Top 7 Things to Do When Visiting New Orleans

Rate this post

From spooky cemeteries to the neon lit streets, the “Big Easy” has plenty to offer tourists. Just a stroll down Bourbon Street can prove to be the most memorable experience for those who visit the area, but there are many diverse activities for you to accomplish in your time here.  We’ve rounded up our seven favorite things to do, no matter where you go in New Orleans.

Top 7 Things to Do When Visiting New Orleans

New Orleans is a vibrant and culturally rich city known for its lively music scene, delicious cuisine, and unique blend of French, African, and American influences. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a music lover, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the Big Easy. From exploring the historic French Quarter to taking a swamp tour and experiencing the excitement of Mardi Gras, here are the top 7 things to do when visiting New Orleans.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore the French Quarter and discover its historic architecture.
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene and attend live jazz performances.
  • Take a swamp tour and explore the unique ecosystem of the Louisiana swamps.
  • Visit the Garden District and admire the beautiful historic mansions.
  • Experience the excitement of Mardi Gras and attend a parade.

1. Explore the French Quarter

Visit Jackson Square

Jackson Square is a must-visit destination in the heart of the French Quarter. This historic park is surrounded by stunning architecture and is home to the iconic St. Louis Cathedral. Take a leisurely stroll through the square and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Don’t forget to try a beignet from the famous Café du Monde, located just across the street. It’s a delicious treat that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a street performance by talented local musicians. Jackson Square is a great place to start your exploration of New Orleans.

Experience the lively atmosphere of Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street is the heart and soul of the French Quarter, known for its vibrant and energetic atmosphere. As you stroll down the street, you’ll be surrounded by lively music, colorful neon lights, and a bustling crowd. Indulge in the lively spirit of Bourbon Street by trying out the numerous bars and clubs that line the street. From classic jazz to modern beats, there’s a venue for every music lover.

If you’re feeling hungry, be sure to sample some of the mouthwatering street food available. From delicious po’boys to savory jambalaya, the local cuisine will satisfy your taste buds. Don’t forget to grab a famous Hurricane cocktail, a signature drink of New Orleans, to complete your experience on Bourbon Street.

For a unique shopping experience, explore the eclectic mix of shops and boutiques. From souvenir stores to vintage clothing shops, you’ll find something for everyone. Take a break from the lively atmosphere and browse through the unique offerings of the local vendors.

Tip: While Bourbon Street is known for its lively nightlife, it can get crowded and rowdy, especially during peak tourist seasons. Be aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Try authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine

When visiting New Orleans, one of the must-try experiences is the authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine. Gumbo, a hearty stew made with a variety of ingredients including meat, seafood, and vegetables, is a signature dish that embodies the flavors of both cuisines. Another popular dish is jambalaya, a flavorful rice dish cooked with a mix of meats, vegetables, and spices. Be sure to also indulge in crawfish étouffée, a rich and creamy dish made with crawfish tails smothered in a savory sauce. For dessert, don’t miss out on trying the famous beignets, deep-fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar. These dishes showcase the unique blend of French, Spanish, African, and Native American influences that make up the vibrant culinary scene of New Orleans.

To fully appreciate the flavors of Creole and Cajun cuisine, consider visiting one of the many renowned restaurants in the city. From casual eateries to upscale dining establishments, there are options to suit every taste and budget. Some popular restaurants known for their Creole and Cajun dishes include Commander’s PalaceEmeril’s, and Cochon. Whether you’re a seafood lover or a fan of spicy flavors, New Orleans offers a culinary experience like no other.

Discover the historic architecture

New Orleans is known for its rich history and stunning architecture. As you explore the city, you’ll be captivated by the beautiful buildings that showcase the unique blend of French, Spanish, and American influences. The historic architecture in New Orleans tells a story of the city’s past and reflects its diverse cultural heritage.

One notable example of historic architecture in New Orleans is the St. Louis Cathedral, located in Jackson Square. This iconic landmark is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States. Its stunning Gothic Revival style and intricate details make it a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts.

To fully appreciate the historic architecture in New Orleans, consider taking a guided walking tour. These tours provide fascinating insights into the different architectural styles and the stories behind the buildings. You’ll learn about the preservation efforts and the challenges faced in maintaining these historic structures.

Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of old buildings, exploring the historic architecture in New Orleans is a must-do when visiting the city.

2. Immerse yourself in the music scene

Listen to live jazz at Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall is a must-visit for jazz enthusiasts. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this iconic venue has been showcasing traditional New Orleans jazz since 1961. Immerse yourself in the soulful melodies and infectious rhythms of live jazz performances by talented local musicians. The intimate setting of Preservation Hall creates an intimate and authentic experience, allowing you to truly appreciate the artistry and improvisation of this unique musical genre.

If you’re lucky, you might even catch a performance by some of the legendary jazz musicians who have graced the stage at Preservation Hall over the years. From the moment you step inside, you’ll be transported back in time to the golden age of jazz. Feel the energy as the musicians play their instruments with passion and skill, creating a vibrant atmosphere that is sure to leave you wanting more.

To make the most of your visit to Preservation Hall, here are a few tips:

  • Arrive early to secure a good seat, as the venue has limited seating capacity.
  • Check the schedule in advance to see if there are any special performances or guest artists.
  • Consider purchasing tickets in advance to avoid disappointment, as shows can sell out quickly.

Whether you’re a jazz aficionado or simply appreciate good music, a visit to Preservation Hall is an essential part of any trip to New Orleans.

Visit the birthplace of jazz at the Louis Armstrong Park

Louis Armstrong Park is a must-visit destination for music lovers. This park is not only a tribute to the legendary jazz musician, but it also showcases the rich history and culture of New Orleans. Jazz, a genre that originated in this city, has had a profound impact on the music industry worldwide.

When you visit Louis Armstrong Park, take the time to explore the various attractions it offers. Here are some highlights:

  • Congo Square: This historic gathering place is where enslaved Africans and free people of color would gather to play music and dance. It is considered the birthplace of jazz and continues to be a vibrant hub for cultural events.
  • Mahalia Jackson Theater: Named after the renowned gospel singer, this theater hosts a variety of performances, including concerts, plays, and dance shows.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene of New Orleans by visiting Louis Armstrong Park and experiencing the rich musical heritage of this iconic city.

Dance the night away at a local music club

New Orleans is renowned for its vibrant music scene, and one of the best ways to experience it is by dancing the night away at a local music club. Live music fills the air as talented musicians perform a variety of genres, including jazz, blues, and funk. The energetic atmosphere and infectious rhythms will have you moving your feet in no time.

To make the most of your night out, here are a few tips:

  • Arrive early to secure a good spot near the stage.
  • Don’t be afraid to let loose and dance like no one’s watching.
  • Try some of the local drinks and cocktails to enhance your experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or just looking to have a good time, a night at a local music club in New Orleans is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Attend a music festival or parade

Attending a music festival or parade is a must when visiting New Orleans. It is a vibrant and lively experience that showcases the city’s rich musical heritage. Jazz Fest is one of the most popular music festivals in New Orleans, featuring a lineup of renowned jazz musicians and other genres. The festival takes place over two weekends and offers a variety of food vendors, art exhibits, and craft booths.

In addition to Jazz Fest, there are several other music festivals and parades throughout the year. The French Quarter Festival celebrates the local music, food, and culture of the French Quarter. It features multiple stages with live performances by local musicians, as well as delicious food from local vendors.

If you’re visiting during Mardi Gras season, make sure to catch one of the many parades that take place throughout the city. These parades are known for their elaborate floats, colorful costumes, and lively music. It’s a truly unique experience that captures the spirit of New Orleans.

3. Take a swamp tour

Explore the unique ecosystem of the Louisiana swamps

The Louisiana swamps are home to a diverse and fascinating ecosystem. Alligators are one of the most iconic creatures found in these wetlands, and spotting them in their natural habitat is a thrilling experience. Along with alligators, you may also encounter turtlesbirds, and other wildlife. The swamps are teeming with life, and taking a boat ride through the marshes allows you to get up close and personal with this incredible environment.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history and culture of the swamps, consider taking a guided tour. Knowledgeable guides can provide insights into the unique features of the Louisiana swamps and share interesting stories about the area. They can also point out specific plants and animals that are characteristic of the region.

Exploring the Louisiana swamps is not only an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the area but also a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the delicate balance of this ecosystem.

Spot alligators, turtles, and other wildlife

When taking a swamp tour in New Orleans, you’ll have the opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife, including alligatorsturtles, and other fascinating creatures. As you navigate through the Louisiana swamps, keep your eyes peeled for these amazing animals in their natural habitat.

If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of an alligator sunning itself on a log or a turtle swimming gracefully in the water. The experienced tour guides will provide interesting facts and insights about the wildlife you encounter, making the experience educational as well as exciting.

To enhance your wildlife spotting adventure, consider bringing a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the animals from a safe distance. Remember to respect the wildlife and their environment by observing them from a respectful distance and not disturbing their natural behavior.

Tip: Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for spotting wildlife, as many animals are more active during these times.

Learn about the history and culture of the swamps

The Louisiana swamps are not only rich in biodiversity but also steeped in history and culture. Exploring the swamps provides a unique opportunity to learn about the fascinating stories and traditions that have shaped this region.

One interesting aspect of the swamp’s history is its connection to the Cajun people. The Cajuns, descendants of French Acadians, settled in the swamps after being expelled from Canada in the 18th century. Their vibrant culture, including their language, music, and cuisine, still thrives in the region today.

To delve deeper into the history and culture of the swamps, consider visiting one of the many museums or cultural centers in the area. These institutions offer exhibits and educational programs that provide insights into the swamp’s past and present.

For a hands-on experience, you can also participate in a guided tour led by local experts. They can share captivating stories and knowledge about the swamp’s ecosystem, wildlife, and the people who have called it home for centuries.

Enjoy a scenic boat ride

A scenic boat ride is a must-do when visiting New Orleans. Cruise along the picturesque waterways and take in the stunning views of the Louisiana swamps. As you navigate through the serene waters, keep your eyes peeled for alligatorsturtles, and other wildlife that call the swamps home. It’s a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and learn about the fascinating ecosystem of the swamps.

To make the most of your boat ride, consider these tips:

  • Dress comfortably and wear appropriate footwear, as you may need to step on and off the boat.
  • Bring a camera to capture the beautiful scenery and wildlife.
  • Listen to the guide as they share interesting facts and stories about the swamps.

Remember, a scenic boat ride is not only a relaxing experience but also a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of New Orleans.

4. Visit the Garden District

Admire the beautiful historic mansions

When visiting the Garden District, be sure to take the time to admire the stunning historic mansions that line the streets. These architectural gems showcase the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era. Majestic columns and intricate wrought-iron balconies are just some of the features that make these homes truly remarkable.

As you stroll through the neighborhood, you’ll feel transported to a different time. The meticulously maintained gardens and lush greenery add to the charm and beauty of the area. Take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating these magnificent residences.

To fully immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Garden District, consider taking a guided tour. Knowledgeable guides can provide fascinating insights into the stories behind these historic mansions and the people who once called them home.

Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply appreciate the beauty of well-preserved homes, the historic mansions of the Garden District are a must-see when visiting New Orleans.

Take a stroll through the picturesque Lafayette Cemetery

As you take a leisurely stroll through the Lafayette Cemetery, you’ll be surrounded by the serene beauty of the historic tombstones and mausoleums. The cemetery is known for its unique above-ground burials, reflecting the city’s rich cultural heritage. History comes alive as you explore the final resting place of notable New Orleans residents.

To make the most of your visit, here are a few tips:

  1. Respectful Etiquette: Remember to maintain a respectful demeanor while visiting the cemetery. It is a place of remembrance and should be treated with reverence.
  2. Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour to gain deeper insights into the cemetery’s history and significance. Knowledgeable guides can provide fascinating stories and anecdotes about the notable individuals buried here.
  3. Photography: Capture the unique atmosphere of the Lafayette Cemetery with your camera. However, be mindful of the surroundings and avoid disturbing other visitors.

Tip: Wear comfortable shoes as you may be walking on uneven surfaces.

Plan your visit to the Lafayette Cemetery and immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural beauty of this iconic New Orleans landmark.

Shop at Magazine Street’s boutiques and antique shops

Magazine Street is a shopper’s paradise, offering a wide variety of boutiques and antique shops. Whether you’re looking for unique clothing, home decor, or one-of-a-kind treasures, you’ll find it all on this vibrant street. Indulge in a leisurely stroll as you explore the charming shops and discover hidden gems. Here are some highlights of what you can expect to find:

  • Fashion boutiques: Magazine Street is home to a diverse range of fashion boutiques, from trendy contemporary stores to vintage clothing shops. You’ll find the latest fashion trends as well as timeless pieces that never go out of style.
  • Antique shops: If you’re a fan of antiques and vintage items, you’re in for a treat. Magazine Street is dotted with antique shops that offer a wide selection of furniture, artwork, collectibles, and more. Whether you’re a serious collector or just love browsing, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye.

So, take your time and enjoy the unique shopping experience that Magazine Street has to offer. You never know what hidden treasures you might uncover!

Dine at charming local restaurants

When visiting New Orleans, be sure to indulge in the delicious cuisine offered at the city’s charming local restaurants. Sample the unique flavors of Creole and Cajun dishes, which are known for their bold and spicy taste. Savor dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish etouffee that showcase the rich culinary heritage of the region.

To make the most of your dining experience, here are a few recommendations:

  • Commander’s Palace: This iconic restaurant in the Garden District is renowned for its upscale Creole fare and elegant ambiance.
  • Cafe du Monde: Don’t miss the opportunity to try the famous beignets and café au lait at this historic coffee stand in the French Quarter.
  • Galatoire’s: Experience the timeless charm of this century-old restaurant while enjoying classic New Orleans dishes like shrimp remoulade and oysters Rockefeller.

Whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or a casual meal, New Orleans has a wide range of options to satisfy your taste buds.

5. Experience Mardi Gras

Attend a Mardi Gras parade

Attending a Mardi Gras parade is a must-do experience when visiting New Orleans. The parades are known for their elaborate floats, colorful costumes, and energetic atmosphere. Here are some tips to make the most of your Mardi Gras parade experience:

  • Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot along the parade route.
  • Bring a bag or bucket to catch the throws, which include colorful beads, doubloons, and other trinkets.
  • Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes, as you may be standing or walking for long periods.

Pro tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, consider attending one of the smaller, neighborhood parades, which offer a more intimate and authentic Mardi Gras experience.

6 – Tour The Wicked Past Of NOLA

There is no secret in the tales of voodoo, vampires, witches, and ghosts of New Orleans. Digging into the dark history of the city you will explore Madame LaLaurie’s mansion, well known artist of torture. Afterwards, guests will head to the St. Germaine House—home of the rumored vampire, Jacques St. Germaine. Your mysterious tour guide will teach you about the misleading history of the pharmacies and the concoctions sold to the public. All while you and your group will try to spot the well known ghosts of the area.


The French Quarter being one of the countries oldest historic district holds many museums, art galleries, street performers, bars, and restaurants for people of all ages. Bourbon Street has amazing nightlife that is filled with beads, booze, bars, and live music. Walking through the French Quarter you will end up in Jackson Square, where St. Louis Cathedral the oldest cathedral in the United States is located. For those looking to spend some extra money, Decatur Street will offer you a shoppers paradise. Take a stroll through the streets of the French Quarter and experience what this beautiful neighborhood has to offer.


In conclusion, visiting New Orleans offers a unique and vibrant experience. From exploring the historic French Quarter to indulging in delicious Creole cuisine, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re a music lover, history enthusiast, or foodie, New Orleans has it all.

Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich culture, lively festivals, and warm hospitality of this incredible city. Plan your trip today and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to visit New Orleans?

The best time to visit New Orleans is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and there are fewer crowds. Avoid visiting during the summer months as it can be hot and humid.

How long should I spend in New Orleans?

It is recommended to spend at least 3-4 days in New Orleans to fully experience the city’s vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and unique attractions. However, if you have more time, there is always something new to discover.

What are some must-try dishes in New Orleans?

Some must-try dishes in New Orleans include gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, beignets, and po’boys. Don’t forget to try traditional New Orleans cocktails like the Sazerac and the Hurricane.

Is it safe to walk around the French Quarter at night?

While the French Quarter is generally safe during the day, it is recommended to exercise caution when walking around at night, especially in less crowded areas. Stick to well-lit and populated streets, and avoid walking alone if possible.

What is the dress code for Mardi Gras parades?

There is no specific dress code for Mardi Gras parades, but most people dress in festive and colorful attire. It is common to see people wearing costumes, masks, and beads. Comfortable shoes are recommended as there is a lot of walking involved.

Can I take a swamp tour during the winter months?

Yes, you can take a swamp tour during the winter months. While the weather may be cooler, it is still possible to spot wildlife and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Louisiana swamps. Just make sure to dress warmly and check with the tour operator for availability.

You may also like

Book Your Tour Now