New Orleans is someplace we now recommend to anyone thinking of a vacation in United States. As a couple, we primarily like to travel internationally, but New Orleans absolutely blew us away! If you are into capturing great photography and cramming your instagram feed too, there are some amazing places that shouldn’t be missed.
New Orleans, nicknamed the Big Easy, is a popular tourist destination along the Mississippi River in Louisiana. Most popular for Mardi Gras, a vibrant nightlife, voodoo history and cajun and creole history, there is so much more to New Orleans than you would expect.
We have combined our own experience in New Orleans with research from New Orleans’ locals and well-traveled bloggers and Instagrammers to compile this awesome list of the best photo locations in New Orleans that we think is the most comprehensive and on-point list out there.
After reading through the list of our photo locations in New Orleans, share with us some of your experiences at these locations, which one you want to visit most, or some special location we overlooked by joining the conversation in our Facebook group.
Jackson Square is the center of all the history and action in New Orleans. The beautiful square lies in front of the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral with historic building on both sides, the famous Cafe du Monde and the Mississippi River to the south. It is definitely the most iconic photo spot in all of New Orleans.
You can see why in the beautiful image below from Robby Oswald. This was taken near the canon that is across the street and on a small hill between Jackson Square and the Mississippi River. it is the best place to capture a view of the entire Jackson Square, especially at sunset.
When you actually get inside Jackson Square, it is quite beautiful, with manicured lawns, fountains, palm trees and giant oak trees. There are dozens of fantastic composition to be had throughout the square, like this one from Jen K Nguyen.
Find out more about Jackson Square’s awesome St. Louis Cathedral in our guide.
Mississippi river from Artillery Park
The Mississippi River is a very prominent part of New Orleans, so you have to get a picture along its banks. My favorite spot is just south of Jackson Square where you can get a nice shot of the Crescent City Connection Bridge in the background. This shot below was late in the day we arrived after a long flight. As you can tell, my kids were ready to get to the hotel.
The Presbytère is located on the northwest side of Jackson Square, between St. Louis Cathedral and St. Ann Street. It matches the Cabildo, which stands on the other site of the Cathedral. The Presbytère was built in 1791, and is currently one of the United States’ best examples of colonial Spanish architecture. It currently houses the Louisiana State Museum, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970. and is now a property of the Louisiana State Museum.
As stated above, the Presbytere is currently a museum. At times, the museum hosts temporary collections like this costume collection, which features Jenny Campbell in the image below. As the exhibits change, there is always something new to see, but you should know that you will not be allowed to pose this close to the art unless it is your own work being featured, as was the case with Jenny below.
Although the Presbytère is now a museum designated Louisiana State Museum, there are several other state museums throughout Louisiana so you should make sure you are researching the right museum, or you may end up in Baton Rouge at another Louisiana State Museum, although it does seem worthy of a good Instagram shot from the image below from Holland.
Oak Alley Plantation
Oak Alley Plantation is actually about an hour west of New Orleans, but it is such an amazing photo location, anyone visiting New Orleans should make the trip. It was definitely one of the highlights of our vacation.
As you might expect, it is an old plantation house, located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, in the community of Vacherie, which is in St. James Parish.
Oak Alley Plantation gets its name from the amazing path between 200 year-old oak trees that run from the river to the house. As you can see in the image below from Maddy Charlson, it is an insanely beautiful composition. Don’t expect to get as lucky with the lack of people milling around the path, but for the best luck get there early in the day or stay until after 4, when the tour buses leave. We actually got really lucky during our visit because a quick rain storm cleared out the crowds and we got the end of the day pretty much alone to shoot.
The cost of admission ($25) includes a tour of the house. As part of the tour, you get to go up on the upper balcony in front of the row of oak trees. As you can see from our image below, it is an equally beautiful composition, so make sure you are ready when you go on the tour.
The back of the house isn’t nearly as majestic, but it is a lot easier to avoid the crowds on this side. There are also some majestic oak trees and the slave houses, which make for more good photo opportunities.
Whitney Plantation is another of the popular tourist plantations near New Orleans. This one is actually about 15 minutes east of Oak Alley, making it closer to New Orleans.
In the below image of Francis Dominguez, taken by Eleni Dominguez, you can see the beautiful house, which has it own mini alley of giant oak trees offering a great composition. Because you can only access this spot during the tour, you don’t have to deal with the crowds like at Oak Alley. To actually get the picture though, you will likely have to miss part of your tour as, at least during our tour, there wasn’t much opportunity for photography, and you aren’t allowed access to the historic part of the plantation after your tour. This was a big bummer to me since our tour guide was pretty awful and I neither learned much nor got many good images.
Whitney Plantation is dedicated to telling the story of slavery. One of the cool things they do is give you are name card with something about a former slave that was a child when granted freedom. You can then find a statue of the slave matching your name tag. This is my daughter, who found the slave from her name card inside the old church.
The image below shows more of the oak trees in front of the plantation house. It also shows the slave that was on my name card. I was able to find him only because I came out here to capture an image of the house while my tour was inside the house. Otherwise, I never would have been able to see this amazing view of the house.
The Houmas House Plantation and Gardens is another popular historic plantation near New Orleans. it is located in Burnside, which is about an hour west of New Orleans.
The plantation is actually a mini complex with eight buildings on 10 acres. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
One of the biggest photographic draws of the Houmas House is the reflection pond in front of the house, which is a great portrait location. It is also beautiful on its own right, as you can see in the image below from Brian Lugenbuhl.
Cafe du Monde
Anyone who has even heard of New Orleans has probably also heard of Cafe du Monde. The coffee shop features outdoor seating on Decatur right next to Jackson Square. It is especially famous for its café au lait and beignets. I can’t speak as to the café au lait, but the beignets were pretty delicious.
It is also a great place to capture an image at this iconic spot. I think the best place for an image is seated in the outdoor seating, like Riley Marelli did in the image below.
On a rainy day, you can enjoy the beignets inside Cafe du Monde too! Even inside, the image will look great, like the one below from Anna Thielke.
And if you don’t want to eat at Cafe du Monde, it is easy to get some beignets to go and enjoy them nearby. We took this image while sitting in the grass in Jackson Square underneath the St. Louis Cathedral.
Royal Street is one of the famous streets near Jackson Square. It is worth a stroll as there are a lot of good photo opportunities. This place was our favorite. It is on the corner of Royal and Dumaine.
Mardi Gras World
I thought Mardi Gras World was incredibly boring and a gigantic rip off with the price of tickets and parking, but if you are just after some cool photos, there are some unique ones to be had here.
Mardi Gras World is the working factory of Blain Kern’s company, which designs many of the floats for Mardi Gras. The tour is pretty short and just explains how Mardi Gras works and how the floats are made. During and after the tour there are plenty of opportunities to pose with floats, characters, and even works in progress, like the image below.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Any of the cemeteries downtown make for a great photo opportunity, but we really enjoyed St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. You are required to take a tour to get in, but it was well worth it. We did the $10 tour with French Quarters New Orleans Tour and loved it.
The image above is in front of an empty tomb owned by Nicholas Cage. The tombs are quite amazing, especially when you learn the history. Even without the history, it makes for a great photo opportunity. Find out why we loved it, why you should go and what tour to take in our detailed guide to St. Louis Cemetery # 1.
Pirate’s Alley is the small alley that runs along the side of St. Louis Cathedral, between the cathedral and the Cabildo. It officially became Pirate’s Alley in 1964, but it was called that for long before. There are many stories as to how it got its name, none of which have much to do with how it looks today.
Even without the history, there are some great photo spots in or adjacent to Pirate’s Alley, like the one below from Sasha Savino.
This picture-perfect little alley is actually just off Pirate’s Alley, but it makes for a great image with that backdrop.
In Pirate’s Alley, one of the cool things is all the doors, which we learned are actually windows to let the breeze flow through.
Congo Square is located within Louis Armstrong Park, just north of the French District. It is a location steeped in history as the the enslaved of New Orleans would gather here on their day off to set up a market, sing, dance, and play music. There isn’t much here now, but the tiles and tress make for an interesting composition steeped in untold history. You can see how Angela Chan made use of both the trees and tiles in the image below.
The image of New Orleans is the image of Bourbon Street. I heard it compared to an over-sized frat party by one of our tour guides. It is the center of all the partying, drinking and debauchery. If that is your thing, or you just want to capture the scene with your camera, head on down in the evening and see what you can do.
The image below from Jasmine Miller definitely tells the story of Bourbon Street.
There are also other more unexpected photo opportunities most nights on Bourbon Street if you like posing with huge snakes, or with a parrot, like Siana Richardson in the image below.
This little fountain is easy to find down by Jackson Square. You just head northeast down Decatur along the shops until you hit Dumaine. At Dumaine, there is a gap between the shops where you find Instrument Men. There are also a lot of great photo opportunities in the shops and galleries along this street.
City Park is easily found on any map of New Orleans. I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful and fun the park was. We spent a whole day there and didn’t even see all of it. The park was founded in 1854, and currently boasts 1,300 acres, making it 50% bigger than New York’s Central Park.
There are a ton of attractions in City Park, many of which have their own designation in this list, such as Storyland, Carousel Gardens, the Sculpture Garden and the Botanical Gardens.
Some of the coolest things to see throughout the park are the amazing trees. City Park boasts the world’s largest collection of mature live oak trees, some of which are said to be more than 600 years old. The trees are so impressive, and perfect for your photos, I am including a few examples.
This first image showing off the beautiful spanish moss hanging from trees comes from Maria Borodii.
The evening light is absolutely magical at City park with the light streaming through the trees, as you can see in the beautiful portrait below taken by Jen Menard. You can see more of her portrait photography on her website.
Storyland is a fun area in City Park full of statues and play areas from various stories. The biggest surprise to me was how big and impressive the area was. At 1300 acres, there are tons of statues you can pose with, all surrounded by majestic trees.
While my kids loved every statue, adults can have fun too, take the image with Humpty Dumpty with Dustin McLean of DustFilms as an example.
It’s not just the statues though, the scenery in Storyland is the perfect backdrop as the light streams through the tree tops.
Even the youngest of models can find somewhere fun to pose in Storyland.
Also in City Park, you can find the Botanical Gardens, which are between the sculpture garden and Storyland. The Botanical Gardens feature multiple gardens, art and a butterfly walk. Probably the most popular photo spot in the Botanical Gardens is the fountain and its crazy statue, as you can see in the image below from Olivia Penney.
The Garden District is a famous part of New Orleans whose renown is behind probably only the French Quarter. The Garden District is for the wealthiest residents of New Orleans, with its beautiful mansions and large manicured yards. It is the furthest thing from a cookie-cutter subdivision you can find. Each house is unique and beautiful in its own ways. You can see one of the beautiful houses of the Garden District in the image below from Jordan Rhodes of Glimpse Guides.
A completely different style, but equally beautiful, home can be seen in the image below from Flora Maria.
Preservation Hall is a famous Jazz venue that dates back to the 1950s. It is located on St. Peter just south of Bourbon Street. Its grungy exterior and unique doors are instantly recognizable, as you can see in the image below from Spencer Horsman of Illusions Magic Bar.
The French Market is six blocks of unique shopping spanning out from Jackson Square. What began as a Native American trading post is now the oldest market in the United States. One of the most famous photo locations at the French Market is standing beneath the famous arches, like the image below from Veronica and Jacob aka the Wandering Williams.
The image of Marc Penna below was taken at the popular open air flea market portion of the French Market.
NOMA Sculpture Garden
The NOMA Sculpture Garden is another great part of City Park. It is a a free portion of the NOMA Museum and, as with everything in City Park, is surprisingly large, with a ton of sculptures placed among beautiful trees and small ponds.
One of my favorite pieces of art was this one merely because of how tall it was. It was an impressive sight, and allowed me to have some fun with the afternoon sun that was otherwise ruining the lighting that day.
The Audubon Zoo is located with Audubon Park and was, honestly, one of the best zoos I have ever been too. It was designed amazingly, especially for kids, but there were photo opportunities all over the place. This impressive sculpture and fountain lying in the entrance to the zoo was just the start.
Unlike most zoos, the photography wasn’t limited to the animals either. Being inside Audubon Park provided all kinds of natural beauty that was great for photography. This tree outside the sea lion habitat was incredible.
Taking a swamp tour is an absolute must for anyone visiting New Orleans. They are a ton of fun and provide many photo opportunities. One of the coolest photo opportunities you will get is holding a baby alligator on one of these tours. A great example is this awesome shot from Shabby Khalili. You can find more from her on Instagram or her website.
We opted for a swamp tour down in Jean Lafitte Park and loved it. Even my girls had a blast posing with a baby alligator, while two wild alligators were playing outside our boat.
Jean Lafitte National History Park
Jean Lafitte National History Park, located about 30 minutes south of New Orleans, was a highlight of the trip for me. There are a couple boardwalks that go through the swamp that provide amazing scenery and a chance to encounter all kinds of wildlife. We saw snakes, lizards, toads, egrets and, of course, an alligator.
If you are both lucky and brave (or a bad parent like us), you could even take a picture with a wild alligator.
Hitting the Park in peak lighting is ideal as the sun casts beautiful rays through the trees, as you can see in the beautiful image below from Stefan Bauwens.
The Courturie Forest is another gem you can experience in City Park. Located not far from Scout Island, the trails through this park take you away from the manicured lawns and giant oak trees into a much more wild area along a waterway that is full of birds and turtles.
Also located in the Couturie Forest is Laborde Mountain. Standing at a whopping 43 feet above sea level, this is the highest point in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the trees are higher than the “mountain” so it doesn’t offer much in the way of views, but it is still a fun story for your feed.
Carousel Gardens is the small theme park inside City Park. It is perfect for anyone with young kids, and the rides are great for fun photo opportunities. The best photo location in Carousel Gardens is definitely the antique carousel that has been running since 1906. The beautiful carousel is one of the last 100 hand-carved carousels left in the United States and is the only one to find in Louisiana. Both the carousel and the enclosure that houses it are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.