One of the hazards of traveling for an infinite term is the pressure your pocket begins to feel. And for the same reason, I finally wanted to go to a wallet-friendly destination that didn’t force me to break the bank for food, commutation and entertainment. The answer to it was New Orleans. The choice may sound odd to the ‘stick to key tourist spots’ kinda travelers, but wait until I finish my blog.
The list of things you can do in New Orleans is so vast, that one blog wouldn’t suffice. Aside from the crazy nightlife and festivity charm, the place is stuffed with amazing live music bands and historical sites, not to mention the wide variety for foodies.
So for those who haven’t yet visited Louisiana or visited but never seen it from a traveler’s angle, read out what I have in store for you. I am going to share with you the Top 26 Things to do in New Orleans.
So here goes!
Feel the heartbeat of New Orleans at The French Quarters
This national historic landmark is the heart and soul of New Orleans. The narrow cobbled streets will take you back in time as would the architecture of every building here. Hanging plants and baroque ironwork in the balconies, white leafy courtyards ornate with fountains and the whole French aura! It’s like a mini Europe in the States.
If you have a good pocket size, choose a stay at one of these authentic French hospices.
Don’t miss one of those ancient mule-drawn carriage rides that line up at Decatur Street. You can also go for a Steamboat ride to know the city from a different perspective. Other than that, visit the Jackson Square and the Faulkner House.
Visit the legendary St. Louis Cathedral
This one goes back to 1700s! St. Louis Cathedral was rebuilt twice, after the previous ones being destroyed. You don’t really have to be religious to keep it on your list. The mere beauty of the architecture will draw you in. Take up a guided tour or self-guide on your way to exploration.
Once you are done with the Cathedral and the Old Ursuline Convent, take a picture with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the St. Anthony Garden.
Explore the expansive New Orleans Museum of Art
More popular as NOMA, the museum has been able to expand from 9 artifacts to 40,000! Take a look at the various sculptures put up at the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden located adjacent to the museum.
Lose yourself in the Bourbon Street
Up for some celebrations? Head on to Bourbon Street. This historical place is replete with Burlesque Clubs, DJs, Nightclubs, Bars and food joints. Plan a Friday lunch at Galatoire to taste the most amazing Creole and Cajun cuisine.
Visit the National World War II Museum
Even if you are not a history buff, this place will move you. National WWII Museum shows some really interesting assemblage of artifacts and documentaries. You may find some of the displays a little disturbing for the children. The Victory Theater and a few other exhibits may cost you extra.
Take a stroll around the Garden District
Boasting some of the most gorgeous homes of New Orleans, Garden district is all for trees, ivy and gardens. Mere roaming around, gawking at the amazing architecture gives you such peace, away from the city chaos.
If you feel like taking a break from the leafy streets, come to the Prytania Street and Washington Avenue intersection. There is Commander’s Palace Restaurant one of the most popular and bustling eatery in the vicinity.
Take up one of the Swamp Tours
The Louisiana creek is dearly placed in the heart of New Orleans. Home to a number of fish and reptiles, you can tour in here on a flatboat or airboat. If you are adroit with kayaking, try a close encounter with the alligators on your way to a personal tour.
Explore the eerie Cemeteries
These ‘cities of the dead’ exhibit morbid collection of French and Spanish tombs and cemeteries. The ghostly atmosphere may be a little uncomfortable for the kids. If you are a movie buff, you may recognize the worn down and ghoulish walls of Lafayette Cemetery No.2.
Marvel at The Cabildo’s architecture
Hovering over the Jackson Square in French Quarters is this Spanish spire boasting some unparalleled architecture. The Cabildo is a 3-floor Museum exhibiting Native American objects, Colonial paintings and Napoleon’s Death mask. Other than that, there is an entire floor dedicated to the wrath of Hurricanes on New Orleans.
Relax at the rebuilt City Park
After being hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, City Park managed to stand back in its feet, all new and shiny. Stroll around the Botanical Gardens here while your kids have fun in Storyland and the Train Garden. For sports fans especially, this park is absolute bliss with so many playgrounds and stadiums.
Spend a day at the Audubon Nature Institute
Well, this park is a complete action packed family picnic spot. There is a Zoo, an aquarium, an Insectarium, an IMAX theater and a golf course. That’s pretty much enough for a whole day. Engage your kids in some educational, environmental classes while you relax with your partner.
Don’t miss the Chalmette Battlefield and Jean Lafitte National Park
Along the Mississippi River is the Chalmette Battlefield, taking you back to the 1800s. Jean Lafitte National Park, located a few miles away from this place, lets you take a view of the bayou while hosting some major cultural events throughout the year.
Unwind the uniqueness of the Backstreet Cultural Museum
This place hosts a bizarrely intriguing collection of costumes, photos, memorabilia, artifacts and films. The creator, Sylvester Francis, gives you a tour of the property himself.
Take you little ones to the Louisiana Children’s Museum
Against other non-children friendly attractions in New Orleans, this one’s an amazing playtopia in disguise for the little ones. Register your kids for some daily story times and vacation-related activities.
Try some Beignets at Café Du Monde
The city’s signature fried treats are wonderfully served here at this 150 year old French icon. Hit in after an exhausting night out to grab some Beignets with your friends. Except Christmas and Hurricane times, the café is always open!
Check out Mardi Gras behind the scenes
Don’t feel bad if you couldn’t witness Mardi Gras. You can always check behind the scenes of America’s most iconic festival here at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. The gaudy floats and costumes and props will give you the festive feel.
Enjoy a cocktail at La Riviera
No need to plan a Euro trip when you can get the perfect rooftop view here at New Orleans. The pool bar at Omni Royal offers you an observation deck view of the French Quarters and Mississippi river, while you sip in your chilled Daiquiri.
Taste some of the world famous cocktails at Pat O’Brien’s
The lush, spacious courtyard of Pat O’Brien offers you a place to relax on a Sunday afternoon, with the best cocktail in your hands.
Ride a Streetcar on St. Charles Avenue
Rent an open, swaying streetcar while you drive across the oak tree-lined St. Charles Avenue. The old mahogany bench under one of the trees is a perfect place to be with your partner.
Shake your retro booty when in New Orleans
Attend the monthly party (Mod Dance Party) at Saturn Bar to shake your retro booty on some vinyl records. The other one is Hi Ho Lounge where the sweaty, grooving masses hit the floor in the 70s and 80s look.
Check out Maple Leaf Bar for the best Brass Bands
Every Tuesday, post 11 pm, Catch the Grammy award winner Rebirth Brass Band performance live in the long, narrow lane of Maple Leaf Bar.
Party on Saturday night here
Every Saturday, the Frenchman Street brings out the best musicians out in the open. The place turns into an interminable music space where jazz, hip hop, Latin, funk, brass band, rock and folk singers exhibit their talent amidst a bunch of hula hoopers and flame throwers.
Go for a Carousal ride at the Carousal Gardens
The antique, wooden carousals are an absolute joyride for the time travelers.
Try Italian at the Mosca’s Restaurant
Take your extended family up for a grand Italian feast at Mosca’s. Ordering an Oyster Mosca is mandatory!
Party all night at Ms. Mae’s
Ms. Mae’s The Club is one of those uptown dives that promise you interesting characters and a loud all-night fun. But if you are more of a ‘suffer-in-silence’ type, Snake’s and Jake’s is waiting for you.
Be a part of Karaoke at Kajun’s Pub
Singing amidst a whole flock of diverse crowds demands a little more than just good voice. You’ve gotta be an actual stage performer to be at Kajun’s Pub. Invite your pals for some backup dance to gain courage.
Make sure to take a photograph everywhere you go. These memories reflect how amazing and fulfilling your sojourn was! Bon Voyage!