Must Do in New Orleans

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Payton Brown

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  • New Orleans

  • Active Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Sightseeing

  • Relaxation

Advisor - Must Do in New Orleans
Curator’s statement

New Orleans is a great place to visit to experience a fun, vibrant, yet charming city. I recently spent my time out on the historic streets enjoying the jazz music, tried the diverse Creole and Cajun food and soaked in the city's unique culture. From the bustling French Quarter to the calm Mississippi River, this trip is a great way to experience the essence of New Orleans. Plus, you have to try the famous beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

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Where to stay in New Orleans

The Jung Hotel and Residence

A new addition on Upper Canal, walking distance to the French Quarter, with a rooftop pool and popular events spaces.

Crowne Plaza New Orleans French Quarter, an IHG Hotel

Sophisticated property in a building from 1852 with elegant rooms and suites.

Hotel Monteleone

Experience a timeless gem in the heart of New Orleans, where Southern charm, literary history, and elegant hospitality come together in perfect harmony.

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Things to do in New Orleans

Louis Armstrong Park is a 32-acre city park in New Orleans.

Steamboat Natchez Cruise: Enjoy a leisurely cruise along the Mississippi River on the historic Steamboat Natchez for lunch, brunch or a Jazz dinner. The cruise offers a non-dining, sightseeing-only option as well. The steamboat has multiple levels to explore and hosts drink or bar stations on each floor. Great for group tours!

Mardi Gras Parade:
A great time to travel to New Orleans if you are looking for one big party is for Mardi Gras, which is in February or March of each year. Notable mention: the parade itself is free, but hotels in the French Quarter and along the parade route book well in advance and you should too if you are planning to go. The Mardi Gras website has great information on packages that are available for that week.

Mardi Gras World:
Ever wonder how the floats are made for the famous Mardi Gras parade? You can actually tour the float factory right in the heart of New Orleans. Ticket prices are generally cost friendly and a great experience for the kids and family to explore together. Notable mention: Mardi Gras World offers a free shuttle as a service to their patrons. Also, don't forget to buy a slice of King Cake on your way out.

New Orleans Streetcars:
Ease of touring a city is alway a nice benefit to have when visiting new places. A unique way to tour New Orleans is through their streetcars and the city offers four different streetcar lines that will take you around downtown as well as the outskirts of the city that you may not have thought to visit. The New Orleans website has a very informative page on how the fares work, the basics of the streetcars and the differences in the lines so you know exactly what to expect.

Nola Bike Bar:
A fun and active way to ride through the city is via the Nola Bike Bar. This tour is a pedal bike tour for groups of up to 15 and a great way to celebrate birthdays, bachelorettes, corporate events and any other larger parties. It is typically a boozing tour and is BYOB if that is what you are looking for. Along the tour route, there will be opportunity to stop at neighborhood bars and pubs for a quick bite and refresh on your drinks.

Ghost City Tours:
With all of the rich history that New Orleans offers, it has become a center for the haunted and the spooky. Ghost City Tours offers several variations of guided ghosts tours that include kid friendly, adult only and pub crawl. Notable mention: typically these tours are walking tours and duration between 1-2 hours. I personally recommend the night tour options because of how hot New Orleans can get throughout the year. Make sure to wear good walking shoes!

Frenchman Street:
Beyond the main tourist hub of Bourbon Street is Frenchman Street. This hidden gem nestled right beside the downtown area is a great music and arts scene. Many locals gather here and hop between different venues for food, drinks and live music. You may even come across street artists and their performances as you walk through. Notable mention: most of the venues are intimate dive bars and weekend and months with big events will draw large crowds.

New Orleans Museum of Art:
NOMA is the oldest arts museum and it offers over 40,000 pieces to view between their variety of galleries and the sculpture garden. If you have an appreciation for history and learning, this is a great venue to stroll through during the day independently or as a group. You can find tickets on their website and before you plan to visit, take a moment to check their events and exhibits that are offered for your dates.

Places to eat & drink in New Orleans

Café Du Monde's beignets is a New Orleans tradition.

Palace Cafe: Located on Canal Street and housed in a beautifully renovated historic building, Palace Cafe was a great choice for a brunch. The menu hosts a variety of dishes that cater to most anyone and are traditional with a New Orleans Flare. Recommendation: Shrimp N Grits or Pecan Catfish.

Creole Cookery: Well known for it's famous Creole dishes, this restaurant is both modern yet traditional in style. The ambiance is typically vibrant and popular along the French Quarter and a great place for a casual setting. Recommendation: Gator Bites for the table & the Catfish Decatur.

Landry's Seafood House: Sitting right on the Mississippi, Landry's is a modern coastal restaurant. Known for its seafood offerings, the menu typically includes a variety of Gulf Coast specialties. The environment is upbeat and modern. Recommendation: Maple Bourbon Glazed Salmon.

Court of Two Sisters: This is a historic restaurant celebrated for its charming & quaint courtyard setting. The Court of Two Sisters typically has live jazz music within its courtyard for the brunch time visitors. The menu is a Creole-inspired with a buffet offering. Recommendation: make reservations. This is a highly frequented venue.

Voodoo Chicken & Daiquiris: This is probably the most unique restaurant that I have stumbled across. Given its name, one can expect a menu featuring flavorful chicken dishes and a variety of daiquiri options. This spot offers a casual and fun atmosphere, perfect for those looking to enjoy tasty comfort food and refreshing drinks.

Cafe Du Monde: The legendary open-air café is located right along the French Quarter near the French Market. It's notably famous for is beignets and they pair well with a cup of coffee. This iconic spot is one you have to visit once and is a great place to sit down and relax for a moment. Recommendation: a bag of beignets of course.

Commander's Palace: A Garden District delight. The Commander's Palace is an upscale & sophisticated restaurant that is known to be a lively place to visit. The menu offers elegant Creole cuisine combined with Southern vibrancy that reflects the charm and style of New Orleans. Recommendation: Sticky Stout Braised Pork Belly for the table & Maggie's Mushroom & Dumplings.

Emeril's New Orleans: The warehouse district of New Orleans is home to famous Chef Emeril's Lagasse's restaurant. Known for its fresh and high quality ingredients, the cooking style is a modern twist on tradition Creole and Cajun meals. This is a great restaurant if you are looking for a fun experience while dining. Recommendation: Barbecued Maine Lobster Gumbo.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Summerlin Holzhalb's guide, The Perfect Girls Weekend in New Orleans

Payton Brown enjoying travelling

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Payton Brown

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to New Orleans.