Top 10 Things To Do In New Orleans French Quarter – “If it weren’t for New Orleans, America would be a bunch of free people dying of boredom.”
Whether you call it the Crescent City, the Big Easy, NOLA, or New Orleans, once you visit, you may never want to leave. Unfortunately, some visitors think the entire city revolves around Bourbon Street and its ubiquitous daiquiri shops and “big beer” stands.
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The truth is, New Orleanians rarely set foot on Bourbon Street. They spend their time eating decadent Creole fare in old-school restaurants, sipping sazeracs in fancy hotel bars, and listening to jazz in the little music venues you might pass by if you didn’t know which door to look for.
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Having been a resident of NOLA for four years and returning for dozens of visits over the years, I have had the opportunity to experience the best the city has to offer. To help you plan your trip, I’ve rounded up all of my favorite things to do in the city, from the most worthwhile tourist activities to the best hidden gems.
So, if you’re wondering what to do in New Orleans, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn about your favorite sights, sounds, drinks, and food in New Orleans!
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If you want to be in the heart of the action, visit the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. It is conveniently located a half block from Bourbon Street and two blocks from Jackson Square. The real selling point is the tranquil pool in the courtyard, hidden from the madness of the French Quarter.
TheAce Hotel is New Orleans’ newest hotspot! Bringing the same old-fashioned hipster style that launched the brand in Portland, their New Orleans location features a stunning rooftop bar, an award-winning restaurant (Josephine Estelle), Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and an oyster bar.
Are you looking for a great hotel room that won’t break your budget? Old Number 77 Hotel & Chandlery is hard to beat. Located in the Warehouse District, the hotel is the perfect place to explore both the French Quarter and the Garden District.
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65 Things to Do in New Orleans (Beside Bourbon Street) New Orleans Attractions 1. Watch Street Performers in Jackson Square
Jackson Square is the heart and soul of the French Quarter. Here you will find artists and street performers vying for your attention. You can listen to a band, purchase one-of-a-kind artwork, or have your palm read, all against the stunning backdrop of the historic St. Louis Cathedral. It’s the perfect place to start a New Orleans vacation (and a great starting point for a walking tour of the French Quarter).
Be sure to take a ride on the New Orleans Streetcar along St. Scenic Charles Avenue, through the Garden District, and into New Orleans. There is something hypnotic about listening to the methodical clicking of the tram and watching it pass through the giant Spanish oaks. This is one New Orleans attraction you can’t miss.
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It costs $1.25 per trip, but you’ll need exact change, so stock up every three months. And don’t even think about calling it a wagon, they’re in San Francisco.
“When I was a boy, among my classmates in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi, there was only one constant ambition. It was to be a steamboat man.”
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A boat trip down the mighty Mississippi River is on many people’s lists after reading stories about the Old South and America’s westward expansion. You’re in luck, because Steamboat Natchez is still cruising the waters in New Orleans, offering daily departures.
If you choose a day cruise, you will enjoy stories about New Orleans’ history. Or you can opt for an evening cruise featuring a live jazz band on board!
Book your cruise here: Mississippi Steamboat Cruise. This is one of the best things to do in New Orleans.
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First founded nearly 300 years ago in 1718, New Orleans has seen more than its share of death and intrigue. Whether it’s sailors from Shanghai, mysterious vampires, or unsolved murders, New Orleans has a long and terrifying history. One of the best ways to learn about the history of the French Quarter is to take a spooky (and incredibly charming) ghost tour!
Voodoo has long been an integral part of the religious fabric of New Orleans. It is a mixture of Catholic, African, and Haitian beliefs practiced by a portion of the slave population in and around New Orleans in the 18th century.
If you would like to learn more about the history of Voodoo in New Orleans, a free walking tour is available. Don’t forget to tip your guide at the end of the tour. Unfortunately, she doesn’t visit the famous tomb of Marie Laveau in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, so if you want to include this stop, you’ll need to sign up for the Avodou and Cemetery Tour.
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St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans and is located one block from the French Quarter. It features many famous historical figures, including Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Unfortunately, the cemetery closed its doors to the public in 2015 to prevent vandalism. Therefore, to visit, you need to sign up for a tour of the cemetery. However, it is interesting to have a local guide tell the tales of the cemetery’s inhabitants.
You’ll enjoy stories of how bodies are buried underground and how floods cause the dead to resurface and float down the street.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 is still open to the public and is located just three blocks from St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. It houses many famous musicians and historical figures. And if you have a car, you’ll want to visit Metairie Cemetery – home to some of the most ornate funerary tombs and statues, including the famous “Weeping Angel” statue in the Hyams Family Cemetery.
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Even if you’re not in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, you can experience the magic of Mardi Gras at Mardi Gras World at Plain Kern. It’s a huge warehouse where artists work year-round to create and assemble costumes for giant parade floats and crews.
You will be taken on a fascinating tour of the various construction projects currently underway. Best of all, you can tour the warehouse, watch the artists at work, and take photos to your heart’s content. You’ll also get a slice of king cake… Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Located on the edge of the French Quarter, the Audubon American Aquarium is home to more than 10,000 animals. A 30-foot-long underwater tunnel is highlighted. You’ll see sharks, piranhas, sea turtles, anacondas, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot an albino crocodile!
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Tip: If you plan to visit more than one Audubon attraction (such as the aquarium, zoo, and butterfly garden), you should book a combined ticket in advance to save money.
While most walking tours focus on the French Quarter, a great alternative is to take a walking tour of the Garden District. It’s more relaxed and everything is fun. You’ll tour the stunning homes of celebrities like Anne Rice, Archie Manning and John Goodman. You can also stroll through Lafayette Cemetery, a stunningly beautiful old cemetery located on Washington Street across from the Commander’s Mansion.
It’s easy to take a walking tour of the Garden District with a little research online, or you can book a tour here. Either way, it’s a nice alternative to New Orleans’ typical alcoholic French Quarter.
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Audubon Park is a 350-acre park located in Uptown New Orleans, across St. Charles Street from the prestigious Tulane University. If you’re riding the streetcar around St. Charles, this is a great place to hop on and stretch your legs. The Audubon Zoo is also located in Audubon Park and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon if you have kids with you.
Tip: If you want to visit both the aquarium and the zoo, you should book a combo ticket to save yourself about $15.
One of New Orleans’ best kept secrets is the New Orleans Boardwalk. It offers free admission to more than 25 rides and attractions around New Orleans. If you want to see a lot of sights, this is a great deal. Here are some highlights:
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The history of jazz is best studied from its birthplace, New Orleans. On display is a bit of jazz memorabilia, including Louis Armstrong’s first trumpet. As an added bonus, the New Orleans Jazz Museum is located in the historic Old U.S. Mint.
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