Things To Do In New Orleans
I spent a week in New Orleans, Louisiana and while I was there I traveled like a tourist but felt like a local. I completely immersed myself into everything that New Orleans had to offer. That included the history, culture and cuisine. If you want to know 15 to do in New Orleans then keep reading. Below I share my experience taking walking tours, visiting museums, and going to a plantation.
1. Cafe Du Monde
When I first got to New Orleans, after checking into the Lafayette Hotel I immediately went to Cafe Du Monde. For those of you that don’t know, Cafe Du Monde is a New Orleans landmark and a huge tourist destination. It is known for its café au lait and beignets. I wrote a blog post on The Best Places To Eat In New Orleans. If you want to know more about Cafe Du Monde and other local restaurants.
Cafe Du Monde
2. French Quarter Walking Tour
With my café au lait in one hand and beignets in the other. The first activity that I did was take the French Quarter walking tour. A two hour walking tour of the French Quarter is a great way to get the lay of the land. The French Quarter walking tour was an immersive experience that took me on a journey through the vibrant heart of New Orleans, Louisiana. The tour winds its way through the narrow alleyways and hidden courtyards, revealing the captivating stories behind the colorful buildings and landmarks. The sidewalks of the French Quarter are quite uneven and tough to walk along so I would suggest that you wear comfortable walking shoes.
3. Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour
The following day, I took the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour to get a feel for what there was to see and experience outside of the French Quarter. The hop-on-hop-off bus tour offers a convenient way to explore the city at your own pace. The double-decker bus, takes you through the diverse neighborhoods, historic sites, and iconic landmarks of the Big Easy. I like the flexibility that you have to hop on and off at any of the designated stops along the route. You have the freedom to spend as much time as you desire at each location. Along the way, there is a tour guide on the bus that provided fascinating insights into the history, culture, and traditions of New Orleans.
There are 19 stops in total, on the hop-on-hop-off tour. I would plan your day around the stops that you want to go to. For example, I enjoyed the tour and used it as a way to get to the Garden District and back to the French Quarter by the end of the day.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour
4. Garden District Tour
The Garden District tour was one of my favorite tours. It offers a captivating journey through one of the city’s most picturesque and historic neighborhoods. The Garden District is known for its stunning antebellum mansions, lush gardens, and tree-lined streets. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and revealed captivating stories and the fascinating history behind the grand homes and notable landmarks that lined the district. The tour also included the district’s famous Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, where elaborate above-ground tombs pay homage to the city’s unique burial traditions. The Lafayette Cemetery is where they filmed the movie Double Jeopardy.
Along the tour I got to see the house where they filmed the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I also got to see the homes of several celebrities, athletes, and authors who live in the Garden District. I got to see the home of Sandra bullock, see where Payton and Eli Manning grew up, and see the Mayfair Witch House were Anne Rice lived.
The Garden District tour lasted for about two hours. I would suggest that you wear comfortable walking shoes. I also highly suggest that you bring an umbrella. There were spots along the tour where there was no tree coverage and you were standing in the direct sunlight. Thankfully, I had an umbrella with me to shield me from the sun. Even the tour guide carried an umbrella and used it periodically along the tour.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button House
5. Ghost Tour
I took the New Orleans Ghost, Voodoo, Vampire, and French Quarter Tour. That was quite a mouthful if you read that out load. It was an exhilarating and spine-tingling adventure. As night fell over the French Quarter, the tour guide told chilling tales of restless spirits, haunted mansions, and eerie occurrences. The tour also explored the mystical world of voodoo, I learned about its rich history and the cultural significance in New Orleans. The tour ended by diving into the dark allure of vampire lore, with stories of the infamous Countess Bathory and the mysterious Jacques Saint Germain.
I highly recommend you take the Ghost, Voodoo, Vampire, and French Quarter Tour. It offers a captivating blend of history, mystery, and folklore. I took the earliest tour that I could at 5PM. Because I wanted to see all of the stops along the tour in the light of day. I also wanted to avoid the crowds of people at night.
6. The Cabildo
I visited The Cabildo, it is located in the heart of the French Quarter. This historic building holds immense cultural significance. The Cabildo served as the seat of Spanish colonial government and witnessed pivotal moments in American history, including the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It is a captivating museum, that showcases an array of exhibits, artifacts, and artwork that highlight the city’s vibrant culture, traditions and history. What I liked most about The Cabildo was its stunning Spanish Colonial architecture, walking through the Cabildo was like stepping back in time.
7. The Presbytere
The Presbytere was one of my favorite museums to visit. It is also located in the heart of Jackson Square right next to The Cabildo. The Presbytere museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s rich heritage, with two amazing exhibits. One that explores Mardi Gras traditions and the other the impact of Hurricane Katrina. When you walk in you are immediately greeted with exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that bring the city’s stories to life. I really enjoyed seeing the Mardi Gras displays. However, seeing the Hurricane exhibit was heartbreaking. To see the destruction, rescue, and rebuilding was a bit overwhelming.
Mardi Gras Costume
8. The 1850 House
The 1850 House was my least favorite tour. Because it was a restored townhouse with none of the original furnishings of that time period. The tour was also extremely short lived, you can tour the house in roughly 15 to 20 minutes. The 1850 House offers a glimpse into the daily life of a mid-19th century New Orleans family. It is located in the heart of the French Quarter, across from The Cabildo and Presbytere. The museum offered insight into the social customs, tastes, and lifestyles of the prosperous families who once lived in the house.
9. St. Louis Cathedral
The St. Louis Cathedral is a majestic and iconic symbol of New Orlean’s rich history and spiritual heritage. Located in the heart of Jackson Square, the cathedral is one of the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic churches in the United States. The cathedral’s interior is adorned with ornate altars, beautiful sculptures, and intricate woodwork, showcasing the craftsmanship of generations past. When I walked into the cathedral, I definitely felt the weight of history in the air. A visit to the St. Louis Cathedral is a must see experience just to marvel at the architecture.
St. Louis Cathedral
10. Louis Armstrong Park
I stumbled across the Louis Armstrong Park as I was walking through the neighborhoods. It is a beautiful park that pays tribute to one of the city’s most beloved musical icons. Located in the historic Tremé neighborhood, this 32-acre park is a celebration of the rich jazz heritage and cultural legacy of New Orleans. As you walk into the park, you are greeted by the sounds of live jazz music. Inside of the park is a significant landmark called the Congo Square. The Congo Square is a historic gathering place where enslaved Africans and free people of color came together to express their cultural traditions through music and dance. I don’t recall which tour or museum it was that I took that mentioned The Congo Square. But I was glad that I stumbled upon it.
Louis Armstrong Park
11. Voodoo Authentica
Voodoo Authentica is a well known authentic voodoo shop that offers a unique glimpse into the world of voodoo. It’s located in the heart of the French Quarter. When you walk inside you can see an array of colorful and intriguing artifacts, talismans, and artwork that showcase the intricate symbolism and beliefs of voodoo. The staff are both knowledgeable and passionate about sharing their expertise and dispelling misconceptions, on the history, rituals, and spiritual aspects of voodoo. If you are looking for a genuine and enlightening voodoo experience. Then Voodoo Authentica is worth a visit.
12. The French Market
The French Market is a bustling and vibrant marketplace in the French Quarter. This lively marketplace offers a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and flavors. As you walk through the market, you’ll find stalls and shops selling an array of goods, such as local crafts, artwork, and souvenirs. There are also numerous food vendors offering gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets. Live music performers add to the festive atmosphere. I am not big on having a lot of knick knacks, trinkets, or souvenirs. With that said, I just strolled through the French market admiring all goods that everyone was selling.
The French Market
13. Pharmacy Museum
The Pharmacy Museum was unique to say the least. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of pharmacy and medical practices. Housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century apothecary shop, the museum is located in the heart of the French Quarter. When I walked inside I felt like I was transported back in time to an era when potions, remedies, and medicinal practices were very different from what we know today. The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, including antique pharmaceutical tools, vintage medicines, and apothecary jars filled with mysterious substances.
14. The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
I visited the The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the recommendation of locals that I met while in New Orleans.
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden was absolutely enchanting. It is a 11-acre outdoor gallery that is home to a remarkable collection of contemporary sculptures by renowned artists from around the world. I have never seen such a diverse array of sculptures all in one place. The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden provides a unique opportunity to appreciate art in a natural environment. Walking through the Sculpture Garden was one of the highlights of my trip.
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is free and open to the public seven days a week from 10 am to 6 pm. I would suggest that you bring water and wear comfortable walking shoes. I also highly suggest that you bring an umbrella. One side of the sculpture garden had tree coverage, but the other side did not. As I strolled through the park, I passed a lot of visitors who were drenched in sweat and using their hands to block the sun from their face. Thankfully, I had the same umbrella I used during the Garden District Tour with me to shield me from the sun.
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
15. Oak Valley Plantation
Oak Alley Plantation is known for its stunning and meticulously maintained oak-lined avenue, with towering oak trees that create a majestic and picturesque entrance. The plantation’s main attraction is the grand Greek Revival-style mansion, a true architectural masterpiece that showcases the opulent lifestyle of the antebellum era.
I took a guided tour inside the mansion, which had meticulously restored rooms, period furnishings, and informative exhibits that offer insights into the lives of the families who once called this plantation home. After the guided tour I took a stroll though the gardens and explored the other historic buildings that were site such as the slave quarters and the sugar cane plantation.
There are so many things to do in New Orleans. This is just a glimpse of what you can do. There are so many more tours, museums, and plantations that you can experience, see, and visit. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to New Orleans. It is definitely on the top of my list of my favorite places that I have traveled to thus far. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post, 15 things to do in New Orleans. And have the opportunity to visit New Orleans for yourself one day.