The Crescent City, the Big Easy, NOLA — whatever you call it, New Orleans is at the top of many people’s bucket list. From jazz to history to haunts, this Southern city has it all. Check out these awesome, can’t-miss things to do on your next trip to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Top Things To Do in New Orleans
Visit Jackson Square
At the center of New Orleans’ famed French Quarter is Jackson Square, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The 2.5 acre park is the perfect place to start your trip to New Orleans.
You can shop for works by local artists displayed on the outside of the park’s iron fence. There are also plenty of street performers to keep you entertained. And if you want a palm reading or tarot reading, this is a great place to do it!
Indulge on Beignets at Café Du Monde
Café Du Monde is the most famous place to get a beignet in New Orleans. The café is literally open all day, every day, except for Christmas and when a hurricane blows through.
So what’s a beignet? Basically, it’s a fried square of dough covered with powdered sugar. Be sure to order it with a café au lait for a classic New Orleans treat.
Drink on Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is famous for its bars, clubs, and nightlife. The street extends for 13 blocks of non-stop partying.
It’s also the place to be for any celebration, from bachelor and bachelorette parties to gay-pride events to Mardi Gras.
Check out the iconic bars like the Old Absinthe House building or Lafitte-In-Exile, the oldest gay bar in the country.
Walk Down Frenchmen Street
Frenchmen Street is the best place in the city to find great jazz music. Iconic music venues and bars line the street.
You can hear all kinds of music here — jazz, blues, reggae, rock. Check out popular spots like the Spotted Cat, d.b.a., Blue Nile, and Snug Harbor. You can also hear some great music just walking down Frenchman Street.
Take the Streetcar to the Garden District
The Garden District is full of oak-lined streets and historic homes. These antebellum homes are dripping in opulence and are surrounded by lush gardens. They certainly paint a pretty picture of what it would be like to live in New Orleans.
You can take a tour of the Garden District to learn about these stately homes, and the celebrities who live here, and explore the beautiful Lafayette Cemetery.
Stroll Through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 & 2
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous New Orleans cemetery. St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 is the final resting place for several famous musicians and historical figures.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the more famous section. It is where Marie Laveau, Voodoo priestess, is said to be buried. The rumor goes that if you want her to grant you a wish, you have to draw an X on the tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell out your wish, and if it was granted, come back , circle your X, and leave an offering.
But because of this legend, this and other graves often become vandalized. Now, you can only tour St. Louis Cemetery No. with a guided, licensed tour.
Go on a Haunted Ghost Tour
New Orleans has more than 300 years of history and a deep connection to voodoo and magic contributing to its haunted history.
There are so many great ghost tours in New Orleans exploring everywhere from the Garden District to the French Quarter. You’ll see plenty of haunted homes and cemeteries.
And if you want to add vampires, witches, and voodoo to your ghosts, the New Orleans Ghost, Voodoo & Vampire Tour has you covered. You’ll see the city’s best haunted spots from the the LaLaurie Mansion and New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.
Grab a Po’boy from Mother’s
Mother’s Restaurant has been serving up po’boys since 1938. They’re known for their Ferdi Special and the debris po’boy.
The Ferdi Special, named for a Mother’s regular, is a po’boy with ham and roast beef. The Debris is a po’boy with the extra shavings off a freshly carved roast beef.
Have a Hurricane at Pat O’Briens
Pat O’Brien’s Bar is one of the city’s favorite watering holes. Grab their signature Hurricane — a super sweet red rum drink — named for the shape of the glass rather than the storm.
Head into to one of their three bars — the main bar, the dueling piano lounge, or the patio. I highly recommend the patio where you’ll be surrounded by lush foliage and good time vibes.
Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art
The New Orleans Museum of Art is the oldest fine arts museum in the city. It has an impressive collection of 40,000 permanent pieces of art on display. With the city’s French history, it’s only fitting that the museum feature plenty of French art, including many important works by French Impressionists Degas, Monet, and Renoir.
The museum also has a beautiful Sculpture Garden across 11 acres of the adjacent City Park. The garden contains more than 90 works of art.
Explore Faulkner House Books
Faulkner House Books, now an independent bookstore, was where William Faulkner lived for 6 months in 1925 while he worked on his first novel Soldier’s Pay. He lived on the first floor apartment, and artist William Spratling lived in the apartment upstairs. Together, they apparently shot BBs at passersby and made bathtub gin.
You’ll find this charming bookstore tucked away in Pirate’s Alley just off of Jackson square. They sell new and used books and obviously have a great selection of Faulkner’s works. They also have plenty of books about New Orleans.
Stroll Through Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is a historic New Orleans park with shaded pathways, sculptures, and playsets. It connects to Frenchmen street, known for its music, so it’s no wonder it’s a great spot to find street performers, concerts, and other special events.
Visit the Irish Cultural Museum
The small Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans tells a little bit about the Irish immigrants who came to New Orleans and helped shape the city.
The museum also houses St. Patrick’s Coffee House at the back of the courtyard. Here, you can get coffee, tee, and many different Irish whiskeys.
Take a Hurricane Katrina Tour
In 2005, flooding from Hurricane Katrina decimated parts of the city. Years later, and New Orleans still hasn’t fully recovered. The best way to really take in the reality of this storm is to take a quality Hurricane Katrina Tour.
A good tour will go beyond disaster voyeurism and give you a real look at what led to the destruction and how New Orleans continues to rebuild. You’ll see key sites like the Ninth Ward, Lakeview, Gentilly, St. Bernard, high watermarks at the levee breach sites, and the Hurricane Katrina Memorial.
Boat on Lake Pontchartrain
Locals love to go boating and fishing on Lake Pontchartrain. When the weather is nice, you can find sailboats and motorboats lining the horizon.
You can book a pleasure cruise or take your own boat out. From the lake, you’ll get great views of Causeway Bridge, the longest bridge over water in the world.
Save on New Orleans’s Top Attractions
Want to save big on New Orleans’s top attractions? With the Go City New Orleans attraction pass, you can save up to 55% on the cost of entrance tickets to museums, tours, and attractions all around the city!
Visit bucket list attractions, enjoy top tours, and discover hidden gems handpicked by local experts. With one price and one pass, you have everything you need right on your phone.
Top New Orleans Tours & Experiences
- Adults-Only New Orleans Ghost, True Crime, Voodoo, and Vampire Walking Tour
- New Orleans Food Walking Tour of the French Quarter with Small-Group Option
- Three Hour City Tour of New Orleans
- New Orleans Demonstration Cooking Class & Meal
- New Orleans Hands-On Cooking Class & Meal
- New Orleans City Tour: Katrina, Garden District, French Quarter & Cemetery
Where to Stay in New Orleans
- Top Hotel: The Pontchartrain Hotel
- Great Value: Hotel Provincial
- Unique Stay: Private Estate in Lush Gardens
Ready to visit New Orleans, Louisiana? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book Your Flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in New Orleans using Booking.com.
- Get Packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
- Save on Attractions: Save up to 55% on admission to top New Orleans attractions using the Go City New Orleans pass.
What are your favorite things to do in New Orleans? Let me know below!