Top 15 Things to do in New Orleans
As someone who has grown up only an hour from the Big Easy, I’ve been lucky to spend many weekends exploring a city full of so much culture and life. New Orleans is known for the art, music, people, and my personal favorite, the food. It might be overwhelming at first, especially if you are unfamiliar with Louisiana.
There are so many options of restaurants, bars, shops, and experiences. So, if it’s your first time in the Big Easy and you’re wondering what to do, here is my list of all of the must-do’s in NOLA.
1 – Eat beignets at Café du Monde.
You absolutely can’t visit New Orleans for the first time and miss this famous beignet shop. The line might be long, but I promise you, it IS worth the wait. This is also the best place to snack while listening to some great jazz music. So, grab an order of beignets and a café au lait while you watch the street performers.
2 – Take a streetcar ride through City Park.
These views are incredible. I recommend St. Charles line to enjoy the beautiful New Orleans architecture and unbelievable oak trees. You can also hop off at any point for lunch (maybe a poboy) in one of the countless cafes along the way!
3 – Check out the local art in Jackson Square.
Here you can find literally any form of art, from paintings to street musicians, to magicians, and palm readers. This is the heart of New Orleans! Watch the performers and maybe pick up a painting or photograph to support the artists. If you’re looking for a nice souvenir to bring home, this is a great place to look for all things artsy.
As a photographer myself, I love stopping by talking to the photographers and look through their galleries. This is also where the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral is located. Here, you can catch horse carriages or bus tours through the city.
4 – Visit the French Market.
Okay, back to my comment on how the food was my personal favorite part of New Orleans culture… if you’re a foodie like me, you have to hit this one. Grab a dozen fresh oysters or enjoy some pralines while you check out the local artwork and crafts.
There are countless vendors with handmade goods and souvenirs! I love to pick up my souvenirs here. It’s the perfect spot to find t-shirts, shot glasses, ornaments, and literally anything else you can think of. The French market also has plenty of bars that’ll you pass by the majority of which have the most authentic New Orleans Bloody Marys, daiquiris, and so much more!
5 – Enjoy a daiquiri on Bourbon street.
Stop at one of the famous New Orleans Daiquiri shops and pick one (or two) up. My favorite flavors are jungle juice or peach bellini. If you visit Bourbon during the day, you’ll see some beautiful row homes and art galleries on the way. Catch some local musicians on the streets and visit the shops on your stroll from Royal Street to Bourbon Street.
6 – Eat a poboy!
Poboys are my FAVORITE thing to eat in New Orleans. You can’t find a bad poboy in the city. You can’t beat a good fried oyster poboy at Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar on Bourbon. Some of my favorite restaurants in the French Quarter are Antoine’s and Mulate’s for some good dancing!
7 – Visit the WWII museum.
The older I get, the cooler I realize this place is! I visited as a child on field trips, but going back as an adult and seeing the history in this ginormous museum is so incredible! No matter what your ethnic background, this is something I 100% recommend.
8 – Visit Mardi Gras World.
Nestled right in by the river, this is the most epic warehouse that creates all of the floats for Mardi Gras and Carnival season (which is pretty much all year in New Orleans.)
9 – Take a swamp tour.
If you’re touring from another state or country, this should be a big one on your must-do list. There are countless places to take a swamp tour near New Orleans! So go hit the swamp and get an up-close look at the gators from your airboat.
10 – Take a ghost tour.
Are you superstitious? Take a walking tour through some of New Orleans most haunted hotels and cemeteries! These tours are so interesting and can also teach you a lot about the history of the city!
11 – Stroll around the Garden District.
If you love the quintessential Southern Louisiana homes and beautiful oak trees, be sure to visit the Garden District. You can also spot some pretty cool cemeteries and chapels on your walk! While you’re at it, check out the famous ‘American Horror Story’ House!
12 – Take a jazz cruise.
Spend a night having dinner aboard the Steamboat Natchez while enjoying some jazz music and beautiful views of the city.
13 – Visit the Audobon Aquarium.
The aquarium is such a fun place! Located within walking distance from the French Quarter, it’s on the river and a great place to escape the Louisiana heat for a few hours, while seeing some cool creatures!
14 – Visit the Audobon Zoo.
The Zoo is always a good idea, especially if you have little ones!
15 – Stop for some sweets at Sucré.
My favorite is the coconut basil ice cream and a chocolate macaron! You can’t go wrong with any sweets from the famous macaron shop! You can also pick up a dozen macarons and ship them home.
Over to you…
You can’t go wrong with a trip to New Orleans, whether it’s a long weekend or a week-long getaway, there’s plenty to do and see. So go, and enjoy all of the things awaiting you in South Louisiana!
Share with us in the comments what you’re most excited to do and see when visiting New Orleans.
Hi! I’m Aubrey, a Disney cast member & full-time college student. If I’m not working or in class, I’m traveling or planning my next adventure. I have a passion for all things travel and photography!