Things To Do In New Orleans - Mardi Gras

Things To Do In New Orleans – Mardi Gras

New Orleans is not just your ordinary city. If you are planning to visit this amazing Louisiana city, there are a lot of things to do in New Orleans. In this guide, we’ll take you to everything you need to know so you can experience New Orleans’ soulful charm, where its vibrant culture, irresistible cuisine, and captivating history blend harmoniously. Begin your journey to New Orleans and let its energy ignite your spirit. 

The city is known for its vivacious community spirit and deep-rooted cultural fusion. No wonder New Orleans breathes everything that makes life worth living – eating, drinking, and just pure celebration. Let us get to know each of these activities and things to do in New Orleans a little bit better. As they say in Cajun French, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!

13 Best Things To Do In New Orleans

This time, we are going to go Southern. What are the best things to do in New Orleans? 

1. Experience New Orleans’ French Heritage At The French Quarter

England may have colonized most of America, but in this city in Louisiana, French culture and heritage thrive. Many consider NOLA as the epicenter of French culture and language, stemming from their history as France’s colony. This is why there are several attractions in Louisiana where Francophone culture is, such as at the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. 

The first on the list of the best things to do in New Orleans is the French Quarter. Also known as Vieux Carré, this neighborhood is a must-visit especially for first-timers in New Orleans, any time of the year. 

Vieux Carré is New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood, and it is packed with beautiful architecture, loads of history, a wealth of food and music, and of course, warm and welcoming people that comprise of the locals, chatty tour guides, and talented street performers. Some of the best things to do in New Orleans here include a self-guided French Quarter food tour, a cocktail crawl, and so much more. 

And if you are here in the French Quarter, don’t skip the historic landmarks such as the Historic New Orleans Collection, and make sure to enjoy the views of the Mississippi River from the edge of the neighborhood.

2. Celebrate Mardi Gras

When you think of Mardi Gras, what comes to your mind are those colorful and feathery costumes, not to mention the dances and all the spectacle. Then, you think about Brazil. Who says that Mardi Gras is only celebrated in Brazil?

Mardi Gras is a Christian holiday and refers to events of the Carnival celebration, starting on or after the feasts of the Epiphany and culminating on the day prior to Ash Wednesday, or Shrove Tuesday. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras defines the city.

Mardi Gras happens around February or March, depending on the year, and it is one of the greatest shows on Earth, so you should not miss this as one of the things to do in New Orleans. The event is an explosion of color, costumes, and revelry. 

Two-and-a-half weeks before Mardi Gras, NOLA also celebrates the Carnival. Carnival also features parades and street performances, so if you are a little bit early in your visit to New Orleans, there is still some partying around. 

Things To Do In New Orleans - French Quarter

Things To Do In New Orleans – French Quarter

3. Party At Bourbon Street

If there’s one thing that is equated to the things to do in New Orleans, it has to be endless partying. After learning about the Mardi Gras party, there are more parties in town, such as at Bourbon Street. 

Bourbon Street is part of the French Quarter, and is the city’s infamous party hub. This street is filled with performers, fortune tellers, and rowdy bars. Your trip to New Orleans won’t be completed without a visit to Bourbon Street. 

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4. Listen To Jazz Music

If you think about “All That Jazz,” you think about Chicago. But actually, everything about jazz is said to have started in New Orleans. NOLA is dubbed as “the birthplace of jazz.”

Some believe jazz grew out of the drumming and Voodoo rituals that took place in the city’s Congo Square before the Civil War. Some say jazz started at some point during the late 1800s or early 1900s. Others say some New Orleans cats took the beats they heard at home, in church, and in barrooms, put them all together, and created a new sound – a wild, jubilant music that came to be known as jazz. 

Where else can you experience the best of jazz music than in New Orleans? Some of the best places for jazz music in the city are at the Spotted Cat Music Club, Steamboat Natchez, Preservation Hall, and Fritzel’s Jazz Club, among many others. 

Things To Do In New Orleans - Bourbon Street

Things To Do In New Orleans – Bourbon Street

5. More New Orleans Music At Frenchmen Street

When you want more authentic things to do in New Orleans, but want to skip the crowd at the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, head to Bourbon Street’s hipper and trendier cousin, Frenchmen Street. 

A famous spot for NOLA’s locals, this street stretches for several blocks, and features live music, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and also, art galleries. Not only are there fewer crowds here, but food and drinks here are cheaper, and some say New Orleans music is better at Frenchmen Street. 

6. Join An Evening Jazz Cruise With Dinner

So, you’ve heard about New Orleans’ jazz culture and rich culinary scene. What could be better than experiencing both of these on a romantic evening cruise? You read that right. 

Take a trip back in time on a paddle-wheel boat ride traversing the mighty Mississippi River. Stroll the boat’s deck, cozy up with relatives and friends, and delight in the views of the urban shoreline at dusk. This cruise also includes live jazz music and authentic Creole dinner. 

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7. Take A Vampire Walking Tour

If you’ve watched popular TV series such as “The Vampire Diaries,” you’ll know that vampires are folk monsters that have existed since old America. But are they real? Why don’t you join a vampire walking tour in New Orleans? 

Are you looking for next-level fright and horror in NOLA? You’ll get this as you explore the city’s dark past on this adults-only haunted tour. In the tour, you’ll have storytelling guides narrating the most grizzly true-crime tales, Voodoo legends, and paranormal frights. There are various routes to choose from, and all take you through the most haunted sites in the French Quarter and beyond. Nothing can get spookier than this kind of things to do in New Orleans.

Things To Do In New Orleans - Frenchmen Street

Things To Do In New Orleans – Frenchmen Street

8. Drink Bourbon Where It Is Famous In

Bourbon is a variant of American whiskey, distilled from a mash primarily made of corn. This drink is very famous in New Orleans. 

Yes, the birthplace of bourbon may be in Kentucky, but New Orleans is closely connected with America’s only native spirit. It was NOLA that serendipitously helped develop the aging process that produces the bourbon drinking enthusiasts know and love. 

Some of the best places for bourbon in this Louisiana city are at Bourbon House, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub, Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter, and Bourbon Pub & Parade, among many others. Most of them are found along Bourbon Street. 

9. Get A Taste Of Authentic Cajun And Creole Food

New Orleans’ culinary scene is best known for its ties with Cajun and Creole recipes. Well, not just in NOLA actually, but all across Louisiana. These recipes can be found in restaurants throughout NOLA. What makes Creole food distinct from Cajun food is that the former uses tomatoes and tomato-based sauces, while the latter does not. 

If you are here, trying the local cuisine should be on your list of the things to do in New Orleans. Among the best places where you can experience authentic Cajun and Creole food in New Orleans are at The American Sports Saloon, Restaurant August, Katie’s Restaurant & Bar, Trenasse, and so much more. 

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10. Get Bewitched With Voodoo 

Voodoo (think of the popular Voodoo dolls) is actually a religion practiced in some parts of the Caribbean and southern United States. It combines elements of Roman Catholic rituals with traditional African magical and religious rites. Voodoo is also characterized by spirit possession and sorcery. Harry Potter is cringing. And if you think about things to do in New Orleans related to Voodoo, the city will definitely be on top of the list. 

Voodoo became popular in New Orleans when its followers fleeing Haiti – the country where many practitioners of the religion are – after the 1971 slave revolt relocated to the city, and grew as they made this practice a vital part of their culture. Likewise, Voodoo kings and queens were spiritual and political figures of power in 1800s New Orleans. 

Want to experience Voodoo in NOLA? Head over to the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, the only formally established Voodoo temple in New Orleans. The temple is located just across the street from Congo Square. Or, you may also visit the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum in the French Quarter. Here, you can learn more about Voodoo’s history in New Orleans. 

Things To Do In New Orleans - Jackson Square

Things To Do In New Orleans – Jackson Square

11. Shop And Enjoy French Delicacies At Jackson Square

Another famous destination for the best things to do in New Orleans is Jackson Square. Jackson Square is a National Historical Landmark right at the center of the French Quarter tucked away along Decatur Street between the French Market and the Jax Brewery shopping mall. Its name is inspired by the bronze statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, which stands at the center of the square. 

Here, there are a lot of things to do in New Orleans. For one, the place serves as an open-air market space for vendors and artists to showcase and sell their works. After shopping, you can head over to the world-famous Café du Monde where you can enjoy a café au lait and a beignet. It is just around a five-minute walk east of Jackson Square. 

12. Be At The Center Of NOLA’s History At Cabildo

Cabildo was the former seat of government in colonial Louisiana. Now, the structure serves as the gateway to learning more about the state’s history and the history of its popular city of New Orleans. 

Gaze at the elegance of Cabildo museum that marries elements of Spanish colonial architecture and French urban design. Once inside the museum, you will see exhibits of Native American tools, “Wanted” posters for enslaved Africans who escaped, and a gallery filled with paintings of stone-faced old New Orleans locals. It’s one of the things to do in New Orleans you should not miss.

13. Spend An Afternoon At City Park

If the New Orleans revelries overwhelm you, you can take a breather and visit City Park. Live oaks, Spanish moss, and lazy bayous define this masterpiece of urban planning. It is teeming with gardens, waterways, and bridges. It is home to a captivating art museum. Believe it or not, City Park is bigger than New York City’s Central Park. It is the prettiest green space here in NOLA. 

Arts and nature lovers are recommended to spend their afternoons in this attraction. You can visit the New Orleans Museum of Art, which highlights regional and American artists alike. From there, you can stroll past the whimsical creations at the Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, then head over to the lush Botanical Gardens.

If you are traveling with your kids, they will love the rides at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, and the wonder-filled statuary inside Storyland. 

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Things To Do In New Orleans - Architecture

Things To Do In New Orleans – Architecture

Things To Do In New Orleans: The Best Restaurants In This Louisiana City!

The recipes of New Orleans are truly breathtaking. At the heart of its culinary spectacle is Creole cuisine, which is a fusion of French, Caribbean, African, and Spanish flavors. Creole recipes are distinct for having dishes expertly seasoned with herbs, peppers, and aromatic ingredients. 

It is also here where you can get a taste of dishes such as gumbo, po’boy sandwiches, étouffée, and so much more. So what better way to make the most out of the many things to do in New Orleans than to try these recipes in the city’s best restaurants? Here are some of them. 

  • Brigtsen’s Restaurant
  • Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar
  • Luvi Restaurant
  • Queen Trini Lisa
  • Charlie’s Steak House
  • Zasu
  • La Petite Grocery
  • And so much more
Things To Do In New Orleans - Skyline

Things To Do In New Orleans – Skyline

Let The Good Times Roll!

New Orleans has won the hearts of many travelers even just after a single visit. Many of the things to do in New Orleans are on every bucket list. Whether it’s the home-grown jazz, the colorful festivals, the historic neighborhoods, or the most delectable food, the city attracts visitors of all kinds. But there’s more to New Orleans than just the partying. This Louisiana city is home to world-class attractions, making it deserve its slogan, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (“Let the good times roll!”) in every way.

Tours you should check out: