The House of the Rising Sun is full of mystery. No one knows for sure if the place mentioned in the famous song existed in the first place.
However, we know for a fact New Orleans is an actual location. And one that draws millions of visitors annually.
Join us as we go deep into Crescent City’s history to discover if this is a building you can visit.
About The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals
If you love classic rock, there’s no doubt you’re familiar with The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals. While they don’t get credit for writing the tune, it became a hit with their version in 1964. It reached the #1 spot on music charts in the US and UK.
The earliest recording of the song is from two Appalachian artists in 1933 who called it Rising Sun Blues. But it seems to have origins dating back to around 1905. Though, beyond those details, the history gets a little murky.
Even though it’s gone through a few lyrical revisions, the theme remains the same. The words tell the story of a person’s life taking a turn for the worst while in New Orleans.
The Animals’ cover is from the vantage point of a young man following in his dad’s footsteps of gambling and alcoholism. However, the earlier version is from the viewpoint of a young woman led into a life of degradation.
Other singers who covered the tune include Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, and Nina Simone. But The Animals’ recording is the one that remains the most popular.
Is There Really a Place Called the Rising Sun in New Orleans?
If there’s one thing to know about New Orleans, it’s a city steeped in mystery. So trying to figure out if a house called The Rising Sun existed once upon a time isn’t easy. However, we discovered a few possibilities.
The Hotel Villa Convento, built in 1833, is a Creole townhouse in the French Quarter. Over the following 100 years, it changed hands numerous times, and by the mid-1900s, it became a brothel. The term “house of the rising sun” is often a euphemism for a bordello. Now it’s all making sense!
The lyrics may also refer to an 1820s hotel or a late 19th-century social club. Both sites had a similar name.
However, clear evidence doesn’t exist to prove the song is talking about any of these locations. And you can easily go down rabbit holes digging into the history of this distinctive city.
What Is Special About New Orleans?
New Orleans is an excellent place to visit if you love getting deep into the culture of a place. You’ll find influences in the area’s architecture, food, and music from various countries, including France, Spain, and Africa.
The Big Easy is essentially an island city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain in the southeastern region of Louisiana. Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities or a place to chill indoors, you’ll have plenty of options.
Residents are proud of their hometown and will happily tell you about its unique aspects. From voodoo culture to excellent seafood cuisine to exciting annual festivities like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, you certainly won’t get bored. In fact, we’ve got quite a few recommendations for how you can spend your time here.
Best Things To Do Near the House of the Rising Sun
You could wander around the city for hours looking for the House of the Rising Sun. While that’s certainly one way to spend time in New Orleans, we also recommend checking out these three notable attractions.
Visit the National WWII Museum
If military history interests you, you’ll enjoy a visit to this museum. The exhibits and displays tell the story of the American experience throughout World War II. You’ll see showcases of aircraft, personnel carriers, and tanks and also learn how they preserved and restored memorabilia.
The National WWII Museum is open daily and offers various ticket prices depending on how much you want to see. You can also choose to add on additional tours led by knowledgeable staff.
Visitors with accessibility and disability needs receive a discount while thoroughly enjoying all the museum offers.
Explore the French Quarter
The French Quarter is much more than the party scene many of us might imagine it is. Sure, you’ll find plenty of clubs pumping out live music most nights. But historic houses, cathedrals, and landmarks offer a glimpse into the past of this unique part of New Orleans.
Whether you’re looking for delicious Creole food, a hip jazz club, or locally-made crafts, you’ll find it in the French Quarter. Grab your walking shoes and camera as you take in the sights of the city’s oldest area. And Hotel Villa Convento, the rumored House of the Rising Sun, is also nearby.
Check Out New Orleans City Park
You could easily spend an entire day in this 1,300-acre public space and still not see everything it offers. One popular area where you can stroll is the botanical garden, with 2,000 plant varieties on display.
And kids of all ages will love the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park featuring over a dozen rides. In addition, it has multiple soccer fields, tennis courts, and a 36-hole golf course. Entrance and on-site parking are free. However, some attractions charge admission. You can also get there by riding the Canal Streetcar.
Best Places To Stay Near the House of the Rising Sun
New Orleans offers a variety of places to stay a few nights while taking in all the local sights, sounds, and flavors. Check out these options while planning your trip to The Big Easy.
While it might seem like you’d have to park your RV outside city limits, this resort is in the heart of town. Located a few blocks from the French Quarter, you’ll have the luxury of having your home on wheels within walking distance. It might come in handy if you drink a few too many adult beverages!
Relax in the hot tub or pool after a long day of touring New Orleans. Additional amenities include full hookups, a laundry room, a fitness center, and showers. Nightly rates start around $150.
House of the Rising Sun Bed and Breakfast
It might not be the same place mentioned in the song, but you can say you stayed at the House of the Rising Sun. This charming three-bedroom bed and breakfast is in a historic 1896 cottage. Upon arrival, they’ll offer you a free welcome drink which you can enjoy on the Jelly Roll’s Jumpin’ Juke Joint covered porch.
Located in the Algiers neighborhood, you’ll be a short walk and ferry ride from the French Quarter.
This luxurious French Quarter hotel opened in 1886. Many notable authors, including Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, chose to lay their heads here while visiting New Orleans. It’s also a Literary Landmark designated by the Friends of Libraries U.S.A. Many American fiction books included the hotel as a setting.
You can enjoy a drink at the Carousel Bar and Lounge or float in the rooftop pool while enjoying the city views. They also have an on-site restaurant and spa.
Maybe You Can Solve the Mystery
The House of the Rising Sun is a great tune, though we may never know if it refers to an actual location. But you can visit the place rumored to be the real deal or stay for a night in a cottage with the same name. While you’re there, maybe you can find the missing piece to solve the mystery.
No matter how you spend time in New Orleans, we think you’ll love every minute. Just don’t do anything that’ll be the ruin of you!
Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).
You should give it a try!
As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site!
We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: