Jackson Square is a vibrant and historic park in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, this area houses many of the city’s oldest buildings. It’s named after Andrew Jackson, a Battle of New Orleans hero whose equestrian statue can be found in the middle of the park.

The paved square has ample flowers, plants and trees providing shade from the summer sun. You can also find concession stands and art exhibitions along its streets, as well as vibrant events throughout the year. Jackson Square is most famous as New Orleans’ open-air art gallery – each year, 200 local artists paint, draw, and display their artwork outside the park’s iron fence.

Jackson Square in New Orleans - one of the highlights of 10 Best Family Things to Do in New Orleans and 10 Best Free Things to Do in New Orleans (Read all about New Orleans here)

A brief history of Jackson Square

Jackson Square was originally called Place d'Armes during New Orleans’ French colonial period. In 1814, the public square was redesigned after Place des Vosges in Paris. A wrought-iron fence, walkways, and gardens were added to the park, along with the statue of General Andrew Jackson, who won the Battle of New Orleans.

During the 1960s and 1970s, New Age spiritualists started gathering at Jackson Square to set up their businesses. To this day, you can find many tarot card readers and palm readers in this area – pay them a visit if you’re curious about your future.

There’s also an open-air artist colony at Jackson Square, with artists painting and displaying their work on the outside of the iron fence. Under the shade of the oak trees, you can sit and have a portrait done in about 1 hour. Each year, only 200 artists are permitted to display their works at the park.

What are the highlights of Jackson Square?

Jackson Square is a designated National Historic Landmark in New Orleans. The 2.5-acre space is best known for its art scene, where local artists display their creations outside the cast-iron fence that surrounds the square. This open-air art gallery is a great place to find one-of-a-kind paintings, some of which are created on the spot.

Jackson Square is within walking distance of historical structures. A must-visit is the St. Louis Cathedral, which dates back to 1772. The structure is very picturesque, with its symmetrical façade, stained-glass windows, and Rococo-style altar.

Check out The Cabildo if you want to learn about the history of New Orleans. It was built in the 18th century as the seat of government during the Spanish colonial period. Today, it displays around 500 artifacts and original artworks on the region’s unique history.

Besides artwork, Jackson Square has a wide variety of shops you can browse, with budget-friendly and luxurious fare in equal measure. Clothing and shoe shops tend to take precedence here, but you'll also find specialty stores selling voodoo-related items, video games, and children's toys.

Many of New Orleans’ largest events take place at Jackson Square. The French Quarter Festival hosts free music concerts and special activities in April, while wintertime sees Jackson Square illuminated with candle lights and carollers in the evenings.

Good to know about Jackson Square

Jackson Square lies on Decatur Street, along the Mississippi River. It’s backed by the St. Louis Cathedral. If you’re getting around the city via the New Orleans Streetcar, you can take the Riverfront line to get to Jackson Square. This streetcar line also leads to Cafe DuMonde, an iconic dining spot that’s famous for its café au lait and beignets. 

Jackson Square in New Orleans

Location: 700 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

Open: Daily from 8 am to 6 pm

Phone: +1 504-658-3200

Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler