36 Best Things to Do in New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, LA

See also: Where to Stay in New Orleans

New Orleans is a city in Louisiana with everything from a spine-chilling voodoo past to jazz culture.

It also has given some brilliant gems to the rest of the world, such as the writer Truman Capote, actress Reese Witherspoon, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Despite all the hardships this city has faced, it has remained close to its roots and shown the world the power of hope.

Indeed, New Orleans is a city like no other in the entire United States of America.

Interested to know more about this stunning city?

Here are the 40 best things to do in New Orleans, Louisiana:

Pay a Visit to the French Quarter

Night scene at the French Quarter
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The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in the city.

The area is a tourist magnet owing to the variety of places one can visit, such as the gustatory fineness of the restaurant Central Grocery known for its hearty sandwiches, as well as the oldest family-run restaurant in the entire country called Antoine’s.

A building at the French Quarter
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Unearth the Past at Faubourg Marigny

Buildings at Faubourg Marigny
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Faubourg means ‘suburb’ in French, and Marigny is the last name of the founder of this neighborhood.

Here at Faubourg Marigny, you can look at the premium architecture from the 1800s, such as the Creole, Greek revival, and Georgian buildings.

You can also satiate your hunger at one of the many trendy restaurants, and dulcify your day with an evening at a jazz bar.

Marigny has the gusto of New Orleans with a chic nature of its French-inspired past.

A cafe at Faubourg Marigny
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Visit St. Louis Cemetery No.1

Gravestones at St. Louis Cemetery No.1
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St. Louis Cemetery No.1 is where Oscar winner Nicholas Cage bought a future tomb.

Now, you can understand the hollow nature of the St. Louis cemetery.

Here, you can find unique and beguiling above-the-ground tombs and oven vaults that house countless family members.

Sculpture at St. Louis Cemetery No.1
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Check Out Jackson Square

Daytime view of Jackson Square
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Jackson Square is situated at the heart of the French Quarter and is a National Historical Landmark.

This area has a laidback environment where visitors can grab a cup of coffee and start exploring the open-air art studios and old apartment townhouses.

Aerial view of Jackson Square
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Become a Hipster at Bywater

Houses along the Bywater
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Bywater is a prominent neighborhood that was developed into a tourist spot.

This area is dominated by the ideologies of Hipsters, which makes it extensively bohemian.

Restaurant at the Bywater
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Here, you will find many unique shops, such as Dr. Bob’s folk art, a record store called Euclid’s records, a local art gallery called Porche West, and a hipster paradise called the Satsuma café.

Bywater will not only help you relax but also inspire you to start wearing harem pants.

Street musicians at along the Bywater
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Pay Your Respects at the National WW2 Museum

Exterior of the National WW2 Museum
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Opened in the year 2000 to rambunctious fanfare by visitors from around the country, the National World War II Museum has cemented itself as one of the most visited spots of this city.

From the Normandy invasion to the US involvement in the war, there is plenty to learn about from the Victory Solomon theatre, US freedom pavilion, and liberation pavilion, among others.

To cool yourself off, you can visit Jeri Nims's soda shop for a sugary drink.

Interior of the National WW2 Museum
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Take a Stroll around City Park

Pond fountain at City Park
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The City Park may sound humble because of its name, but in reality, it is jam-packed with many different activities that will be impossible to do in one day.

In the morning, you can start by walking on its idyllic trails or instead go biking and later treat yourself to a beignet or a cup of coffee at one of its few restaurants.

Later, you can rent a boat and trail the waters of the big lake and learn about plants at the botanical garden.

Swan on the waters of City Park
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Put on Your Dancing Shoes at Tipitina

Building sign of Tipitina
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Tipitina’s is primarily a dance club that opened in 1977 and has witnessed some iconic New Orleans musical moments, such as concerts from Dr. John, the Neville brothers, and Trombone Shorty.

Here, you won’t be able to leave the dance floor not only due to its magnetic music but also because it is a standing-only venue.

Let your hair down and party like a true New Orleans native.

Exterior of Tipitina
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Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art

Exterior of New Orleans Museum of Art
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The New Orleans Museum of Art in New Orleans was built in 1910 and is home to sculptures and paintings from the 16th to the 20th centuries.

Here, you can view a variety of art pieces.

Commissioned to be built by Isaac Delgado, this museum contains art that amounts to 200 million dollars.

Exterior of New Orleans Museum of Art
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Eat a Beignet at Café Du Monde

People at Café Du Monde
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The most famous restaurant in New Orleans that offers the best donut is Café du monde, which opened in 1862.

Even though the other restaurants on the street open at 8 in the morning, Café du monde is open 24 hours.

Interior of Café Du Monde
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Eat Your Heart Out at Napoleon House

Signage of the Napoleon House
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The Napoleon House does not rely on fancy trappings to attract visitors to its restaurant; instead, it has kept most of its old furniture, uneven floors, and withering walls intact.

This is where the charm of Napoleon's house lies, which is why it is considered a historical landmark of the city.

If you come here, you should try the famous drink, the Pimm’s cup, and the local muffuletta sandwich.

Exterior of the Napoleon House
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Watch a Game at the Caesars Superdome

Exterior of the Mercedes-benz Superdome
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If you’re a sports lover or, to be specific, a fan of the New Orleans Saints, which play American football, then Caesars Superdome is the place for you.

Even though the majestic superdome is used for various sports, including baseball and boxing, it is most famous for watching New Orleans Saints.

If you’re lucky enough to catch a game, remember to go the American way and buy yourself a greasy hotdog and a pint of beer.

Front view of Caesars Superdome
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Visit the Audubon Aquarium

Exterior of the Audubon Aquarium
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The Audubon Aquarium is situated in a state-of-art facility and is home to 15,000 sea life creatures of approximately 600 species.

There is plenty to see here, including seahorses at the seahorse gallery or the Caribbean Sea life inside the 30-foot-long Caribbean reef tunnel.

You can also touch a baby shark and be mesmerized by the steely blue eyes of the white alligator or have a laugh admiring the playful sea otters.

A penguin in Audubon Aquarium
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Feel the Good Vibes at Oak Street

Shops along Oak Street
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Oak Street was famous for being the ‘main street’ of the city in the 1800s but later lost its historical importance and was only revived in the 1980s.

This is a street loved by college students, musicians, and artisans.

There are many shops, boutiques, restaurants, and bars for you to choose from.

Restaurant at Oak Street
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If you’re a fan of poetry and live music, Maple Leaf Bar will tick all the boxes, as it is the most famous music club in the city.

If you’re looking for a restaurant, Jacques-Imo’s serves authentic creole and cajun food.

Boutique at Oak Street
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Hear the River Flow at Crescent Park

Bridge at Crescent Park
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If you need a few hours in the day to simply walk around or sit on a bench and introspect about your life and make decisions you have been unable to in the hustle of the city, come to Crescent Park.

This park is a brand new urban garden opened in Bywater and is situated along the Mississippi River.

If you want to exercise, you can rent a bike and ride around the stunning park.

The grounds of Crescent Park
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Cruise around on Steamboat Natchez

Exterior of Steamboat Natchez
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Steamboat Natchez will be a unique addition to your list as it is the only original steamboat in New Orleans.

This is a 2-hour cruise filled with New Orlean's favorite Jazz music, where you can can visit the steam engine room and learn about New Orleans history.

For all of you foodies, they also serve authentic Creole cuisine on the cruise.

View of the docked Steamboat Natchez
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Feel the Rage at Studio Be

Studio Be is the brainchild of local artist Brandon Odums, and at his studio, you can admire art that portray revolutionaries and the spirit of local New Orleans citizens.

This is not an ordinary art gallery, but Brandon’s art serves a purpose that is closely linked to activism, and this is represented through his graffiti work which sparks a dialogue about current social and political issues.

History and activism is at its finest at Studio Be.

Sing a Song at the Louis Armstrong Park

Waters at Louis Armstrong Park
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You must’ve understood by now that New Orleans loves their jazz music just as much they love sugar.

Louis Armstrong Park is named after a city native and Jazz legend, Louis Armstrong, and contains a 12-foot-long statue of him and sculptures of musical icons Sidney Bechet and Buddy Bolden.

Statue of Louis Armstrong at Louis Armstrong Park
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The park also has the New Orleans musical auditorium and Mahalia Jackson theatre for the performing arts.

This is the same place where the famous ‘Jazz in the Park’ concert series took place.

People at Louis Armstrong Park
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Cherish the Older Times at the Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall
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Preservation Hall stays true to its name and has been helping to keep traditional old-school jazz music alive since 1961.

It is no secret that jazz music is an integral part of New Orleans culture.

If you want to feel nostalgia deeper than ever, the preservation hall will make you remember the simpler older times without a mobile phone.

Entrance to Preservation Hall
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Feel Amazed at the Music Box Village

Visitors at Music Box Village
mike connor, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Music Box Village can only be the invention of a millennial tech geek, as it is unlike any music club you’ve ever heard of or been to.

Here, you can attend concerts by jazz musicians and local singer-songwriters and listen to unexpected music by tapping the walls or sliding the doors.

A woman playing harp at Music Box Village
61elephone, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is filled with rustic tree houses where you will be welcomed with a soulful symphony.

Music has never been more liberated than at the music box village.

Get a Little Crazy at Mardi Gras World

Mardi Gras World
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Mardi gras in French means ‘fat Tuesday’ and mostly refers to a tradition of eating fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

During Mardi Gras World, you'll see an extravagant and colorful parade where most women bare their breasts and dance as if no one’s watching.

Giant spider at Mardi Gras World
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Mardi Gras World is a working warehouse where you can look at some of the floats used in the parade.

View of Mardi Gras World
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Visit the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
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Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is home to numerous sculptures, most of which are from 21st-century artists.

Here, you will get the pleasure of roaming around in the magnificent gardens and also admire sculptures you will not see anywhere else in the world.

Bronze sculpture of a woman at Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
PQK / Shutterstock.com

Forget the suffocating atmosphere of an indoor museum and breathe in the fresh air at an open-air art gallery.

View of Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
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Dress Fancy at the Orpheum Theatre

Exterior view of Orpheum Theatre
Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Orpheum Theatre, built in 1918, is a high-end historic theatre that hosts legendary musical performances, dance shows, and live music.

Visit this place if you want to have fun!

Support Local Artists at the Palace Market

Palace Market
Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Art is highly respected in the culturally vibrant city of New Orleans, as evident in the Palace Market, an outdoor art market where local artists set up their stalls and sell their products to visitors at affordable prices.

The best part about their art is that it will not be found anywhere else in the world, and you would’ve purchased a one-in-a-million product.

The ethos of Palace Market lies in the air of creativity which flows around in the atmosphere.

People shopping at Palace Market
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Visit Contemporary Arts Center

Exterior view of Contemporary Arts Center
Reading Tom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Contemporary Arts Center was built in 1976 and, since then, has been a benchmark of contemporary artistry, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and the performing arts.

Top view of Contemporary Arts Center
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The center is built in a warehouse and has award-winning architecture that combines the classic New Orleans sensibilities with the eclectic mix of urban chaos.

It is constantly rotating exhibitions, giving space to new and upcoming local, national and international artists.

Dine at the Commander’s Palace

Commander’s Palace
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Visit Commander’s Palace during your trip to the city.

This restaurant was opened by Amil Commander in 1893 and was purchased by another family in the 1970s.

Signage of Commander’s Palace
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It has been serving authentic creole and cajun food since it opened, and the hospitality is full of warmth and happiness.

View of Commander’s Palace
Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience the Voodoo Tours

Tourist enjoying their  Voodoo Tours
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New Orleans is often referred to as the most haunted city in America, and you will learn more about this by taking one of the many voodoo tours available in the city.

You will be taken to some of the most haunted places around the city and cemeteries and even visit the tomb of the voodoo queen, Marie Laveau.

Tomb of the voodoo queen, Marie Laveau
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Though in some tours, they might ease you by taking you to historical locations in others, you will be performing an interactive blessing over the tombs.

Sounds spooky, right?

Revisit History at the Chalmette Battlefield

View of the Chalmette Battlefield
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Chalmette Battlefield, which took place on January 8th, 1815, was the last land battle ever fought between the American army and a foreign power.

This battle helped keep the British from taking over New Orleans, and you can learn about this in more detail by visiting the Chalmette Battlefield.

Tomb stone at Chalmette Battlefield
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You can also pay your respects at the nearby Chalmette National cemetery, where the remains of American soldiers who died in wars from 1812 are buried.

Memorial monument at Chalmette Battlefield
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Buy Some Wigs at Fifi Mahony

Fifi Mahony is an atypical stop for a tourist but let me assure you, it is absolutely worth it.

Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry have frequented this shop for their glamour needs, and it's time we do too.

This may be extreme for some people as it contains numerous wigs of different styles and colors, glittery makeup, and outrageous jewelry.

If you’re looking to experiment with fashion and add a bit of oomph to your journey, Fifi Mahony is the right place to visit.

Have Fun at the Kermit's Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge

Exterior view of Kermit's Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge
Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kermit's Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge has had quite the journey.

It was opened in 1994 by Blues singer Ernie K-Doe and has since been dedicated to his memory and artistry.

During hurricane Katrina in 2005, the lounge was flooded with more than 5 feet of water, and in 2011, with the help of Kermit Ruffins, the place was re-established.

Here, you can enjoy a drink while listening to live jazz, R&B, and soul music.

Twist and Shout at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl

People chilling at Rock ‘n’ Bowl
Jeffrey Schwartz, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rock ‘n’ Bowl is the stuff of dreams, as you can dance to live music ranging from the blues to jazz and frolic around in the bowling alley and throw down a few pins.

If this isn’t enough, a visitor can also eat food at an affordable price and with a wide variety at the buffet.

No matter your age, Rock ‘n’ Bowl is guaranteed to make your journey a whole lot better.

Get Your Hands Dirty at New Orleans Glassworks & Printmaking Studio

Exterior view of New Orleans Glassworks & Printmaking Studio
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New Orleans Glassworks & Printmaking Studio is the only free-entry institution in the Greater New Orleans Region.

It is housed in a renovated 1800s brick structure with about 25,000 square feet and is situated less than two blocks from the St. Charles streetcar line and the National World War II Museum.

They provide a variety of great activities for people of all ages and passions in their open-working studios, hands-on workshops, and gallery, all available to visitors throughout the year.

Display at New Orleans Glassworks & Printmaking Studio
Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Peruse their lovely gallery to see the creations of their well-known national and international craftsmen.

Find out how the New Orleans Glassworks can assist you in creating a spectacular event for your group.

Ask Art Advice at Where Y'Art Works

Cat Todd and Collin Ferguson, two artists from New Orleans, launched Where Y'Art Works in 2013.

Their motivation was to develop and maintain the city's artistic culture.

A full-service art consultancy business has emerged out of what was once only an internet purchasing platform.

It is a renowned full-service art consultancy organization with approximately 30 years of combined expertise in art and design and a vast network of contacts.

In four marketplaces, they represent close to 150 local artists.

Numerous painters, muralists, sculptors, welders, painters, animators, photographers, and textile artists are the source of their work.

They assist in establishing connections between businesses, people, and regional artists in communities around the US.

Participate in a Class at the New Orleans School of Cooking

Signage of New Orleans School of Cooking
Scott Colesby / Shutterstock.com

Since its founding in 1980, the New Orleans School of Cooking has introduced countless tourists to the delicious cuisine and vibrant culture of New Orleans and all of Louisiana.

Situated in the middle of the French Quarter, their fascinating culinary courses and Louisiana General Store are housed in a molasses warehouse constructed in the early 1800s.

The key ingredient in their recipe is fun!

A chef teaching a boy to cook at New Orleans School of Cooking
Tulane Public Relations, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They impart the fundamentals of Louisiana cooking in a way you won't forget.

New Orleans School of Cooking hosts off-site events, pro-individual group sessionals, and special occasions.

Appreciate Jazz at Maison Bourbon Jazz Club

Entrance to Maison Bourbon Jazz Club
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Maison Bourbon Jazz Club, among Bourbon Street's earliest live jazz venues, is committed to preserving "America's classical music."

It is one of just two Jazz clubs still operating on Bourbon Street.

Numerous famous jazz musicians completed their apprenticeships at this renowned place.

Performance at Maison Bourbon Jazz Club
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Visitors and locals alike go to this legendary bar hoping for constant real jazz entertainment, and they are never let down!

Find a charming courtyard with a wrought-iron gate leading to another of the club's historic locations, My Bar @ 635, at the back of the establishment.

People waiting outside the Maison Bourbon Jazz Club at night
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Roam around the City with FreeWheelin' Bike Tours

Most excellent bike tours of New Orleans are provided by a local, family-run business called FreeWheelin' Bike Tours.

New Orleans is the single location that offers bike rentals with self-returns.

They provide a self-guided bike tour guide of New Orleans that is guaranteed to delight you, whether you're traveling alone or with a friend.

Choose a route and start pedaling; your next big adventure is just around the block!

With their personalized tour services, FreeWheelin' Bike Tours can accommodate you for your birthdays, outings, and other occasions.

In their ten years of operation, they have led private excursions for celebrities, singers, big businesses, families, and everyone in between.

Final Thoughts

Discover the distinctive culture of New Orleans by taking a few excursions or maybe taking a culinary class.

Visit the Children's Museum or go to City Park for botanical gardens, sports fields, and amusement park rides, including a merry-go-round.

Both are great places to spend time with your family.

Don't forget to check out jazz clubs, festivals, and, of course, feast at New Orleans' famous restaurants, as it's a bustling city on the Mississippi River!

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