If you haven’t been to the Big Easy yet, you are missing out. The list of places to see and things to do is endless, that’s why we’ve rounded up our top favorites to check out when visiting the Crescent City.
1. The French Quarter
At over 200 years, The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carre, is one of NOLA’s most historic neighborhoods. You feel like you are taking a trip back in time with the diverse French and Spanish architecture mixed with renowned restaurants, antique shops and art galleries.
If you are looking for a rollicking good time head to the famous Bourbon Street. Neon signs light the sidewalks and jazz music bellows into the streets as you find yourself in the soul of New Orleans. If iconic jazz clubs and bars aren’t your cup of tea than stroll over to Jackson Square where you can see the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo and the Presbytere.
Upper Chartres street looking towards Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral | website
2. Frenchmen Street
This vibrant two-block district of live music, bars, and restaurants is the lesser known brother of Bourbon Street, basically where the locals tend to hangout. Offering daily live performances from blues, jazz, reggae and rock Frenchmen Street is the perfect example of authentic New Orleans culture.
The street’s music venues feature mostly local bands that play 365 days a year and draw crowds from all over the world. A few exceptional jazz clubs to check out are the Spotted Cat, Blue Nile and The Maison.
Head to the Faubourg Marigny/Bywater neighborhood |website
3. Take a Swamp Tour
When visiting New Orleans, you must explore the swamp lands. It may sound intimidating at first but once you are gliding on the dark, glass-like water surrounded by a beautiful cypress forest you will forget all about your worries. Moreover, this unique experience is as exciting as it is serene because you never know when you might spot a curious alligator or a wandering boar.
There are numerous methods of transportation available to explore the wetlands- air boat, kayak, and canoe are the most popular. Most tours are about two hours long and rides to the swamp are often included in the ticket price. Tour guides like New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours and Beyond the Bayou Environmental & Cultural Tours are both incredible businesses to check out.
website | website
4. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Don’t skip out on the spook! A cemetery tour (or multiple tours) is well worth your time when considering the history of these unique burial grounds. The deteriorating above-ground graves of the St. Louis Cemetery No.1 are the final resting place of countless historical figures, including Jacques N.B. de Pouilly, the architect of the St. Louis Cathedral, Etienne de Bore, pioneer in sugar development, Daniel Clark, financial supporter of the American Revolution, and the legendary voodoo queen, Marie Laveau.
Admission is $20 per person and all visitors to the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide. Fun fact: the future tomb of Nicolas Cage is located at this cemetery.
425 Basin St, New Orleans, LA 0112 | website
5. The National WWII Museum
The National WWII Museum is rated the #1 attraction in New Orleans according to Trip Advisor. This exceptional museum houses 300,000 square feet of riveting exhibits, multimedia experiences, an expansive collection of artifacts, access to first-person oral histories and virtual field trips.
Providing a unique look into the story of the war: why it was fought, how it was won, and its significance on us today. This will be an unforgettable experience that the whole family will enjoy.
945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130 | website
6. Whitney Plantation
While all southern plantations have their charm, none of them are quite like the Whitney Plantation. Established in 1752, Whitney is the only plantation museum in Louisiana that makes the lives of the enslaved people the main focal point. As you walk through the grounds, you will see a 1790 owner’s house, authentic slave cabins, a freedmen’s church and memorials for the over 100,000 people enslaved in Louisiana.
The 90-minute walking tour is incredibly informative yet refreshing, as you see the sugar plantation’s history through a slave’s perspective. If you had to choose just one plantation tour, this one must be it.
5099 Louisiana Hwy 18, Edgard, LA 70049 | website
7. Cafe Du Monde
Everyone knows that you can’t visit NOLA without grabbing a warm beignet covered in powdered sugar. There is no better place to grab yourself a traditional beignet and a café au lait than at Café Du Monde. They have been serving their French-style doughnuts to New Orleanians and tourists alike since 1862. To complete the experience get yourself a coffee with chicory (endive root), which they traditionally serve au lait, or mixed half & half with hot milk.
800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116 | website
8. City Park
At 1,300 acres, City Park is recognized nationwide as one of the largest urban parks in the country. This beautiful park is home to many attractions such as the New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans Botanical Garden, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, and much more. City Park offers a wide range of recreational activities.
You can pick between watching a live performance, wandering through the gardens or taking a relaxing boat ride. Additionally, it has the largest collection of mature live oaks in the entire world. Some of these trees are over 800 years old.
1 Palm Drive New Orleans, LA 70124 | website
9. Hotel Monteleone
Since 1886, this family-owned-and-operated hotel has been captivating people with its impressive beauty and sophisticated style. Located in the heart of the French Quarter on Royal and Iberville street, you won’t miss out on any of the action. What adds to the historic reputation of Hotel Monteleone is its beloved Carousel bar, located in the lobby.
For over a century this bar has been the go-to spot for many influential figures, such as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and many more. Whether you choose to stay at the hotel or not, sitting at the city’s only revolving bar will be one of the highlights of your trip.
214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130 | website
10. Food & Drink
As one of the most culturally diverse food scenes in America, NOLA is the place to eat and drink your heart out. The Creole and Cajun cuisines are full of flavor and have French, Spanish, African, Native American and Caribbean influences. Some famous dishes you can’t leave the city without trying are the crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, po-boy sandwich and boudin sausage.
While the list of amazing local cocktails is long (we see you Hurricane), you must try the Sazerac cocktail. It’s their official cocktail and consists of cognac or whiskey, absinthe, bitters and a sugar cube. Some fantastic restaurants to get authentic Cajun or Creole food are Cochon, Tujague’s and Pierre Maspero’s.
website | website | website
Shop New Orleans Style
No other city in America is quite like New Orleans and we hope you enjoyed this write up of 10 things you must do when you visit. Whether it’s the live jazz that plays every day, the diverse Creole and Cajun food or the iconic Mardi Gras, there is something for everyone in this beautiful city!