing against America’s tumultuous background has created an area known for its famous jazz funerals, Mardi Gras Festivities, and historical sites.
Be sure to check out our full list of self-guided New Orleans tours.
Here is our guide of things to do in the Treme.
- (A) St. Louis Cemetery #1
Begin your walk where life ends at the famous St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Established in 1789, it is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. Located right at the edge of the French Quarter the tombs contain the remains of many of the old Creole families that lived there throughout history. Here you’ll see multi-story tombs of people from as far back as the French colonial days. Buried there you’ll find the first black mayor of New Orleans and Marie Laveau – the legendary voodoo queen.
With the mixed cultural history of New Orleans, it stands to reason that cemeteries would become a major tourist attraction. A walking tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1 is free and is well worth the time it takes to soak in a little bit more of the city’s history. You can read a bit more with our self-guided tour of the cemetery, but you will not be able to enter the gates without a tour due to new regulations imposed by the Catholic Archdioceses in New Orleans.
Consider taking our St. Louis Cemetery #1 Tour.
- (B) Louis Armstrong Park/Congo Square
Located on the outer edge of the French Quarter, the Louis Armstrong Park is dedicated to one of the City’s most favored residents and traditions. This 32-acre green space has played a significant role in the city’s history and is also known as the city’s New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Inside the park you’ll find the Mahalia Jackson Theater of Performing Arts Center where the Louisiana Symphony Orchestra is hosted.
From as far back as the early 1800’s all manner of events have been held nearly every Sunday in this prominent location. This was the only day of the week when African Americans, both slaves and freemen, were allowed to openly gather and make music together. Those many Sundays of long ago were instrumental in the development of one of the purest of American styles of music – jazz.
You can get a taste of the history and flavor of the area with a Jazz on the Rocks Cocktail Tour that will blend all of these many facets together in one exciting evening. The tour will take you to the French Quarter and Louis Armstrong Park’s Congo Square where you will listen to digital recordings of the early music that was born in the area. Tour rates are $25.00 for adults, $20.00 for students, and $10.00 for children. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes, as you’ll be on your feet for quite a while. Tickets for the many events held year round can be purchased at their Box Office from 11AM – 5PM Mondays through Fridays. Weekend hours vary depending on the performances and their schedule.
- (C) Backstreet Cultural Museum
The Backstreet Cultural Museum is home to a number of artifacts, memorabilia, films and costumes that reflect the growth of the African-American culture in New Orleans. Exhibitions include exquisite displays on the Mardi Gras Indians, jazz funerals, and the many social clubs that emerged over time and illuminate the struggles that African Americans had to overcome and their triumph over the obstacles that were represented in its music.
You’ll also see their famous Film Collection, voodoo artifacts, Baby Doll exhibits, collections from the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs of the region. A trip to the Backstreet Museum is much more than fun; it is also educational and entertaining.
The Backstreet Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10AM – 5PM and admission is $8.00 per person. A guided tour will help you to rediscover and relive an integral part of African American culture. http://www.backstreetmuseum.org/
- (D) St. Augustine’s Catholic Church and the Tomb of the Unknown Slave, 1210 Governor Nicholls St, New Orleans, LA 70116 –
Since its dedication to freedom from oppression in 1842, this Treme church was available to free people of color who eventually purchased pews for enslaved people to worship alongside them since they could not pay for the pew fees in practice at the time. In 2004, the church added a memorial to the slaves who lived and died in the area. The large chain cross is adorned by hanging angle shackles Walk north up Governor Nicholls St. almost three blocks to the museum.
If you are there on a Sunday, why don’t you check out the jazz gospel service (video below). Welcome to New Orleans.
- (E) New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History, 1418 Governor Nicholls St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Turn right onto N. Villere St. and walk two blocks and cross Esplanade Ave. Turn right and walk one half blocks to the church. This complex is currently closed for remodeling. When it is open it is the epicenter of activities in the neighborhood. You can still pass by and see the historical buildings that were typical of traditional Treme Homes. Please check their website, http://www.noaam.org/ for an opening date.
- (F) St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, 1313 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116
St. Anna’s had, and still has, an emphasis on social justice for all; they were the first church in the city to not charge pew fees since opening in 1846. This is an Anglo-Catholic Church and certain Catholic rituals aren’t followed. In fact, one bishop destroyed the confessional booths with an ax in the 1940s. The church also reaches out to our unique community with the Mission to Musicians program. Turn right and walk up Esplanade Ave. to Claiborne Ave. Turn right and walk two blocks to the corner of Columbus St. http://www.stannanola.org/
- (G) Mother-in-Law Lounge, 1500 Claiborne Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116
Beloved late local musician Ernie K-Doe opened the Mother-in-Law Lounge in 1994; it was named after his smash hit “Mother-in-Law.” The bar is a shrine to the flamboyant character who would often greet guests at the door. It was reopened one year after being flooded after Hurricane Katrina passed through by his widow Antoinette K-Doe. After her eventual death, famed trumpeter Kermit Ruffins reopened the iconic bar as Kermit’s Mother-in-Law Lounge in 2014.