As one of the most lively and vibrant cities in the world, you can never be bored in the city of New Orleans. Located in the southeastern region of the U.S., this Louisiana city should be on your bucket list.
Besides the amazing culture and city life, you’ll find amazing food, unique museums, and historical sites, as well as fun excursions for any type of traveler.
We put together a guide to our favorite places to see and things to do in New Orleans for your trip!
1. Jackson Square
Visit Jackson Square and experience an important piece of New Orleans history. This historic park was where Louisiana became part of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It’s now a national landmark, and one of the most famous meeting spots in the city.
Due to its central location, you’ll find many significant buildings and attractions around Jackson Square. Facing the Mississippi River, you’ll find the St. Louis Cathedral, the Louisiana State Museums, and the Pontalba Apartments, which are the oldest residential buildings in the United States.
2. St Louis Cathedral
Situated in the heart of the French Quarter, the St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in the United States. It was originally built in 1727 for King Louis IX of France, but after being destroyed by a fire in 1794, it was rebuilt in the mid-1800s.
Inside the cathedral, you’ll be able to admire the colorful stained glass windows and Rococo-style gold altar.
- 615 Pere Antoine Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116
- Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Saturday: 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. | Sunday: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Related Article: The Perfect Weekend in New Orleans Guide
3. French Quarter
No visit to New Orleans would be complete without a trip through the French Quarter. This historic neighborhood is lined with Creole style cottages with cast-iron balconies. Many of the buildings were built in the 1800s.
In the French Quarter, you’ll find Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and the boisterous Bourbon Street. The neighborhood is also home to plenty of gourmet restaurants, cocktail bars, pubs, art galleries, and boutique shops.
4. Bourbon Street
When many people think of New Orleans, they picture Bourbon Street. Teeming with noisy bars and jazz clubs overflowing with party goers, Bourbon Street is undoubtedly the heart of New Orleans’ nightlife.
Although Bourbon Street is buzzing at all hours of the day, it really comes alive during Mardi Gras. You’ll find thousands of visitors decked out in masks and feather boas as they toss plastic bead necklaces from the balconies.
5. Cemetery Tour
For one of the more unique things to do in New Orleans, consider a cemetery tour. These tours are guaranteed to be a fascinating and memorable experience. Because the city is surrounded by water and susceptible to flooding, the tombs are built above ground.
There are 40 cemeteries in New Orleans and dozens of tours to choose from. You’ll find famous musicians at the St. Louis Cemetery #2, politicians in the Metairie Cemetery, and even the cursed voodoo queen in St. Louis Cemetery #1.
For more things haunted make sure to read our haunted New Orleans article here.
6. Voodoo Museum
Dive into the world of voodoo magic at the alluring Voodoo Museum in the French Quarter. Contained to just two rooms, this museum is packed with photos, artifacts, and items mainly used in voodoo rituals.
During your visit, you can also leave an offering for the Voodoo priests and priestesses in the afterlife. You might even get the chance to meet a priest yourself. Some days, the museum brings in a priest to give readings and share more information about this intriguing and often misunderstood practice.
- 724 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116
- Daily: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- $8 per person
7. Visit Frenchmen Street
If you want to experience a live music show in New Orleans, then you have to visit Frenchman Street. Littered with jazz clubs and concert venues, Frenchman Street is home to the city’s most beloved music institutions.
Sip cocktails at the swanky Snug Harbor Jazz Club or check out up-and-coming musicians at the Spotted Cat Music Club. With so many venues to choose from, you could listen to outstanding New Orleans talent every night of the week.
8. Ride the Streetcar
Take a ride on the historic New Orleans Streetcar and experience the city like a local. These old-fashioned trollies are mainly used for public transportation. However, riding the streetcar can be like a self-guided tour, which means it’s a great opportunity to see some of the best attractions in the city.
There are four streetcar lines to take in New Orleans. We recommend hopping on the St. Charles Streetcar to visit the historic mansions and charming restaurants on St. Charles Avenue and South Carrollton Avenue. You can also take the Canal Streetcar to visit City Park and some of the cemeteries.
9. Mardi Gras World
Take a behind the scenes look at one of New Orleans’ most beloved celebrations at Mardi Gras World. Located inside a 300,000-square-foot working warehouse, Mardi Gras World lets you see the world-famous parade floats up close and personal.
During your tour, you’ll learn about the history of Mardi Gras while seeing the floats in different stages of production. At Mardi Gras World, you can celebrate Mardi Gras every day of the year!
- 1380 Port of New Orleans Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130
- Daily: 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- $22 (adults), $17 (reduced), $14 (children)
10. Eat Beignets at Cafe Du Monde
Treat yourself to a delicious snack at the world-famous Cafe Du Monde. Open since 1862, this open-air cafe is a New Orleans institution and serves some of the best beignets outside of France!
Grab a seat by the river and order cafe au lait and a couple of freshly fried beignets. These mouthwatering pastries are dusted with powdered sugar and come out piping hot.
Due to its popularity, Cafe De Monde can be busy during the day. However, it’s open 24 hours, so you can also visit at night for a midnight snack. You won’t have to wait in long lines, and can enjoy the beignets right out of the fryer!
- 800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
- Open 24 hours
11. Pharmacy Museum
Step back in time while you explore America’s first licensed apothecary at the Pharmacy Museum. Parts of the museum focus on Louis J. Dufilho, Jr., the country’s first pharmacist who made significant contributions in the field of medicine in 1816.
There are antique medical instruments, hand-blown apothecary bottles, and even magical voodoo potions to cure all your ailments. You can also visit the exhibit on bloodletting and other questionable medical practices that were used over the last few centuries.
- 514 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130
- Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. | Guided Tours Tuesday – Friday: 1 p.m.
- $5 (adults), $4 (reduced)
12. Steamboat Cruise on the Mississippi
Marvel at New Orleans’ scenic landscape with a cruise down the Mississippi River on a historic steamboat! These 19th-century paddle wheelers offer guided tours where you’ll learn about Louisiana history while enjoying the picturesque view from the river.
Take a history tour with costumed actors reliving some of the city’s most historical events. You can also book a jazz cruise, where you’ll listen to live music and enjoy a cocktail or two. A dinner cruise is also an option where you’ll be able to enjoy the city lights at night.
These scenic boat rides allow you to see the city from an entirely new perspective. It’s one of our favorite things to do in New Orleans!
- Recommended Tour: $38 Steamboat Natchez Harbor Cruise
13. Go on a Ghost or Voodoo Tour
Although it’s not for everyone, going on a ghost or voodoo tour is the best way to see the dark side of New Orleans. Take a walk through the cemeteries, venture inside a haunted house, and learn about the ancient folklore associated with voodoo magic.
In a city shrouded in mystery, it’s easy to see why a ghost or walking tour is one of the best things to do in New Orleans. From walking tours to ghost seeking tours, you’ll have plenty of companies to choose from. If you are traveling with children, you can also find family tours that are a little less scary. Click here to book & see all ghost tours in New Orleans.
14. Try some of NOLA’s Famous Dishes
While many people visit New Orleans for history, others come specifically to indulge in Cajun and Creole food. No matter where you go in New Orleans, you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of mouthwatering local dishes.
Shrimp & Grits
This filling dish is a southern specialty. Fresh shrimp is fried or grilled and served over a plate of hot, cheesy grits. Although it is traditionally eaten as a breakfast food, you can enjoy shrimp and grits for any meal of the day.
As the official dish of Louisiana, gumbo is a classic New Orleans staple. This hearty stew is made with a dark roux and topped with a variety of meats and vegetables. Sausage, shellfish, and chicken are the most common meats.
New Orleans is home to tons of cafes and restaurants that serve buckets of boiled crawfish. These pint-sized creatures are boiled with garlic and seasoning and served fresh with corn and potatoes. Crawfish can also be referred to as crayfish, crawdads, and freshwater lobsters,
Red Beans and Rice
Most Louisianans grow up eating red beans and rice as comfort food. The base of the stew is made with red beans, vegetables, and leftover pork bones. Sausage and ham are added at the end, and the entire dish is served with white rice.
Perfect for lunch or a late-night snack, the Po-Boy is the ultimate sandwich. Small pieces of shrimp, crawfish, oysters, or crab are fried to a crisp before being stuffed in a fluffy sandwich roll. You can add tomatoes, lettuce, and creamy remoulade or sauce too.
With Spanish, French, and West African influences, Jambalaya is a dish served on almost every menu in New Orleans. Jambalaya is made with meat or seafood and stewed with vegetables, rice, and stock. Most recipes call for sausage, but Jambalaya can also be made with chicken, pork, or seafood.
Recommended Food Tours in New Orleans
- New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter
- New Orleans Garden District Food Tour
- New Orleans Food and History Tour
15. Jazz Museum
Located in the old U.S Mint building, the Jazz Museum is guaranteed to delight music lovers of all ages. The museum houses a vast collection of jazz memorabilia and equipment, including Louis Armstrong’s first cornet and Fats Domino’s white piano. There are also exhibits on Professor Longhair, Pete Fountain, and the women of jazz.
If you want to gain a deeper appreciation for jazz music, then you’ve come to the right place. There’s no better place to learn about jazz than in the city that created it!
- 400 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States
- Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- $8 (adults), $6 (reduced)
16. Fan Boat in Bayou
Venture through the swampy Bayou of Louisiana as you whizz along on high-speed fan boat! With the wind blowing through your hair, you’ll have the chance to spot a variety of wildlife, including alligators and wild boars. This is an iconic and super fun way to see some of the wild areas of New Orleans.
Most tours leave from Honey Island Swamp or the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, which is a short 30-minute drive outside the city. If you want to experience New Orleans like a real Cajun, then don’t miss out on a thrilling fan boat ride through the Bayou. Click here to book online.
17. Visit a Plantation in New Orleans
Strolling through the serene fields and tree-lined gardens of the plantation homes are some of our favorite things to do in New Orleans. As you step foot on the historic grounds, you’ll instantly be transported back into the 1800s.
With its towering oak tree tunnel, Oak Valley is one of the most picturesque plantations to visit. Houmas House is another plantation, where you can learn about the sugarcane business that put Louisiana on the map. History buffs will enjoy a trip to the Whitney Plantation to learn more about slave labor during the 19th century.
- Recommended tour: Oak Alley Plantation Tour $69 – Sells out often
18. Walk Through Audubon Park
This sprawling 350-acre park is a great place to sit and relax after a long day of walking or touring the city. This hidden gem is easily accessible from the French Quarter via a short ride on the St. Charles Streetcar.
Come for a picnic, lay out in the sun, or read under one of the giant Spanish Oaks. You can also visit the Audubon Zoo, which is located inside the park. If you need a break from the crowds of tourists, then spend a few hours in the pristine tranquility of Audubon Park.
The easiest way to get to Audubon Park is to take an Uber. You can also take a railcar. We took a railcar there and an Uber back to our hotel.