See also: Where to Stay in New Orleans
A city that has it all, from a spine chilling voodoo past to a jazz culture with a modern heart New Orleans is a city like no other in the entire country of America. It has also given some brilliant gems to the rest of the world such as writer Truman Capote, actress Reese Witherspoon and everyone’s favorite 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. Here are more than 30 things you can do while you’re in New Orleans:
Feel Chic at the French Quarter
It’s true what they say, old is gold. The French quarter is the oldest neighborhood in the city and despite what its name suggests, this area has numerous Spanish inspired buildings. The area is a tourist magnate 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.
Unearth the Past at Faubourg Marigny
In order to take in the essence of any city, a visitor must begin their journey by turning back the clock. Faubourg means ‘suburb’ in French and Marigny is the last name of the founder of this neighborhood. Here, you can look at the premium architecture from the 1800s such as the Creole, Greek revival and Georgian buildings as well as 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 while maintaining the chic nature of its French inspired past.
Visit the Dead at the St. Louis Cemetery No.1
This is the same cemetery where Oscar winner Nicholas Cage has already bought a future tomb. Now, you can understand the hallow nature of the St. Louis cemetery. Here, you can find unique and beguiling above-the-ground tombs as well as oven vaults which house countless family members in them. As they say, living is expensive but dying is even more and this is apt in the case of this cemetery as one needs to pay 40,000 dollars in order to stay here for their afterlife.
Check out Jackson Square
Jackson square is situated at the heart of the French quarter and is a National historic landmark as it was founded in the 18th century and was known as a place for French voyagers to exchange goods. This area has a laidback environment, where a visitor can grab a cup of coffee and start exploring the open air art studios by local artists as well as old apartment townhouses which have now been converted into museums.
Become a Hipster at Bywater
Bywater is a contemporary neighborhood which only recently developed into a tourist spot for the city. This area is dominated by the ideologies of Hipsters which makes it extensively bohemian. 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 which is the Satsuma café. Bywater will not only help you relax but also inspire you to start wearing harem pants.
Pay Your Respects at the National WW2 Museum
Opened in the year 2000 to a rambunctious fanfare by visitors from all around the country, the national World War II museum has cemented its place 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 a few others. To cool yourself off, you can visit Jeri Nims soda shop for a sugary drink.
Take a Stroll Around City Park
The city park may sound humble because of its name but in reality, it is jam packed with so many different activities which will be impossible to do in one day. In the morning you can start by walking on its idyllic trails or instead go for biking and later treat yourself to a beignet or a cup of coffee at one of their few restaurants. Later, you can rent a boat and trail the waters of the big lake as well as learn about plants at the botanical garden.
Have a Good Time at Magazine Street
The magazine street does justice to its name because just like the experience of flipping through a magazine can be relaxing just like that this street is for the day you decide to ditch your extensive travel list and stick to a leisurely walk surrounded by restaurants and shops which sell everything from jewelry and clothes to furniture and china dishes. You can also dine at Arana and Boil seafood house among many other options.
Put on Your Dancing Shoes at Tipitina
Tipitina’s is primarily a dance club which was opened in the year 1977 and has witnessed some iconic New Orleans musical moments such as the concerts from Dr. John, 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 you hair down and party like a true New Orleans’s native.
Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art
The museum of art in New Orleans was built in the year 1910 and is home to sculptures and paintings from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Here, you can view a variety of art pieces such as Columbian, Native American, European, American, Asian, Oceanic and African. Commissioned to be built by Isaac Delgado, this museum contains art which amounts to a total of 200 million dollars.
Eat a Beignet at Café Du Monde
Who here likes donuts but wants to know why they waste the space on the hole in the middle? New Orleans has an answer to your query in the form of mouth watering beignets. The most famous restaurant to eat New Orleans version of the donut is Café du monde which was opened in the year 1862. Despite the fact that the other restaurants on the street open at 8 in the morning, Café du monde is functional 24 hours.
Eat Your Heart Out at Napoleon House
The Napoleon house does not rely on any fancy trappings to attract visitors to their restaurant instead it has kept most of its old furniture, uneven floors and withering walls intact just as they were when the Mayor of New Orleans started it in the 1800s. This is where the charm of Napoleon house lies and this 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.
Watch a Game at the Mercedes-benz Superdome
If you’re a sports lover or to be specific, a fan of the New Orleans Saints which play American football then, this 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 the enthralling 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.
Visit the Audubon Aquarium
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 from being fascinated by seahorses at the seahorse gallery or surveying Caribbean Sea life inside the 30 feet long Caribbean reef tunnel. You can also touch a baby shark as well as be mesmerized by the steely blue eyes of the white alligator or have a laugh admiring the playful Sea otters.
Feel the Good Vibes at Oak Street
Oak Street was famous for being the ‘main street’ of the city in the 1800s but in the later years lost its historical importance and was only revived back in the 1980s. This is a street loved by college students, musicians and artisans. There is a multitude of shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars for you to choose from. If you’re a fan of poetry and live music, Maple leaf bar is going to 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.
Hear the River Flow at Crescent Park
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 and do exactly that. This park is a brand new urban garden opened in the Bywater neighborhood and is situated along the Mississippi River which brings a cool breeze to the entire lush green environ. If you want to get a bit of exercise, you can rent a bike and ride around the stunning Park.
Cruise Around the Water on the Steamboat Natchez
The steamboat Natchez will be a unique addition to your list as it is the only original steamboat in the entire New Orleans. This is a 2 hour long cruise filled with New Orleans favorite Jazz music and at the same time serves as educational as you can visit the steam engine room and learn about New Orleans history. For all of you foodies out there, they also serve authentic Creole cuisine on the cruise.
Feel the Rage at Studio Be
Studio be is the brainchild of local artist Brandon Odums and at his studio, you can admire art which portray revolutionaries and the spirit of local New Orleans citizens. This is not an ordinary art gallery but Brandon’s art serves a purpose which 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, at its finest at Studio be.
Sing a Song at the Louis Armstrong Park
You must’ve understood by now that New Orleans love their jazz music just as much they love sugar. This park is named after a city native and a Jazz legend, Louis Armstrong and contains a 12 foot long statue of him as well as sculptures of musical icons Sidney Bechet and Buddy Bolden. 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.
Cherish the Older Times at the Preservation Hall
The preservation hall stays true to its name and has been helping in keeping the traditional old school jazz music alive since 1961. It is no secret that Jazz music is an integral part of New Orleans culture and in order for it remain that way, this hall has nightly concerts through the week. If you want to feel nostalgia deeper than one you’ve ever felt before, preservation hall will make you remember the simpler older times without a mobile phone.
Feel Amazed at the Music Box Village
The 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 not only attend concerts by jazz musicians and local singer-songwriters but also listen to unexpected music by tapping the walls or sliding the doors. It is filled with rustic tree houses where if you open their doors 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 in French means ‘fat Tuesday’ and is mostly referred to a tradition of eating fatty foods before the ritual fasting of Lenten season. During Mardi gras, there is an extravagant and colorful parade where most women bare their breasts and dance as if no one’s watching. The Mardi gras world is a working warehouse where you can look at some of the floats used in the parade.
Visit the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
This is a lush green Garden which is home to numerous sculptures and most of them are from 21st century artists. Here, you will not only get the pleasure of roaming around in the magnificent gardens but at the same time, admire sculptures you will not see anywhere else in the world. Forget the suffocating atmosphere of an indoor museum and breathe in fresh air at an open air art gallery.
Dress Fancy at the Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum theatre was built in 1918 and in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina was flooded and had to be reopened after restoration in 2015. This is a high-end historic theatre which is always hosting legendary musical performances, dance shows and live music which may include a band or a classical one-person show. Due to its high prices, I would only recommend those who are interested in the performing arts to book seats in this theatre.
Support Local Artists at the Palace Market
Art is highly respected in the culturally vibrant city of New Orleans and this is evidenced by the Palace market which is 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 kind of a product. The ethos of Palace market lies in the air of creativity which flows around in the atmosphere.
The Old and New Meet at the Contemporary Arts Center
The contemporary arts center was built in the year 1976 and since then, has been a benchmark of contemporary artistry which includes paintings, sculptures, photography and the performing arts. The center is built in a warehouse and has award winning architecture which combines the classic New Orleans sensibilities with the eclectic mix of urban chaos. It is always rotating the exhibitions which give space to new and upcoming local, national and international artists.
Visit With an Empty Stomach at the Commander’s Palace
Do you know people have mentioned this restaurant in their will clauses as the place for their loved ones to enjoy a meal? I don’t think you need a better reason than this to 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. It has been serving authentic Creole and Cajun food ever since it opened and the hospitality is full of warmth and happiness.
Live Your Nightmares at the Voodoo Tour
New Orleans is often referred to as the most haunted city of America and you will find out more on 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 as well as cemeteries and even visit the tomb of voodoo queen, Marie Laveau. Though, in some tours they might ease you by taking you to historical locations but in some others, you will be performing an interactive blessing over the tombs. Sounds spooky, right?
Remember the War at the Chalmette Battlefield
The famous Chalmette battle 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. You can also pay your respects at the nearby Chalmette National cemetery where the remains of American soldiers who died in wars from 1812 to the present are buried.
Let Your Hair Down 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 its time we do too. This may be extreme for some people as it contains innumerous 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.
Stop Feeling Blue at the Treme Mother-in-law Lounge
Kermit’s treme 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 water and in 2011, with the help of Kermit Ruffins was reestablished. Here, you can enjoy a drink while listening to live jazz, R&B and soul music.
Twist and Shout at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl
The Rock ‘n’ bowl is the stuff of dreams as you can not only dance to live music ranging from the blues to jazz but also frolic around in the bowling alley and throw down a few pins. If this wasn’t enough, a visitor can also eat food at an affordable price and with a wide variety at the buffet. No matter what your age may be, rock ‘n’ bowl is guaranteed to make your journey a whole lot better.
Once you finish your visit to New Orleans, you would come back to your corporate 9 to 5 job with a dissatisfied nature because the city is awe inspiring in its ability to convey its culture value through the numerous art galleries and music clubs throughout the city. Eat as many beignets as you like because life is too short to worry about calories.