We just got back from an incredible trip to New Orleans. We LOVED it! This American city felt like an extension of Latin America or the Caribbean. It’s so much more than its party reputation. New Orleans offers unique experiences about the city’s deep history (including its role in the slave trade), the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. We cherished our walks through the Treme neighborhood, one of the oldest Black neighborhoods in the country. On top of that, the natural wonders. And, of course, the flavors of New Orleans’ food. Here is my guide to the top best things to do in New Orleans, including local hidden gems and guided experiences!
New Orleans Travel Tips
Getting Around New Orleans
- CAR: I don’t recommend renting a car here unless you’re going on some of these day trips from New Orleans. Not just because you’d have to deal with traffic and parking but because you don’t need a car here!
- UBER: It’s cheaper to take Ubers around the city for $8-$15. That’s cheaper than a car rental and saves you a ton of logistical time. The Ubers in NOLA arrive within minutes.
- PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: If you have the time, streetcars and trolleys are all over the city’s downtown. There are five streetcar routes to get you around New Orleans: Riverfront, Canal, St. Charles, and Rampart/St. Claude. You can buy a one-day pass online for only $3 that starts with the first use or pay $1.25 per one-way trip with $0.25 for line transfers.
Safety in New Orleans
Unfortunately, New Orleans doesn’t have the best reputation for safety. Nearly everyone we met, lovingly told us to be careful. Many cited New Orleans as having the highest murder rate in the USA. According to the Wall Street Journal, this might be because of “stress from the pandemic, police [boycotting the city] after racial-justice protests, and a proliferation of guns.” Oy.
But the fact is that the city of New Orleans simply suffers from a lack of resources and infrastructure due to socio-economic historic factors. As you walk around, you’ll see dilapidated buildings and unkept roads with deep craters. But please don’t let this deter you. If you practice common sense, take Ubers, and don’t wander around desolate areas at night, you should be fine! Personally, I can’t wait to go back to New Orleans!
People in New Orleans
As for the people in New Orleans, they were absolutely amazing. We felt like we had made dozens of new friendships on this trip. Our hearts felt full! They looked after us, cared for us, and we truly connected. From the bartenders to our Uber drivers to locals at coffee shops. We’d go back to NOLA just for the people. This is something you don’t usually feel in other big American cities. Despite the safety/poverty issues plaguing the city, it’s the very people, the culture, and the history that makes New Orleans such a special destination to visit! Don’t miss out on these connections.
New Orleans Runs DIFFERENTLY
You’ll likely be hit with FOMO (fear of missing out) when planning your New Orleans trip because there are endless things to do here. But you can’t force things in New Orleans. This city is an extension of Latin American and the Caribbean. Things move slower and flow at their own rhythm. Places will randomly be closed, but then you’ll bump into a better opportunity around the corner. This happened to us constantly. So commit to just a few things on your itinerary and then let go of the rest.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN NEW ORLEANS
This list will be divided by the types of things there are to do in New Orleans. Food, music, parks, outdoor adventures, history, museums, nightlife, shopping, and general day trips/tours. So if something isn’t for you, keep scrolling for the next category of New Orleans’ activities to choose from.
I. Food Tours & Experiences
1. Try a New Orleans Cooking Lesson
New Orleans is famous for its fine dining and rich southern cuisine. The dishes here are hearty, flavorful, and cooked with traditional techniques you can only learn from a home-grown southern chef. If you love to cook, there are many opportunities to tie on your apron and learn how to cook an authentic Louisiana meal. The French Quarter offers Cajun and Creole private cooking classes, providing a hands-on experience to soak up all the tips you need to recreate these dishes at home. For a less involved class, try this New Orleans Cooking Demonstration, where you can watch to learn and taste the rewards!
- Other options: New Orleans Hands-On Cooking Class & Meal
2. Foodie Tasting Tours
Create your own foodie experience or join a guided food-tasting tour to discover all the delicious tastes Lousiana has to offer. Here are some of the most popular food tasting tours in the city:
- Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter: You can dive into the food culture of some of the most famous restaurants in the world. Your guide will teach you all about the history of fine dining in New Orleans and how it’s shaped the French Quarter over time. ($72 per person)
- French Quarter Food Adventure: If you’d rather explore some lesser-known establishments, this tour will take you to the hole-in-the-wall eateries. ($63 per person)
- New Orleans Cocktail and Food History Tour ($140 per person)
- New Orleans Food and History Walking Tour ($75 per person)
- Small-Group French Quarter Cocktail and Foodie Crawl ($107 per person)
3. Cafes & Coffee Shops ★
New Orleans is home to a vibrant and diverse cafe and coffee shop scene. There are endless cafes to pop into between all of your New Orleans exploring. I only scratched the surface, but listed below were my top favorites. Save them to your Google Maps so whenever you’re touring around on foot, whereer you are, you can open up the map and see which cafe is nearest to you.
All of these cafes offer a unique atmosphere and delicious drinks and snacks, making them must-visit destinations for coffee lovers visiting New Orleans.
II. Music Experiences in New Orleans
4. Hit Up the Jazz Spots
Jazz music is originally from the New Orleans Black communities. But I’ll be honest. I didn’t have the best jazz experience in New Orleans. Everywhere I went, all of the musicians were white non-locals. That’s like going to Spain for Flamenco and all the singers/dancers are actually Canadian without one Spaniard on stage. It’s weird. But maybe you’ll have better luck, since I went during the off-season. Here is a ist of all the top spots:
- Frenchmen Street: Way calmer than Bourbon Street and full of jazz bars. You can easily pop into 5-7 places in one night here. The Spotted Cat and Blue Nile felt the most promising. However, Blue Nile opens after 8:30 PM so we didn’t get to go. Heard great things about them hosting local musicians.
- Kermit’s: Kermit is a local Black musician who often performs or will host other jazz musicians. However, there is no posted schedule, so you have to show up and hope for the best. And if they say the show will start at 9:00 PM, add an hour to that. But this is a true local spot and you’re money will be supporting the actual community.
- Jazz Preservation Hall is right off Bourbon Street. This historical venue is dedicated to preserving jazz. Entrances sell out quickly, so we didn’t get to pop in here. Tickets cost between $25 (to stand) and $50 (to sit in the front row). Please note: there is no air conditioning here, so it can get a little hot and stuffy for those sensitive to the heat.
- Maple Leaf
- The Maple Leaf Bar is one of the longest-running music clubs in New Orleans and offers performances every day. You can buy tickets to various shows: jazz, R&B, rock, zydeco, jam bands, and more. This is also the home of the 2018 Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner, George Porter, who plays at the Maple Leaf with his trio every Monday night!
5. Bacchanal Wine ★
Bacchanal Wine was one of our favorite experiences in New Orleans! This spot has live music, a big backyard with a restaurant, a bar upstairs, a wine shop downstairs, and more. Tucked away in the artistic neighborhood of Bywater, the atmosphere here is friendly and cozy. We spent hours chatting with the bartender and our bar-mates. This is also one of the best places to visit in New Orleans if you love meeting and chatting with new people. Oh, and the food? AMAZING. I rarely eat pasta, but their bucatini pasta dish was out of this world.
The shop offers an extensive collection of wines from around the world, as well as a gourmet cheese and charcuterie selection.
Be sure to check their times since they have different hours and events per day and season.
6. Jazz Dinner Cruise
You can certainly find Jazz playing on every street corner of New Orleans, but have you ever enjoyed such a musical experience on the water? Booking a Steamboat Jazz Dinner Cruise is an unforgettable experience you can only find in the South. You feel like royalty while you cruise along the Mississippi River, sipping complimentary Champagne and listening to a live jazz performance. When you book your spot, you’ll get a reserved table to enjoy a buffet dinner and watch the show. You even get a VIP host who caters to you the whole night and allows you to skip the public access line and crowds.
III. Parks & Gardens in New Orleans Region
7. New Orleans City Park ★
New Orleans City Park is one of the oldest urban parks in the country and offers a wide variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. With over 1,300 acres of lush greenery, this park is home to beautiful gardens, walking and biking paths, and several iconic New Orleans landmarks, including the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Botanical Garden!
Visitors can also enjoy a round of golf on one of the park’s two golf courses, take a boat ride on Big Lake, or relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the park’s many lagoons and waterways. Don’t miss the oldest grove of mature live oaks in the world here, which is over 800 years old.
8. Lounge Vue House and Gardens
The eight acres of Lounge Vue House and Gardens are stunning, with lush gardens, fountains, and breathtaking architecture. The garden was designed by 20th-century residential designer Ellen Biddle Shipman, and is now a space for social progress, personal growth, and community healing. Guests are encouraged to explore the grounds and the peace of the estate. Longue Vue hosts several community events a year for all ages, so check the calendar before you visit to see what’s happening!
9. Jean Lafitte’s National Historical Park + Barataria Preserve ★
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Gulf Coast, with a focus on the lives and legacy of the Lafitte brothers and their role in the area’s history. This park consists of different separate sites and headquarters scattered throughout Southern Louisiana. Visitors can explore the park’s many hiking trails, which wind through wetlands, swamps, and forests, and offer the opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife, including alligators, snakes, and birds. This park also features several historic buildings and sites, including the visitor center.
Barataria Preserve: Hikers will catch a glimpse of over 200 species of birds, lizards, bugs, and those famous swamp alligators everyone looks for. There are over 26,000 acres of swamps, marshes, forests, and bayous to explore on the preserve. It’s the perfect destination for a day trip hike away from the busy city with multiple trails to explore, such as the Pecan Grove Trail, Palmetto Trail, of Bayou Coquille Trail. This is about 20 miles south of New Orleans.
IV. Adventurous Outdoor Things to Do in New Orleans
10. Helicopter City Tour
You’ll never look at New Orleans the same way again once you see it from a birds-eye view! New Orleans Helicopter City tours take you on a unique and exciting 15-mile trip, lasting up to 22 minutes. Your guide will provide commentary through a headset as you fly over some of the most prominent landmarks: City Park, French Quarter, Jackson Square, and more. This is one of the best things to do for first-time visitors who really want to explore what the city has to offer. Helicopter tours are for small groups only, just three people per ride.
11. Swamp Tours
Right outside the bustling city of New Orleans is a whole new world to explore–Louisiana swamps. This is an excellent opportunity to catch a photo of alligators in their natural environment and one of the best places to visit in the winter season. Choose from two types of swamp tours: boat or airboat. Airboat Swamp Tours are for smaller groups who are looking for a variation of high-speed and gentle cruising. Swamp Boat Tours are for larger groups who want a nice, relaxing tour where they can peruse cultural sites of the Barataria Swamps, like the 2,000-year-old Native American Burial Ground!
12. Mississippi River Cruise
You have to try riding on a classic Mississippi River paddle boat at least one time on your visit to New Orleans! Booking a spot on the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen is one of the best things to do if you want to learn more about the history and culture of the area. A licensed historian will narrate some fascinating parts of Louisiana history, including taking you back to the Battle of New Orleans. There are multiple departure times, so you can fit this trip in whenever is best for your schedule. Food and drinks are not included but are available to purchase onboard.
15. Biking Tour
Biking around New Orleans is one of the most fun things you can do while exploring the local culture and sites. This New Orleans History and Sights Small-Group Bike Tour helps you avoid hours of walking the city while seeing the same landmarks and learning secret facts about New Orleans history. You’ll explore from Congo Square to the Mississippi River in a small group that will be easy to stick with. If you prefer a tour by electric bike, this Creole New Orleans Electric Bike Tour will take you on an easy ride through the French Quarter to historical areas such as Treme, Marigny, Bay St., and Bywater.
16. Kayaking in Manchac Swamp
For something to do in New Orleans that is a bit more adventurous, go kayaking in the bayous! Kayaking through the Louisiana swamps is both a relaxing but also thrilling experience because you’re in the heart of beautiful local ecosystems but also face-to-face with local wildlife.
This Manchac Swamp Kayak Small-Group Tour ventures deeps into the bayous of the Maurepas and Manchac swamp lands. You’ll cruise through majestic cypress forests and possibly even spot alligators on your trip! No prior kayaking experience is necessary, and everyone will get some paddling lessons before you begin.
V. History Experiences in New Orleans
17. Black Heritage & History Experience ★
From the early days of slavery, through the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, Black people have played a vital role in shaping New Orleans and its culture. The Treme neighborhood is one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in the country and has been a center of black culture and politics since the 19th century. New Orleans is also home to several important cultural institutions that celebrate and preserve the contributions of Black Americans.
Additionally, New Orleans has been home of many notable figures in Black history such as jazz musicians Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton, civil rights leader A.P. Tureaud, and author and educator Angela Davis. New Orleans continues to be a vibrant and important center of Black history and culture.
Consider exploring this more in depth on a guided tour, where you can dive deep into the history of Black and Creole traditions:
- Malika’s Experience
- The Black Heritage Jazz Tour
- Hidden History Tours
- Know Nola Tours
- All Bout Dat Tours
- Na’wlins Luxury Tours
- Tremé King Hollis Walking Tour
- West African Spirituality
18. Congo Square + Louis Armstrong Park ★
The Louis Armstrong Park is home to the historic Congo Square, which was a gathering place for enslaved people where they were allowed to dance, sing and play music. Today it is a regarded as a spiritual site for West African spiritualities. And also a popular spot for jazz and brass band performances. Louis Armstrong Park, named after the famous jazz musician, also includes a number of monuments and statues that pay homage to the city’s jazz heritage, as well as the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. This is such a special place, so don’t miss visiting it with a local guide who can explain to you wow this land is full of powerful history.
19. Whitney Plantation Tour to Learn About Slavery
Most plantations you can tour in Louisiana focus on the plantation life of the owners, crops, and history of the home. But the Whitney Plantation is unique, as it’s the only plantation in the state that focuses solely on the history of slavery and the realities of what it was like for slaves to live and work on a plantation. Guests can take self-guided tours of the property with restored structures and historic slave cabins. You’ll get a great understanding of plantation life from the personal accounts of the enslaved people who lived and worked here with recorded narratives and experiences.
20. St. Louis Cemetery No.1
The St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest extant cemetery in New Orleans. You can walk among some of the historic tombs in the city, honoring a mix of residents and notable people in Southern history. Learning about the cemetery’s history is pretty cool if you’re a history buff. Tours are offered here every 15 to 30 minutes from 9:00 am to 3:45 pm, seven days a week. Entrance is about $20.
21. Voodoo & Hoodoo ★
Voodoo, also known as hoodoo or Louisiana Voodoo, has played an important role in the spirituality, culture, and history of New Orleans. The spirituality was originally brought to New Orleans by enslaved West Africans and today combines elements of West African, Native American, and Catholic beliefs and practices. Visitors can learn more about the history and practice of voodoo by visiting the museums or by taking a guided voodoo or hoodoo tour of the city. Skip the haunted ghost tours and do this instead!
- I did this tour led by Robbie and it was amazing! To learn more about this experience, I think this article summarizes it perfectly.
- You can also book this Hoodoo, Voodoo, and a Bottle of Rum experience which is one of the highest-rated experiences on Airbnb. Unfortunately, this guide canceled on us two minutes before the tour was supposed to start. So be sure to check in with him so he doesn’t do the same to you.
VI. BEST Museums in New Orleans to Visit
There are so many epic museums in New Orleans to visit on different subjects and interests. Here are some of the top museums to consider visiting.
22. The National World War II (WWII) Museum
The World War II Museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of the American experience during World War II. The exhibits in the museum are interactive and immersive, showcasing artifacts, photographs, and personal stories of those who lived through the war. The museum also has a variety of multimedia experiences including oral histories, films, and artifacts from the war. You can book a campus pass to the National WWII Museum, which includes admission.
I’ll be honest, though, while I appreciated a lot of the history, I’m also worried about how much unhealthy nationalism this museum may be promoting. While I’m obviously relieved we jumped in and helped take down the Nazis, there were also a lot of important facets of history missing in this museum. For instance, Hitler and the Nazis used 100 years of American Jim Crow laws as blueprints for their persecutions! Moreover, we painted the Japanese as invaders of the East but we Americans were doing the exact same thing to all of Latin America for 175 years: invading, taking from, and destabilizing these countries. We need our museums to paint the entire true picture of ALL sides, so we don’t keep repeating history! And so that we don’t get drunk on narcissistic nationalism.
- What America Taught the Nazis by The Atlantic
- How American Racism Influenced Hitler by The New Yorker
- How the Nazis Were Inspired by Jim Crow by History Channel
- 175 Years of Latin America Invasions by the USA by Council on Hemispheric Affairs
23. New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum was constructed in a circa-1823 apothecary–the first licensed apothecary! Peruse this unique attraction with exhibits featuring early medicines, superstitions, treatments, and more. There are cures for ailments of all kinds and include voodoo potions and strange medicines you would never think to use in modern day. You can make your way through this museum in a few hours, and it’s within walking distance of the streetcar in the French Quarter.
24. New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
NOMA is one of the oldest fine arts museums dating back to 1911 when it opened with only nine pieces of art to show! Now, the museum has a permanent collection of over 40,000 pieces focused on artwork from around the world. I personally found it a bit underwhelming and wished they had focused more on local art. I did appreciate their featuring of local artist Polo Silk in an art exhibition. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Just across the street is also their Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
25. Studio Be ★
Sadly, Studio Be had suddenly closed for a private event when I went to visit. So be sure to call or confirm their hours ahead of time! However, I hear that this Black-owned art gallery is well-worth a visit because it is a community-driven space where you can see local artwork and participate in workshops/events.
Fun fact: the largest mural in New Orleans is here. Artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums created it. The mural is a visual representation of the history, culture, and contemporary issues of the city.
Studio Be is located a bit farther out in the historic Bywater neighborhood, so take advantage of being in the area by combining this visit with a stop in Bacchanal Wine and/or Flora’s Coffeeshop.
26. Backstreet Cultural Museum ★
The Backstreet Cultural Museum is located in the Tremé neighborhood, which is known for its important Black history, culture, and music. The exhibits at this museum showcase and explain the history of New Orleans’ multicultural roots and traditions today. This includes Mardi Gras, jazz funerals, and more. You can see real outfits and artifacts, as well as photographs and videos that give you a deeper glimpse.
This is one of the few Black-owned museums run by a local family. They used to be in a bigger space until the father passed away and the daughter moved the museum’s location. So nice it’s a smaller space but still worth the visit. Be sure to enter the correct address on your Uber app.
They also host events and workshops that allow visitors to engage with the culture and learn more about the people and traditions of New Orleans.
27. Free People of Color Museum ★
Visiting the Free People of Color Museum in New Orleans is an enlightening and educational experience that offers a glimpse into the history of the city’s free people of color community. The museum is located in the Treme neighborhood and is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history, culture and contributions of the free people of color community. The exhibits in the museum showcase artifacts, documents, photographs, and other items that tell the story of the free people of color, who were individuals of African descendants who were not enslaved during the antebellum era.
The museum also has interactive exhibits, and hosts events and lectures. You can only visit on a guided tour on Friday and Saturday mornings –huge bummer if you’re not in NOLA during those limited times! You may be able set up a private tour for $150 per person but when we tried to do this it took weeks to get a response from them and thee were a lot of communication glitches, so plan accordingly.
VII. General Day Tours of New Orleans
28. Photo Walking Tours
Sometimes, it’s just easier to have someone follow you around on your vacation to take your picture instead of asking random strangers at every attraction. Photo tours of New Orleans will combine a fun tour of different neighborhoods in the city with a professional photographer who knows exactly when and where to snap a shot of you and your group. This Must Have Photos in NOLA tour will take you by the St. Louis Cathedral, Royal Street, Bourbon Street, and other landmark photo spots. At the same time, your photographer shares a personal history of New Orleans and takes amazing photos to capture your memories of the city.
29. New Orleans Sightseeing Tours
- New Orleans City Tour: Katrina, Garden District, French Quarter & Cemetery: This comprehensive tour of New Orleans will take you around in a luxury coach with a professional guide to teach you all about the city. You’ll cruise by some of the most prominent landmarks in the Garden District and French Quarter. See the 17th canal, where Hurricane Katrina breached the canal bank, and learn other historic bits on a tour of the best museums.
- New Orleans Sightseeing City Tour: Jump on a sightseeing bus to maximize your time exploring New Orleans. This Sightseeing City Tour will take you to the districts of the French Quarter, Teme, Garden District, and the 9th Ward. You’ll move quickly but get a condensed version of the city’s culture and history.
- NOLA’s Big Four Private City Tour: Hit four of the most popular areas in New Orleans in one tour. You’ll visit the French Quarter, Metairie Cemetery, Garden District, and City Park in a 6-passenger car. You’ll explore french markets, historic landmarks, and pop-culture sites and see the enchanting outdoor wonders of Louisiana.
VIII. Drinking Tours & Experiences
30. Bars & Pubs
If you like to grab some drinks and have a good time, pub crawls in New Orleans will certainly be your scene. This Frenchman Street Live Music Pub Crawl will take you on a 3-hour tour beyond the busy Bourbon Street to explore Frenchmen Street–the Live Music Capital of New Orleans! You’ll hop from music club to bar, experience all the city’s nightlife has to offer, and even set foot on the sets of many featured films and shows. Guides on this tour are local Jazz musicians.
31. Distilleries + Tours
Rum is a favorite drink of the south. Taste some of the best rums in New Orleans on this Distillery Tour and Rum Tasting, exploring Happy Raptor Distilling, the newest rum distillery in New Orleans! You’ll learn how rum makers turn sugar cane into a beautiful copper still, perfect for cocktails or to drink straight. Each rum is handcrafted and made in small batches, using Carribean-style traditions to produce an outstanding product. The tour is only $15 per person for the people drinking; all other guests are free.
Another cool distillery is Seven-Three Distilling Co. You can head here for drinks or one of their guided tours starting at around $15.
32. Visit a Brewery ★
There are so many breweries in New Orleans to choose from. Here are some of the most highly-rated spots.
- Faubourg Brewing Co.: Has a beautiful outdoor beer garden, lawn with bocce ball courts, a 9-hole disc golf course, and a ton of other yard games to play while you sip local brews.
- Big Easy Bucha: This is a Southern kombucha-inspired brewery that sources ingredients from small farmers and serves out of a vintage can inside their brewery.
- Urban South Brewery: One of the hottest breweries in New Orleans with a color tasting room open seven days a week and brewery tours held every Saturday afternoon.
- Port Orleans Brewing Company: Located in Uptown, this brewery specializes in ales and craft lagers with a large tasting room, beer garden, and large covered porch.
- Miel Brewery & Tap Room
- Parleaux Beer Lab
33. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a historic building located in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is believed to have been built in the late 1700s and was used as a blacksmith shop by the Lafitte brothers, Jean and Pierre, who were known for their involvement in piracy and smuggling in the early 19th century.
Today, the building is a popular tourist bar. Visitors can step inside to enjoy a drink, listen to live music, and learn about the building’s storied past. Personally, I found the bar to be overcrowded and full of frat bros so I admired it from afar and then kept walking!
IX. Markets & Shopping in New Orleans
34. Frenchman Bazaar AKA Palace Market
Frenchmen Art Bazaar is a small art market located on Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. The market features some local artists and artisans selling their creations, including paintings, prints, jewelry, pottery, and more. It’s a short and easy stop at night in between your jazz bar hopping.
35. Faulkner House Books
Faulkner House Books is a small, independent bookstore located in the French Quarter. The bookstore is housed in the former home of Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner, who lived in the building during the 1920s. Today, the bookstore specializes in literature, with an emphasis on Southern literature and authors. The bookstore is a must-visit for literary enthusiasts, Faulkner fans, and anyone looking for a unique shopping experience in the heart of the French Quarter.
Visitors can browse the selection of books, learn more about Faulkner’s time in New Orleans, and even take a tour of the building to see where the famous author lived and wrote. The bookstore also hosts frequent author readings and book signings, making it a lively and engaging destination for book lovers.
36. Magazine Street
Magazine Street is a six-mile-long popular street located in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans. It is known for its diverse collection of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. You can find everything from vintage clothing and antique furniture to local art and handmade crafts. The street is also home to a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars, offering a wide range of cuisines and dining options.
The street is also a great place to walk around and enjoy the architecture of the historic buildings and Victorian Houses.
Full disclosure: It can take over two hours to walk this street. So, unless you have time, look up the shops you’re interested beforehand and then commit to certain sections of Magazine Street.
X. Day Trips From New Orleans
Read our full guide to the best day trips from New Orleans!
37. Lafayette & Cajun Country ★
Go on an adventure to the heart of Cajun country justt 2 hours east of New Orleans. Lafayette is a great destination for those looking to experience the Cajun culture and history of Southern Louisiana. The city itself offers a variety of attractions, including Cajun and Creole cuisine, art and music, and outdoor activities. But beyond Lafayette, the surrounding towns offer a glimpse into the region’s Cajun country. Some small towns to visit include: Breaux Bridge, Avery Island, Arnaudville, and New Iberia. Visitors can also take a trip to the nearby Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest river swamp, to see unique plants and animals and learn about the region’s ecology. Don’t miss our full travel guide to Lafayette, Louisiana.
38. Day Trip to Clark Creek Natural Area
About a 2-hour drive northeast of New Orleans, right over the Mississippi line, is the stunning Clark Creek Natural Area. This hidden gem is a little hard to find, but it’s 13 miles down Pinckney Lane. (Don’t get discouraged, it’s there!) There is a $4 admission fee that is operated on the honor system. You can hike to over 50 waterfalls in the area, surrounded by gorgeous wildflowers. A popular hike is the Clark Creek Trail Waterfall Trail, which is a 3-mile out-and-back tour taking about 1 hr and 28 minutes.
Where to Eat in New Orleans
Figuring out where to eat in New Orleans can feel super overwhelming. There are hundreds of places to choose from and many include both hidden gems and tourist traps. Wherever you decide, be sure to make any necessary reservations ahead of time as some of these places are in high demand.
- Peche – The best place we ate in all of New Orleans. Get the whole fish and the roasted squash side. I’ve also heard great things about their steak tartar.
- Bacchanal Wine – Get there early or half of their menu will be sold out. Their pasta dish was INCREDIBLE. And I rarely ever eat pasta but I had to make an exception for that one! Live music, too.
- Fiery Crab – Get the snow crabs and crawfish seafood boil. Repeat after me: “I will try the SEAFOOD BOIL”
- Compere Lapin – By famous chef Nina Compton. If you love upscale explosions of flavor, this is your spot.
- Coquette – Didn’t make it here but heard excellent things.
- Mosquito Supper Club – Cool concept of eating with strangers at a table. We wanted to do this but it was sold out.
- Saint-Germain – I heard this is one of the best spots to eat a multi-course. Expensive (like $200 per person), so invest wisely.
Where to Stay in New Orleans
Whew! So many cute boutique hotels in New Orleans. But here are our top favorites:
- The Chloe: We love this stunning 14-room boutique hotel, built in a 19-century mansion with a creative culture and old Southern-rooted hospitality. [BOOK HERE]
- Peter & Paul: This unique hotel was built within an old Catholic church and school. So every room is unique, and you’re only a 10-minute walk from Frenchmen Street. [BOOK HERE]
- Maison de la Luz: Couples will love this getaway, right in the heart of New Orleans, designed to be a quiet sanctuary with concierge service near all the attractions on Canal Street. [BOOK HERE]
- Inn at the Old Jail: If you want to stay in one of the most unique boutique hotels in New Orleans, you can book a room at this inn built within an old jail, with just the right mix of luxury and creepiness. [BOOK HERE]
Festivals in New Orleans Year-Round
- Winter: Celebration in the Oaks is an annual holiday festival from Thanksgiving to New Year, with some of the most spectacular light shows in the nation. Algiers Mardi Gras Festival is a family-friendly event with spirit, a community parade, and more.
- Spring: New Orleans Jazz Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival are full of music and dancing. Book lovers will love the Tenessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival and the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University.
- Summer: Swamp and city both come to life in the summer in New Orleans. Popular events are the Essence Festival, Satchmo SummerFest, and Go 4th on the River.
- Fall: This is the busiest time for festivals in New Orleans! Try the Art for Art’s Sake, National Fried Chicken Festival, or Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival to start.
Consider the New Orleans Go-City Pass
A Go-City Pass allows you all-inclusive access to some of the top attractions in New Orleans. Free admission is included to over 20 activities, some probably already on your list. You pay one fee per person for a 1, 2, 3 or 5-day digital pass. So if you’re trying to hit some of best things to do in New Orleans, this discount pass may be a huge time and money saver.