New Orleans, Louisiana is a vibrant and colorful city with a rich history, diverse culture, and a plethora of activities for locals and tourists alike. From jazz music to mouth-watering Creole cuisine, the city offers a unique blend of experiences that are sure to leave a lasting impression.
Interesting facts about New Orleans:
- New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz music, which originated in the early 20th century in the city’s African American communities.
- The city was founded in 1718 by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, and it was named in honor of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who was the regent of France at the time.
- New Orleans is located below sea level, making it one of the most vulnerable cities in the United States to flooding and natural disasters.
- The city is home to the oldest continuously operating streetcar system in the world, the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, which has been in service since 1835.
- New Orleans is known for its unique and delicious cuisine, which combines French, African, and Creole influences. Some of the city’s signature dishes include gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets.
- Mardi Gras, the city’s famous carnival celebration, dates back to the 18th century and is a time of parades, music, and revelry.
- New Orleans is known for its above-ground cemeteries, which are unique to the city due to its low-lying location. The cemeteries feature elaborate mausoleums and tombs, and many famous New Orleanians are buried there.
- The city has a rich and complex history, with influences from French, Spanish, African, and Native American cultures. This history is evident in the city’s architecture, music, and cuisine.
- Hurricane Katrina, a devastating Category 5 hurricane, hit New Orleans in 2005, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. The city has since made significant efforts to rebuild and recover.
- New Orleans is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and theaters showcasing local and international talent. The city is also known for its lively music scene, with jazz, blues, and zydeco being popular genres.
In this article, we will explore the top 20 things to do in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Visit the French Quarter
The French Quarter is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in New Orleans. It is the heart and soul of the city, with its narrow streets, colorful buildings, and vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can stroll through the Quarter, admiring the historic architecture and listening to the music pouring out of the jazz clubs and bars. The area is also home to a variety of restaurants, shops, and galleries, making it a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. The French Quarter is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting New Orleans.
Explore Jackson Square
Jackson Square is a historic park located in the heart of the French Quarter. The park is surrounded by some of the most iconic buildings in the city, including the St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo, and the Presbytere. Visitors can watch street performers and artists, soak up the energy of the neighborhood, and take in the stunning architecture. The square is also a popular spot for taking photos and enjoying the views of the Mississippi River. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a picturesque spot to relax, Jackson Square is a must-visit destination in New Orleans.
Check out the St. Louis Cathedral
The St. Louis Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in New Orleans. It is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States and is located in Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter. Visitors can admire the stunning architecture of the cathedral, which features a mix of French and Spanish influences, as well as the intricate stained glass windows and ornate altars. The cathedral also offers daily Mass services and organ concerts, making it a spiritual and cultural center of the city.
Take a Streetcar Ride
Taking a ride on one of the vintage streetcars is a fun and unique way to explore New Orleans. The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world and offers stunning views of the city’s historic homes and buildings. Visitors can hop on the streetcar and take a leisurely ride through the Garden District and Uptown neighborhoods, admiring the architecture and soaking up the local atmosphere.
Go on a Swamp Tour
New Orleans is surrounded by swamps and bayous, and going on a swamp tour is a fun and unique way to experience the natural beauty of the area. Visitors can take a boat ride through the swamps, seeing alligators, turtles, snakes, and other wildlife in their natural habitats. Some tours even offer the opportunity to hold a baby alligator! A swamp tour is a great way to learn about the unique ecology of the area and get up close and personal with the local wildlife.
Visit the National World War II Museum
The National World War II Museum is a world-class museum that tells the story of the American experience in World War II. The museum features immersive exhibits, multimedia experiences, and personal accounts of the war, making it a powerful and moving experience. Visitors can learn about the D-Day invasion, the Pacific Theater, and the home front effort, and gain a deeper understanding of one of the most significant events in world history.
Tour the Garden District
The Garden District is a beautiful neighborhood in New Orleans known for its stunning architecture and lush gardens. Visitors can take a walking tour of the area and admire the historic homes, many of which date back to the 19th century. The neighborhood is also home to several celebrity homes, including the residence of actress Sandra Bullock. The Garden District is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter and enjoy a leisurely stroll through a picturesque residential neighborhood.
Enjoy the Mardi Gras Celebrations
Mardi Gras is one of the biggest and most colorful celebrations in New Orleans, and it is a time of parades, costumes, and music. The festival takes place in February or March and is a time of revelry and fun. Visitors can watch the parades, catch beads and other throws, and enjoy the energy and excitement of the city during this festive period. Mardi Gras is a unique and unforgettable experience, and it is a must-see for anyone visiting New Orleans.
Listen to Jazz Music on Frenchmen Street
Frenchmen Street is the place to go in New Orleans for live jazz music. Visitors can wander the street and hop from one bar or club to the next, enjoying the soulful sounds of local musicians. The street also offers a variety of restaurants and street performers, making it a great place to spend an evening. The music scene on Frenchmen Street is lively and vibrant, and it is a great place to experience the unique culture of New Orleans.
Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art
The New Orleans Museum of Art is a world-class museum that houses an extensive collection of art, including works by French and American artists. The museum is located in City Park, which is also a beautiful destination for outdoor activities. Visitors can admire the artwork and learn about the history of art in New Orleans and beyond. The museum also hosts a variety of exhibitions and events throughout the year, making it a great place to visit again and again.
Indulge in Beignets at Café Du Monde
Café Du Monde is a famous café that has been serving up hot and fresh beignets (French-style doughnuts) since 1862. Visitors can enjoy the sweet treats with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while sitting outside and watching the world go by. The café is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making it a great spot for a late-night snack or early morning breakfast. Beignets are a quintessential New Orleans treat, and Café Du Monde is the best place to try them.
Visit the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a must-visit destination for families with kids. The aquarium features over 600 species of aquatic life, including sharks, sea turtles, and penguins. Visitors can also watch a 4D movie or take a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium. The aquarium is located in the heart of New Orleans and is a fun and educational destination for visitors of all ages.
Take a Ghost Tour
New Orleans is known for its haunted history, and taking a ghost tour is a fun and spooky way to learn about the city’s past. Visitors can explore haunted houses, cemeteries, and other eerie locations while learning about the ghosts that still haunt them. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who share stories and legends of the city’s supernatural history. A ghost tour is a great way to experience a different side of New Orleans.
Enjoy a Hurricane Cocktail at Pat O’Brien’s
Pat O’Brien’s is a famous bar that has been serving up its signature Hurricane cocktail since the 1940s. The drink, which is made with rum, fruit juices, and grenadine, is a must-try for visitors to the city. The bar is located in the French Quarter and has a lively atmosphere, with both indoor and outdoor seating. A Hurricane cocktail at Pat O’Brien’s is a quintessential New Orleans experience.
Visit the Historic Voodoo Museum
The Historic Voodoo Museum is a small museum that explores the history and practice of voodoo in New Orleans. Visitors can learn about the city’s voodoo queens, the Haitian roots of the religion, and the influence of voodoo on New Orleans culture. The museum features artifacts and displays related to voodoo, as well as informative and engaging exhibits. The museum is a great place to learn about a unique aspect of New Orleans culture and history.
Take a Cooking Class
New Orleans is known for its delicious Creole and Cajun cuisine, and taking a cooking class is a fun way to learn how to make traditional dishes like gumbo and jambalaya. Visitors can learn from local chefs and take home recipes to impress their friends and family. Cooking classes are available at a variety of locations throughout the city and are a great way to immerse yourself in the local food culture.
Attend a Saints Game
New Orleans is home to the NFL team the Saints, and attending a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is a fun and exciting experience. Visitors can enjoy the game while also soaking in the energy and excitement of the city. The Saints games are known for their lively and passionate fans, making them a unique and unforgettable experience.
Visit the Longue Vue House and Gardens
The Longue Vue House and Gardens is a stunning historic mansion and garden that is open to the public for tours. Visitors can explore the beautiful gardens, which include a Japanese garden and a butterfly garden, and admire the impressive architecture of the mansion. The house is filled with art and antiques and offers a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of New Orleans’ elite. The Longue Vue House and Gardens is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history and architecture.
Go on a Cemetery Tour
New Orleans is known for its above-ground cemeteries, which are unique to the city. Taking a cemetery tour is a great way to learn about the city’s burial traditions and see some of the stunning mausoleums and tombs. Visitors can explore cemeteries like St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which is the final resting place of many famous New Orleanians, including the voodoo queen Marie Laveau. A cemetery tour is a fascinating and informative way to learn about the city’s history and culture.
Take a Mississippi River Cruise
Finally, taking a cruise on the Mississippi River is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely boat ride while taking in the sights and sounds of the city. Some cruises also offer live music and food and drink options, making for a fun and relaxing experience. A Mississippi River cruise is a great way to see New Orleans from a different angle and appreciate the natural beauty of the area.
In conclusion, New Orleans is a city that has something to offer for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, music, food, or culture, there are plenty of activities and attractions to explore. By checking out the 20 best things to do in New Orleans that we’ve outlined in this article, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable experience in this vibrant and colorful city.
What is the best time of year to visit New Orleans?
The best time to visit New Orleans is from February to May, when the weather is mild and there are plenty of festivals and events taking place.
Is it safe to visit New Orleans?
While New Orleans does have a higher crime rate than some other cities, the majority of visitors experience no issues. Visitors should use common sense and take precautions, such as staying in well-lit areas at night and not leaving valuables in cars.
What is the signature dish of New Orleans?
The signature dish of New Orleans is gumbo, a hearty stew made with meat, seafood, and vegetables.
What is the legal drinking age in New Orleans?
The legal drinking age in New Orleans, as in the rest of the United States, is 21 years old.
Can I take a walking tour of New Orleans?
Yes, there are many walking tours available in New Orleans that explore the city’s history, culture, and architecture.