In the heart of the vibrant and soulful city of New Orleans, whether you are a first-time traveler or a seasoned visitor, the possibilities for adventure are as boundless as the Mississippi River that gently caresses its shores. In a place where every day seems like a celebration, you'll discover a kaleidoscope of experiences that will leave you utterly captivated. With an array of options that could easily overwhelm even the most seasoned explorer, it's crucial to carve out your own niche in this mesmerizing city. Let's dive into a world of festivity, culture, delectable cuisine, and offbeat wonders, all while keeping a critical eye on the societal tapestry that weaves this city's history.

1. Embrace the Festive Spirit

things to do in new orleans - Festival

In New Orleans, it's not a matter of whether there's something to do; it's more about deciding which of the over 130 annual festivals you'll attend. This city lives to celebrate, be it the syncopated jazz rhythms or the humble po' boy sandwich. Yes, you heard right; there's even a festival dedicated to sandwiches. But who's complaining? These festivals are a testament to the city's unbridled enthusiasm for life, and the best part? Most are free, and everyone is invited. From the internationally acclaimed Jazz and Heritage Festival to the wild Mardi Gras, the French Quarter Festival, the Essence Festival, and the Art for Art's Sake celebration, these events are a deep dive into the city's soul.

2. Journey into the Past with a Tour

things to do in new orleans - tour

Now, I know what you're thinking. Taking tours might sound touristy, but trust me, in a city as rich in history and culture as New Orleans, it's the best way to peel back the layers of time and get to the heart of things. There's a tour for everyone's interest, whether it's delving into the swamps, exploring the uptown and garden district, visiting historic cemeteries, or immersing yourself in the captivating history and heritage. A particular favorite is the swamp tour, where you can choose to paddle your way through the enchanting bayous with outfits like A New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tour and Beyond the Bayou.

3. Stroll Through the Timeless French Quarter

things to do in new orleans - French Quarter

Violinist Wael Elhalaby

Ah, the French Quarter, a historical marvel where every cobblestone seems to whisper tales of pirates, writers, and Creole cuisine. Pirate's Alley, where the infamous Jean Lafitte once conspired, echoes with the secrets of the past, while the House of Books pays homage to the literary legacy of William Faulkner. And then there's Antoine's, a culinary institution that has stood tall for 178 years, still operated by the descendants of its founder, Antoine Alciatore. Dining here is like stepping into a culinary time capsule, where world-renowned Creole dishes come together in a dining experience that transcends generations.

4. Enjoy a Meal at Antoine’s

Meal at Antoine’s

Credit: Antoine's / Facebook

As the oldest Creole fine dining restaurant in the city, Antoine’s deserves its own section. Recently, they celebrated 178 years of incredible service, making guests happy for generations. Want to know a fun fact? It’s still owned and operated by the fifth generation relatives of its original founder, Antoine Alciatore.

Here, world-renowned Creole cuisine, impeccable service, and a unique atmosphere come together to create an unmatched dining experience since 1840. Each of their 14 fine dining rooms offer a unique history and charm. Come enjoy a meal with family or host a private party – the restaurant can accommodate up to 700+ guests. Come and see what it’s all about and make memories that will last a lifetime. Due to its popularity, advance reservations are highly suggested. Enjoying a meal here is one of the best things to do in New Orleans. Don't pass up this local gem.

5. Go for a Walk in the City Park

things to do in new orleans - City Park

Looking for the best things to do in New Orleans? You’ve found it here. As one of the oldest public parks in the U.S., the New Orleans City Park spans some 1,300 acres. Take a walk, go for a jog, or bike along happy park goers, eager to start the day off right with some fresh air. Wind your way through magnificent oak trees draped in Spanish moss – and make sure you don’t forget your travel camera.

Listed among the park’s many enticing features, are 26 tennis courts where you can get your rally on. There’s also an adorable amusement park called Carousel Gardens featuring rides from the-kids-can-go-on-that to this-is-not-for-the-faint-of-heart. Here, you’ll find the famous 1906 carousel with hand-carved horses and real horse-hair tails. Make time for the great outdoors – and take some cute pictures for the gram along the way.

6. Take a Ride on a Streetcar

things to do in new orleans - Streetcar

In a way, NOLA is like San Fran. You can’t visit without taking a ride on the streetcar. It’s such a fun and unique way to see the city. Originating downtown, five district lines will take you through the French Quarter and to places you might otherwise miss out on seeing. Choose from the Saint Charles Street Line, Canal Street Line, the Riverfront Line, the Loyola/UPT Line, and the Rampart/Saint Claude Streetcar Line.

Our favorite route to take is with the Saint Charles Line. It has become synonymous with romance around the local community. As the oldest operating streetcar, its path has been rumbling down the “neutral ground” of St. Charles and Carrollton Avenues for more than 150 years. These vintage cars run a 6-mile course past dozens of antebellum mansions, Loyola and Tulane universities, the stunning Audubon Park, fine hotels, restaurants, bars and more.

The fare for streetcars is $1.25 each way and must be paid in exact change when you board. If you plan on using the streetcar as your primary means of transportation, consider investing in a Jazzy Pass to save a little cash. You can snag a one-day pass for $3 and a 3-day pass for $9. This is such a steal. If you're going to spend a while in the city, it really does offer a lot of bang for your buck.

7. Attend a Show at the Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall new orleans

Since its opening in 1961, this historic concert hall has become a hub for NOLA’s most talented musicians. At the time of its founding, there were few places where you could go to find some good, live jazz. Now, they play some 350 shows a year and the house band is one of the most famous in all the city. Sometimes, other musicians take the stage. The Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket, and Robert Plant have all made an appearance here. What's cooler than seeing one of your bands in a rustic, old-timey setting? This building holds so many memories.

8. Spend the Day at the New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Museum of Art

This is one of the best things to do in New Orleans. The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is famous for its collection of 19th and 20th century French paintings (yes, there are works by Degas here) and extensive Art of the Americas collection. As if that weren’t enough, it’s also home to the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. This lovely attraction features pieces ranging from George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog to Surrealist Rene Magritte’s The Labors of Alexander.

9. Go See the Music Box Village

Music Box Village

This has got to be one of the quirkiest and most entertaining shows in NOLA yet. Step inside a unique contemporary art sculpture garden at The Music Box Village. Here, each house is a musical instrument. You get to explore all of them hands on (literally) and participate in the ruckus during public hours. But that’s not all. There are also orchestral shows with local and national musicians and so much more. Visiting Music Box is one of the best things to do in New Orleans.

10. Marvel in the Wonder That Is Mardis Gras World

Mardis Gras World

Come check out this massive studio that houses Mardis Gras’ rolling artworks. Checking out these exhibits has to be one of the best things to do in New Orleans – hands down. Not only do you get to see all the famous works but you also get to meet the artists who made them. If you can’t make it into town for the big day, this is the next big thing.

Everything about the Mardis Gras World celebrates the history, creativity, and craftsmanship of what goes into this celebration every year. From busts of the Greek Gods to fantasy creatures and Louis Armstrong, it’s safe to say that the artwork here certainly runs the gamut. Want to know the best part? You can see them all up close without having to strain your neck in a crowd. Tall people, you wouldn’t understand.

11. Scope Out Places to Grab a Bite on Magazine Street

Magazine Street New Orleans

Something you’ll find about NOLA is that even if you think you’re “full,” you’re not. We swear that around each corner, there’s a new enticing cafe that will make you forget all about that food coma leftover from lunch. Whether it’s fried chicken, cajun food, or sweet beignets, you’ll constantly be left craving more.

When you’re ready to indulge your foodie cravings (again) take a walk down Magazine Street. Hey, you’ve walked off some of the calories, so you’ve earned it, right? Here, you’ll find fun high-end boutiques, art galleries, and a seemingly endless line of restaurants and bars. Want some recommendations? If you’re looking for a great place to grab a craft beer, it’s The Bulldog. For dinner, we highly recommend the award-winning modern Israeli spot, Shaya. We swear wandering this street is one of the best things to do in New Orleans.

12. Book a Room at Dauphine New Orleans

Dauphine New Orleans


Are you ready for an incredible experience? Come stay in the French Quarter at one of the best hotels in New Orleans. Dauphine Orleans invites guests with open arms into a truly one of a kind setting. This historic hotel features buildings dating back to the early 1800s, such as the Audubon breakfast room. Guests are offered quiet, relaxing stay in the midst of a lively, energetic city. When you're ready to get in on the action, your hotel is just a few steps away from some of the most exciting parts of city life in NOLA.

13. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde New Orleans

Credit: Cafe du Monde / Facebook

We’re not gonna lie. Going on the ultimate foodie tour is one of the best things to in New Orleans. After all, there are so many great restaurants and bars here. This lovely little joint in the French Quarter has been serving up good stuff ever since 1862. What can you find here? Just the best coffee and doughnut pairing ever. Seriously. You can’t visit New Orleans without stopping by here. It would be a travesty. The cafe au lait and beignets here are iconic. You won’t find anything better. Plus, the space is open 24/7.

14. Enjoy a Day of Fun at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

Credit: Yelp

It wasn’t long ago that merry go rounds were a common feature of the NOLA landscape. Now, they’re far and few between and perhaps that’s what makes this park so special. However, a good carousel isn’t the only ride you’ll find here. Since 1906 kids and the kids of heart have enjoyed a great time at this park in Louisiana.

It’s come a long way since it first stood with 100 wooden carousels. Elsewhere in the Gardens, you’ll find rides that twist, turn, drop, twirl, and everything in between. Now, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While it had been damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was repaired and reopened, generating praise from the National Historic Preservation Society.

15. Immerse Yourself in the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Adjacent to the French Quarter, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas beckons you to dive into a world of aquatic wonders. Here, the vibrant colors of the reef burst into life as you step into the walk-in tunnel, surrounded by the graceful dance of marine life. Penguins and sea otters bring a dash of whimsy with their playful antics, while you can reach out and touch a stingray, or engage with the lively parakeets. Yet, the true showstopper is the massive Gulf of Mexico exhibit, a sprawling 400,000-gallon tank home to majestic sharks, tarpons, and graceful rays. Keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles; this aquarium is renowned for its rehabilitation efforts that help these magnificent creatures return to the wild.

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the best things to do in New Orleans, a city that effortlessly blends history, culture, and entertainment into a heady gumbo of experiences. As you ponder which of these enchanting activities to embark upon, consider where you'll lay your head to rest in this vivacious city.

For a Luxurious Stay: Look no further than the Windsor Court Hotel, an opulent oasis in the heart of the city. With its regal décor and impeccable service, it's the epitome of Southern hospitality.

For a Quaint Retreat: The Hotel Provincial offers a charming escape nestled in the French Quarter. Its historic ambiance and lush courtyards provide a peaceful respite from the city's bustling streets.

For a Modern Vibe: The Ace Hotel is a chic and trendy option in the Warehouse District. Its rooftop pool and stylish design make it a favorite among the hip crowd.

For a Touch of History: The Prytania Park Hotel is a historic gem with a cozy atmosphere. Located in the Garden District, it's a tranquil base for exploring the city's charming neighborhoods.

With these accommodations, you're well-equipped to embark on your New Orleans adventure, where the music never stops, the food always satisfies, and the spirit of celebration lingers in the air like a sweet jazz melody. So go ahead, revel in the city's wonders, and let the good times roll!