Epic Guide to New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park in New Orleans, Louisiana includes things to do, history, jazz music demonstrations, and so much more.
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is a park, unlike many other parks. You have to go into a visit to New Orleans Jazz NHP with an open mind and willingness to visit many different places.
About New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
The visitor center is truly the information center for the park but from there you are on your own journey to experience and enjoy New Orleans Jazz.
Make sure and plan time in your visit to check out a local jazz show or hear live music.
You can learn about the history of Jazz at the visitor centers but you truly can't soak it all in without hearing at least a little bit of live music.
Is New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park worth visiting?
Yes! This US National Historical Park does a great job sharing the importance of Jazz music to New Orleans.
This park is a bit different from many other parks so you want to be prepared that a lot of it is about places other than the visitor center.
History of New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is located in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, near the French Quarter.
The park was designated in 1994 to preserve information, resources, and sites associated with the history of jazz in New Orleans.
The land between the southern mouth of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was a rich opportunity for settlement long before the Europeans were attracted to the area.
Indigenous people knew the value of inhabiting an area with considerable ecological resources and numerous points of access to rivers and bays.
After being claimed by French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, New Orleans was founded by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville in 1718.
The streets laid out and created at that time became what is known today as the French Quarter.
France later ceded the land to Spain and in 1803 the land became part of the United States after the Louisiana Purchase.
Although the city was no longer owned by France, the French language, religion, and customs stayed prevalent. At this time, also prevalent were the Creoles – a large population of native-born citizens who were descendants of French immigrants.
Their sophisticated culture stood out from any other American city at the time. In the 19th century, New Orleans became a famous spot for immigrants because of its location as a major seaport.
Immigrants from numerous nations arrived and blended with the French and Creoles as well as African natives brought from the West Indies.
The unique blend of these groups, along with a very strong influence from African tribal instruments, chants, and rituals brought about the origin of jazz in New Orleans.
Long before jazz was born, New Orleans had a passion for music. It was the first city in North America that had an opera house.
Musical events were consistently part of every social gathering in the city from dances to funerals.
One large aspect that separated New Orleans from the rest of the south was the fact that they allowed the African culture to thrive.
Slaves were allowed to congregate in Congo Square and share a fellowship of music and dancing. This area is on the edge of the French Quarter inside the Historical Park.
Additionally, during the 19th century, New Orleans was home to the largest population of free people of color.
These groups made up a large part of the musical groups in the city. It was during these performances that the style of spontaneous music was born.
Instead of playing a specifically rehearsed music number, performers put on a show of a more improvisational nature and used emotion to drive their music.
Built-in 1820, Perseverance Hall was originally a Masonic lodge, the first in Louisiana. Located within the National Historical Park, this site was largely used as a dance hall for Louisiana Creole jazz performances to entertain black and white citizens alike.
It has long been asserted that a man named Buddy Bolden was the first jazz musician.
Born in New Orleans in 1877, Bolden was a cornet player who began a musical group and gained much fame during the years between 1900 and 1907.
Mixing a variety of sounds from gospel music, to ragtime to blues to the unique improvisational style, “King” Buddy greatly influenced the younger musicians to come in New Orleans.
Sadly, in 1907, at the age of just 30, Bolden’s musical life abruptly ended when he was admitted to the Louisiana State Insane Asylum. Bolden was diagnosed with dementia praecox, which today we call schizophrenia.
It is believed that there is a strong chance Bolden was suffering from pellagra, a deficiency of niacin that was prevalent in the black population in the south at that time. Bolden died at the asylum in Jackson, Louisiana at the age of 54.
The majority of New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park consists of four acres inside Louis Armstrong Park. Additionally, there is a visitor center and concert venue a few blocks from the French Quarter. Louis Armstrong has been called the most influential jazz player of all time.
Born in 1900 in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong grew up in extreme poverty during the time period when jazz was just getting started.
In 1913, after firing a gun in the air, Armstrong was sent to the Colored Waifs Home in New Orleans as a juvenile delinquent, which may have been the best thing that could’ve happened to him.
It was here that Armstrong received music lessons and music became his ultimate passion. He learned the cornet and grew his skill to rival the leading cornet player in New Orleans, King Oliver.
In 1922, Oliver asked Armstrong to play the second cornet in his band in Chicago. Armstrong also began playing the trumpet for other big-name bands.
Jazz was beginning to be known throughout the country and Armstrong was soon encouraged by his new wife, Lil Hardin, to begin his solo career.
Armstrong moved from Chicago to New York City and soon toured the country. His legacy was that of trumpeter, soloist, singer, and eventually film star.
Armstrong is credited with taking the newfound art of jazz in New Orleans at the start of the 1900s and turning it into a style of music that is still loved today.
A beautiful example of a melting pot of people, styles, and cultures, the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park celebrates the origin of jazz in America.
The people and places that created a musical style are still very much alive in the city a century later.
Things to know before your visit to New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
$0.00 - There is no entrance fee to visit the park.
Planning a National Park vacation? America the Beautiful/National Park Pass covers entrance fees for an entire year to all US National Park Sites and over 2,000 Federal Recreation Fee Sites.
The park pass covers everyone in the car for per vehicle sites and for up to 4 adults for per-person sites.
Buy on REI.com and REI will donate 10% of pass proceeds to the National Forest Foundation, National Park Foundation and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities.
Free National Park Entrance Days -Mark your calendars with the five free entrance days the National Park Service offers annually.
Central Time Zone
Pets are not allowed in buildings of the park.
We had great cell service while visiting the park.
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm.
There is no cell service within the park but you should have great cell phone service
Insect repellent is always a great idea when outdoors, especially if you are around any body of water.
We use Permethrin Spray on our clothes before our park trips.
Make sure to bring your own water bottle and plenty of water with you. Plastic water bottles are not sold in the park.
There are paid parking lots spread through New Orleans.
There are no specific restaurants dedicated to the park but there are a ton of French Quarter Restaurants and other great restaurants nearby.
There are no gas stations within the park.
Drones are not permitted within National Park Sites.
National Park Passport Stamps
National Park Passport stamps can be found in the visitor center.
New Orleans Jazz NHP is part of the 2019 Passport Stamp Set.
Electric Vehicle Charging
There are over 40 public EV Charging ports within New Orleans
Details about New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
Size - 4 acres
Check out how the park compares to other National Parks by Size.
October 31, 1994
In 2021, New Orleans Jazz NHP had 25,750 park visitors.
In 2020, New Orleans Jazz NHP had 9,460 park visitors.
In 2019, New Orleans Jazz NHP had 41,049 park visitors.
National Park Address
419 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70130
National Park Map
Where is New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park?
New Orleans Jazz NHP is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Estimated distance from major cities nearby
Baton Rouge, LA - 82 miles
Birmingham, AL - 342 miles
Houston, TX - 349 miles
Memphis, TN - 398 miles
Atlanta, GA - 468 miles
Dallas, TX - 494 miles
Plano, TX - 504 miles
Austin, TX - 512 miles
Estimated Distance from nearby National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 594 miles
Mammoth Cave National Park - 624 miles
Big Bend National Park - 948 miles
New River Gorge National Park - 877 miles
Gateway Arch National Park - 680 miles
Where is the National Park Visitor Center?
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park operations moved to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve French Quarter visitor center, 419 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70130.
Getting to New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY)
Best time to visit New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
The best time to visit New Orleans is spring and fall when the muggy weather is a little more manageable.
Weather and Seasons
New Orleans, Louisiana experiences long hot muggy summers and cold but short winters.
The hottest weather in New Orleans is from May 19th to September 22nd when the average daily temperature is above 87 degrees.
The coldest weather is from November 29th to February 24th when the average daily temperature is below 69 degrees.
Best Things to do in New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
The visitor center is truly the informational heart of the park.
This is the place to visit to find out what events are happening in New Orleans while you are there, check out a ranger program, pick up your Junior Ranger program and experience some of the instruments used in New Orleans Jazz.
The Junior Ranger program is pretty easy to complete with a visit to the visitor center. There is a maze, object find, word search, and matching famous musicians to their instruments.
The Junior Ranger program has a great list of kid-friendly places to hear live jazz music in New Orleans.
Ranger-Led Programs/Live Music Demonstrations
One of the really cool things about the New Orleans Jazz NHP is most of the rangers are musicians. You can attend a ranger program that includes live music and a discussion of the music.
Self-Guided Walking Tour
Pick up a map at the visitor center and head out to explore more of New Orleans.
There are 11 stops on the walking tour that gives you more information about the heart of New Orleans Jazz.
Audio clips are available for each stop by calling 504-613-4062 at the prompt enter the desired stop proceeded by a "0". Example - stop 1 would be #01
Hiking in New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
Always carry the 10 essentials for outdoor survival when exploring.
There are no real hiking trails in the park but you do want to be prepared for lots of walking.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring water with you, and be prepared for heat and humidity.
How to beat the crowds in New Orleans Jazz NHP?
The best way to beat the crowd is to visit during the off-season.
Where to stay when visiting New Orleans Jazz NHP
There are no National Park Lodges within the park.
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans - Bourbon Street and Caesars Superdome are located near The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, which provides a grocery/convenience store, a terrace, and a coffee shop/café. Treat yourself to a hot stone massage, a manicure/pedicure, or a body treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, the onsite spa. The onsite restaurant, M Bistro, features brunch. Free Wi-Fi in public areas is available to all guests, along with a garden and a library.
AC Hotel by Marriott New Orleans French Quarter - Near Caesars Superdome and Bourbon Street, AC Hotel by Marriott New Orleans French Quarter provides a rooftop terrace, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a bar. Be sure to enjoy a meal at AC Kitchen, the onsite café. Stay connected with free in-room Wi-Fi, and guests can find other amenities such as a 24-hour gym and a 24-hour business center.
There are a ton of lodging and vacation rentals available in New Orleans. Click on the map below for additional options.
There are no National Park Campgrounds within the park.
For a fun adventure check out Escape Campervans. These campervans have built in beds, kitchen area with refrigerators, and more. You can have them fully set up with kitchen supplies, bedding, and other fun extras. They are painted with epic designs you can't miss!
Nearby campground options include:
Pelican RV Park - New Orleans LA
This campground offers a restaurant, showers, and more.
R&S RV Park - LaPlace, LA
This campground offers lodging and RV sites.
Salt Bayou Kampground - Slidell, LA
This campground offers a pool, dog park, mini golf, and more.
Check out additional campgrounds on CampSpot.
Parks Near New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
Don't miss all of these fun things to do with kids in New Orleans! There are so many fun activities and things to try in the city!