A central character in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the mighty Mississippi River has long captured the American imagination. Originating in Minnesota and sweeping across 95 river miles (153 kilometers) south to New Orleans where it spits out into the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi is the largest river system in North America and has gained an almost mythical place in American history.
The river divides New Orleans in two, and experiencing it is a fundamental part of any trip to the Big Easy. One of the most iconic Mississippi River experiences is a river cruise aboard a paddlewheel riverboat to the tunes of live jazz music in New Orleans, with options for brunch and dinner experiences. Swamp and bayou tours of the Mississippi River Delta show off the region’s wildlife (alligators, raccoons, snakes, turtles, and native birds).
Things to Know Before You Go
- Don’t forget your camera; the Mississippi River affords stellar views of the city’s skyline.
- Some of New Orleans’ riverboats are wheelchair accessible on certain decks.
How to Get There
The Mississippi riverfront is an easy walk from anywhere in the historic French Quarter. The Riverfront streetcar follows the banks of the river, stopping at Canal Street, Toulouse, Dumaine, Ursulines, and French Market stations.
When to Get There
The best time to enjoy the Mississippi River in New Orleans is from February to May, when the weather is comfortable, and there’s plenty going on in the nearby streets and neighborhoods. Expect temperatures between 86°F (30°C) and 94°F (34°C) in summer.
Points of Interest on the Riverfront
Many of the most popular attractions in New Orleans are situated on or near the Mississippi Riverfront, including the Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Mardi Gras World, Harrah’s New Orleans casino, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and Crescent Park.